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Introduction

Celebrations, rituals and patterns of consumption are important aspects of folk culture.

Culture (/ˈkʌlər/) is the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. 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. The concept of material culture covers the physical expressions of culture, such as technology, architecture and art, whereas the immaterial aspects of culture such as principles of social organization (including practices of political organization and social institutions), mythology, philosophy, literature (both written and oral), and science comprise the intangible cultural heritage of a society.

In the humanities, one sense of culture as an attribute of the individual has been the degree to which they have cultivated a particular level of sophistication in the arts, sciences, education, or manners. The level of cultural sophistication has also sometimes been seen to distinguish civilizations from less complex societies. Such hierarchical perspectives on culture are also found in class-based distinctions between a high culture of the social elite and a low culture, popular culture, or folk culture of the lower classes, distinguished by the stratified access to cultural capital. In common parlance, culture is often used to refer specifically to the symbolic markers used by ethnic groups to distinguish themselves visibly from each other such as body modification, clothing or jewelry. Mass culture refers to the mass-produced and mass mediated forms of consumer culture that emerged in the 20th century. Some schools of philosophy, such as Marxism and critical theory, have argued that culture is often used politically as a tool of the elites to manipulate the lower classes and create a false consciousness, and such perspectives are common in the discipline of cultural studies. In the wider social sciences, the theoretical perspective of cultural materialism holds that human symbolic culture arises from the material conditions of human life, as humans create the conditions for physical survival, and that the basis of culture is found in evolved biological dispositions.

Selected general articles

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Cultural differences can interact with positive psychology to create great variation, potentially impacting positive psychology interventions. Culture influences how people seek psychological help, their definitions of social structure, and coping strategies. Read more...
  • Visiting a popconcert in leather and Mohawk hairstyle on a horse with motor steering stem

    Alternative culture is a type of culture that exists outside or on the fringes of mainstream or popular culture, usually under the domain of one or more subcultures. These subcultures may have little or nothing in common besides their relative obscurity, but cultural studies uses this common basis of obscurity to classify them as alternative cultures, or, taken as a whole, the alternative culture. Compare with the more politically charged term, counterculture. Read more...
  • Rape rates (police reported) per 100,000 population, 2010–2012

    Rape culture is a sociological concept for a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, refusing to acknowledge the harm caused by sexual violence, or some combination of these. It has been used to describe and explain behavior within social groups, including prison rape and in conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare. Entire societies have been alleged to be rape cultures.

    The notion of rape culture was developed by second-wave feminists, primarily in the United States, beginning in the 1970s. Critics of the concept dispute the existence or extent of rape culture, arguing that the concept is too narrow or that, although there are cultures where rape is pervasive, the idea of a rape culture can imply that the rapist is not at fault but rather the society that enables rape. Read more...
  • Western culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture, and a large portion of the population of the Western hemisphere can be described as cultural Christians. The notion of "Europe" and the "Western World" has been intimately connected with the concept of "Christianity and Christendom" many even credit the synthesis of a unified European identity to Christianity.

    Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and 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 artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are European. The development of western culture has been strongly influenced by Christianity.

    Western culture is characterized by a host of artistic, philosophic, literary and legal themes and traditions; the heritage of various European peoples. Christianity, including the Roman Catholic Church, Protestantism and the Orthodox Church,, has also played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization since at least the 4th century as did Judaism (particularly Hellenistic Judaism and Jewish Christianity). Before the Cold War era, the traditional Western viewpoint identified Western civilization with the Western Christian (Catholic-Protestant) countries and culture. Read more...
  • Visual culture is the aspect of culture expressed in visual images. Many academic fields study this subject, including cultural studies, art history, critical theory, philosophy, media studies, and anthropology. Read more...
  • Internet culture, or cyberculture, is the culture that has emerged, or is emerging, from the use of computer networks for communication, entertainment, and business. Internet culture is also the study of various social phenomena associated with the Internet and other new forms of the network communication, such as online communities, online multi-player gaming, wearable computing, social gaming, social media, mobile apps, augmented reality, and texting, and includes issues related to identity, privacy, and network formation. Read more...
  • Cultural history combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural interpretations of historical experience. It examines the records and narrative descriptions of past matter, encompassing the continuum of events (occurring in succession and leading from the past to the present and even into the future) pertaining to a culture.

