Is ‘Culture’ Just Social Conditioning?

Posted on March 6, 2013 in Society

By Harit Rathi:

A Sunday afternoon and like always, lazily lying on the bed, gazing with all the interest at the ceiling and pondering over everything possible. Suddenly, a thought strikes. College tomorrow! Subsequently, preparation for a 5 minute long talk on Culture begins. I never imagined that I’d actually explore so much about a topic like culture. I could very much foresee a thoughtful day and immediately called up my friends and cancelled plans for the day.The question was, what is culture? How have we evolved with the existence of cultures? Why do we value it? And obviously, the various perceptions that we have about them.


My thoughts deviated and I went too much into how the word came up and how did cultures come into existence. On thinking a little too much, I came up with the life cycle of a culture. I know it’s going to sound very strange and out of understanding but yes, it made sense to me.

This is how it goes, when we’re born and the way we grow up, we partially inherit ‘culture’ from our family and the people around us. As we grow up a little more, we develop our mindsets on the basis of the values and believe we have been thought and brought up with. On further growing up and starting to evolve as an individual and generate thoughts, on continuously nurturing these thoughts, we come up with ideas. Later, as we commence and grow up with the ideas, we tend to modify them by having a pre conceived blue print of the current situation of the world around us. These ideas are eventually communicated and spoken about. People take these up and communicate it further. This results in more and more people getting aware of our idea and following it. When a large number of people start following and practicing it, it takes the form of a trend. This trend is later converted into what we call, ‘culture‘. This happens over a long period of time but we hardly get to realize it.

This is how our mindsets generate thoughts that convert into ideas. They’re then modified and communicated. Once communicated, they’re followed and practiced and result into trends. Finally, when these trends are accepted and liked by people, they’re called a culture.

Basically, as we live in the world today, we live with a lot of conditions and externalities that constantly act upon us even if we don’t feel their existence. At times, they do act as unknown barriers to accomplishment of our work. If we closely evaluate this too, we’d conclude that today, we live with a number of externalities that we have to accept without being given the choice. They have existed for long and will always be there. We have learned to live with them. And hence, by default we happen to teach them to the upcoming generation and this is how we generate their mindsets that will in turn result into the upcoming of an even worse culture for the future generations to come.

This was thought proving and time taking in the beginning but proved to be fun later. It was convincing how I monitored each of my thought so closely. I’ve enjoyed exploring this and voicing it out. Today, if a girl was raped, we blame the man and the man’s ‘culture.’ If we come across a girl smoking, we leave it unseen or may be call it ‘her choice.’

Lets wake up! Lets not blame ‘cultures,’ lets change mindsets.