The word "culture" nowadays is used in so many peripheral contexts that its original meaning has been submerged. For example, we have a "popular culture", by which is meant the collective human intellectual achievements. There is a "consumerist culture", which is taken by some as a determinant of the status of a person along with his educational success and/or financial strength. To be an integral part of this culture, one has to have a higher spending power, which yields a greater availability of materialistic pleasures and facilities. We also hear of an "emerging culture", which reflects the attitudes and the behavioral characteristics of a particular social group. An emerging drug or pub culture
among the youngsters of today is an example. Modern colleges and universities take pride in their "competitive culture" that helps to bring out the best in students and aid their intellectual development. However, none
of these descriptions highlight the essential features of the true meaning of "culture".
The concept of culture:
Intellectuals and thinkers of the world have defined and analysed "culture" in their own way. Prof. Edward Burnett Tylor, a famous 19th century English anthropologist, gave one of the first clear definitions of culture
in the West. He defined culture
as a complex collection of "knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society".1 According to Matthew Arnold, a poet of the Victorian era, culture
means "contact with the best which has been thought and said in the world".2 He considered culture
as a "study of perfection". Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, described culture
as the outcome and basis of training, establishment and development of physical and mental potentials. Sri Rajgopalacharya, the first Governor General of British India, defined it as the collective expression of the thoughts, speeches and deeds of the learned, talented or creative members of a society or a nation. In the 1950s, A. L. Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn collected over a hundred definitions of culture.
A modern definition of culture
is given by anthropologist William A. Haviland in Cultural Anthropology as follows: "Culture is a set of rules or standards that, when acted upon by the members of a society, produce behaviour that falls within a range of variance the members consider proper and acceptable."3 In other words, culture
does not refer to the behaviour that is observed but to values and beliefs which generate behaviour. Some modern definitions of culture
tend to be inclusive of the "emerging culture" of society. For instance, in Culture
and Modernity, Roop Rekha Verma defines culture
as "a system of the patterns and the modes of expectations, expressions, values, institutionalisation and enjoyment habits of people in general."4 Note the inclusion of the term "enjoyment habits"...