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culture, in anthropology, the integrated system of socially acquired values, beliefs, and rules of conduct which delimit the range of accepted behaviors in any given society. Cultural differences distinguish societies from one another. Archaeology, a branch of the broader field of anthropology, studies material culture, the remains of extinct human cultures (e.g., pottery, weaponry) in order to decipher something of the way people lived. Such analysis is particularly useful where no written records exist. One of the first anthropological definitions of the term was given by Sir Edward Burnett Tylor in the late 19th cent. By 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn had cataloged over 100 different definitions of the word.

The Nature of Culture

Culture is based on the uniquely human capacity to classify experiences, encode such classifications symbolically, and teach such abstractions to others. It is usually acquired through enculturation, the process through which an older generation induces and compels a younger generation to reproduce the established lifestyle; consequently, culture is embedded in a person's way of life. Culture is difficult to quantify, because it frequently exists at an unconscious level, or at least tends to be so pervasive that it escapes everyday thought. This is one reason that anthropologists tend to be skeptical of theorists who attempt to study their own culture. Anthropologists employ fieldwork and comparative, or cross-cultural, methods to study various cultures. Ethnographies may be produced from intensive study of another culture, usually involving protracted periods of living among a group. Ethnographic fieldwork generally involves the investigator assuming the role of participant-observer: gathering data by conversing and interacting with people in a natural manner and by observing people's behavior unobstrusively. Ethnologies use specialized monographs in order to draw comparisons among various cultures.

Theories of Culture

Investigations have arisen from belief in many different theories of culture and have often given voice to new theoretical bases for approaching the elusive term. Many early anthropologists conceived of culture as a collection of traits and studied the diffusion, or spread, of these traits from one society to another. Critics of diffusionism, however, pointed out that the theory failed to explain why certain traits spread and others do not. Cultural evolution theory holds that traits have a certain meaning in the context of evolutionary stages, and they look for relationships between material culture and social institutions and beliefs. These theorists classify cultures according to their relative degree of social complexity and employ several economic distinctions (foraging, hunting, farming, and industrial societies) or political distinctions (autonomous villages, chiefdoms, and states). Critics of this theory argue that the use of evolution as an explanatory metaphor is flawed, because it tends to assume a certain direction of development, with an implicit apex at modern, industrial society. Ecological approaches explain the different ways that people live around the world not in terms of their degree of evolution but rather as distinct adaptations to the variety of environments in which they live. They also demonstrate how ecological factors may lead to cultural change, such as the development of technological means to harness the environment. Structural-functionalists posit society as an integration of institutions (such as family and government), defining culture as a system of normative beliefs that reinforces social institutions. Some criticize this view, which suggests that societies are naturally stable (see functionalism). Historical-particularists look upon each culture as a unique result of its own historical processes. Symbolic anthropology looks at how people's mental constructs guide their lives. Structuralists analyze the relationships among cultural constructs of different societies, deriving universal mental patterns and processes from the abstract models of these relationships. They theorize that such patterns exist independent of, and often at odds with, practical behavior. Many theories of culture have been criticized for assuming, intentionally or otherwise, that all people in any one society experience their culture in the same way. Today, many anthropologists view social order as a fragile accomplishment that various members of a society work at explaining, enforcing, exploiting, or resisting. They have turned away from the notion of elusive “laws” of culture that often characterizes cross-cultural analyses to the study of the concrete historical, political, and economic forces that structure the relations among cultures. Important theorists on culture have included Franz Boas, Emile Durkheim, Ruth Benedict, and Clifford Geertz.


See studies by G. W. Stocking, Jr. (1968), R. Wagner (1981), M. S. Archer (1988), A. Hallowell (1988), and R. Rosaldo (1989).

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The cultivation of cells in the laboratory. Bacteria and yeasts may be grown suspended in a liquid medium or as colonies on a solid medium; molds grow on moist surfaces; and animal and plant cells (tissue cultures) usually adhere to the glass or plastic beneath a liquid medium. Cultures must provide sources of energy and raw material for biosynthesis, as well as a suitable physical environment.

