Why is man a cultural being?

Why is man a cultural being?

Why is man a cultural being?


Human beings are cultural by nature because they are capable of learning, transmitting and modifying their behavior, thinking and knowledge through shared norms, values ​​and social practices. Anthropologist Clifford Geertz defined culture as “a system of meaningful symbols” that allows people to understand and interact with their world. Thus, culture is not just a set of customs, beliefs and technologies, but a fundamental dimension of human existence.

Education, family, religion, art, media, politics and economics are all areas that help shape the culture of a given society. For example, the way parents raise their children or how schools teach history and science can influence the values ​​and expectations of future generations. Likewise, artists and writers can convey their worldview through their works. Mass media also impacts culture by disseminating social norms and representations that can be accepted or challenged by the public.


Man is a cultural being because he is sociable and dependent on cooperation and communication with others to survive and thrive. Unlike other animals, humans are not born with innate instincts that allow them to adapt to all environments. On the contrary, he must learn from his peers how to feed, protect himself, reproduce and understand himself and others. Culture is therefore an adaptive response to the complexity and diversity of the social and natural environment in which man evolves.

Culture also allows man to acquire a collective and personal identity which gives him a sense of belonging and difference. By referring to common values, symbols and traditions, individuals can recognize themselves as part of a group and distinguish themselves from other groups. For example, language, religion, ethnicity and nation are elements of culture that define the identity of individuals and societies.

Where ?

Culture is present wherever there are human beings, because it is the product and vector of their interaction. However, each human group has its own culture, which can be influenced or influence neighboring or distant cultures. Cultural diversity is therefore one of the most remarkable characteristics of humanity, but it can also lead to conflicts or misunderstandings between cultures.


All human beings are involved in the production and reception of culture, but some are more active than others depending on their social role and their economic, political or symbolic power. Artists, intellectuals, religious leaders, teachers, journalists and policy makers have a particular influence on the definition and dissemination of culture. However, ordinary people also have a say in creating, adopting, or resisting the cultural norms around them. Cultural pluralism is therefore a crucial issue in social and political life.

Figures and examples

According to UNESCO, there are approximately 7 languages ​​in the world, more than half of which are threatened with extinction in the coming decades due to globalization and the dominance of certain international languages ​​such as English. This linguistic diversity reflects the cultural diversity and local ways of life that have evolved throughout history. Indigenous languages, for example, are often linked to specific ecosystems and traditional knowledge about plants and animals.

Rites of passage, such as puberty or marriage, are examples of cultural practices that mark the transition from one social status to another. These rituals can vary greatly between cultures and reflect different values ​​such as individualism or solidarity. For example, among the Amish, a religious community in the United States, the rite of passage for children involves a two-year probation period during which they can decide whether they want to stay in the community or leave it permanently.

Similar questions or searches

1. How does globalization affect cultural diversity?
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of cultural standardization?
3. What are the ethical implications of cultural appropriation?
4. How can culture be used as a tool of power?
5. What are the current trends in cultural diversity in mass media?
6. How can culture contribute to the resolution of intercultural conflicts?
7. What is the role of education in the transmission and preservation of culture?
8. How are new media changing the way we construct our cultural identity?

– Geertz, C. (1973). Interpretation of cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books.
– UNESCO (nd). Endangered languages. Accessed June 3, 2023, from https://en.unesco.org/themes/endangered-languages
– Nisbett, RE, & Masuda, T. (2003). Culture and point of view. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(19), 11163-11170.

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