Culture is what defines people; it shapes their influence, behaviors, and identities. It generally refers to shared norms, values, behaviors, language, and material objects. The common forms of acculturations are material and non-material. All physical artifacts such as tools, clothing, and utensils, in a community, constitute material culture. On the other hand, non-material customs entail language, symbols, beliefs, and values that define a particular society. Various people from distinct parts of the world have diverse cultures that differ in many ways. One of the main cultural differences in the world is language. Approximately 7000 different languages are spoken in the world (Tyler, 2020). The distinction in how individuals talk can make it hard for them to understand each other, especially in a foreign country. A language is a crucial communication tool in any society. Children learn dialect from a young age under the influence of their culture, the same way they learn about using gestures and handshakes. They adapt to the languages as they grow (Tyler, 2020). Human beings are the only species that can speak different languages compared to other species. Hence, one can learn various languages to fit in several societies, which removes the speech barriers between people. In most countries, one dialect is made standard and is used by everyone. For instance, in the United States, English is the primary language, and bilingual education is banned (Tyler, 2020). Although this has been criticized, uniformity in the language used makes it easy for people to communicate.
Another aspect that brings about the cultural difference is norms. There are two types of norms, namely, formal and informal. Formal ethics or laws are considered the most important, while informal means, also called customs, are considered less critical. An example of a difference in norms is homosexuality, where most nations are against the practice, but some states, especially western countries, endorse same-sex marriages (Tyler, 2020). Another form of norm difference is how women and men are expected to behave in society. In most nomadic communities where people hunt animals for food, men are intended to trail animals while women are expected to gather firewood. In contrast, some cultures expect both genders to pursue animals, like the Tiwi tribe in Australia or the Agta tribe in the Philippines. Norms are what govern societies and make them unique in their ways.
Rituals is another form of cultural difference globally, where different societies perform different rites and ceremonies to mark transitions in life. Customs reflect a culture’s norms; one of the most common rituals is college graduation, celebrated in most countries as a lifetime achievement. Another rite is circumcision among boys; most societies consider this the most important rite of passage. In countries like the United States, this is done in the hospital where boys undergo a quick procedure (Tyler, 2020). On the other hand, some customs, especially in Africa, expect boys to undergo circumcision without being numbed, usually a taste of bravely and manhood. Most cultures uphold rituals while others do not consider them essential, especially in industrialized societies such as the United States.
Finally, values are the last form of cultural difference, which involves how people judge the good and the bad. An example of value difference is the Japanese way of settling conflicts. Unlike how most people settle disputes in the court of law, most Japanese citizens prefer resolving disputes among themselves or avoiding disputes all together (Tyler, 2020). Japanese citizens value harmony, and hence they will avoid conflict at all costs. On the other hand, Americans value competition, which promotes the use of law to resolve disputes.
There are different customs worldwide, and every society has its values, norms, language, and rituals. Each group of people has a particular way of doing things, which might seem odd to others. What is essential to one cultural group might not seem important to another group. It is the difference in what people believe in and what they think is right or wrong, leading to cultural differences. Embracing and understanding each other’s cultures enables people to live together in harmony.
Tyler, S. (2020). Human behavior and the social environment I. University of Arkansas Libraries.