The materials supplied determine which organisms can grow out from a mixed inoculum. Some bacteria (prototrophic) can produce all their constituents from a single organic carbon source; hence they can grow on a simple medium. Other cells (auxotrophic) lack various biosynthetic pathways and hence require various amino acids, nucleic acid bases, and vitamins. Obligatory or facultative anaerobes grow in the absence of O2; many cells require elevated CO2. Cultures isolated from nature are usually mixed; pure cultures are best obtained by subculturing single colonies. Viruses are often grown in cultures of a host cell, and may be isolated as plaques in a continuous lawn of those cells. In diagnostic bacteriology, species are ordinarily identified by their ability to grow on various selective media and by the characteristic appearance of their colonies on test media. See Bacterial growth

Laboratory cultures are often made in small flasks, test tubes, or covered flat dishes (petri dishes). Industrial cultures for antibiotics or other microbial products are usually in fermentors of 10,000 gallons (37,850 liters) or more. The cells may be separated from the culture fluid by centrifugation or filtration.

Specific procedures are employed for isolation, cultivation, and manipulation of microorganisms, including viruses and rickettsia, and for propagation of plant and animal cells and tissues. A relatively minute number of cells, the inoculum, is introduced into a sterilized nutrient environment, the medium. The culture medium in a suitable vessel is protected by cotton plugs or loose-fitting covers with overlapping edges so as to allow diffusion of air, yet prevent access of contaminating organisms from the air or from unsterilized surfaces. The transfer, or inoculation, usually is done with the end of a flamed, then cooled, platinum wire. Sterile swabs may also be used and, in the case of liquid inoculum, sterile pipets.

The aqueous solution of nutrients may be left as a liquid medium or may be solidified by incorporation of a nutritionally inert substance, most commonly agar or silica gel. Special gas requirements may be provided in culture vessels closed to the atmosphere, as for anaerobic organisms. Inoculated vessels are held at a desired constant temperature in an incubator or water bath. Liquid culture media may be mechanically agitated during incubation. Maximal growth, which is visible as a turbidity or as masses of cells, is usually attained within a few days, although some organisms may require weeks to reach this stage. See Chemostat

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Bioscience. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


The human creation and use of symbols and artefacts. Culture may be taken as constituting the ‘way of life’ of an entire society, and this will include codes of manners, dress, language, rituals, norms of behaviour and systems of belief Sociologists stress that human behaviour is primarily the result of nurture (social determinants) rather than nature (biological determinants) (see NATURE – NURTURE DEBATE). Indeed, human beings may be distinguished from other animals by their ability to collectively construct and transmit symbolic meanings (see LANGUAGE). Knowledge of a culture is acquired via a complex process which is fundamentally social in origin. Human beings are both acted on by culture and act back, and so generate new cultural forms and meanings. Thus, cultures are characterized by their historical nature, their relativity and their diversity (see CULTURAL RELATIVISM). They undergo change alongside changes in the economic, social and political organization of society. Furthermore, human beings initiate cultural transformation out of their unique capacity to be reflexive (see REFLEXIVITY).

It is possible to detect in many societies the belief that culture and nature are in conflict with one another; that culture must seek to conquer nature via the civilization process. Such a view can be found in the natural science traditions of Western societies. It is also a strong element in Freud's theory of culture, in which he sees culture arising out of the repression and sublimation of man's inbuilt drives (EROS and THANATOS). Many cultures, however, regard the relationship not as oppositional but as complementary. Recent feminist theories of culture have suggested that belief systems upholding an antagonistic relationship between nature and culture have proved ecologically dysfunctional. It can be suggested that human beings are nature, but that they possess a consciousness of nature (Griffin, 1982).

Human beings not only have the ability to construct cultural forms and are in turn sustained by those forms; they also possess the ability to theorize about culture itself. Implicit in many sociological approaches to the study of culture(s), have been prescriptive ideas on the relative merits of certain ways of life and cultural forms. For example, cultural theorists both within and outside of the discipline have drawn distinctions between ‘high’ and ‘low’ cultures, POPULAR CULTURE, folk culture and MASS CULTURE. The concept of mass culture has been used by both radical and conservative critics to express dissatisfaction about the state of contemporary arts, literature, language and culture generally. Although embracing very different political ideologies, both groups have suggested that 20th-century culture has been impoverished and diluted. In the place of an independent, well-informed and critical public, an unstructured and largely apathetic mass has arisen.

