Notes and Commentary:

    Culture is elusive to describe because it is time, space and situation specific; yet
    dynamic. That is both its beauty, as well as its Achilles Heel. Culture is NOT genetic.
    A child born in Canada, for example, but switched at birth with a child born in China
    somehow, (thus living in China) - would be culturally Chinese: s/he would speak the
    Chinese language, dress in the Chinese fashion, follow Chinese rules and standards
    for living, etc.

    Technically, Culture is not related to one's language or religion or race or ethnic group
    - but language is related to culture! For example, many different cultures (American,
    British, Canadian, Australian, etc.) speak English - but in slightly different ways.
    Many religions, such as Christianity, Islam and Buddhism, cross many cultures.
    Canadian culture, for example, includes people from dozens of racially and ethnically
    diverse groups.

    All rules, ideas, activities and actions in a culture have a purpose, or function. These
    functions are known to all members of the culture, but often are not obvious to
    "outsiders". These"rules" and "functions" are passed-on (transmitted) by the family.

    So the question becomes, who's idea of "normal" is the right one, the correct one?
    And the answer is that it cannot be decided that easily - who would be the impartial
    judge to do that: what "standard" would they use to compare it to?

    Anthropological Definition of Culture: "A system of values and norms that are
    shared (agreed upon) among a group of people and that when taken together, make
    up a design for living."
    *(1) This function is known to all members of the culture, but often is not obvious to
    *(2) These "rules" and "functions" are passed-on (transmitted and perpetuated) by
             the family.  Number 2 is an important aspect, for it tells us that all cultures were
             slowly developed over many generations, over the millenia. This did not occur
             suddenly, overnight. And they all  continue  to develop and change; gradually.

    I hope it's clear that "the other guys" have their culture too; for that too, is an important
    consideration, because each is a "sub-culture" of a larger, over-riding one - they operate
    within the "dominant culture". That's a lot of rules and differentiation to absorb, learn
    and remember. It is also the main reason why "Normal" is virtually impossible to
    define definitively.

    Ideally, culture's function is in large part to ensure that all persons in it have the
    freedom to be themselves; thus there are "rights" and "obligations" built-in; so that
    none of us impinge on the rights of others. It is when we impinge  on those rights, that
    our behaviour is considered to "Abnormal" (not conforming to the majority). The
    Obligations are there to ensure the safe and smooth interaction of life in environments
    that contain many people. They are therefore, "restraints" on total, absolute freedom
    of anyone to do everything they want  to do in whatever way. That is the price of living
    among others (in society).

    Caveat/Beware: Acquiring our place in our culture is to a very large extent a process
    of conditioning, "programming" and "brain-washing" - to get us to conform . . .  which is
    a numbing down, or dumbing down - see Education-Socialization for more detail on
    this: here's a relevant observation:
                           "It is no measure of mental health to be well adjusted
                              in a profoundly sick society" ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

    Because we're each unique, we modify our culture - however slightly, or in some cases,
    majorly, to become who  we are and how we fit ourselves into the world, so to speak.

    And that makes you your own "mini-culture" or "subculture". And because of that, you
    are "Normal" - being the way YOU are - for that is the "normal for you", in that context.

    Culture is solely where our concept, idea, or sense, of "Normal" comes from.
    So, you can see that culture is "the" major influence on human life. And that the are many
    "cultures", and even more mini ones within those (called "sub-cultures". It results in great
    Cultural Diversity. And it is because of that rich and wide diversity, that the word "normal"
    is virtually impossible to define. We are born into it, learn it (a process called enculturation
    (or socialization) - and then pass it on to the next generation.

    And who guides, directs, or manipulates the "rules" of our culture? That is another story.

    Our minds are like filters - really "magical" filters: everything we learn, hear, see, feel,
    experience,  etc, is "filtered" through our intellect & emotions - which were  shaped  by
    culture. But the mind- filter  adds new information in, so it changes the memory  banks
    - the memory banks are growing continually. This is basically what the branch of
    psychology called "Neuro-Linquistics" tries to address.  (see the illustrations below).

                   Please don't use the words "mind" and "brain" interchangeably as synonyms:
                                           they are distinctly different from each other.
Culture is
the unwritten "Code or Rule Book" for a specific Human Group or Society's
Behaviour, in the context and creation of an almost boundless spectrum of
immense diversely variant human behaviour: an Introduction to
the Social Structure of our "reality".
How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one finds
darkness not only in one's culture but within oneself?  There are simply
no answers to some of the great pressing questions.  You continue to
live them out, making your life a worthy expression  of leaning into the light.
~Barry Lopez
Dawn Cove Abbey
"Roadside Assistance" For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman M.A  © 2007-2019

Questions and comments welcomed.
                                           The deliberate social "shaping" manipulation
                                   and creation of our "Reality" is done through Culture

    Due to the various ways the word "culture" is used in day-to-day life, it can be, and is often
    confusing: for it has at least three distinctly different meanings.

