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Topics: Sociology, Morality, Norm
I. COMPONENTS OF CULTURE
Culture provides individuals with a set of common understandings that they use to fashion their actions. It allows us to “know” in rather broad terms what we can expect of other and what they can expect of us.
In proving common understandings, culture binds the separated lives of individuals into a larger whole, making society possible by providing a common framework of meaning. Only by sharing similar perspectives with one another-designs and ways of life- can we weave integrated webs of ongoing interaction. The key components of culture that make these shared understandings possible: norm, values and symbols an language.

1. Norms
Norms are social rules that specify appropriate and inappropriate behaviour in given situation,
They tell us what we “should not” and “ought” and must not due. In all cultures the great body of these social rues deal with matters involving sex, property, and safety.
Norms vary enormously in their importance both to individuals and to society. Some, such as fashions, are powerful while they last but are not central to society’s values.

Folkways- folkways have to do with the customary ways and ordinary conventions by which we carry out our daily activities. We bate, brush our teeth, groom our hair, wear shoes or sandals, wave greetings to friends, mow our lawns, and sleep in beds.

We view people who violate folkways especially those who violate a good number of them, as somehow “different” and even “strange”. You may be regarded as eccentric, weird, crazy but not as immoral or criminal. However, ordinarily we do not attach moral significance to folkways. There is no strong feeling of right or wrong attached to them. For example, we may regard people who wear soiled clothing as crude but not as sinful, and people who are late for appointments as thoughtless but not evil. Gossip and ridicule are important mechanisms of folkways.

Mores- some norms are associated with strong feelings of right and wrong. These norms are called mores. Members of the society are more concerned about violations of mores. Murder, theft, rape, treason and child molestation bring strong disapproval ad sever e punishment in the United states.
Whereas eating oatmeal for dinner may only cause you to be considered crazy or lazy, other things that you can do will really offend your neighbors. If you eat your dog, or spend your last dollar on liquor when your child needs shoes will be violating mores.

The punishment for violators of a society’s mores is severe: they may be put to death, imprisoned or cast-out.
Not all violations of mores result in legal punishments, but all result in such informal reprisals as ostracism shunning or reprimand. These punishments, formal and informal, reduce the likelihood that people will violate mores.
Laws- rules that are enforced and sanctioned by the authority of government are laws. Very often the important mores of society become laws are enforced by agencies of the government. If the law cease to be supported by norms and values, they are either stricken from the record or become dead-letter laws, no longer considered important enough to enforce. Laws tend to be the result of conscious thought, deliberate planning and formal declaration. They can be changed more readily than folkways and mores.

For example, laws requiring the wearing of seat belts are not response to social norms. In this case, laws are trying to create norms rather than respond to them.

2. Values
Norms are rules for behaviour; values are broad ides regarding what is desirable, correct, and good that most members of a society share. Values are so general and abstract tht they do not explicitly specify wbich behaviours are acceptable and which are not. Instead values provide us with criteria and conceptions by which we evaluate people, objects and events as to their relative worth, merit, beauty, or morality. For example in society like united states, and individual may try to ensure security by putting money in the bank or investing in an education. In many traditional societies, security is maximized by having many relatives. In societies such as that of the Kwakiutl of the Pacific Northwest, security is achieved, not by saving your wealth but by giving it away. the reasoning is that all of the people who accept your goods are now under obligation to you, If you should ever need help, you would feel free to call n them and they would feel obliged to help. Thus, it could be seen that there are dramatic differences in the guidelines that cultures offer but it still is regarding achieving desirable goals, just varies from different culture.

3. Symbols and Languages
Symbols are acts or objects that have come to be socially accepted as standing for something else. They come to represent other things through the shared understandings people have. Consider the word “computer”, a symbol that when spoken or written stands for a physical object. T becomes a vehicle of communication because a community of users agree that the symbol and the object are linked.
Symbols assume many different forms. Gestures, are one example. Greetings and leave-taking gestures, for instance are different in cultures. Though gestures are easily understood within a society of persons who share their meaning, they are often the basis for misunderstandings between cultures.
The most important symbols of all are fund in language- a socially structured system of sound patterns9words and sentences) with specific and arbitrary meanings. Language is the cornerstone of every culture. It is the chief vehicle by which people communicate ideas, information attitudes and emotions to one another, and it is the principal means by which human beings create culture and transmit It from generation to generation.

Brinkerhoff, D.B., White, L.K., Ortega, S.T., Weitz, R. 2002. Essentials of Sociology (5th Edition)

Hughes, M., Kroehler, C.J., 2005 Sociology: The Core (7th edition)

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