What Is The Difference between Culture and Civilization?

What is the difference between culture and civilization? Culture encompasses the shared beliefs, values, customs, traditions, language, arts, and social institutions of a group of people. Civilization is a broader term that refers to the complex social, political, and economic organization of human society.

Culture and civilization are closely related concepts, and their meanings can overlap, but they generally refer to different aspects of human societies. Take the time to read through this post to have a clear understanding on the difference between civilization and culture.

Difference between Culture and Civilization (With Table)

Basic Terms Culture Civilization
Definition The shared beliefs, customs, and way of life of a group of people. The complex social, political, and economic organization of human society.
Scope Focuses on intangible aspects such as art, language, rituals, and values. Encompasses both tangible (structures, technology) and intangible (culture) elements.
Expressed through Personal behaviors, expressions, and choices. Collective structures, institutions, and societal organization.
Examples Language, art, music, religious practices. Cities, governance systems, technology, infrastructure.
Individual vs. Collective Primarily associated with individuals and their behaviors. Collective and organizational aspects of society.
Timeframe Can change and evolve relatively quickly. Reflects long-term societal development and progress.
Nature More subjective and can vary among different groups. More objective and involves organized societal structures.
Focus Centers on the way of life and identity of a community. Focuses on the overall organization and development of a society.
Tradition vs. Progress Embraces both traditional and progressive elements. Implies progress and advancement in societal structures.
Influence on Behavior Guides individual behavior within a specific group. Shapes both individual and collective behaviors on a broader scale.

What Is Culture?

Culture refers to the shared set of beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, language, symbols, rituals, and artifacts that characterize a particular group or society. It is the way of life that is passed down from one generation to the next, shaping the behavior, thoughts, and perceptions of individuals within that group.

Social rules and expectations that define appropriate behavior in a given context. Norms can be formal or informal and vary across cultures. Rituals, ceremonies, and established practices that are repeated and passed down through generations, contributing to a sense of continuity and identity.

Creative expressions such as literature, music, art, dance, and theater that reflect the cultural identity and values of a group. Organized structures within a society, such as family, education, religion, and government that play a crucial role in shaping and maintaining cultural norms.

What Is Civilization?

Civilization refers to a complex and advanced stage of human social development characterized by organized societies with distinctive cultural, technological, economic, and political achievements.

It involves the establishment of cities, advanced forms of governance, technological innovations, social hierarchies, and various cultural expressions. Civilization represents a higher level of societal organization compared to less complex forms of human societies.

The development and application of sophisticated tools, machinery, and technology that contribute to the efficiency of daily life and various industries. The division of labor into specialized roles and professions, allowing for greater productivity and expertise in various fields.

Main Difference between Culture and Civilization


  • Culture: Shared beliefs, customs, and way of life.
  • Civilization: Complex social, political, and economic organization.


  • Culture: Focuses on intangible aspects like language and traditions.
  • Civilization: Encompasses tangible (structures, tech) and intangible elements.

Individual vs. Collective

  • Culture: Influences personal behavior.
  • Civilization: Organized societal structures and collective progress.


  • Culture: Can change relatively quickly.
  • Civilization: Reflects long-term societal development.


  • Culture: Subjective and varies among groups.
  • Civilization: Objective, involves organized societal structures.


  • Culture: Way of life and identity.
  • Civilization: Overall societal organization and development.

Tradition vs. Progress

  • Culture: Embraces both traditional and progressive elements.
  • Civilization: Implies progress and societal advancement.

Influence on Behavior

  • Culture: Guides individual behavior within a group.
  • Civilization: Shapes both individual and collective behaviors on a broader scale.

Similarities between Culture and Civilization

  • Both have a significant impact on shaping individual and collective behaviors within a society.
  • Both reflect the diversity of human experiences, with variations across different groups.
  • Both culture and civilization are dynamic, evolving over time in response to various influences.
  • Both contribute to the identity of a group, shaping their collective character.
  • Both are transmitted from generation to generation, influencing individuals and societies.
  • Both involve shared elements like language, norms, and values within a group.
  • Both are products of human creativity, innovation, and societal development.


Culture and civilization share common threads as manifestations of human creativity and societal development, their distinctions lie in scope, focus, and nature.

Culture revolves around shared beliefs, traditions, and customs, emphasizing the intangible aspects of a group’s identity. Civilization encompasses the broader organizational structures, technological advancements, and societal complexity that characterize an advanced stage of human development.

While culture guides personal behaviors and reflects a group’s way of life, civilization extends its influence to collective progress and societal organization. Together, these concepts contribute to the rich tapestry of human history, each playing a unique role in shaping the diverse and dynamic nature of human societies.

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