There are several conceptual frameworks for the concepts of culture which have evolved over time. The first framework allows a view of culture as a structural framework for belief, behavioral patterns, knowledge and symbolism. Depending on the ability of humans to learn social and symbolic concepts, the society may have a simple or complex cultural structure for integrating the various concepts.
The second framework involves the group or community and it’s shared values, behaviors, beliefs, and goals.
A third framework is not quite as profound today, but pertains to the elitist notions of high quality in the arts, thought, and intellect. This framework was actually the original way in which culture was studied, in that it was used to understand culture as a way of becoming an improved individual through study, refinement and accomplishment in the humanities and arts, or for larger groups, and nations, to aspire to higher ideals and to create national symbols, attitudes and behaviors.
The post modern concept of culture implies that aspects of an individual’s culture are developmental, and refer to ability to use referential symbols and to demonstrate creativity in various functions in life. For the greater society, the norms and values of the society are considered to be distinct developments that are different than, or separated from the roles, duties, and other functions which insure that the basics needs of life are met.
Culture, then, has been considered as the highest form of evolution for a society or an individual, where the higher forms of endeavor, creativity and thought are achieved. The strongest elements that define a society or group are developed, modified, refined, creatively adapted in response to change and disruption, and finally formalized into knowledge and symbol, along with behavior, belief and goals that are passed from generation to generation, or even among societies over time.
Culture can now be seen as many established frameworks for social engineering, where new values, symbols, beliefs and behaviors are introduced and incorporated into the social structure. The established media used to be a well defined, elite, and functional group in society which adhered to certain goals of excellence and high standards in informing the public. The media is now part of a matrix of formal, informal and even very poor and amateur sources of information. Symbols are now introduced for concepts that are fleeting fads, or for commercial products that come and go.
Cultures are now devolving in a volatile environment as the core structures of society, such as the economy, political structures, and job security, are being challenged, changed, and polarized. As a result, the loftier goals of excellence are often being replaced with goals of expediency in promoting various ideologies, many of which do not represent excellence in thought, the arts, or the humanities.