    * 1, the one we encounter more often, is where "culture" is used to refer to such things as
            music, art, writing (literary), poetry, crafts, etc (creative activities, or "cultural activities"
    *2,  is the one that scientist create in their labs (making a "culture" in a petri dish), for example.
    *3a, this is the one this page/article is about.
          In the simplest terms, a "culture" is a group of people who share a common
          way of life. So "culture" is the set of customs, traditions, and values of a society
          or community, such as an ethnic group or nation. It refers to the entire way of
          life of a group of people - your way of life: It is the pattern or blueprint (or
         "rules or code") people live by. Basically, it's what you know, and what you are
          familiar with; It is (it became) your "comfort zone" - your "normal". See below for more on
          Except, it isn't quite that simple - because it actually refers to a bewildering and
          confusing complexity that includes all areas and aspects of our lives: a process by,
          that begins in childhood, by which we begin to learn about, acquire, and largely
          internalize this "code" or "rules".
          This needs to be expanded upon to outline ALL the many "components" in, and
          of, "culture, which leads us to,
    *3b, Culture encompasses the entire range of phenomena that are transmitted through
              social learning in human societies. This means that it is carried over from one
              generation to the next: one of the reasons why "social change" is often very slow.

    Expanded outline:
    Cultural universals are found in all human societies; these include expressive forms
    like art, music, dance, ritual, religion, and technologies like tool usage, cooking,
    shelter, and clothing. It includes and involves shared patterns of behaviours and
    interactions, cognitive constructs and understanding, that are learned by socialization.
    Thus, it can be seen as the growth of a group identity fostered by social patterns
    unique to the group. We acquire it gradually, often without being aware of it, and  because
    we're unaware, we don't reflect on the things we're acquiring, nor do we
    examine them. And because of that, they go deep - and root themselves tenaciously
    - I encourage you to read  the Education-Socialization page. This is the process of the
    "Social Construction of our "reality".

    "Culture encompasses religion, food, what we wear, how we wear it, our language,
    marriage, music, what we believe is right or wrong, how we sit at the table, how we
    greet visitors, how we behave with loved ones, and a million other things." (Cristina
    De Rossi, an anthropologist at Barnet and Southgate College in London)

    So, what exactly is Culture?
    * Culture is the major determinant of what is "acceptable" - and what isn't; what is "possible",
       and what isn't; what is "permissible", and what isn't (in that culture).
    * Culture is what teaches us (informs and "programs or conditions" us) to what our
      "limits"  for achieving our potential are: and can enhance our  chances, or retard it.
    * The family is the smallest cultural unit or component of society - it is a culture itself: a form
       of "subculture" (culture within a culture - mini
       culture); and  it is our initial point of contact and interaction with "the world".
    * It is that way of life, and way of doing things, that you regard as "normal".
    * "Normal" really means "what you're used to" - other people's ways that are different  are called
        "strange", "weird", "crazy", "wacko", or "abnormal". For further  discussion on this, also see
         "Normal". The thing is, those "other people" regard  your way, in the same light.

                                Every human is born into an established "culture":
                                             whether it is "simple" or complex.
                        Our personal "worlds" are virtually Social Constructions:
                                                        achieved through Culture.

    Culture is important for, and in,  shaping social relationships, maintaining, enforcing and
    challenging social order (organization). Social "order" (conformity) is achieved
    through, rules, laws, peer pressure and ridicule (fear), etc. It also shapes and
    determines how we make sense of the world and our place in it, and in shaping our
    everyday actions and experiences in society. Culture is composed of both non-material
    and material things.

    "Social scientists" define the non-material aspects of culture as the values and beliefs,
    language and communication, and practices that are shared in common by a group of
    people. So far, this has covered the simplified aspects of culture: now comes the more
    complex, pervasive and insidious expanded view.

    The intrinsic all-inclusive aspects of Culture.
    * Culture is made up of our knowledge, common sense, assumptions, and expectations.
    * It is also the rules, norms, laws, and morals that govern society; the words we use as
      well as how we speak and write them (what sociologists call "discourse"); and the
      symbols we use to express meaning, ideas, and concepts (like traffic signs and emojis,
      for example).
    * Culture is also what we do and how we behave and perform (think theater and dance).
      It informs and is encapsulated in how we walk, sit, carry our bodies, and interact with
      others; how we behave depending on place, time, and "audience"; how we express
      identities of race, class, and gender and sexuality, among others.
    * Culture also includes the collective practices we participate in, such as religious
       ceremonies, the celebration of secular holidays, and attending sporting events.
    * Culture dictates everything about us - how we dress, what we eat, what we think, and
       how we think, where we live, how and what (or whom) we worship, how we earn a
       living, what rules and standards guide our lives; what our "value system" is; who to
       marry, or not. It "teaches" us about manners and rudeness.
    * It's what we base all our ideas and views about "what is appropriate" and "normal"on.

    Material culture is composed of the things that humans make and use. This aspect of
    culture includes a wide variety of things, from buildings, technological gadgets, and
    clothing, to film, music, literature, and art, among others. Aspects of material culture
    are more commonly referred to as cultural products.

    To Summarize: culture structures, shapes or creates our "reality":
    Family life
    Child rearing
    Myths and stories
    Sense of "right" and "wrong"
    Division of labour
    Birth and death rituals
    What a "man", "woman", and "child" is, etc, etc.
    it shapes everything; . . . . .

    But please note: at the same time it is also a medium and process of Indoctrination,
    Conditioning and Programming it is truly the Social construction OF our perceived Reality.
                   It is NOT reality itself - it is an artificially constructed one.