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We use the word culture quite casually when referring to a variety of thoughts and actions. I would like to begin my attempt to define cultures by a focus on three of its dictionary meanings that I think are significant to our understanding of the general term-culture. We often forget that it's more essential usage is as a verb rather than as a noun, since the noun follows froth, the activities involved in the verb. Thus, the verb, to culture, means to cultivate. This can include at least three activities: to artificially grow microscopic organisms; to improve and refine the customs, manners and activities of one's life; to give attention to the mind as part of what goes into the making of what we call civilization, or what was thought to be the highest culture. In short, one might argue that culture is the intervention of human effort in refining and redefining that which is natural, but that it gradually takes on other dimensions in the life of the individual, and even more in the interface between the individual and society. When speaking of society, this word also requires defining. Society, it has been said, is what emerges from a network of interactions between people that follow certain agreed upon and perceptible patterns. These arc determined by ideas of status, hierarchy and a sense of community governing the network. They are often, but not invariably, given a direction by those who control the essentials in how a society functions, as for instance, its economic resources, its technology and its value systems. The explanation and justification for who controls these aspects of a society introduces the question of its ideology and often its form.
The resulting patterns that can be differentiated from segment to segment of the society are frequently called its cultures. Most early societies register inequalities, The access of their members to wealth and status varies. The idea of equality therefore has many dimensions. All men and women may be said to be equal in the eyes of god, but may at the same time be extremely differentiated in terms of income and social standing, and therefore differentiated in the eyes of men and women. This would not apply to the entire society. There may be times when societies conform to a greater degree of equality, but such times may be temporary. It has been argued that on a pilgrimage, the status of every pilgrim is relatively similar but at the end returns to inequalities. Societies are not static and change their forms and their rules of functioning. Cultures are reflections of these social patterns, so they also change. My attempt in this introduction is to explain how the meaning of a concept such as culture has changed in recent times and has come to include many more facets than it did earlier. What we understand as the markers of culture have gone way beyond what we took them to be a century or two ago. Apart from items of culture, which is the way in which culture as heritage was popularly viewed, there is also the question of the institutions and social codes that determine the pattern of living, and upon which pattern a culture is constructed. Finally, there is the process of socialization into society and culture through education. There is a historical dimension to each of these as culture and history are deeply intertwined. There is also an implicit dialogue between the present and the past reflected in the way in which the readings of the past changed over historical periods.
Every society has its cultures, namely, the patterns of how the people of that society live. In varying degrees this would refer to broad categories that shape life, such as the environment that determines the relationship with the natural world, technology that enables a control over the natural world, political-economy that organizes the larger vision of a society as a community or even as a state, structures of social relations that ensure its networks of functioning, religion that appeals to aspirations and belief, mythology that may get transmuted into literature and philosophy that teases the mind and the imagination with questions. The process of growth is never static therefore there are mutations and changes within the society. There is communication and interaction with other societies through which cultures evolve and mutate. There is also the emergence of subcultures that sometimes take the form of independent and dominant cultures or amoeba-like breakaway to form new cultures. Although cultures coincide with history and historical change, the consciousness of a category such as culture, in the emphatic sense in which the term is popularly used these days, emerges in the eighteenth century in Europe. The ideal was the culture of elite groups, therefore sometimes a distinction is made between what carne to be called 'high culture' that of the elite, and low culture' that of those regarded as not being of the elite, and sometimes described as 'popular'. Historical records of elite cultures in forms such as texts and monuments for instance, received larger patronage and symbolized the patterns of life of dominant groups. They were and are more readily available as heritage than the objects of the socially lower groups in society whose less durable cultural manifestations often do not survive. This also predisposed people to associate culture as essentially that of the elite.
Question 1 : What is the central idea of the passage?
The author states the central idea of the passage in paragraph 2: "My attempt in this introduction is to explain how the meaning of a concept such as culture has changed in recent times and has come to include many more facets than it did earlier."
The question is " What is the central idea of the passage? "
Choice D is the correct answer.
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