Culture as an Important Facet of Society

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A society without culture is as good as dead. Discuss.
A society according to Thomas, L (1995:25) is defined as “a group of mutually interdependent people who have organized in such a way as to share a common culture and feeling of unity”. In other ways society consists of people, and culture consists of products that people create. Culture according to Giddens (2005:45) refers to “the pattern of human activity and the symbols, which give significance to this activity”. Culture is represented through the art, literature, costumes, customs and traditions of a community. Different cultures exist in different parts of the world. The natural environment greatly affects the lifestyle of the people of that region, thus shaping their culture. The diversity in the cultures around the world is also a result of the mindsets of people inhabiting different regions of the world. There are several components of human culture namely; symbols, language, values and beliefs, norms, and technology. Symbols are anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share a culture. The simplest most everyday things are symbols for examples a wave of the hand can be a friendly gesture of hello. However, if not done properly with all the fingers in the upright position it can be a rude gesture and a great sign of disrespect. The honking of a car horn is a symbol to grab someone's attention to their surroundings. Even something as common as a kiss is a symbol of love and caring. Language is a system of symbols that allows people to communicate with each other. Language can be words or sounds that are spoken or words that are written. For instance some people believe that dogs communicate with each other through barking, this may be their own language. Values are culturally defined standards by which people assess desirability, goodness, and beauty, and that serve as broad guidelines for social living. Beliefs are specific statements that people hold to be true. There are several examples of both that can be found by looking at the Christian religion. The Ten Commandments are a great source. "You shall have no other gods before me", for Christians this statement is both a belief and a value. "Honor you father and mother" is a statement that Christians hold true and also one that they set their standards of living by. The other example of values and beliefs is "You shall not murder" a statement they stand by and live their lives by. Norms are rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members. One example of a norm is not cheating on a test, we all know this is wrong and should not be done at all cost. Technology is knowledge that people use to make a way of life in their surroundings, which is reflected by material culture an example of this is Plasma TV's you can simply hang these picture perfect TV's anywhere on the wall. It is true to say that no society exists without culture because of the following facets that culture brings to society which are as follows: The cultural values of a community give it an identity of its own; a community gains a character and a personality of its own, because of the culture of its people. Culture is shared by the members of a community. It is learned and passed from the older generations to the newer ones. For an effective transfer of culture from one generation to another, it has to be translated into symbols. Language, art and religion serve as the symbolic means of transfer of cultural values between generations. Culture is a bond that ties the people of a region or community together; It is that one common bond, which brings the people of a community together. The customs and traditions that the people of a community follow, the festivals they celebrate, the kind of clothing they wear, the food they eat, and most importantly, the cultural values they adhere to, bind them together. Culture is seen as a system of social control, wherein people shape their standards...
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