Looking forward, looking back Essay Example

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Culture Transfer

Culture Transfer

Culture transfer is the passing on of cultural norms, knowledge and values from one generation to another. Throughout history, culture transfer has occurred. It is through such transfer that history become global rather than extinct. Traditionally, the passing of culture from one generation to another was easier in that extended families lived in one place. However, today, families are scattered all over the world but still manage to transfer their culture to other generations. Cultural transfer depends primarily on social learning. There are different types of culture transmission including vertical and horizontal transmission (Schmale, 2012). Vertical transfer of culture occurs when the parents transfer values and norms to their children. This transfer, however, does not depend on relatedness rather even an adoptive parent can transfer culture to the siblings. Horizontal transfer, on the other hand, occurs when two individuals who are either related or not but are of the same generation transmit culture to each other. This indicates that culture transmission between family and society can occur in different ways. Some of the major ways through which culture is transferred
to families and communities include schools, family reunions, social gatherings and learning.

One of the major ways through which culture is transferred is through learning. Children learn from their parents and elders about the cultural values and norms. As children grow up, they learn the way of doing things from observation and instructions. Ones they retain such information; they relate that to other conditions and circumstances and eventually generate a general way of doing business. In other cultures, the elders in the society and families act as teachers to the siblings. Such elders teach the younger generation the traditional way of doing things and the principles that guided their society (Alesina & Giulian, 2015). Through the verbal and written communication, children learn stories, attitudes and beliefs that are common to the culture. However, the primary role of teaching children lies with the parents. If children do not conform to the cultural norms and values, the parents are blamed. However, as time passes, culture is modified as the societies change and develop. However, even such changes are passed through repeated learning.

The primary purpose of schools is to transmit skills, knowledge, culture and moral values. Schools curriculums in most of the places in the world have adopted a model that ensures that students acquire social norms and values at their early stages in school. In Africa for example, students are taught how to perform some of the cultural practices such as sewing. In the western countries, however, this hardly occurs since schools in such societies have children from different cultures due to immigration. However, in places where immigration is low; school curriculums ensure that students acquire the necessary skills to be able to maintain the social values and norms. It is good to note that even if the official curriculums in such countries or states do not include aspects of culture transmission, it still occur sub consciously (Schmale, 2012).
This is so because teachers are from the same culture and their ways of approaching the students speak a lot about the cultural values and norms. So, informally, schools help in the transfer of culture from one generation to the other.

Norms include the spoken and the unspoken rules of culture. When such norms
are reinforced over time, they operate as a constraint on the family behaviours. They also set limits on what is permissible and not permissible under different conditions and circumstances. Traditionally, families lived in one place, and many families formed a society where values and norms were passed easily by the elders. However, today, families are scattered all over the world which makes it harder for siblings to learn their cultural values and norms. However, culture still passes on to other generations through activities such as family gatherings and reunions. In America for example, families meet at a central point mainly in resorts, camps or grandparents home. At such meetings, siblings get a chance to meet and interact with each other and with the other generation. Through such interactions, cultural values and norms are passed on to the siblings, grandparents, for example, are fond of telling stories about their families and their way of doing things which act as a way of teaching children about what is permissible and not permissible in their family (Ado, Su & Wanjiru, 2016). Other families form foundations which are commonly founded
by their traditions. For example foundations with no private offices normally hold meetings in the homes of the family elders which are the traditional meeting places. In additions, for foundations with private offices, the cultural hierarchy is still formed and followed where some decisions are exclusively left in the hands of men.

Another way through which culture is transferred is through social gatherings. Whether political, social or economic gatherings, organisers adhere to the cultural values and norms. A good example of social gatherings includes weddings and burials. Weddings are commonly held based on the cultural practices of the parties involved (Goodenough, 1980). A Muslim marriage ceremony is different from a Christian wedding ceremony. In the running and organising of such events, culture is transferred to the younger generation. The younger generation gets to learn the cultural way of doing things first hand from experience. In some cultures, marriages between people from different cultures are still not allowed. Lack of conformity to such values and norms is considered as a betrayal to the culture.

Culture has always been passed on from one generation to another mostly through direct learning. As one grows up, the cultural values and norms are instilled by parents and through interactions with other members of the society. Again, in schools, teachers continuously rely on the cultural values and norms
subconsciously, and students learn through observation and communication. In mixed societies activities such as family gatherings, social gatherings and family reunions ensure that the younger generation acquires the skills and values significant in their culture. All the ways through which culture is transmitted from one generation to another depend on learning.


Ado, A., Su, Z., & Wanjiru, R. (2016). Learning and Knowledge Transfer in Africa-China JVs: Interplay between Informalities, Culture, and Social Capital. Journal of International Management.

Alesina, A., & Giuliano, P. (2015). Culture and institutions. Journal of Economic Literature53(4), 898-944.

Goodenough, W. H. (1980). Description and comparison in cultural anthropology (Vol. 1968). CUP Archive.

Schmale, W. (2012). Cultural Transfer — EGO. EGO | Europäische Geschichte Online. Retrieved 2 August 2017, from http://ieg-ego.eu/en/threads/theories-and-methods/cultural-transfer