    Cultural history records and interprets past events involving human beings through the social, cultural, and political milieu of or relating to the arts and manners that a group favors. Jacob Burckhardt (1818–1897) helped found cultural history as a discipline. Cultural history studies and interprets the record of human societies by denoting the various distinctive ways of living built up by a group of people under consideration. Cultural history involves the aggregate of past cultural activity, such as ceremony, class in practices, and the interaction with locales. Read more...
  • Cultural probes (or design probes) is a technique used to inspire ideas in a design process. It serves as a means of gathering inspirational data about people's lives, values and thoughts. The probes are small packages that can include any sort of artifact (like a map, postcard, camera or diary) along with evocative tasks, which are given to participants to allow them to record specific events, feelings or interactions. The aim is to elicit inspirational responses from people, in order to understand their culture, thoughts and values better, and thus stimulate designer's imaginations.Probes is one of the prominent approaches in the practice of co-designing. It is design-led approaches as described by the landscape of design research and practice. probes are usually used in the early front end of the design process. The probes were not designed to be analyzed, nor did we summarize what they revealed about the sites as an explicit stage in the process. Rather, the design proposals we produced reflected what we learned from the materials.Furthermore, probes were born to gather “fragmentary clues” about people’s “lives and thoughts” which means they are tools to inspire - others argue that they can be used to, provide relevant information and gather empathetic data. Read more...
  • A cultural critic is a critic of a given culture, usually as a whole and typically on a radical basis. There is significant overlap with social and cultural theory. Read more...
  • In the field of sociology, cultural capital comprises the social assets of a person (education, intellect, style of speech, style of dress, etc.) that promote social mobility in a stratified society. Cultural capital functions as a social-relation within an economy of practices (system of exchange), and comprises all of the material and symbolic goods, without distinction, that society considers rare and worth seeking. As a social relation within a system of exchange, cultural capital includes the accumulated cultural knowledge that confers social status and power.

    In "Cultural Reproduction and Social Reproduction" (1977), Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron presented cultural capital to conceptually explain the differences among the levels of performance and academic achievement of children within the educational system of France in the 1960s; and further developed the concept in the essay "The Forms of Capital" (1985) and in the book The State Nobility: Élite Schools in the Field of Power (1996). Read more...
  • Traveler from Australia visiting a small farm in Sierra Leone.

    Culture shock is an experience a person may have when one moves to a cultural environment which is different from one's own; it is also the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country, a move between social environments, or simply transition to another type of life. One of the most common causes of culture shock involves individuals in a foreign environment. Culture shock can be described as consisting of at least one of four distinct phases: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment, and adaptation.

    Common problems include: information overload, language barrier, generation gap, technology gap, skill interdependence, formulation dependency, homesickness (cultural), boredom (job dependency), response ability (cultural skill set). There is no true way to entirely prevent culture shock, as individuals in any society are personally affected by cultural contrasts differently. Read more...
  • Participatory culture is an opposing concept to consumer culture — in other words a culture in which private individuals (the public) do not act as consumers only, but also as contributors or producers (prosumers). The term is most often applied to the production or creation of some type of published media. Recent advances in technologies (mostly personal computers and the Internet) have enabled private persons to create and publish such media, usually through the Internet. Since the technology now enables new forms of expression and engagement in public discourse, participatory culture not only supports individual creation but also informal relationships that pair novices with experts. This new culture as it relates to the Internet has been described as Web 2.0. In participatory culture "young people creatively respond to a plethora of electronic signals and cultural commodities in ways that surprise their makers, finding meanings and identities never meant to be there and defying simple nostrums that bewail the manipulation or passivity of "consumers."

