01/09/2015 More Training's Hot Topic - September 2015 - Culture


Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, values, religion, customs, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. The Centre for Advance Research on Language Acquisition goes a step further, defining culture as shared patterns of behaviours and interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding that are learned by socialisation. Thus, it can be seen as the growth of a group identity fostered by social patterns unique to the group. The word ‘culture’ derives from a French term, which in turn derives from the Latin ‘colere’, which means to tend to the earth and grow, or cultivation and nurture. Many countries are largely populated by immigrants, and the culture is influenced by the many groups of people that now make up the country. This is also a part of growth, as the countries grow, so does its cultural diversity. 

Western culture

The term ‘Western culture’ has come to define the culture of European countries as well as those that have been heavily influenced by European immigration. Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Western lifestyle or European civilization, is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, and specific artefacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe, having both indigenous and foreign origin. The term has come to be applied by people of European ethnicity to countries whose history is strongly marked by European immigration, colonisation, and influence, such as the continents of America, whose current demographic majority is of European ethnicity, and is not restricted to the continent of Europe. There is some disagreement about what nations should or should not be included in the category, and at what times. Today, the influences of Western culture can be seen in almost every country in the world.

Eastern culture

Eastern culture generally refers to the societal norms of countries in Far East Asia (including China, Japan, Vietnam, North Korea and South Korea) and the Indian subcontinent. The term is usually not used by non-Europeans since this Eastern world is a varied, complex and dynamic region, hard to generalize, and although these countries and regions have many common threads running through them, historically they never needed to define themselves collectively against another entity, real or superficial. Like the West, Eastern culture was heavily influenced by religion during its early development. In general, in Eastern culture there is less of a distinction between secular society and religious philosophy than there is in the West.

African culture

The culture of Africa is varied. It is a product of the diverse populations that today inhabit the continent of Africa. Africa is divided into a great number of ethnic cultures and there are a number of languages, cuisines, art and music styles.

Latin culture

Many of the Spanish-speaking nations are considered part of the Latin culture, while the geographic region is widespread. Latin America is typically defined as those parts of Central America, South America and Mexico where Spanish or Portuguese are the dominant languages. Originally, the term ‘Latin America’ was used by French geographers to differentiate between Anglo and Romance (Latin-based) languages, according to the University of Texas. While Spain and Portugal are on the European continent, they are considered the key influencers of what is known as Latin culture, which denotes people using languages derived from Latin, also known as Romance languages. Latin American culture is the formal or informal expression of the people of Latin America, and includes both high culture (literature, high art) and popular culture (music, folk art and dance) as well as religion and other customary practices. Definitions of Latin America vary.

Middle Eastern culture

The countries of the Middle East have some but not all things in common. This is not a surprise, since the area consists of approximately 20 countries. The Arabic language is one thing that is common throughout the region. The different countries are linked by culture and religion on the one hand and yet vary greatly in terms of dialect and history on the other. Religion is another cultural area that the countries of the Middle East have in common.  The Middle East is the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Constant Change

Humanity is in a global ‘accelerating culture change period’, driven by the expansion of international commerce, the mass media, and above all, the human population explosion, among other factors. Cultures are internally affected by both forces encouraging change and forces resisting change. These forces are related to both social structures and natural events, and are involved in the perpetuation of cultural ideas and practices within current structures, which themselves are subject to change.

Social conflict and the development of technologies can produce changes within a society by altering social dynamics and promoting new cultural models, and spurring or enabling generative action. These social shifts may accompany ideological shifts and other types of cultural change. For example, the U.S. feminist movement involved new practices that produced a shift in gender relations, altering both gender and economic structures. Environmental conditions may also enter as factors. For example, after tropical forests returned at the end of the last ice age, plants suitable for domestication were available, leading to the invention of agriculture, which in turn brought about many cultural innovations and shifts in social dynamics

Cultures are externally affected via contact between societies, which may also produce—or inhibit—social shifts and changes in cultural practices. War or competition over resources may impact technological development or social dynamics. Additionally, cultural ideas may transfer from one society to another, through diffusion or acculturation. In diffusion, the form of something (though not necessarily its meaning) moves from one culture to another. For example, hamburgers, fast food in the United States, seemed exotic when introduced into China. ‘Stimulus diffusion’ (the sharing of ideas) refers to an element of one culture leading to an invention or propagation in another. ‘Direct Borrowing’ on the other hand tends to refer to technological or tangible diffusion from one culture to another. Diffusion of innovations theory presents a research-based model of why and when individuals and cultures adopt new ideas, practices, and products.

No matter what culture a people are a part of, one thing is for certain, it will change. Culture appears to have become key in our interconnected world, which is made up of so many ethnically diverse societies, but also riddled by conflicts associated with religion, ethnicity, ethical beliefs, and essentially, the elements which make up culture. Culture is no longer fixed, if it ever was.  It is essentially fluid and constantly in motion. This makes it so that it is difficult to define any culture in only one way.


Did you know?

More Training is based is South Wales. We work throughout Wales and England delivering qualifications from ILM: Leadership and Management to City and Guilds: Sustainable Waste Management. We have supported local Rugby teams through sponsorships. Rugby is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness.

Welsh Culture

  • Wales has a distinctive culture including its own language, customs, holidays and music.

  • Wales is primarily represented by the symbol of the red Welsh Dragon, but other national   

    emblems include the leek and daffodil. The Welsh words for leeks (cennin) and daffodils

    (cennin Pedr, lit. ‘Saint Peter's Leeks’) are closely related and it is likely that one of the

    symbols came to be used due to a misunderstanding for the other one, though it is less clear

    which came first.

  • Wales is often referred to as ‘the land of song’ and is notable for its harpists, male choirs,

     and solo artists. The principal Welsh festival of music and poetry is the annual National

     Eisteddfod. For more information visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Wales