Components of Culture

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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...
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