Concept of civilization
A civilization is a complex human society, usually made up of different cities, with certain characteristics of cultural and technological development. In many parts of the world, early civilizations formed when people began coming together in urban settlements. However, defining what civilization is, and what societies fall under that designation, is a hotly contested argument, even among today’s anthropologists.
The idea that civilization equates to the summit of human development is long established in our history and relates directly to the rise of cities and states. However, with the triumph of evolutionism as a scientific theory, this definition was cemented; evolutionism not only impacted the natural sciences, but also greatly affected the social sciences such as history, archeology and anthropology. Thus, the most remote human past began to be explained not in religious or mythical terms, but under a scientific pattern: from the origin of man until the outbreak of civilization which took place more than 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Archaeological record demonstrates that early humans practiced nomadism for many thousands of years and had a simple —though not easy— life as hunter-gatherers. However, at the end of the last Ice Age (circa 10,000 BC) a radical change occurred and the human population entered a stage of progressive settlement that altered their strategy for survival: in addition to hunting and gathering, men began to domesticate plants and animals, thus becoming farmers and shepherds. Archeologist Gordon V. Childe called this process the “Neolithic Revolution”. And, between 4000 and 3000 BC, after a few millennia of Neolithic communities which had been developing in several areas of the world, the first known civilizations appeared, first in Mesopotamia and soon after in Egypt. Some centuries later, civilization emerged strongly in other parts of the world: the Indus Valley, China and finally the New World.
This new breakthrough, the so called “Urban Revolution”, was characterized by several milestones:
- Population was divided into small rural villages and large settlements which eventually became cities.
- A centralized religious-political power grew in the cities, achieving control over vast areas and thus creating the first state structures. Administrative apparatus and legal doctrines were created as a support for these structures.
- The surplus of resources promoted growth and economic exchange, leading to the development of trade.
- Society was stratified in several levels; there was a progressive specialization of work, especially in the urban environment.
- Systems of writing appeared as a means of recording and managing information (a factor that eventually led to the creation of predominant historical cultures).
- There was significant progress in science and technique in general, particularly in terms of practical application. An important material culture was developed in various arts and industries.
Concept of culture
Sometimes culture is used in popular discourse to refer to a celebration or an evening of entertainment, as when one speaks of a ‘cultural show’. In this sense, culture is identified with aesthetics or the fine arts such as dance, music or drama. This is also different from the technical meaning of the word culture. Culture is used in a special sense in anthropology and sociology. It refers to the sum of human beings’ life ways, their behaviour, beliefs, feelings, thought; it connotes everything that is acquired by them as social beings.
The “material elements that are made and used in accordance with socially inherited tradition” should be called culture objects. Others include in culture all the major social components that bind men together in society. For instance, the British anthropologist Malinowski included ‘inherited, artifacts, implements and consumer goods’ and ‘social structure’ within his definition of culture.
Characteristics of culture are as follows:
Not all behaviour is learned, but most of it is learned; combing one’s hair, standing in line, telling jokes, criticising the President and going to the movie, all constitute behaviours which had to be learned.
Sometimes the terms conscious learning and unconscious learning are used to distinguish the learning. For example, the ways in which a small child learns to handle a tyrannical father or a rejecting mother often affect the ways in which that child, ten or fifteen years later, handles his relationships with other people.
Culture is Abstract
Culture exists in the minds or habits of the members of society. Culture is the shared ways of doing and thinking. There are degrees of visibility of cultural behaviour, ranging from the regularised activities of persons to their internal reasons for so doing. In other words, we cannot see culture as such we can only see human behaviour. This behaviour occurs in regular, patterned fashion and it is called culture.
Culture is the Products of Behaviour
Culture learnings are the products of behaviour. As the person behaves, there occur changes in him. He acquires the ability to swim, to feel hatred toward someone, or to sympathize with someone. They have grown out of his previous behaviours. In both ways, then, human behaviour is the result of behaviour. The experience of other people are impressed on one as he grows up, and also many of his traits and abilities have grown out of his own past behaviours.
Culture includes Attitudes, Values Knowledge
There is widespread error in the thinking of many people who tend to regard the ideas, attitudes, and notions which they have as “their own”. It is easy to overestimate the uniqueness of one’s own attitudes and ideas. When there is agreement with other people it is largely unnoticed, but when there is a disagreement or difference one is usually conscious of it. Your differences however, may also be cultural. For example, suppose you are a Catholic and the other person a Protestant.
Culture is shared by the Members of Society
The patterns of learned behaviour and the results of behaviour are possessed not by one or a few person, but usually by a large proportion. Thus, many millions of persons share such behaviour patterns as Christianity, the use of automobiles, or the English language. Persons may share some part of a culture unequally. For example, as Americans do the Christian religion. To some persons Christianity is the all important, predominating idea in life. To others it is less preoccupying/important, and to still others it is of marginal significance only.CGPCS Notes brings Prelims and Mains programs for CGPCS Prelims and CGPCS Mains Exam preparation. Various Programs initiated by CGPCS Notes are as follows:-