Radical theorists have argued that the threat to the quality of culture comes not from below but from above. Most specifically, it comes from what the FRANKFURT SCHOOL OF CRITICAL THEORY has identified as the ‘capitalist culture industry’. In this view, the capitalist mass media have the ability to manipulate the tastes, wants and needs of the masses. In contrast, conservative and élitist theorists of culture, such as those put forward by Ortega y Gasset (1930) and T. S. Eliot (1948), identify the threat as coming from the masses themselves. The masses, through what the conservative theorists saw to be their increasing power, would jeopardize culturally creative élites.

In more general terms, sociologists would suggest that it is virtually impossible for any human behaviour to reside outside of cultural influences. What initially may appear to be natural features of our lives, for example, sexuality, ageing and death, are all made meaningful by culture and transformed by its influence. Even the consumption of FOOD, so apparently natural, is imbued with cultural meaning and custom. See also ANTHROPOLOGY, MASS SOCIETY, SUBCULTURE.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a historically determined level in the development of society and man, expressed in the types and forms of organization of human life and activity, as well as in the material and spiritual values created by human beings. The concept of culture is used to characterize the material and spiritual level of development of given historical periods, socioeconomic formations, specific societies, nations (natsii, nations in the historical sense), and peoples (for instance, the culture of antiquity, socialist culture, and Mayan culture). It may also be applied to specific spheres of activity or life (for example, the culture of labor, artistic culture, and the culture of everyday life). In a narrower sense the term “culture” refers only to human spiritual life.

Pre-Marxist and non-Marxist theories. Originally, the concept of culture meant the deliberate action of man on nature (such as the cultivation of land), as well as the upbringing and education of man. In that sense it included not only the inculcation of existing norms and customs but also the stimulation of the desire to follow these norms, which led to the belief that culture could satisfy all of man’s needs and demands. This duality in the concept of culture is common to all societies.

Although the word “culture” did not become current in European social thought until the second half of the 18th century, more or less similar concepts can be found in the early stages of European history and the history of other societies (jen in Chinese tradition and dharma in Indian, for example). The Hellenistic Greeks regarded paideia (good upbringing) as the chief feature distinguishing them from the “uncultured” barbarians.

In addition to the concepts conveyed by the basic meaning of the word “culture,” another complex of meanings emerged in the late Roman period and became widespread in the Middle Ages. It included a positive evaluation of the urban way of life and was closer to the concept of “civilization,” which emerged later. Increasingly, the word “culture” was associated with the attributes of personal perfection, and above all, with religious qualities. During the Renaissance perfection was understood as conformity to the humanist ideal of man. Later, it was interpreted as conformity to the Enlightenment ideal.

Characteristically, pre-Marxist bourgeois philosophy identifies culture with the spiritual and political development of society and man as manifested in science, art, ethics, religion, and forms of government. “Production and all economic relations appeared in it only as incidental subordinate elements in the ‘history of civilization’” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 20, p. 25). Thus, representatives of the 18th-century French Enlightenment, such as Voltaire, A. Turgot, and the Marquis de Condorcet, reduced the content of the cultural-historical process to the development of human “reason.” The level of “culture” or “civilization” of a nation or country (as opposed to the “savagery” and “barbarity” of primitive peoples) was determined by the degree of “rationality” of its social system and political institutions and measured by the totality of its accomplishments in the arts and sciences. The aim of culture, which corresponded to the highest purpose of “reason,” was to make all people happy (the eudemonic conception of culture) and to enable them to live in harmony with the demands and needs of their original “nature” (the naturalistic conception of culture). At the same time, a critique of culture and civilization developed within the framework of the Enlightenment. It contrasted the corruption and moral depravity of the “cultured” nations with the simplicity and purity of the mores of peoples at the patriarchal stage of development (J.-J. Rousseau).

Rousseau’s critique of culture was adopted by the German classical philosophers, who developed it into a general theoretical conception of the contradictions and conflicts in bourgeois civilization (including the division of labor, the dehumanizing eifects of technology, and the disintegration of the personality). German philosophy sought a way out of this contradictory situation in the “spiritual”: moral consciousness (I. Kant), aesthetic consciousness (F. Schiller and the romantics), or philosophical consciousness (G. Hegel), all of which were presented as the true area for man’s cultural existence and development. From this viewpoint, culture is regarded as the area of man’s “spiritual freedom,” which lies beyond his natural and social existence and is independent of his empirical aims and needs. Thus, the meaning of all of human cultural-historical evolution lay in attaining this freedom.

