The Meaning of Culture

Culture is an important sector of social and human development, which contributes to identity-building and self-esteem, fosters economic growth and social cohesion, and helps to promote political participation and ownership. Culture enables people and societies to build an identity and to develop active citizenship. It can contribute to conflict prevention as well as to reconciliation processes.

As a repository of knowledge, meanings and values that permeate all aspects of our lives, culture also defines the way human beings live and interact both at local and global scales. Creativity, knowledge, diversity and beauty are essential premises for dialogue for peace and progress, as they are intrinsically related to human development and freedom. Cultural expression contributes to identity-building and self-esteem, fosters economic growth and social cohesion, and help to promote political participation and ownership.

A major part of the assets of the poor are socio-cultural and are composed of traditions, reciprocity, relationships, traditional knowledge and skills, but especially those traditional and informal support systems that deliver products or services in normal times and in times of crisis.

Brazil’s Gilberto Gil argues that we should avoid picking one definition over another when considering the inter-relationship between culture and development. Rather, he says, we need to take on board the sum value of all forms of cultural expression, not just contemporary creative arts. “Digital culture multiplies all this, pointing toward a degree of development unheard of for humankind,” adds Gil. He notes that the concept of development is a product of human culture, and the process of development can only happen within a given cultural environment. Culture, therefore, shapes development and the changes brought about by development are, necessarily, cultural. “Culture and development are concepts and processes that are naturally inter-twined and shared,” Gil says. Source: http://www.nyu.edu/voices/rsvp?action=4&projectid=7

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