Culture: Evaluation of Concepts and Definitions in Relation to Conflict and Peacebuilding

Culture: Evaluation of Concepts and Definitions in Relation to Conflict and Peacebuilding

Mbosowo Bassey Udok (University of Uyo, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2574-6.ch004
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Human existence as a whole is attached to a culture. Every human is a member of a group that acts within the framework of patterns of behavior that is unique or peculiar to the group. Each group determines the component of her culture, and culture builds an identity for the group. This chapter is poised to examine definitions of culture across cultural backgrounds to show similarities and differences in articulating the subject matter. It explicates the components of culture which include the product and technical knowledge of human beings in a given environment. The work plunges into the characteristics of culture as socially based. Here, culture is seen as a creation of society and shared among members of the same society and learned through associations with others in the group. The work concludes that though there is no universally acceptable definition of culture, the impact of culture cannot be undermined as its influence is felt across disciplines and communities.
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Religious Approaches To Culture

It is obvious that scholars in many disciplines are interested in culture, especially, the cultural roles and the influence of culture on their discipline. Religion is not left out. From the African perspective, religion permeates every facet of society. Here, John Mbiti, as quoted by Tite Tienou (1980) conveys that culture shows itself in art and literature, dance, music and drama, in the styles of building houses and of people’s clothing, in social organization and political system, ethics, morals and philosophy, the customs and institutions of the people, in their values and laws, in their economic life and in their religious lives (1990:8). All these are demonstrable in the religion of a people. For example, in the traditional Ibibio society, new farming year is marked with religious festival where the new farming activities are handed over to the Supreme Being in prayer. Today with the influence of Christianity, some churches request the farming implements and seedlings to be brought to the church for prayers and dedication before the farming year begins. In the same vein, the foundation of a house is dedicated to God before the building is raised. Thanksgiving prayer is made at the completion of any project namely, educational achievement, family building, promotion in the work place and the like.

According to John Mbiti in his lecture on religion and culture given to the Pan African Christian leadership Assembly in 1976 as quoted by Tienou (1990:20), proposed the following definition:

Culture is the human pattern of life in response to man’s environment. This pattern is expressed in physical forms (such as agriculture, the arts, technology etc) in inter human relations (such as institutions, laws, customs etc), and in form of reflection on the total reality of life (such as language, Philosophy, religions, spiritual values, world view, the riddle of life-birth-death etc).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Diversity of Culture: Diversity refers to what constitutes differences and at the same time, encompasses acceptance and respect. Diversity of culture therefore means understanding that differences in culture abound. It also holds that a people’s culture is unique despite the differences it has with other cultures in comparison; therefore, it needs to be respected.

Peace-Building: It is the process that facilitates the sustainability of peace within a cultural involves putting up a mechanism to curb if not stop reoccurrence of conflict or violence in society.

Cultural Anthropology: This concept studies human societies in relation to their cultural milieu. It involves a sum total of what they share in common among themselves.

Culture: It is the total way of life of a people which involves ideas, customs, traditions, beliefs, bahaviour, laws, norms, and indeed a total worldview of a people in a particular society.

Cultural Psychology: This concept is all about how culture influences the mind or thinking of a people in a community. Culture shapes the thinking of the people and their thinking also shapes their cultural practices.

Dialogue: This refers to a conversation between two or more persons or group of persons within or outside a cultural area.

Ethnicity: This term refers to a social group with cultural identity. It concerns a group of people who share same or common ancestry, language, history, folklore, etc. It is in ethnicity that membership of an ethnic group is conceived.

Cultural Sociology: This refers to the sociological approaches to culture basically the historical processes involved in cultural phenomena such as philosophy (their intellectuality), etymology (their origin), religion and myth (their beliefs), law and custom (what they practice), institutions (their relationships), Language (or any other form of identity), agriculture, arts, and technology (their means of living).

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