German historical philosophy recognized many distinct types and forms of cultural development, which emerged in a definite historical sequence and formed a single line of human spiritual evolution. Thus, J. Herder regarded culture as the progressive unfolding of the capacities of the human mind, but he used this concept both to define stages of comparative human historical development and to describe the values of the Enlightenment. The German romantics (Schiller, W. and F. Schlegel, and F. Schelling in his later works) continued to develop Herder’s dualistic interpretation of culture. On the one hand, they founded the tradition of the comparative historical study of culture (K. W. Humboldt and the school of comparative linguistics). On the other hand, they laid the foundation for treating culture as one of the problems of anthropology. A third line in the study of culture—the concrete analysis of mores and of ethnic characteristics—can be traced back to Herder. The mid-19th-century historian G. F. Klemm, who treated culture as a distinguishing trait of man, was the first to undertake such an analysis.

In the late 19th century and the early 20th the universality of existing evolutionary concepts of culture was subjected to criticism by neo-Kantian idealists (H. Rickert and M. Weber). Culture was regarded primarily as a specific system of values and ideas with differing roles in the life and organization of various types of societies. From a somewhat different point of view, L. Frobenius and F. Graebner incorporated a similar idea of culture into the “theory of cultural circles,” which was popular until the early 1920’s and is associated with the cultural-historical school.

The theory of a single, linear evolution of culture was also subjected to criticism from the irrational standpoint of “the philosophy of life,” which juxtaposed to the linear evolutionary theory the concept of “local civilizations.” These were regarded as closed, self-sufficient, and unduplicable cultural organisms passing through similar cycles of growth, maturation, and death (O. Spengler). Characteristic of the theory of local civilizations is the juxtaposition of culture and civilization, with the latter regarded as the last stage in the development of a society. Similar concepts were developed in Russia by N. la. Danilevskii and later, P. A. Sorokin, and in Great Britain by A. Toynbee.

In some theories the critique of culture initiated by Rousseau was carried to the point where the concept of culture was totally rejected. The idea of man’s “natural anticulturalism” was proposed by such theories, which regarded all cultures as means of oppressing and enslaving humanity (F. Nietzsche). The ultimate degeneration of this position is found in fascist ideology.

Since the last third of the 19th century anthropologists and ethnologists have also begun to study culture. This trend has led to .the shaping of a number of different approaches to culture. Laying the foundation for cultural anthropology, the British ethnologist E. Tylor defined culture by enumerating its concrete elements, disregarding their relationship to the organization of society and to the functions of individual cultural institutions. In the early 20th century the American scholar F. Boas proposed a method for the detailed study of the customs, language, and other characteristics of the way of life of primitive societies and a method of comparing them, which helped to reveal the historical conditions under which they had emerged.

The ideas of the American scholar A. Kroeber have had considerable influence on non-Marxist anthropology. Instead of studying cultural customs, Kroeber advanced to the concept of “cultural patterns,” the totality of which constituted a cultural system. A serious flaw in the theory of cultural patterns was engendered by Kroeber’s refusal to apply the concept of social determinism. In addition, his theory lacked an explanation for the individual’s reasons and motives for accepting and sustaining these cultural patterns.

Unlike the theory of cultural patterns, which subordinated the social structure to culture, the functional theories of culture emphasized social structure, regarding culture as an organic whole to be analyzed in terms of its institutions. First developed by the British ethnologists and sociologists B. Malinowski and A. Radcliffe-Brown, social anthropology regards structure as the formal aspect of social interactions that are stable in time. It defines culture as the system of rules for shaping structure, given such interactions. The functions of culture are the shaping of mutual relationships and the hierarchical ordering of the elements of the social system.

The postulates of the functional theory of culture were challenged by representatives of the structural-functional school of non-Marxist sociology, including the American sociologists T. Parsons, R. Merton, and E. Shils, who endeavored to develop a general theory from the concepts of culture that had been developed by cultural and social anthropologists. They also tried to solve the problem of the relationship between culture and society. In the structural-functional theory the concept of culture is used to designate a system of values that determine the development of patterns of human behavior. According to the theory, culture is an organic part of the social system that determines the level of orderliness and control within that system.

