Culture can mean many things to many people. The word can be used to talk about the Fine arts or social competence, as in, "She is certainly a cultured person." It can de-scribe social structures and practices that appear to be uniquely different, as in, "The Maori culture of New Zealand can be very intimidating to outsiders." SH&E professionals talk about safety cultures, by which they mean the values, norms and practices of an organization that deal with the safety of its people.
These definitions share a common thread, the idea that culture is socially constructed. In other words, members of the culture in question create, define, protect and teach it to new members.
Humans cannot operate without cultures. These systems provide road-maps for their members to know how to make sense of what is happening in their lives and how to deal with it. Pat-ton (2002) defines culture as:
[T]hat collection of behavior patterns and beliefs that constitutes:
• standards for deciding what is;
• standards for deciding how one feels about it;
• standards for deciding what to do about it;
• standards for deciding how to go about doing it. (p. 81)
Culture has been described as "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another" (Hofstede, 1997, p. 5). Simply, culture is "the way we do things around here."
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