1. CrystalDreamer59
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    CrystalDreamer59 Active Member

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    Creating A Culture

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by CrystalDreamer59, Dec 16, 2012.

    So I'm thinking about creating a fantasy world just for the fun of it. I'm not sure if I'm going to turn it into a story or not. I want this world to have a different culture then that of the countries of earth. What all goes into creating a culture. I know some of the things that make up a culture are government religion clothing education but I know there is much more to culture then just that but I can't think right away of what else there is to culture.
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How about the value systems of individual members of the society? What is the importance to them of such concepts as honor, justice, decency, courage, nobility, freedom? How would they even define these terms? Where would economic security rank relative to freedom?

    What about conformity? Do individuals want to blend in with others, or do they seek to stand out? How does this culture treat minorities?

    Is the culture stable, essentially the same over centuries, or does it change rapidly (due to war, perhaps, or technological advancement)?

    Just some things to think about.
     
  3. CrystalDreamer59
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    CrystalDreamer59 Active Member

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    This all sounds like a good start, but I know culture is very complex and there is much more to culture. I already have a text document started. I'll work more on that.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Things unique to the culture would be part of it. Say, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is an American/British thing that the Czechs have never ever heard of. They've not heard of Santa's elves either, or the film Snowman. They barely know the song "I'm Walking in the Air". Last week I was teaching English to some Czech ladies and they'd never heard of the famous carol "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".

    All of these things are part of culture.

    Karl Gott, Jan Werich, Bob a Bobes - they're part of Czech culture. Totoro and Miyazaki productions from Studio Gibhli are part of Japanese culture (Totoro is equivalent to say Mickey Mouse in the west - but Mickey Mouse is not a strong symbol in the Czech Republic, rather the little mole (whose name I forget) is)

    All of these things are cultural symbols, things anyone would expect you to know if you're to be considered as "one of them".
     
  5. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Make a list of what isn't part of culture. It'll be so very much shorter.

    A culture isn't so much a set of things as the way a people think, and that's informed by everything around them and everything that's happened in the past. The question you need to be asking, once you decided on any one aspect, is why it's like that. Why do the priests all wear purple? Why is a first son forbidden by law from marrying a second daughter? Why are only women allowed to do science? Once you can answer the why, you can work out what else that 'why' might have caused.
     
  6. WoodenPaw
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    WoodenPaw Member

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    Culture is a tool for survival or rather invented way of survival in a particular environment. like the culture of desert is very different than culture of grassy fields. The Human thinking reflects the environment he is living. so the very basic of culture is survival. The richness of culture is defined by population or rather tolerance with others, even with his environment like animals and trees. the Quality of Culture is defined by status of females in society. Education is also another way of differentiating the culture to an another culture. Religion is part of culture or another name or highest degree of culture practice. many cultures when they cannot cope up with other then religion gives a peaceful way to join hands and live peacefully but as you can create peace between cultures via religion then to achieve proper peace we need something greater than religion as now religions are fighting with each other. Ohh..I don't know what came to my mind but that sure sounds very good.
     
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  7. Cerebral
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    Cerebral Active Member

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    When in doubt, use Google:
    http://anthro.palomar.edu/culture/culture_1.htm

    I would think it's impossible to create a unique culture, especially if your characters are human. At least, if you want to think of and include a back-story for every little idiosyncrasy or norm. And thinking of idiosyncrasies that aren't already in existence might be a bit of a challenge.
     
  8. DDNeal
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    DDNeal Member

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    If you're writing about people it's good to copy from existing cultures. People always need a frame of reference so it's good to find a starting point that resembles somethign they know or atleast can look up. You can use your imagination as well. Think about what would've happened if Roman culture existed today? Or if an urban american culture existed in the dark ages. You can use the framework of one thing then use your imagination to built it in another.
     