    The increasing access to the Internet has come to play an integral part in the expansion of participatory culture because it increasingly enables people to work collaboratively; generate and disseminate news, ideas, and creative works; and connect with people who share similar goals and interests (see affinity groups). The potential of participatory culture for civic engagement and creative expression has been investigated by media scholar Henry Jenkins. In 2005, Jenkins and co-authors Ravi Purushotma, Katie Clinton, Margaret Weigel and Alice Robison authored a white paper entitled Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. This paper describes a participatory culture as one: Read more...
  • The Monument to Multiculturalism in Toronto, Canada. Four identical sculptures are located in Buffalo City, South Africa; in Changchun, China; in Sarajevo, Bosnia and in Sydney, Australia.


    The term multiculturalism has a range of meanings within the contexts of sociology, of political philosophy, and of colloquial use. In sociology and in everyday usage, it is a synonym for "ethnic pluralism", with the two terms often used interchangeably, for example, a cultural pluralism in which various ethnic groups collaborate and enter into a dialogue with one another without having to sacrifice their particular identities. It can describe a mixed ethnic community area where multiple cultural traditions exist (such as New York City) or a single country within which they do (such as Switzerland, Belgium or Russia). Groups associated with an aboriginal or autochthonous ethnic group and foreigner ethnic groups are often the focus.

    In reference to sociology, multiculturalism is the end-state of either a natural or artificial process (for example: legally-controlled immigration) and occurs on either a large national scale or on a smaller scale within a nation's communities. On a smaller scale this can occur artificially when a jurisdiction is established or expanded by amalgamating areas with two or more different cultures (e.g. French Canada and English Canada). On a large scale, it can occur as a result of either legal or illegal migration to and from different jurisdictions around the world (for example, Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain by Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the 5th century or the colonization of the Americas by Europeans, Africans and Asians since the 16th century). Read more...
  • Roman ruins with a prophet, by Giovanni Pannini, 1751. The artistic cultural heritage of the Roman Empire served as a foundation for later Western culture, particularly via the Renaissance and Neoclassicism (as exemplified here).

    Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that is inherited from past generations.

    Cultural heritage includes tangible culture (such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts), intangible culture (such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge), and natural heritage (including culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity). Read more...
  • Legal cultures are described as being temporary outcomes of interactions and occur pursuant to a challenge and response paradigm. Analyses of core legal paradigms shape the characteristics of individual and distinctive legal cultures.
    “Comparative legal cultures are examined by a field of scholarship, which is situated at the line bordering comparative law and historical jurisprudence.”

    Legal cultures can be examined by reference to fundamentally different legal systems. However, such cultures can also be differentiated between systems with a shared history and basis which are now otherwise influenced by factors that encourage cultural change. Students learn about legal culture in order to better understand how the law works in society. This can be seen as the study of Law and Society. These studies are available at schools such as Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Read more...
  • Ming dynasty painting by Chen Hongshou showing a scholar-gentleman (literati) with a guqin
    High culture encompasses the cultural products of aesthetic value, which a society collectively esteem as exemplary art. It may also include intellectual works considered to be of supreme philosophical, historical, or literary value, as well as the education which cultivates such aesthetic and intellectual pursuits. In popular usage, the term high culture identifies the culture of an upper class (an aristocracy) or of a status class (the intelligentsia); and also identifies a society’s common repository of broad-range knowledge and tradition (e.g. folk culture) that transcends the social-class system of the society. Sociologically, the term high culture is contrasted with the term low culture, the forms of popular culture characteristic of the less-educated social classes, such as the barbarians, the Philistines, and hoi polloi (the masses). Read more...
  • Painting of a turn-of-century trading fair, Hessisches Volksfest (Hessian Folk Festival), 1887, Louis Toussaint (1826-1887), Öl auf Leinwand.