In the non-Marxist study of culture other approaches are also being developed. For example, the concept of the communicative characteristics of culture has grown out of the tendency in cultural anthropology to study the role of culture in the transfer of a social legacy from one generation to the next. Accordingly, language came to be treated as a model for the study of the cultural structure. This led to the introduction into the study of culture of the methods of semiotics, structural linguistics, mathematics, and cybernetics. The discipline that applies these methods is known as structural anthropology. Its representatives include the American ethnologist and linguist E. Sapir and the French ethnologist C. Lévi-Strauss. However, structural anthropology incorrectly regards culture as an extremely stable structure and fails to consider the dynamics of the historical development of culture. It pays inadequate attention to the connection between culture and the contemporary state of society and fails to analyze the role of man as the creator of culture.

The attempt to solve the problem of “culture and the personality” led to the emergence of a school of cultural psychology, whose representatives include the Americans R. Benedict, M. Mead, and M. Herskovits. They interpret culture as the generalization on the level of society of the basic psychological states characteristic of man. In their theory the representatives of the school of cultural psychology rely on S. Freud’s hypothesis that culture is a mechanism for the social repression and sublimation of childhood psychological impulses, as well as on the neo-Freudian concept (presented by the Americans G. Róheim, K. Horney, and H. Sullivan) that culture consists of the content of direct psychological experiences preserved in symbols. Cultural patterns came to be understood as the real mechanisms or aids by which individuals solve the concrete problems of social existence. Thus, culture came to be treated as a pattern or norm to be internalized by a person and transformed into habits (M. Mead and G. Murdock, USA).

The idealistic doctrines of the neo-Kantian E. Cassirer and the Swiss psychologist and philosopher C. Jung provided the foundation for the idea of the symbolic properties of culture. Proceeding from the concept of local civilizations, a number of the adherents of cultural psychology sought to discover a set of “cultural invariables” not reducible to each other and having in reality no common substratum. This view was reflected in Sapir’s and B. Whorf s theory of linguistic relativism, in Benedict’s studies of specific cultures as isolated “cultural configurations,” and in the general position of Herskovits’ cultural relativism. By contrast, the adherents of the phenomenological approach to culture, as well as some representatives of the existential philosophy of culture, have advanced the hypothesis that culture has a universal content that is latent in all individual cultures. They based their view on any of a number of theories, including the assertion of the universality of the structures of consciousness (E. Husserl, of Germany), the postulate of the psychobiological unity of mankind (Jung), or a belief in the existence of some “fundamental basis” or “original axis” of culture, in relation to which all its heterogeneous forms are only “variants” or “ciphers.” (The last viewpoint was expressed by the German philosophers M. Heidegger and K. Jaspers.)

With the contemporary acceleration of scientific and technological progress, the exacerbation of contradictions in capitalist society, the coexistence of two social systems, and the emergence of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America into the arena of history, many bourgeois sociologists and students of culture are arriving at the conclusion that the idea of a single culture is inconsistent with reality. This conclusion is expressed in the theories of polycentrism and of the fundamental opposition between East and West, which deny the universal laws of social development. These theories are the opposite of oversimplified technological theories, according to which the developed capitalist countries have attained the highest level of culture.

The split between the humanities and technical knowledge is reflected in the British writer C. P. Snow’s theory of “two cultures.” The increasing alienation of the individual in capitalist society has stimulated various forms of cultural nihilism. The representatives of this trend reject the notion of “culture” as a fictitious, absurd invention. Theories of a “counterculture” (a culture in opposition to the dominant bourgeois one) have become popular among the radical intelligentsia and young peopie.

Marxist-Leninist theory. Unlike bourgeois conceptions, the Marxist-Leninist theory of culture is based on the fundamental principles of historical materialism concerning socioeconomic formations as sequential stages in the historical development of society, the interrelationship between productive forces and production relations and between the base and the superstructure, and the class orientation of culture in a society ridden with class antagonisms. Culture is a specific attribute of society that reflects the level of historical development achieved by man and determined by his relationship to nature and society. Thus, it is a manifestation of the specific unity of man with nature and society and represents the development of the creative powers and capacities of the personality. It includes not only the results of human activity (machines, technical devices, scientific discoveries, works of art, and legal and ethical norms, for example) but also subjective human powers and abilities that can be realized in activity. (Among the latter are knowledge and skills, production and professional techniques, the level of intellectual, aesthetic, and moral development, the world view, and means and forms of human communication within the group and within society.)

