Is it possible to imagine our every day life without culture? To answer this question, it is enough to remember that humans are social animals, and their participation in social and cultural activities is one of the main issues which distinguish them from other animals in the world.
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If people forget about the importance of culture in their lives, they may lose a chance to be called a separate group with its own interests, demands, and preferences. There are many aspects which make this life a pure human one only, and the absence of one of such aspects may lead to unpredictable and usually frustrating results. The peculiar feature of culture that has to be inherent to society is its possibility to provide the necessary knowledge in order to survive and get used to the natural environment that cannot be neglected.
And when the time to answer the question whether culture essential to human life comes, there cannot be any doubts to underline its importance and significance. Culture is an integral part of human life, and its significance may be observed from several perspectives: as a powerful means for people to adapt to the environment they have to live in, as a crucial point for people to organize their lives and to follow the already established norms, and as a vital ability to comprehend and interpret people and events around.
Usually people make use of culture in order to improve their lives, develop their abilities, and promote the necessary progress in this life. Even taking into consideration the fact that people are regarded as the superior form of life in the world, human body and abilities are not as powerful and strong as the other forms may have.
For example, the physical state of a man is weaker than the one of the elephant, however, a man is able to handle the elephant and use its power and abilities to solve problems and make the right decision due to his cultural development.
Haviland, Walrath, and Prins (2007) admit that “a culture is essentially a maintenance system to ensure the continued well-being of a group of people” (p. 40) and underline its significance due to the possibility to survive in the society. So the development of culture plays an important role in human lives as it helps to utilize numerous factors and make use of them in accordance with humans’ demands and needs.
In fact, culture is that integral issue that makes human life possible because humans are able to comprehend, define, and realize what and why is required. “People are born with a propensity to learn the knowledge and behaviors of the group they were born into from observation, interaction, and communication with members of that group” (Peoples & Bailey, 2008, p. 36), this is why these very ways will be crucial considering the role of culture in human life.
Culture as a means of adaptation
By means of culture, people have a chance to gain the necessary knowledge about the natural environment they live in. Such awareness helps to survive under different conditions and be adapted to different challenges and problems.
It is not that easy to forecast all possible obstacles in this life, this is why when a person thinks that it is enough to be culturally education, he/she makes a huge mistake. It becomes more important to share all information between the members of the chosen culture and promote the spreading of this culture to other people.
Usually culture exists in a stable form that allows people rely on the same grounds and requirements to adapt the necessary environment. Many anthropologists admit that culture is a very significant point for people to survive in this world, and it is not a surprise that they regard adaptation as one of the most essential ways of how culture influences human life (Peoples & Bailey, 2008).
Culture helps to organize human life
Another powerful way of how culture may influence human life is its ability to organize properly the relations between people and the norms according to which these people have to live. “Human beings, in being born, are – uniquely among living creatures – cast into a world of culture” (Richardson, 2001, p. 1). Humans’ belonging to one concrete group is an inherent feature that can hardly be avoided, so people have to organize their lives, interests, and duties in accordance with the norms set by the culture.
This way of cultural influence on human life implies all those values, expectations, and relations which have to be used by an individual in order to communicate, cooperate, and express personal thoughts and ideas in a proper way. With the help of cultural awareness, people realize what actions are acceptable in this society and what actions have to be avoided; people learn how to develop relations with relatives, friends, and strangers; and finally, people understand what steps have to be taken to achieve the purposes set.
Culture and interpretation of human life
The final idea of how culture may influence and make human life possible is all about interpretation of reality. Culture is the only responsible item that helps people perceive and analyze the events which happen to them. In other words, “culture provides a filter or screen that affects how we perceive the world through our senses” (Peoples & Bailey, 2008, p. 36). Urgency of the action may serve as a powerful example of how culture influences this life.
There are some events and actions which are very important in our life, for example pregnancy or eating. Culture helps people comprehend why all this is urgent and when it is better to take these steps. And the issues like driving a car, buying new clothes, or make up are not that important, and culture informs people why these aspects may be considered as such.
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In general, culture should be regarded as “an integral composed of partly autonomous, partly coordinated institutions” (Valsiner, 2000). This is why its impact on human life and its development is considered to be an important issue to discuss. Culture is a powerful and essential means used by people to be adapted to surroundings, to interpret personal understanding of this world, and to organize personal thoughts and actions.
Now it is clear that culture makes human life possible in many different ways such as organization, adaptation, and interpretation. To gain better understanding of why culture is essential in this life, it becomes necessary to evaluate how absence of culture may influence the current state of affairs and what outcomes are possible if people fail to accept culture as an integral part of their life.
Haviland, W.A., Walrath, D., & Prins, H.E.L. (2007). Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Peoples, J. & Bailey, G. (2008). Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
Richardson, M. (2001). The Experience of Culture. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publication, Ltd.
Valsiner, J. (2000). Culture and Human Development: An Introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.