    Cultural globalization refers to the transmission of ideas,
    meanings, and values around the world in such a way as to extend and intensify social relations. This process is marked by the common consumption of cultures that have been diffused by the Internet, popular culture media, and international travel. This has added to processes of commodity exchange and colonization which have a longer history of carrying cultural meaning around the globe. The circulation of cultures enables individuals to partake in extended social relations that cross national and regional borders. The creation and expansion of such social relations is not merely observed on a material level. Cultural globalization involves the formation of shared norms and knowledge with which people associate their individual and collective cultural identities. It brings increasing interconnectedness among different populations and cultures. Read more...
  • A dominant culture is a cultural practice that is dominant within a particular political, social or economic entity, in which multiple cultures are present. It may refer to a language, religion/ritual, social value and/or social custom. These features are often a norm for an entire society. It achieves dominance by being perceived as pertaining to a majority of the population and having a significant presence in institutions relating to communication, education, artistic expression, law, government and business. The concept of "dominant culture" is generally used in academic discourse in fields such as sociology, anthropology and cultural studies.

    The culture that is dominant within a particular geopolitical entity can change over time in response to internal or external factors, but one is usually very resilient and able to reproduce itself effectively from generation to generation. In a multicultural society, various cultures are celebrated and respected equally. A dominant culture can be promoted deliberately and by the suppression of minority cultures or subcultures. Read more...
  • Émile Bernard, Smoking Hashish, 1900.

    Cannabis culture describes a social atmosphere or series of associated social behaviors that depends heavily upon cannabis consumption, particularly as an entheogen, recreational drug and medicine.

    Historically cannabis has been used an entheogen to enduce spiritual experiences - most notably in the Indian subcontinent since the Vedic period dating back to approximately 1500 BCE, but perhaps as far back as 2000 BCE. Its entheogenic use was also recorded in Ancient China, the Germanic peoples, the Celts, Ancient Central Asia, and Africa. In modern times, spiritual use of the drug is mostly associated with the Rastafari movement of Jamaica. Several Western subcultures have had marijuana consumption as an idiosyncratic feature, such as hippies, beatniks, hipsters (both the 1940s subculture and the contemporary subculture), ravers and hip hop. Read more...
  • Refugees fleeing war and insecurity in Iraq and Syria arrive at Lesbos Island, supported by Spanish volunteers, 2015

    Security is freedom from, or resilience against, potential harm (or other unwanted coercive change) from external forces. Beneficiaries (technically referents) of security may be persons and social groups, objects and institutions, ecosystems, and any other entity or phenomenon vulnerable to unwanted change by its environment.
    Security mostly refers to protection from hostile forces, but it has a wide range of other senses: for example, as the absence of harm (e.g. freedom from want); as the presence of an essential good (e.g. food security); as resilience against potential damage or harm (e.g. secure foundations); as secrecy (e.g. a secure telephone line); as containment (e.g. a secure room or cell); and as a state of mind (e.g. emotional security). Read more...
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    In the news

    15 January 2019 – Prayagraj Kumbh 2019
    The largest human gathering in the world, the Kumbh Mela festival, starts at Prayagraj (previously known as Allahabad), India. (The Guardian)
    13 January 2019 –
    A man stabs the Mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, on stage at a Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity event in Gdańsk, Poland. (The Guardian)
    6 January 2019 –
    The death toll from a storm that devastated the Philippines shortly after Christmas rises to 126. (News24)
    5 January 2019 – 2018 Moscow–Constantinople schism
    Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I signs the independence decree ('tomos') officially separating the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Russian Orthodox Church as autocephalous Church. (NPR)
    2 January 2019 – China–United States trade war (2018–present)
    American electronics maker Apple warns that iPhone sales are slowing significantly and the product is in weak demand, blaming trade tensions with China. The company says that it has lowered its expected fiscal earnings for the first quarter as a result, citing disappointing holiday sales figures, and that it could lose $9 billion due to the decline. (The Verge)
    2 January 2019 – Indigenous territories of Brazil
    President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro issues a decree to place the responsibility for "identification, delimitation, demarcation and registration of lands traditionally occupied by indigenous people" at the Ministry of Agriculture, instead of the indigenous peoples affairs agency, FUNAI. The management of public forests also goes to the agriculture ministry. The move is seen as a big win for the industrial agribusiness lobby. (Reuters)

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