Culture October 15, 2012
Being and Becoming Human
To be human is to rely on culture and social networks, instead of instincts, to get your biological needs
met and express yourself
Put even more simply –To be human is to be a social being.
It’s sometimes helpful to think of humans as computers. Using this metaphor:
Culture –the software or apps that make the computer able to function in society and do useful
Socialization –how the cultural software is installed on the computer
Social Networks –like the Internet that connects each individual computer and makes them all
1. Definition of Culture
a. Culture is the symbols, beliefs, traditions, practices, and ideologies that create and
guide everyday life.
b. Society –We define “society” as a large group of people in a particular geographic area
who share a common culture
c. Culture –what society holds in common
d. Mass Culture –the shared culture of a large group of people
e. Subculture –a distinctive culture that exists within the larger societal culture
2. Two Aspects of Culture
a. Material Culture –artifacts of society. Ie houses, tools, computers
b. Non-Material Culture –abstract creations. Ie language, norms, values and beliefs
c. What is a cultural element?
i. Anything that is shared by the members of some social group, is passed onto
new members; and in some ways effect their behaviour or their perceptions of
the world. The three most important elements are values, norms and roles.
3. Components of Culture
a. Values –the abstract ideals or generally accepted standards of behaviour embraced by
any society; help define right vs. wrong
b. Norms –very often the values of a society are strongly linked to what we call its norms.
Norms are precise rules –or more defining principles by which any society comes to
govern itself –they tell members of a society what is prohibited
c. Roles –a role is a cluster of behavioural expectations associated with some particular
social position within a group or society
d. Beliefs –ideas that members of any given society respect and follow
e. Types of Norms i. Folkways –really informal customs, in some cases referred to as etiquette.
When folkways are violated, there are no moral condemnations or harsh
sanctions from the rest of the populations.
1. Least important norm in society –ie. burping in public
ii. Taboos –among the strongest of norms. When taboo is violated, it causes
revulsion in the community, and punishment is severe
1. ie. murder, ince