Culture

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CULTURE AND ITS IMPORTANCE TO SOCIOLOGY

STUDENT ID: 2057434
DATE: 3/12/2012

Culture is the way of life of a certain group of people. It simply describes what different groups of people believe, think and the values of life unto which the strongly hold on. It consists of the beliefs, behaviours, objects, and other characteristics common to the members of a particular group or society. Culture includes many societal elements apart from the above mentioned, they are: language, values, customs, costumes, norms, rules, technologies, products, organizations, and even institutions. Different cultures exist in different parts of the world, the major ones which include; Western culture, Eastern culture, African culture, Latin culture, Middle Eastern culture. There also exists material and non material culture. Non-material culture which involves cultural practices for example ideas, values, perception etc. whilst material culture has to do with clothing, arts, telephones etc. Culture is basically what differentiates a group from other groups of people as they all have their own cultural beliefs and distinctive values or ideas. Through culture, people and groups can define and identify themselves, conform to society's shared values, and contribute to their society. The diversity in the cultures around the world is also a result of the mindsets of people inhabiting different regions of the world. Culture is often viewed as an integrated system that controls the society. Haven said that, people coming from a particular culture display distinguished standards and behaviours. Moreover, these cultural values and beliefs highly influence one’s principles and philosophies of life and thus their way of living, which automatically verifies the statement that; “a culture is significant in affecting a human being’s social life.” {Ref-websites (ii) 2012} Also culture is said to be learned and arbitrary which means it is passed on from generation to generation, which automatically makes it natural. But “for sociologists, there is no such thing as human nature. ‘Nature’ is produced through different histories and cultures. We make culture, which at the same time makes us and automatically becomes a part of us.” Some sociologists exclude material objects from their definition of culture. They include technical knowledge about the artefacts. Commonly speaking, being cultured means being well-educated, knowledgeable of the arts, stylish, and well-mannered. {Ref-websites (iii) 2004} Culture consists of three layers or levels which are part of man’s learned behaviour values and beliefs. Looking at culture from a special perspective, like an onion, it consists of layers which can be peeled off. The three layers of culture include; The outer layer: This is the aspect people mainly relate with culture. It is the visual reality of behaviour, clothes, food, language, norms, etc. This is the level of simple plain culture. The middle layer: This is the aspect that refers to non-material culture; norms and values which a society holds. These are more of things that are considered right and wrong (norms) or good and bad (values). Values and norms structure the way people in a particular culture behave. But they are not visible, irrespective of the fact that their effects on the society are obvious. The inner layer: This is the innermost part, the level of implicit culture. The core consists of basic assumptions, series of rules and methods to deal with the regular problems that a society faces. “These days, the problem-solving methods have become so common. For instance, to an outsider these basic assumptions are very difficult to recognize, which every culture has been able to develop her own set of basic assumptions”. {Ref-articles (ii) 2004} The relationship between culture and sociology is that sociology is the study of society, i.e. the ability to understand people and human behaviour. “The sociological approach to culture is therefore defined...
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