What Is Culture?

The word Culture is universal and at times is assigned to a people by their political, social, religious, economic and ethnic beliefs. The United States has a culture that any person deciding to live in America must assimilate to. People from other countries have been migrating to America for centuries in search for the “American Dream.” What is culture? According to Webster’s dictionary culture is the arts, skills or system of a given people or civilization. Culture can be looked at as the human intellectual achievement as a collective. This includes social institutions, social norms, views of food, language, shared beliefs, attitudes even values and behaviors.

Why is culture so important? Our culture determines are levels of growth and maturity. Assimilation into America means that we must absorb and incorporate another groups beliefs and values. Culture assimilation is when foreign groups must began to resemble another group by adopting their values, behaviors, beliefs. Assimilation can be dangerous to individuals and groups because many lose their creativity, self-identity, self-determination, self-image, self-transcendence, self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-respect an even the ability to self-actualize. When our needs aren’t met genocide, homicide, crime rates and violence against other’s rise.

Culture shock is an experience a person or group may have when moving to a culture environment that is different from one’s own. The shock can cause alienation and disorientation when trying to adjust to a new type of life. A person’s culture has a strong influence on their self-perception. The two major types of cultures are individualistic and collectivist. The United States of America is an individualistic culture which means that people stress the self and personal achievement. In an individualistic culture people think only what is best for themselves when making decisions. African and Asian countries are considered collectivist cultures as they tend to downplay individual and group and social norms are more important. Collective cultures are interdependent and see themselves in terms of a group so family decisions are upmost importance.

Men and women are socialized to view themselves differently based on what is acceptable for their gender based on culture norms. Gender expectations in our society inevitably influence our perceptions, sense of self and social construction of self. In America, males are taught that their self-esteem is derived from their achievements, status and income. While females are taught that their self-esteem is based on their appearance and their relationships.