What is the difference between culture and heritage?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to the Umass Amherst Center, heritage is defined as the "full range of our inherited traditions" which includes things like language, literature, style of dress, songs, and buildings. Heritage is not just about preserving old things. In fact, heritage includes ideas and memories, too. So, it is about preserving our shared past rather than just keeping specific items.

In contrast, according to Texas A&M University, culture has many different definitions. For some, culture refers to the "way of life" of a particular group of people. But it might also refer to the behaviors learned through socialization or the shared knowledge and experiences of a particular group in society. 

So, there is a key distinction to remember between these two concepts: heritage refers to the things that we inherit, while culture is about what we create.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Heritage is what we inherit. It includes customs, language and values. Culture is what we live. It includes following our heritage and the day to day living of our country or locale. Culture evolves and changes, but our heritage is what came before.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Culture refers to the daily living, attitudes, traditions, and norms of a society. One's cultural values can change over a lifetime as a person moves or participates in norms of a society in different places. Culture changes over time as technology and industry change.

Heritage is not capable of change. Heritage includes a set of ethnic traits you are born with or inherit. You can't change yourself from European to Hispanic or Asian. This is inside of you.

Culture is our outward display of our values and living attitudes, it often reflects heritage, but the two are not the same.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial