The Cultural Iceberg – Why civilizations create culture


As part of my degree in anthropology, I’ve been reading up about civilizations and culture. Most people have a very vague notion about the meaning of civilization.

However, in my research, I discovered specialized areas of Intercultural Communication, Cultural Psychology, Sociolinguistics and Cultural Anthropology that is fascinating.

The concept of culture is frequently initially taught in starting anthropology and sociology classes using the cultural iceberg.

Just think of an iceberg. There’s a part of the iceberg you can see over the water line. The part that’s over the water reflects all of the visible elements about culture: art forms, music, foods, food customs, funerary traditions, tools and engineering, dress, spiritual traditions, artifacts and objects, and a host of others. Of course, culture affects art, language and a whole lot of other things.

Under the water is your part you cannot see, which is essentially composed of beliefs, values, philosophy, worldview, senses and ways of thinking.

This region of the iceberg clearly supports the component over the water.

Which portion of the iceberg is the largest? Clearly, it is the invisible part and that is precisely what you run up against whenever you encounter so-called civilization shock, civilization bumps, and cultural battle.

Culture is transmitted out of day one about babyhood by parents and families, and your transmission is continued through other social institutions like school, church, peer groups, along with other social groups social networking, usually throughout a lifetime.

All cultures believe that their civilization is right and good. This is your definition of ethnocentrism, and it’s characteristic of all human beings from each culture. Here’s an example of a cultural bump wherein the two parties involved had no notion of why they’d have a negative reaction.

That’s all for today. I hope I haven’t bored you with this post.