Difference between culture and civilization

Key difference - culture vs. civilization

The two terms culture and civilization are often used synonymously in common parlance. However, civilization refers to a complex way of life that arose when people began to develop urban settlements. Culture is the complex whole that includes knowledge, religion, beliefs, customs, laws, traditions, art and music, and so on. A civilization is made up of many complex elements, and culture is one of those elements. This is the main difference between culture and civilization.

This article is about,

1. What is culture? - Definition, meaning and properties

2. What is a civilization? - Definition, meaning and properties

3. What is the difference between culture and civilization? Difference Between Culture and Civilization - Summary of the comparison between culture and civilization

What is culture

Culture can be defined simply as the sum of the forms of life built by a group of people and passed on from one generation to another. The cultural anthropologist EB Taylor defines culture as "a complex whole that includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals , law, custom and all other skills and habits that man has acquired as a member of society". As this definition implies, many factors such as knowledge, language, religion, social habits, beliefs, cuisine, music and art, etc. are embedded in the concept of culture. Almost all members of a given culture share these cultural characteristics. It's also important to note that culture is acquired, not inherited. Thus, the behavior of an individual is shaped by culture.

Culture changes over time; it doesn't stay static. Different characteristics and practices of a culture can differ according to nationality, ethnicity and even different age groups. Although culture is an abstract concept, food, clothing, rituals , art, etc. can be viewed as material representations of a culture.

Key difference - culture vs. civilization

Martinique dancers in traditional costume.

What is a civilization?

The term civilization has different definitions and interpretations. It can be broadly described as an advanced state of human society in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been achieved. In other words, it's a complex way of life that arose when people started developing urban settlements. A civilization is often associated with a range of socio-political-economic features such as urban development, social stratification, unique art and architecture, some form of detailed writing, complex division of labor, codified laws and administration, etc.

The earliest civilizations developed after 3000 BC. With the advent of agriculture. Civilizations expand through trade, war, and exploration. All three factors must be present for a civilization to endure. Roman civilization, Egyptian civilization, Indu Valley civilization, ancient Chinese civilization are some examples of our early civilizations.

In a historical sense, the term civilization also denoted an advanced culture compared to primitive or wild. In this sense, civilized and civilization was an antonym for savages or uncivilized groups of people. However, many anthropological studies have shown that the so-called primitives have their own culture and way of life. Hence, this use of the word is very subjective.

Difference between culture and civilization

Ancient Harappa civilization

Difference between culture and civilization

definition

Culture is the sum of the forms of life that is built up by a group of people and that is passed on from one generation to another.

Civilization is an advanced state of human society in which high levels of culture, science, industry, and government have been achieved.

extent

Culture is part of a civilization.

Civilization is a complex unit made up of various elements.

properties

Culture consists of customs, beliefs, religions, art, food, law, etc.

Civilization is shaped by social stratification, codified law and administration, urban development, etc.

Image courtesy:

“Martinique Costumes” (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“Ancient Harappa Civilization” by Shefali11011 - Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the author: Hasa

Hasa holds a BA in English, French and Translation Studies. She is currently reading for a Masters in English. Her areas of interest include literature, language, linguistics and also food.