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Culture in Development

Culture describes the many ways in which human beings express themselves
for the purposes of uniting with others, forming a group, defining an identity,
and even for distinguishing themselves as unique.

Community development

Community development (CD) is the process of helping communities


strengthen and develop towards its full potential. As facilitators, we work in
partnership with local people and organizations to meet identified needs. We
believe that literacy is a key component of sustainable development

Community development over ten years has been operating on some


principles which principles have been formulated as a definition of a healthy
process of CD. This principles include Start where the people are, Build
relationships; then introduce new ideas, showing how they meet identified
needs, Keep projects simple, Involve as many community people as possible
in all activities from the start, Train people close to their home communities,
Train in locally acceptable ways (e.g. methods, facilities) train trainers who
can train others, Involve local leadership, Cooperate with governments. and
Encourage interdependent relationships vs. dependent or totally
independent relationships.

Cultural expression is highly sensual in that human beings often create


activities, practices, symbols, and so on that can be easily consumed by our
senses. For example, culturally distinct forms of dance or physical movement
attract our senses of touch and sight; whereas culturally specific foods seek
to activate our sense of taste and smell.

Culture is often used as a starting point when expressing our identity to


others. Yet culture, like identity, is complex and it includes characteristics
beyond ethnicity and religion. For instance, some people around the world
share the common experience of living with a disability, but beyond the
physical realities of disability, some people who identify as disabled have
begun to recognize the uniqueness and empowerment of their collective
expressions as members of the same culture, disability culture. Unlike other
cultural groups, disability culture has not been as visible within communities
around the world, in part due to the continued marginalization of peoples
with disabilities, and in other cases because of the lack of voices being heard
from this diverse cultural group.

Developmental trajectories of communities are usually explained by


reference to economic history, human capital deficits, and/or the structure of
local labor markets. Rarely is local culture seen as playing a significant role
in development outcomes. Nor does empirical research routinely consider
the role of local culture in fostering a more complete understanding of
community development. Instead, culture is often viewed as an outgrowth of
a particular region and dependent upon economic and other experiences,
not an independent force.

Such perspectives miss an important aspect of the development process.


The culture of a community significantly shapes debate and action. Local
culture also presents unique options for locally based economic and other
development. Local understandings and interpretations of a community's
history reflect past events that feed into, and are partially driven by the
demands, sentiments, and interests of those in the present. This makes it
crucial for community development practitioners to consider the importance
of culture in efforts to improve local well-being. By paying attention to, and
incorporating unique cultural values, traditions, and related factors, more
efficient and effective development efforts can be achieved.

Local culture provides a sense of identity for rural communities and


residents. This identity facilitates common understandings, traditions, and
values, all central to the identification of plans of action to improve well-
being. Culture contributes to building a sense of local identity and solidarity.
It influences the confidence rural communities have for coming together to
address specific needs and problems. This local commitment among
residents, regardless of economic or political conditions, can serve as a
valuable tool in shaping the effectiveness of development options and local
actions. Such commitment, based on culture and common identity, can be
seen as a potentially important tool in sustaining local government,
development, and social improvement efforts.

Providing a local linkage and cultural basis for development is important.


People are likely to take part in and remain committed to development
efforts to which they have a direct connection. Development efforts that
consider or focus on culture provide a mechanism for linking local residents
to the development process. Through such efforts, local residents can
encourage development that preserves or promotes their culture. This is
particularly important in development efforts that seek to elicit local
participation, volunteerism, and community action. In understanding the
place of culture in the development process, it is important to consider the
social basis of culture, its relationship to interaction, and the types of
development and local actions it can contribute to

The inclusion of culture into community and economic development models


can take many shapes and forms. Culture can serve as the central focus.
Included would be tourism and other efforts that focus largely on the
promotion, preservation, or enhancement of local or regional cultures.
Culture can also be a factor that needs to be addressed to determine its
impact on new or existing development programs (resource management,
environmental protection). In facing development, the programs that
communities are willing to accept and embrace are likely to depend largely
on cultural factors. It is therefore vital that problems and potential solutions
be defined in a manner consistent with the local culture.
Africa being a third world continent has a long way to go in order to reach the levels
of the western continents. In view of this Niche Africa Holidays has come up with a
development tourism package which basically is a tourism package that bring
tourists from all sectors who are willing to develop the African continent to be a step
ahead from being a third world. This can be done by building the infrastructure for
the community based organizations, teaching in various schools and colleges,
volunteer working in Africa who would want to create a difference in the both rural
and urban centers, missionaries who would want to involve in community based
development which include among others the building of infrastructure in the rural
centers such as schools, churches, colleges and other sanitary and water projects.
The best example being; T he Non Governmental Organizations.

Kika trope has been dancing at the professional level since While training those who
are talented and using different dances, thorough this dances all people irrespective
of the tribe are able to participate in the community, some have managed to go
back to school to be able to attain some trainings and this has made them manage
their lives hence personal and community development.

The predominant use of ‘culture’ in development, however, tends to be


more general. Talk is usually of ‘other cultures’ or ‘a people’s culture’.
‘Cross-cultural’ is often used interchangeably with ‘cross-national’.
Culture thus appears as shorthand for group identity, often coterminous
with a nation state, or (increasingly) language-based or ethnic groups
within it. This runs counter to many theorizations of identity, which stress
the multiple dimensions and scope for variation and change within and
between them. Sen’s contributions to the debate press for a vigorous
acknowledgement of this diversity, and are central to the advocacy of
‘cultural freedom’, which is discussed in greater detail below. This reflects
in part the priority given to the individual in the human development
approach (see Chapter 2). It also, however, has a political intention.
(Cross)cultural generalizations serve as a fertile breeding ground for the
bigotry and identity-based conflict that Sen, especially in Identity and
Violence, is at pains to counter. The danger of a renewed emphasis on
culture is that it be used to seal off debate, rather than open an additional
point of entry into further discussion.
To use culture as an explanation is to view it as a factor whose presence
or absence is responsible for development itself. The earliest example of
this is Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,
which maintained that the cultural and religious beliefs of early capitalist
entrepreneurs were significant to the development of capitalism in
Europe. It is noteworthy, however, that Weber saw ‘culture’ as being only
one part of the explanation, which came into play only because of the
presence of appropriate material factors. More recent authors have been
less scrupulous, however: Samuel Huntington (2000) uses ‘culture’ to
explain the developmental differences between Ghana and South Korea
since the 1960s. This is strongly rejected by Sen (2004), who pointed out
that differences during this period also existed in terms of class
structures, politics and government, relations with major capitalist
economies and levels of literacy. Such ‘cultural determinism’ (to use Sen’s
term) tends to fix entire nations within certain cultural coordinates,
ignoring many forms of interaction with the wider world and changes in
culture over time.

To sum up the above the relationship between culture and community development
is vast. However, this important relationship is rarely accorded a significant role in
the design of development efforts. Using an interactional approach to community
development provides opportunities for incorporating insights into the role and
place of culture. Further, it means conceptualizing development so as to highlight
the importance of establishing and enhancing social relationships. Aligning such
development with cultural promotion and preservation can serve as a tool for
successful development. Moreover, focusing on the erosion of solidarity or culture
would provide insight into the lack of progress or the presence of obstacles
impeding existing development efforts.

variations of beliefs and behaviors. Culture is a shared system of meanings. Culture

indicates how people perceive the world, how they interpret meaning from events and

gestures, and how they anticipate the expected behaviors and responses within societies.

Culture is relative, not absolute. Different groups have different cultural rules but there
is no set standard of which cultural values are better or worse than others. Culture is

learned from social environment and is not genetic.