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What factors influence culture?What are the characteristics of culture?

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selmi1 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 28, 2009 at 10:51 PM via web

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What factors influence culture?

What are the characteristics of culture?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted August 29, 2009 at 2:17 AM (Answer #1)

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Another great influence on culture is geography. Cultural development is often a function of in what part of the world a culture is situated.  If the geography is such that it is easy to hunt game, a culture will have attributes that emphasize that feature, for example, stories about hunting, ceremonies that feature hunting skills, etc.  If a people is in a coastal area, water is likely to play an important part in the culture.  In Japan, for example, there are creation myths that draw heavily on the fact that Japan is a place surrounded by water.  Also, Japanese food relies heavily on its natural resources, fish and land that lends itself to rice-growing.  Japan is also a good example of how cultural attributes such as art forms are a function of geography.  Because Japan is an island nation, space is severely limited. This generates art forms such as the haiku, which is a very tiny poem, and bonsai, which creates a tree of great beauty in a very small pot.  Desert cultures have very different attributes, for example, burial customs that allow bodies to be buried quite quickly.  If you look at geography, you will usually find a connection with culture. 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 29, 2009 at 12:33 AM (Answer #2)

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"Culture" is a broad term and can constitute many elements.  One factor that influences culture can be national identity.  The experiences of a group of people on the level of one's nation can play a large role in determining culture, for example, "American culture" or "Indian culture."  Another element that can help determine culture is language.  Spoken modes of communication can help to establish its own sense of culture.  An example of this would be in South America.  Spanish is spoken in many parts of the continent, yet in Brazil, Portuguese is the language spoken, helping to contribute to a different mode of culture between Brazil and other parts of the continent.  Religion and spirituality can also influence the development of culture.  Essentially, the shared mode of communication and valences of appreciation can help to influence and determine cultural values and association.

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