Culture is a very important factor, which determines social environment and social action. Behaviour of an individual is guided by the culture he lives in. culture guides him to select a particular way of behaviour from a very broad range of alternative behaviours that are permitted to him by his biological heritage. Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, customs and any other capabilities and habits, acquired by man as a member of the society.
Though, all over the world, mankind exhibits an amazing diversity of cultures, each cultures always encompasses certain areas of human activity which are referred to as various aspects of culture. These aspects are ways of adaptation to the surrounding physical environment. Anthropologists, provide the following exhaustive list of these aspects:
I. Material culture and its sanctions
II. Social institutions
a) Social organization
c) Political structures
III. Man and the universe
a) Belief systems
b) Control of power
a) Graphic and plastic arts
c) Music, drama and dance
Interrelationship between Culture and Environment
The particular set of cultural arrangements adopted by a society is largely determined by its physical environment, including climate, topography, natural resources and so on. Thus, we find that all the major agricultural settlements are located near river banks, areas of fertile land and adequate water supply.
The Indus Valley Civilization in India or the civilization that developed by the river Nile in Egypt, illustrates this point. However, it is important to note that in similar kinds of climates, different cultures may develop. Physical environment is not the conclusive factor in cultural development.
After a certain stage of cultural development and level of knowledge is reached, man’s subordination to nature is partially reduced and at times even changed into his domination over it. Over exploitation of natural resources may occur, resulting in an ecological imbalance. In modern industrial societies, deforestation, replacement of natural forests by concrete jungles, destruction of wildlife etc., are instances of culture, severely affecting physical environment. It is also seen that exploitation of natural resources is not possible unless a certain level of culture development is reached.