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
    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 outsiders.
    *(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:
                           "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.

    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 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.
    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".
      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 mentioned above. This
is the process of "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 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