Human beings are born as separate entities, but the survival of man is dependent upon a degree of interaction with other humans. This can be defined as a system of inter-dependent social relationships whereby social structures such as the family (whether nuclear or otherwise in form) and occupational roles exist to create compatibility.
The pairing of males and females, ideally through the bond of marriage, allows for satisfaction of human needs like emotional and sexual-reproductive needs. Scientific advances and evolution however, mean that conventional forms of sexual pairing, as well as reproduction patterns have changed as can be seen in the rise and acceptance of gay-parent families.
The family is the basic socializing agency, and we are born into a particular culture that frames our perspective of the world, and even if we switchover to another community as adults, our origins have an everlasting impact on our beliefs and values. Schools, religion and media further act as secondary units of education.
Groups of individuals with distinctive cultures may be distinguished by cultural labels, which allow comparison between them. Cultural identity maybe established on the basis of factors such as race, religion, gender, age, class and ethnicity, amongst other incidental ones like common recreational interests. Culture in general is also important, and includes specific values, customs, art and language.
There are over 6 billion humans on earth, constituting thousand of languages and distinct cultures, with remarkable scope and diversity. Multiculturism holds that ethnocentrism, or the belief that one culture is superior to another, is wrong. All cultures must be treated as equally valid. History is full of examples of indigenous peoples rejecting outsiders, who had a different culture and belief system to theirs. Examples of oppression and subjugation of one group by another are prevalent throughout history. Culture is not stagnant, but evolves as different cultures mingle and mix to influence each other.
Besides heterosexuals, sexual preferences in the form of gays, lesbians, transvestites and transsexuals have become widespread. Homosexuality (same-sex preference) is common, but should not be confused with other acts like sexual exploration. Also, sexual therapy to change a person’s sexual orientation is now available but is considered unethical.
Kottak, C.P. (2000). Anthropology: The exploration of human diversity. Boston: McGraw-Hill