21 Reasons Culture is Important
John Spacey, October 06, 2021
Culture is the shared meaning and practices that emerge in groups. Every enduring group has a culture and it is common to belong to multiple cultures such as the culture of a neighborhood, city, nation, ethic group, religion, art, hobby, sport or generation. Culture is an expansive concept that includes anything that isn't related to practical goals such as economic production, safety and security. The following are examples of the importance of culture.
Human ExperienceCulture is a valuable element of the human experience that is thought to add meaning and purpose to life.
IdentityMembership in cultures can help to give individuals a rich sense of identity.
JoyCulture includes the elements of life that are fun and stress reducing. For example, culture includes elements of play, games, pastimes, entertainment and sport. These make life less bland as opposed to a constant focus on serious goals.
ChangeCulture creates change as youth adopt a different culture from their parents and push for change to the status quo. Likewise people of any age can push for change to national culture, traditional culture, local culture, subcultures, super culture and global culture.
TraditionCulture is passed from one generation to the next and acts as a stabilizing force in a world of change. This may provide a sense of connection and continuity with the past.
Cross-Generational ExperienceCulture such as holidays and pastimes provide experiences that can unite people of different ages such as the generations of a family. For example, a pastime such as cherry blossom viewing in Japan that practically everyone in the nation has experienced.
Intelligence & KnowledgeCulture such as language is a basic element of human intelligence. A natural language such as French, English or Mandarin includes diverse concepts that are essentially a way to sustain complex knowledge over time. Likewise, language is a building block of human thought itself.
HeritageHeritage is the culture of the past that has survived to this day. This can be viewed as a gift from the past to the present. For example, beautiful architecture that helps to provide a city with a high quality of life and economic opportunity.
Shared ExperienceCulture emerges from the shared experience of groups and is essentially a framework for social interaction. For example, the culture of a sport that provides a forum for competition, teamwork and comradery.
Shared MeaningCulture extends the basic motivations of survival with higher level shared meaning. In many cases, economic production and other serious goals becomes secondary to these pursuits.
Personal ExpressionCultures can provide a venue of personal expression. For example, a cosplay culture that expresses elements of fandom, storytelling, character and aesthetics.
CreativityThe pursuit of originality whereby culture such as a music scene is a source of creative expression and creative inspiration.
Risk TakingAn escape of paternalism that would have us cease all risk taking activity. Culture serves as a counter to cold calculating arguments that maximize safety and security by giving up adventure, purpose and epic experience.
EconomyCulture is the basis for massive industries such as travel, entertainment, music, restaurants and the night economy. A significant portion of economic production is in someway connected to culture. For example, mobile devices that are simply a tool for accessing online culture such as social media.
InclusionCulture helps to prevent isolation by pulling people in and including them.
CivilityCulture provides shared meaning and norms that help to promote civility.
Respect & ToleranceCulture need not isolate people into the groups to which they "belong." People can acquire new culture or show interest in the culture of others as a means of building relationships. Likewise, tolerance and respect for other cultures can facilitate peace and diverse interactions.
VarietyThe cold logic of economic production and other serious goals can create a bland world that is unsuitable for human happiness. For example, it might be logical for workers to live in small concrete rooms with plastic fixtures that are all identical for reasons of efficiency. Culture says no to this by shaping life with the incredible variety of the human experience. This occurs with a process of emergence that eludes attempts to centrally plan and control.
Quality of LifeThe quality of life of an individual, community or nation can't be completely measured with statistics such as life expectancy at birth and GDP per capita. Many of the other elements of happiness such as a feeling of connection with others are related to culture.
Time & PlaceCulture can capture the spirit of a time and place and act as a symbol or artifact of the moment. For example, art, architecture, films, magazines and other durable culture that are likely to survive after the people who experienced a moment in culture are long gone.
Human PotentialHumans have potential to go far beyond the basics of survival to pursue life in an imaginative way together. This is what culture represents.
Culture vs High CultureHigh culture is culture that has been adopted by the upper class as evidenced by its acceptance by high status institutions. This places high value on priceless artifacts of human heritage such that society will protect them. However, culture belongs to everyone and exists in every group. High culture represents only a tiny part of all culture that is produced.
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