Before trying to understand the essence of the word culture let us examine a remote village with little contact with outside world. There the oldest members of the community are respected most and they form the decision makers of that community. The daily activities and rituals of that community are centered on traditions passed down through generations. Most of the people are happy with what little they are having and are not greedy about their life styles or wishes.
The customs and attitudes and beliefs of this small society form the culture of that society. Thus, culture can be considered as unique to groups of people and it defines who they are or what their life is like. Under changing circumstances, the cultural heritage of a society may change. Now we are going to examine the different circumstances which can lead to a change in the culture of a society
Can culture change?
As the philosophy of the group of people forming a particular society changes or as the technological advances makes outstanding changes in the life of a group of people, culture of that group of people may change. In some societies changes of cultural habits is noticed by way of revolt against the existing authorities and the existing social rules as they find them inadequate to meet the changed conditions.
Consider the case of an island where the farmers used to live eating the fish they got by fishing. After some centuries if these people came to know about farming and start farming, they will get rice and other agricultural products that will change the way of their life. Habit of fishing will be reduced, they will be able to eat better food, get more leisure time and can spend more time with family members praying and playing together. This will bring a great change in the cultural fabric of the society which is brought about by the changed way of life produced by the beginning of farming in that society. In a similar way you can examine how the inventions and the proliferation of computers and its applications have changed the way men live and the how they have influenced the cultural heritage of people living in different parts of the world.
External changes in culture are caused by the contact with people of other cultures. For example when Indians in the17th, 18th and 19th centuries were brought into contact with the British people during their reign, the culture of Indian people underwent tremendous changes. Modern education and transport facilities were brought to India paving the way for cultural as well as social and economic conditions of the people.