What is Cultural Identity?
Culture is a broad umbrella term that encompasses the common social behavior and attitudes found in most human societies, the shared beliefs, practices, arts, codes, laws, traditions, skills, and talents of the people in those societies, and the institutions created to maintain these differences. Each culture has established its own way of doing things and reacting to situations. While all cultures share some universal traits, there are also significant differences between different cultures. Differences may be based on language, religion, norms, values, food, custom, and other aspects of everyday life.
In recent years, it has become more fashionable to speak of culture, especially when it comes to issues of public concern such as immigration, political parties, and health care. A large part of understanding cultural differences comes from the definition of culture given by Merriam Webster’s dictionary. According to this definition, a culture is “the general disposition of individuals to a common standard of life in various geographical areas.” Another view of culture holds that culture is the “wide umbrella concept that pervades human societies, including all the variations within humanity.” Still, another school of thought maintains that culture is “an inherited form of social organization and identity” that “determines the relative significance of persons and their roles within a society.”
The debate concerning definitions of culture continues, but it seems to have one settled fact: cultural identity is the primary force shaping the identity of individuals within a society. This is evident in the differences between cultures, for example, the differences between Chinese cultures and Western cultures. These cultural identities have emerged out of the history and continue to shape our lives today. Individuals who belong to a certain culture or social class are considered members of that culture and have certain characteristics associated with that social class. These characteristics are rooted in the history of the people and communities who inhabited the lands where they lived.