Why Do Humans Have Cultures?

Topics: Culture, Civilization, Anthropology Pages: 4 (1200 words) Published: May 22, 2006
To answer this elusive question it is necessary to define the term culture (there is not a static definition), "Culture means the total body of tradition borne by a society and transmitted from generation to generation. It thus refers to the norms, values, standards by which people act, and it includes the ways distinctive in each society of ordering the world and rendering it intelligible. Culture is...a set of mechanisms for survival, but it provides us also with a definition of reality. It is the matrix into which we are born; it is the anvil upon which our persons and destinies are forged." From this definition it is evident that culture is something learned and shared throughout generations and is also ever-changing. This essay will attempt to explore why humans have cultures as well as the need for it. What must be common in all of us that enable us to be so diverse? Theories will also be explored to grasp the idea of how culture has been embedded in our history.

To begin to answer this question it is necessary to go back to the commencement of human history. "Homo sapiens, the species to which we belong, has existed for about 100,000 years" Sociocultural evolution is an umbrella term for theories of cultural evolution and social evolution, describing how cultures and societies have developed over time. During the late 19th century the established conception of culture was that it evolved in a "uniform and progressive manner." Many of the theorists which includes Herbert Spencer and Tylor believed that most cultures/societies pass through the same stages or go up a unilineal ladder until they reach the last stage whereby they are civilized.

Therefore this theory proposes that societies such as hunter and gatherer societies are perceived to be at the bottom of the ladder or at the initial stage of progression, while cultures of the western world are the last and final stage where society is civilized. The Sociocultural evolution theory thus...
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