Components of Culture

Culture The values, beliefs, behaviour and material objects that form a people’s way of life. – Nonmaterial culture Ideas created by members of a society – Material culture Tangible things created by members of a society – Only humans rely on culture rather than instinct to ensure survival. The Components of Culture – Although culture vary, they all have five common components: a) Symbols b) Language c) Values d) Beliefs e) Norms A) Symbols – Anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share culture – Example : Tattoos Not understanding the symbols of a culture leaves a person feeling lost and isolated • Symbolic meaning may also vary within a single society B) Language – A system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another – Language allows for the community of culture – Cultural transmission – the process by which one generation passes culture to the next – Every society transmits culture through speech C) Values – Culturally defined standards by which people assess desirability, goodness and beauty and that serve as broad guidelines for social living. D) Beliefs Values are abstract standards of goodness. – Beliefs are particular matters that individuals consider true or false E) Norms – Rules and expectations by which a society guides the behaviour of its members. – Most important norms in a culture apply everywhere and at all times • Mores: Norm that carries greater moral significance, closely related to the core values of a group and often involves severe repercussions for violators. • Folkways: Loosely enforced norm that involves common customs, practices or procedures that ensure smooth interaction and acceptance. Taboo: norm engrained so deeply that even thinking about violating it evokes strong feelings of disgust, horror, or revulsion for most people. – Consists of formal (norm that provides an explicit statement about what is illegal in a society) and informal (not written down and are unspoken) F) Material Culture – Artifacts – Every culture includes a wide range of tangible human creations. – A society’s artifacts reflect underlying culture. – Material culture also reflects a society’s technology • Knowledge that people use to make a way of life in their surroundings.

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Cultural Change – Usually change slowly and incrementally, through change can also happen in rapid and dramatic ways. – One of the key ways that material culture can change through technology – Can also occur through cultural diffusion (different groups share their material and nonmaterial culture with each other) – Cultural levelling (occur when cultures that were once distinct become increasingly similar to one another) – Cultural imperialism (imposition of one’s culture’s beliefs, practices and artifacts on another mass media and consumer products)

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