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Characteristics of Culture

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Characteristics of Culture

Postby Angelina David » Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:26 am

In order to better understand culture, it is useful to closely examine its characteristics and their ramifications. In this section of the tutorial, you will learn about the specific advantages that culture gives our species. You will also learn about culture's limitations and shortcomings.


Culture Is An Adaptive Mechanism

The first humans evolved in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa about 2.5 million years ago. Since then, we have successfully occupied all of the major geographic regions of the world, but our bodies have remained essentially those of warm climate animals. We cannot survive outside of the warmer regions of our planet without our cultural knowledge and technology. What made it possible for our ancestors to begin living in temperate and ultimately subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere after half a million years ago was the invention of efficient hunting skills, fire use, and, ultimately, clothing, warm housing, agriculture, and commerce. Culture has been a highly successful adaptive mechanism for our species. It has given us a major selective advantage in the competition for survival with other life forms. Culture has allowed the global human population to grow from less than 10 million people shortly after the end of the last ice age to more than 6.5 billion people today, a mere 10,000 years later. Culture has made us the most dangerous and the most destructive large animal on our planet. It is ironic that despite the power that culture has given us, we are totally dependent on it for survival. We need our cultural skills to stay alive.
Angelina David
 
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