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A sociological

Definition of culture
Defining characteristics of culture
The Components of culture




Development of Culture around the world

Cultural Universal

Innovation and discovery, Cultural diffusion

Mcdonalization of society

cultural lag

Aspects of Cultural diversity/Variation

Levels of Culture
Subculture & counterculture
Cultural shock
Cultural diffusion

Attitudes towards cultural variation

Cultural ethnocentrism
Cultural relativism
Cultural Xenocentrism

Sociologically, culture is viewed in the broadest possible sensereferring to everything that is part of a peoples way of life.


Sociologist Cooly and Angel said, Culture is the sum total of the
reflection of the way of life.

According to E.B. Tylor, culture is that complex whole which includes

knowledge, belief, art, morals, law customs and any other capabilities
and habits acquired by man as a member of society. (E.B. Tylor,
Primitive Cultures 1871).

Culture is the way of life shared by a group- a system of ideas, values,

beliefs, knowledge, expressiveness and customs transmitted from
generation to generation within a social group (Metta Spencer).

1. Culture is a dynamic, constantly

changing process that is shaped by
political, social and economic

Defining features of Culture

Culture is all encompassing.

Culture is general and specific.
Culture is commonly shared.
Culture is learned.
Culture is symbolic.

Elements of Culture

Values are culturally defined standards for what is good, desirable and
proper or bad, undesirable and improper which serve as broad
guidelines for social living.

Influence peoples behavior

Criteria for evaluating actions
of others
Values may change

Elements of Culture

Established standards of
behavior maintained by a society
Norms are rules by which a
society guides the behavior of its

To be significant,
norms must be
widely shared and

Types of Norms
Formal norms: generally written;
specify strict punishments
Informal norms: generally understood but
not precisely recorded

Elements of Culture
The American sociologist William Graham Summer introduced
two important terms to the study of norms.

Folkways- Norms that are everyday habits

and conventions. These are a societys
customs for routine, casual interaction. A
person who fails to conform to these
norms or folkways may be thought of as
thoughtless or crude, but not as a criminal
or a sinner.
Mores- Mores refer to a societys
standards of proper moral conduct. These
norms are sacred and violations of them are
almost unthinkable.

Taboos are mores so strong that
violation is considered extremely
offensive and even unmentionable.
The incest taboo, which prohibits
sexual relations between certain kin, is
an example of a nearly universal taboo.

Sanctions-Penalties or rewards for
conduct concerning a social norm.
Formal Sanctions-salary bonus, firing
from job.
Informal Sanction-smile, humiliation.

Formal, standardized norms that have
been enacted by legislatures and are
enforced by formal sanctions.

law deals with disputes among persons

or groups.
Criminal law deals with public safety and

Elements of Culture
A symbol is anything that carries a particular
meaning recognized by people who share the
same culture.
Language is a key element of culture. It has
been called the storehouse of culture (Harroff,
1962). Language is a system of verbal and
non-verbal symbols that allows members of a
society to communicate with one another . All
cultures have a spoken language though not all
have a written language.

Culture and the Dominant Ideology

Dominant Ideology
Describes the set of cultural beliefs and
practices that help maintain powerful social,
economic, and political interests
Functionalists view culture as stabilizing agent
for sociology
Conflict theorists view culture as serving the
privileges of powerful groups.

Development of Culture
Around the World
Cultural Universals
Cultural Universalsare learned
behavior patterns that are shared by
all of humanity collectively. No
matter where people live in the world,
they share these universal traits.
Societies develop common practices, including:

Athletic sports
Funeral ceremonies
Sexual restrictions

Development of Culture
Around the World
Process of introducing new idea or object to a
Discovery: making known or sharing existence of
an aspect of reality
Invention: when existing cultural items are
combined into a form that did not exist before

Development of Culture
Around the World
Globalization, Diffusion, and
Diffusion: process by which a cultural item
spreads from group to group or society to
Mcdonaldization of society

Development of Culture
Around the World
Technology: information about how to
use the material resources of the
environment to satisfy human needs
and desires
Material culture:
physical or
technological aspects
of our daily lives

Food items
Raw materials

Development of Culture
Around the World
Nonmaterial Culture: ways of using
material objects as well as:
maladjustment when nonmaterial
culture is still struggling to adapt Customs
to new material conditions
Cultural lag means a gap between Governments
and Patterns of
adjustment in norms and values.
This term was introduced by
William F. Ogburn. According to
tends to occur quickly and cause
new situations that require changes

Cultural Diversity
Levels of culture:

National culture
The experiences, beliefs, learned behavior patterns,
and values shared by citizens of the same nation.
International culture
Cultural practices that are common to an identifiable
group that transcends national borders.
The existence of more than one culturally defined
group within a larger nation.

Cultural Diversity

A subculture is a segment of society that shares a distinctive

pattern of norms and values that differs from the pattern of the
larger society.

Counter culture

A counterculture means against the culture (Yinger, 1960). A

group whose norms, attitudes, values and lifestyle directly
challenge or seek to change those of the mainstream culture.

Cultural Diversity
Cultural diffusion
It is the process by which a cultural item spreads
from one society to another society. Diffusion
can occur through a variety of means like
exploration, military conquest, missionary work,
the influence of mass media, tourism and the
Cultural shock
The feeling of surprise and disorientation that is
experienced when people encounter cultural
practices different from their own.

Attitudes towards Cultural Diversity

Cultural ethnocentrism
The tendency to assume that ones own culture and way of life are
superior to all others. William Graham Summer coined the term

Cultural relativism
Cultural relativism views peoples behaviour from the perspective
of their culture. It stresses that different social contexts give rise
to different norms and values.

Cultural Xenocentrism
The belief that the products, styles, or ideas of ones society are
inferior to those that originate else where