Do Human Beings Acquire Culture?
humans are in the process of acquiring our culture, consciously and
throughout our lives, though most of our basic cultural
understandings are acquired early on from our parents and other intimates,
schools, and religious teachings. By the time a child is 5 years old,
many of the foundational aspects of culture have been internalized. By
the teen years, these foundations have been thoroughly elaborated upon
through the process of socialization.
It is important to
remember that culture is learned through language and modeling others;
it is not
genetically transmitted. Culture is encoded
in the structure, vocabulary, and semantics of language. Persons acquainted
with more than one language are aware that there are concepts, norms,
and emotions that are available in one language/culture that are not
available in the other, and this is a reminder of the inextricable
link between language and culture.
Much of culture is
acquired out of consciousness, through exposure to the speech, judgments,
of others. Because we learn all
our lives, we are constantly learning our cultures. We may even pick
up and incorporate parts and pieces of a culture different from our
own through that process known as acculturation if we have the opportunity
to live in a different cultural environment or associate frequently
persons from another culture.
The unconscious operation
of cultural learnings in our minds is both beneficial and problematic.
It is beneficial
in the sense that much
of the time we automatically know how to behave appropriately in
and we have values by which to rapidly evaluate the actions and
ideas of others. On the other hand, the internalization of our cultural
values ill prepares us for interaction with, and evaluation of,