Culture is not genetically inherited, it is acquired by growing up in a particular area that teach and expose learners to specific cultural aspects and traditions. The child of a foreigner learns a culture through enculturation. Cultural learning is done using symbols or signs that are either language or body movements.

Culture is transmitted through the following means:

  • Teaching: parent or family member or community member teaching children certain aspects of the culture
  • Observation: where a learner observes what other members of the community are doing
  • Unconscious absorption during listening, talking, and interacting with others
  • Enculturation: learning a culture of a people

Only humans have the ability to learn a culture while other animals use instincts, situational learning, or learn from other members of the group e.g. a young predator learning how to hunt for prey.

Culture is known to be dynamic, never static. Since culture is all encompassing, cultural dynamism occurs in an integrated manner affecting all aspects of a community’s livelihood.

The common mechanisms of cultural change include: diffusion, acculturation, independent invention, globalization, and cultural convergent or evolution.

Diffusion

This is where a cultural practice of an ethnic group diffuses to another neighboring group either through intermarriage, through trade or other forms of interaction. For example, use of the drum as a musical instrument was an aspect the Kikuyus borrowed from their neighbors, the Wakamba (Kenyatta 1965:92). This formed part of the Kikuyu culture from then on.

When different ethnic groups come into contact, the original cultural pattern of either or both may be changed by contact. This was the case with most cultures when they came into contact with the colonialists. Due to external policies imposed on them, their way of making a livelihood had to change. This was especially so since this policies were directed at the natural resources that shaped their culture

Acculturation

Independent invention

Members of a community can invent ways to improve their style of life e.g. industrial revolution, smelting of iron to make iron tools e.t.c. This normally happens in response to environmental changes or the need to ease work. Due to the new mode of land tenure in Kenya for example, the Maasai have been forced to get innovative for them to remain pastoralists, an activity not favoured by the current system.

Some cultural groups living in similar environmental conditions develop similar practices independent of each other in adaptation to the environment. The similarities housing modes of the Kikuyu huts and the Kalenjin, the abaluhya was purely in adaptation to the resources in their surroundings.

Cultural convergent or evolution

Globalization

This is as a result of the linkages between modern nations and societies mainly due to enhanced communication. As a result, there are a lot of similarities between nations economically and politically, communication, language, dressing and nutrition among others.

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