There are two aspects of culture—material and spiritual, which correspond to the two basic forms of production (material and spiritual). Material culture embraces all material activity and its results (for example, the instruments of labor, dwellings, household items, clothing, and means of transportation and communication). “Spiritual culture” embraces the sphere of consciousness and intellectual production (knowledge, morality, up-bringing and education, law, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, science, art, literature, mythology, and religion). The Marxist theory of culture proceeds from the assumption of the organic unity of material and spiritual culture. “For to be cultured,” wrote V. I. Lenin, “we must achieve a certain development of the material means of production, must have a certain material base” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. vol. 45, p. 377). Ultimately, the material foundations of culture have a decisive role in its development. The historical continuity in the development of material culture is precisely what forms the basis for the developmental continuity of culture as a whole. Lenin emphasized that “no matter to what extent a culture has been destroyed, it cannot be removed from history. … Some part of it, some material re-mains of that culture will be indestructible, the difficulties will be only in restoring it” (ibid., vol. 36, p. 46).

Every socioeconomic formation has its own historically complete type of culture. Although changes in socioeconomic formations are accompanied by changes in types of culture, this fact does not entail a break in cultural development, the destruction of the previous culture, or a rejection of cultural heritage and traditions. Inevitably, each new formation inherits the cultural achievements of its predecessor and includes them in the new system of social relations. The Marxist theory of culture, which assumes the multiplicity of the forms of culture of different peoples and societies, decisively rejects the practice of setting up any one culture as an absolute standard, denying not only the theory of cultural diffusionism but also that of cultural relativism, which divides the world into a multitude of originally isolated cultures lacking close relations.

Culture is a universal human phenomenon and a class phenomenon. ‘The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to the ruling class” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch.,2r\d ed., vol. 3, p. 46). Antagonistic formations are characterized by a spontaneous, irregular cultural-historical process and an intensified cultural differentiation of society. The culture of the ruling class pushes the mental activity of the masses into the back-ground, although it is precisely this activity that defines the universal human content of many of the most important achievements of any national culture. As the class struggle intensifies, an ever-increasing number of classes and social groups, hitherto passive and alienated from higher cultural values, are drawn into active public life. This development is accompanied by the democratization of the mechanism of producing and distributing cultural benefits. As a result, the illusoriness of the “cultural unity” of society, which is proclaimed by the ruling classes, becomes increasingly apparent. Cultural polarization, which begins in the early stages of class society, becomes especially intense in the epoch of modern capitalism, during which the contradictions in social and cultural development become particularly acute. The ruling classes try to saddle the masses with a primitive “mass culture.” At the same time, under capitalism, in addition to the culture of the ruling class, a new culture in the form of democratic and socialist elements begins to come forward with increasing confidence. In Lenin’s words, this process occurs “since in every nation there are toiling and exploited masses, whose conditions of life inevitably give rise to the ideology of democracy and socialism” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 24, pp. 120–21). Lenin’s conception of the two cultures within every class antagonistic society underscores the vital importance of being able to identify the progressive democratic and socialist elements that are struggling against the prevailing culture of the exploiters.

The victory of the socialist revolution signifies a radical upheaval in the development of a society and its culture. In the socialist cultural revolution socialist culture is created and affirmed. It inherits all that was valuable in the culture created during the preceding stages of social development, and it heralds a qualitatively new stage in the cultural development of mankind. As determined by new forms of social relations and the ascendency of the Marxist-Leninist world view, the fundamental features of socialist spiritual culture are narodnost’ (national consciousness and popular accessibility), communist ideology and partiinost’ (party spirit), socialist collectivism and humanism, and an organic combination of internationalism and socialist patriotism. Under the leadership of the Communist Party the development of socialist culture acquires for the first time in history a consciously planned character. At every historical stage it is determined, on the one hand, by the level of culture achieved and by the material forces of production and, on the other hand, by the socialist and communist ideal.

