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Culture 101

Woman in kimono holding mug of tea.
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There are literally hundreds of definitions and understandings of culture. Among those many definitions the consistent commonalities are:

  • Culture is a web of meaning shared by members of a society or group—a shared system of beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that group members use to cope with their world and one another.
  • Culture is complex—we all are influenced in different ways by the groups to which we belong.
  • Culture may change over time—new influences may arise, old ones may fade, and some influences may strengthen or weaken over time.
  • People can decide which groups they allow to influence them and can ignore certain cultural influences.
Aerial view of the Great Wall of China.