European inventory of
societal values of culture


Culture plays a fundamental role in shaping people's well-being. The influence of culture on well-being is diverse and dynamic, varying across different cultural groups, subcultures, and individual experiences. Understanding well-being requires looking beyond objective indicators and acknowledging subjective well-being, encompassing personal evaluations of happiness, life satisfaction, and overall well-being.

Well-being exists on multiple levels, including personal, societal, and community well-being. Personal well-being encompasses mental and physical health, highlighting the essential connection between mind and body. Societal well-being, on the other hand, addresses the broader conditions necessary for a good quality of life, such as a thriving economy, access to healthcare, social security, and safe environments. Community well-being centres on the social functions and relations contributing to a sense of connectedness, belonging, and social support.

Individual well-being benefits when individuals can draw upon cultural practices that resonate with their beliefs and values. It allows for personal growth, a stronger sense of identity, fulfillment, and contentment.  At the community level, cultural practices that foster social cohesion and a sense of belonging contribute to a supportive and inclusive environment. When individuals feel connected to their cultural heritage and traditions, they are more likely to engage in positive social interactions and build strong social networks, enhancing overall well-being. Societal well-being increases when diverse cultural practices are embraced and celebrated. Culturally vibrant societies provide mutual understanding, cooperation, and learning opportunities among cultural groups. This inclusivity fosters social harmony, reduces prejudice, and contributes to a more peaceful and thriving society.

Cultural activities, arts, recreational facilities, and opportunities for leisure and entertainment play a crucial role in enhancing well-being as they offer individuals a plethora of affordances, such as enjoyment, relaxation, connection with others, a sense of identity, empowerment, self-expression, fulfillment, and self-development. Cultural customs, rituals, and traditions also significantly impact well-being. These practices encompass various aspects of life, including mindfulness, meditation, physical activity, nutrition, spirituality, and healthcare. They provide frameworks and guidance for individuals to engage in activities that enhance their physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Furthermore, cultural practices contribute to social cohesion and community support systems. Traditions and norms influence the degree of social connectedness, sense of belonging, and support within a community. Strong social networks and community ties foster positive well-being outcomes and contribute to a more inclusive and supportive society.

Understanding the intrinsic relationship between culture and well-being is crucial for developing culturally sensitive and inclusive approaches to promoting well-being. By valuing and integrating diverse cultural practices, policymakers, communities, and individuals can create an environment that promotes well-being at multiple levels, from the individual to the societal, catering to everyone’s physical, mental, emotional, and social needs. (SH, SJ)


See also:  Art therapy; Art interventions