The element of Culture: Let’s kick start this article by asking the question: What is culture? Culture can be defined as the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.
Elements of culture.
Artifacts can be seen as everyday objects, such as a bunch of flowers in reception.
The main fact is that they have special meaning, at least for the people in the culture.
The stories about them may be well told.
Artifacts are part of the physical things that were found to have particular symbolism for a culture.
Culture may even be endowed with mystical properties.
The first products of a company.
Prizes won in grueling challenges and so on are all artifacts.
The purpose of artifacts are as reminders and triggers.
When people in the culture see them, they think about their meaning and hence are reminded of their identity as a member of the culture, and, by association, of the rules of the culture.
Artifacts may also be used in specific rituals.
Churches do this, of course.
But so also do organizations.
Stories, histories, myths, legends, jokes
Culture is often attached and transmitted through stories, whether they are deep and obviously intended as learning devices, or whether they appear more subtly, for example in humor and jokes.
A typical story includes a notorious person (often shady and unnamed) and a good guy (often the founder or a prototypical cultural member).
There may also be an innocent.
The story evolves in a classic format, with the bad guy being spotted and vanquished by the good guy, with the innocent being rescued and learning the greatness of the culture into the bargain.
Sometimes there stories are true.
Sometimes nobody knows.
Sometimes they are elaborations on a relatively simple truth.
The power of the stories are in when and how they are told, and the effect they have on their recipients.
Rituals, rites, ceremonies, celebrations
Rituals are processes or sets of actions which are repeated in specific circumstances and with specific meaning.
They may be used in such as rites of passage, such as when someone is promoted or retires.
They may be associated with company events such as the release of a new event.
They may also be associated with everyday events such as Christmas.
Whatever the circumstance, the predictability of the rituals and the seriousness of the meaning all combine to sustain the culture.
Heroes in culture are named people who act as prototypes, or idealized examples, by which cultural members learn of the corrector ‘perfect’ behavior.
The classic heroes are the founders of the organization, who are often portrayed as much whiter and perfect than they actually are or were.
Heroes may also be such as the janitor who tackled a burglar or a customer-service agent who went out of their way to delight a customer.
In such stories they symbolize and teach people the ideal behaviors and norms of the culture.
Symbols and symbolic action
Symbols, like artifacts, are things that act as triggers to remind people in the culture of its rules, beliefs, etc.
They act as a shorthand way to keep people aligned.
Symbols can also be used to indicate status within a culture.
This includes clothing, office decor and so on.
Status symbols signal to others to help them use the correct behavior with others in the hierarchy.
They also lock in the users of the symbols into prescribed behaviors that are appropriate for their status and position.
There may be many symbols around an organization, from pictures of products on the walls to the words and handshakes used in greeting cultural members from around the world.
Beliefs, assumptions and mental models
An organization and culture will often share beliefs and ways of understanding the world.
This helps smooth communications and agreement, but can also become fatal blinkers that blind everyone to impending dangers.
Attitudes are the external displays of underlying beliefs that people use to signal to other people of their membership.
This includes internal members (look: I’m conforming to the rules. Please don’t exclude me).
Attitudes can also be used to give warning, such as when a member of a court eyes up a member of the public.
By using a long hard stare, they are using national cultural symbolism to indicate their threat.
Rules, norms, ethical codes, values
The norms and values of a culture are effectively the rules by which its members must abide or risk rejection from the culture (which is one of the most feared sanctions known).
They are embedded in the artifacts, symbols, stories, attitudes, and so on.
What is cultural artifact?
A cultural artifact is a terminology used in the social sciences, particularly anthropology, ethnology, and sociology for anything created by humans which provides information about the culture of its creator and users.
Historical Cultural Artifacts
So, how do we come across this cultural artifact? Archaeologists uncover many historically-significant artifacts that shed some light on how people lived in ancient societies.
Remember, most of what we think we know about prehistoric civilizations is interpretation rather than hard fact.
Modern Cultural Artifacts
Not all cultural artifacts are ancient.
We are making, purchasing, selling, and throwing out items every day that could be considered cultural artifacts.
Just as a Stone Age figurine of a fertility goddess can hint at the level of technology and medical knowledge of that time, a smartphone can be used as evidence of the way people communicate in the early 21st century.
That is it on The element of Culture – All You Need To Know.
I hope this article was helpful.