  9. journalismgeek
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    journalismgeek New Member

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    Coming from someone who is living in the west, trying to keep two cultures alive and in balance, describing culture with things like "religion" and "government" is really, really general. I would recommend you look at the culture you belong to, and then start changing things around you. Like, for example, in the west, it is common for people to go out drinking with friends. So, in this new society, what is the equivalent? (in my country of origin, it is going to grab a cup of tea). Every society has such mirrored actions. Go through your day, and find the equivalent of what you usually do in your new culture. You drive a car. what is the equivalent. Then, go through all these equivalent behaviors, and ask why. why do people drink tea instead of beer, why are people riding elephants instead of driving cars.
     
  10. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    no body has mentioned hofstede's cultural dimension?
    his work is more for the macro dimensions of culture but it helps you give and understanding and you can draw implications form it.
    http://geert-hofstede.com/national-culture.html
     
  11. CrystalDreamer59
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    CrystalDreamer59 Active Member

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    I don't even know what culture I belong to. Even though I live in the states I seem to have my own subculture.
     
  12. Cerebral
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    Cerebral Active Member

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    Every culture has its own subcultures, too. And not just one either...many.
     
  13. GazingAbyss
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    GazingAbyss Member

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    Culture is, by definition, extremely complex. If you're trying to be completely different (or at least as different as possible, since I'm not sure it would be possible for anyone to come up with a completely different culture), I'd suggest changing some basics. Everything in human culture is built off the generations beforehand, after all, and if you go back far enough, it's all based on necessity.

    For example, music. In the earliest human civilizations, music started as a way to ward off demons, since loud sounds were considered inherently scary. That use of music necessitates percussion, bass. As more area was populated, cultures began dividing, and some groups began using music as a way of worship, changing the sounds to adulation. Harmonies became more important than rhythm. Eventually both traditions met back up and were used together.

    My point is you have to keep in mind what the purpose of each element of culture is, and what its influences are. You're going to have a lot of trouble if you just try to make up an entire culture, but if you tweak the reasons behind parts of existing human cultures you'll get a wide variation in the results.
     
  14. jedellion
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    jedellion Member

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    One of the most essential things that defines a culture:

    Environment. I would start there. Similar environments tend to create similar cultures. chnage environmental factors and the societies change.
    That is grossly over-simplistic. But it can be a good way to start.
     
  15. Dragoon119
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    Dragoon119 Member

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    I agree with Jedellion.

    Start with the environment. All cultures stem from that and that alone.

    For example: A town or city by a river

    Immediantly you will have a fishing industry, milling industry, boating industry, trading industry, and a thriving middle and upper class society.

    This sets the perfect stage for culture. You will have families within each of these four industries that ( If they lived their long enough.) will have their own values and traditions for dealing with each; and the other industries around them. This will develop into an distinct attitude, and culture that would be unique to this town or city.

    Cultures are almost always the product of the environment from which it is based.
     
  16. Sved
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    Sved Senior Member

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    Most fantasy I read, while having their own world and cultures, are also somewhat recognizable for the reader. For example they might have a feudal society with a king. This gives a familiar setting which makes it easier for the reader but also for the writer who don't need to explain everything in detail.
     
  17. Tales of Anima
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    Tales of Anima Member

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    I will repost a tumblr post on this very topic. Slight language warning.
     
  18. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    I think most important is to understand that culture influences how are people acting, their decisions and stuff. You can't put stuff like the internet into dictatorship or the religion if you want 100 percent of people doing it. Their clothes will be then more about individual stuff... or in the primitive culture they will wear tons of shiny things (like bear's teeth or leather belt), because it makes them dominante. Therefore these people will act with certain self-esteem. The habits like collecting eggs etc are about having people something to eat once a while or they will visit and meet people, family? Well, then you have to sing and play collective games during that habit or something. People will be then more dependent on each other, talking with friends all day long, slander and stuff, because other people gets more important even if they have no social value.

    There are tons of connections that have to be linked, but I don't think its very hard. You just have to stop, think about certain aspect and link it with more stuff, so you will have made several spider nets made
     

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