The most important aim of socialist culture is the shaping of the new man, the transformation of the scientific Marxist-Leninist world view into the conscious conviction of every member of society, and the inculcation of every individual with high moral qualities and the enrichment of his spiritual world. Besides acting as a mechanism for the transfer of the progressive values and traditions accumulated by society, socialist culture is called upon to ensure the maximum opportunity for creativity, so as to meet the pressing needs of society and spiritually and materially enrich society and each individual. The main criterion of cultural progress in a socialist society is the extent to which the historical activity of the masses (that is, their practical activity) becomes in its ends and means a creative activity based on the achievements of material and spiritual culture.

The experience of the USSR, a multinational socialist state, is a bright example of the development of socialist culture through the interaction of national cultures. The Soviet socialist culture formed since the establishment of the USSR is unified in its spirit and fundamental content and contains the most valuable features and traditions of the culture of each people of the USSR. At the same time, each Soviet national culture is not dependent only on its own cultural heritage but is enriched by the cultural achievements of other peoples. The ever-increasing interaction of the national socialist cultures leads to the growth of common international features in each of them. Thus, Soviet culture—socialist in its content and in the main direction of its development, varied in its national forms, and international in its spirit and character—represents an organic fusion of the spiritual values created by all the peoples of the USSR. The growing rapprochement of national cultures is an objective, progressive process. The Communist Party opposes both the artificial forcing of that rapprochement and any attempts to hold it back and reinforce the separation of national cultures. Socialist culture is a preliminary model of the worldwide spiritual culture of communist society, which will have a universal human nature. “The culture of communism, absorbing and developing all the best that has been created by world culture, will be the new, highest stage in the cultural development of humanity” (Program of the CPSU, 1972, p. 130).


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Ideologicheskaia bor’ba i sovremennaia kul’tura. Moscow, 1972.
Partiia i sotsialisticheskaia kul’tura. Moscow, 1972.
Arnol’dov, A. I. Kul’tura i sovremennost’. Moscow, 1973.
Tylor, E. Pervobytnaia kul’tura. Moscow, 1939. (Translated from English.)
Klemm, G. Allgemeine Kulturgeschichte der Menschheit, vols. 1–10. Leipzig, 1843–52.
Benedict, R. Patterns of Culture. Boston-New York [1934].
Boas, F., ed. General Anthropology. Boston [1938].
Herskovits, M. J. Man and His Works. New York, 1948.
White, L. A. The Science of Culture. New York, 1949.
Kroeber, A. L., and C. Kluckhohn. Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. Cambridge, Mass., 1952.
Kroeber, A. L. The Nature of Culture. Chicago [1952].
Snow, C. P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. Cambridge, 1959.
Malinowski, B. A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays. New York, 1960.
Mead, M. Continuities in Cultural Evolution. New Haven, 1965.

(Marxist-Leninist theory of culture)



the cells of microorganisms (bacteria, yeast) or the filaments of their mycelia (actinomycetes, mold fungi) grown in a liquid or solid medium.

If the microorganisms multiply in an unchanged medium, the culture is called stationary. If the culture fluid is replaced with a fresh nutritive medium, it is called continuous. A culture that is initially isolated from water, air, and soil is usually nonuniform and is called mixed.

To isolate a pure culture of a single species of microorganism, a mixed culture is repeatedly inoculated on a solid culture medium. Colonies usually develop from one or more cells of a species. The offspring of a single vegetative cell, called a clone, forms a colony characteristic for the given species. To study the variability of microorganisms, a culture is isolated from a single cell (vegetative cell, spore, or conidium). To accumulate cells of a particular species in the culture, optimal conditions for reproduction should be created for that species and unfavorable conditions created for the other species (appropriate composition and reactivity of the medium, temperature, aeration). Such cultures are called elective.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The complex pattern of behavior that distinguishes a social, ethnic, or religious group.
A growth of living cells or microorganisms in a controlled artificial environment.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


As it pertains to maps and charts, all features constructed on the surface of the earth by man, such as cities, railways, canals, etc.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


1. the total range of activities and ideas of a group of people with shared traditions, which are transmitted and reinforced by members of the group
2. a particular civilization at a particular period
3. the artistic and social pursuits, expression, and tastes valued by a society or class, as in the arts, manners, dress, etc.
4. Stockbreeding the rearing and breeding of animals, esp with a view to improving the strain
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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