How is Culture Transmitted from One Generation to Another?

Alex Williams
9 Min Read

The culture in every society is passed down to generations. Have you ever wondered how is culture transmitted? Ever since a child is born, cultural transmission occurs. This transmission may be direct or indirect. Culture gets transmitted from one region to another by several means; nowadays, the Internet has shrunk the world into a pocket-sized entity. The ability to contact people from different sides of the globe has radically influenced the transmission of culture. Continue reading the article to know more about the culture and its means of transmission.

1. What is Culture? Culture Definition & Meaning

Culture is something you carry from your past and will be an inalienable part of humankind even in the future. Several social norms have roots in ideologies that have existed since the beginning of time. A collection of these ideologies gave birth to a dominant discourse that translates to culture.

Culture also stands for the syndicate of ideas that emerge from the collective consciousness of a group of people. This consciousness may result from common history or a series of historical occurrences and people’s reactions to it throughout the ages. The word culture occurs innumerable times in sociological studies. Sometimes, defining culture becomes difficult due to the clutter created by the diverse contexts in which the word is used. (See What is a Community?)

2. What are Characteristics of Culture?

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Culture become so widely accepted that they become a social force. When you talk about culture, you consider the codified norms set by the group, especially by its most influential people. All cultures share some common characteristics. Those are:

  • Culture is not biological. It is learned. The process of learning culture is called enculturation. A human being is not born with the knowledge of culture. They understand it through external forces.
  • Culture cannot exist in isolation. A common historical collective consciousness binds a group of people that exist together. Thus, drawing upon the same ancestry, they share the same culture.
  • Culture is represented by symbols and totems. Symbols are physical manifestations of ideologies of a particular culture. Totems are usually associated with tribal people. They usually associate their tribe’s existence with the totem. The most common totems are fish, trees, or mythical beings. Also, check out what is the purpose of a Totem Pole?
  • To understand a culture, you must acquaint yourself with all its aspects, not just a few. It is because all the aspects of a culture are linked together, from literature to politics. Therefore, this integration is mandatory.
  • Culture is ever-evolving. The interactions between cultures of various places have caused the intermingling of various aspects of culture. (See What are Unique Characteristics?)

3. Is Culture Transferred or Transmitted?

Culture is always transmitted from one generation to another. According to sociologists, culture is transmitted through various means, and the process of transmission is called enculturation. Enculturation involves the transmutation and transmission of two cultures. Thus, it is a bipolar process. (See What are the Teachings of Jainism and Buddhism?)

4. How is Culture Shared and Transmitted? How is Culture Transmitted and Internalized?

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Culture has both individual and social character. Society maintains as well as develops culture and rituals. So, how is culture transmitted? Every generation centers around previous generations and its values but revises them to suit their convenience. Fidelity towards roots is abided simultaneously by keeping up with the times. Sociologists say that cultural transmission inside the family is more than outside the family.

Culture transmission occurs through:

  • By Birth: Parents inculcate culture into their children. For example, the concept of samskaras or rites of passage is quite important in Hindu culture. People are judged based on how well they are acquainted with their culture. Also, check out what is a family function?
  • Through Marriage: A person transmits their family culture into the new family. Certain sociologists even believe that culture is transmitted differently across different social stratification. For example, a wealthy bureaucrat’s way of celebrating rituals might be quite different from that of a socially backward person, even if they belong to the same culture.
  • Through Food Sharing: Food is how to bond with people in most cultures. In India, for example, there are several cultures, and people bond over food and rituals. For example, the concept of Chhath Pooja (mainly celebrated in Bihar) is celebrated in the entire subcontinent where you can see sharing and offerings done as a ritual.

5. What is Transmission of Culture in Sociology? Explain Cultural Transmission Theory in Brief

Transmission of culture translates to socialization. How is culture transmitted in society? During the early years, a person’s enculturation happens consciously. Their enculturation agents are parents, neighbors, elders, etc. Later subconsciously, they imbibe the culture of their colleges, workplaces, neighborhood, etc. For example, consider a person from Maharashtra living in Delhi. He assimilates the North Indian culture and disseminates their ethnic culture among neighbors or people around them. Slowly and steadily, every future generation goes through the same bipolarity

Cultural transmission is the way to learn new culture by participating and engaging in it. Social behaviors dictate how a person must interact with others. It is based on how people interact with each other, what qualities to look for in a potential spouse, or how they follow customs or traditions. The transmission occurs from generation to generation, and the goal is cultural competence. Must read about the 8 Quinceañera History Facts.

6. How is Culture Transmitted through Language? How is Culture Transmitted through Media?

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The culture of the region dictates all aspects of human life. It ranges from eating habits to living conditions to politics. Language, however, forms the most crucial part of the culture. A person learns language and its grammar first. The way you use language is your source of power. Your grammar defines your hold on the language and, in turn, your culture. Your culture dictates how you narrate your story; you can go with or against it.

In the modern world, culture is transmitted through mass media. The super-rich or the influencers disseminate their lifestyle through social media, and the others try to follow it. Culture is transmitted through advertising, by several schemes in the market, like newspapers, blogs, etc. For example, Bal Gangadhar Tilak popularized Ganesh Chaturthi and the annual festival in memory of Shivaji Maharaj during India’s struggle for independence by organizing public meetings. (See 9 Facts about Organizing a Flash Mob)

7. List Few Cultural Transmission in Education Examples

If you are wondering how is culture transmitted in schools and in other educational institutions, here is the answer. Culture is transmitted in the following ways:

  • Children from diverse cultures study and interact together. They learn about each other’s cultures and subconsciously assimilate them within themselves.
  • The cultural committee of schools and colleges is sometimes responsible for cultural transmission among students.
  • Often, the institution may be founded by a particular ethnic group. For example, convent schools started by the Christian community may have prayers and uniforms as per their culture. This helps children appreciate different communities.
  • Holidays granted by institutions on special occasions, like Eid, Diwali, etc., make children understand that those are special occasions in one’s culture. (See What are Some Examples of Artifacts?)

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