The Concept -Environment
The word environment is one of the concepts with varied definitions. Environment is fundamental to man with much socio-cultural implications. Man does not operate in a vacuum. He is mostly guided by the environment he finds himself. Environment covers all things found in a place. It has varied connotations depending on the circumstances.
Environment entails the physical and social conditions in which people live especially as it affects their feelings and development. It also encompasses the natural conditions such as air, water, land, animals, and plants within the surroundings. The level of human communication in the environment determines the level of development.
Environment composes of the things found in human society. It can also be seen as a place such as the rural environment, urban environment, industrial environment, social environment, home environment etc. It can also be qualified as things such as university environment, hospital environment and church. However, these multi-sectoral approaches of environment led to so many definitions of environment.
Blumer (1969) viewed environment as a determinant of behaviour and as aspect of behaviour. For him, not only does interpersonal exchange occur within an environment which affects its course and character, but social interaction involves active use of environment. In effect, there is mutual relationship between person and environment.
In continuation, the Longman dictionary of contemporary English analysed environment from two dimensions. It consists of all situations, events, people etc that influence the way in which people live and work. Secondly, environment is seen as consisting of water, air and land in which people, animals and plant live.
In the other vain, Ezegbe (1988) opined that man’s environment in a given place consists of the things that are found around him. For him man’s environment can be classified into physical, social, cultural, economic and political aspects. For Ekwonwa (2006) environment can be defined as the totality of things, conditions or circumstances that affects the existence and development of organism and individual or a population or group on the earth surface. For him, from the above definition, one can conceptualize the environment as a delicate natural resources which is left at the hands of man to protect. Man therefore has the power to alter the natural state of the environment. Man does this in his daily life struggle for survival.
The Socio-Cultural Environment
The socio-cultural environment of man consists of those components that assist man function effectively in the socialization process. It acquaints man with his environment and also guide him in societal conducts. The socio-cultual environment of man includes such things as the norms, customs, values, culture, family systems and the formation of social cum cultural association.
These traits greatly influence man’s societal growth and development.
Man from childhood is helpless. This is not mainly because he is physically dependent on older members of the society rather as an infant, he lacks the pattern of behaviour necessary to live in human society. In order to survive and function effectively in the society, he has to learn the skill and acceptable ways of behaving that will carry him along. In sociological parlance, it entails that the infant must learn the culture of his society.
The socio-cultural environment of man enhances man’s socialization process in the society. It is evident that we all become human by interacting with others, and out of this interaction, we acquire a personality and learn how to order our lives and fit into the society. Without socialization, we would not know what to value, what to do, how to think, how to talk, where to go or how to respond. Infant we will not be human.
It is through socio-cultural environment that human beings acquire political socialization. They tend to be aware of the political systems and processes in the society. They participate in the political campaigns and electioneering in the society.
However, through socio-cultural environment of man, he is oblarged to adhere to the customs, norms and traditions of his society. He strictly obeys stipulated rules and regulation. This compliance to societal rules affects his mode of dressing, talking, eating and even belonging to associations. Furthermore, certain social institutions affect his mode of living in the society. For instance, the religious system one obeys is greatly determined by his childhood experience, and even his political ideology is greatly determined by his socio-cultural environment.
Man influences his socio-cultural environment by building culture, customs, norms, values, families, associations etc. These are all built to guide social relationships that guarantee effective ways of human existence. Man develops languages for effective communication and as well develops some localized forms of agricultural activities that are peculiar to man’s environment. The socio-cultural environment of man greatly affects man’s growth and development.