THE UNIVERSITY OF ZAMBIA SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT STUDIES SOCIOLOGY DIVISION
PROGRAMME: BACHELOR OF ARTS NON QUOTAS
COURSE: SOC 1110 (INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLOGY)
A SOCIETY WITHOUT CULTURE IS AS GOOD AS DEAD. DISCUSS WITH EXAMPLES.
This essay attempts to discuss, with examples, the topic which says, ‘a society without culture is as good as dead’. Carefully evaluated, the subject entails that culture is of great relevance and value to society. In this vein, the essay shall first examine the meaning of the term ‘culture’, and then outline the significance of culture to any given society. A conclusion shall be presented at last. In the first place, there is no universally acceptable meaning of the word culture. Different people from different lifestyles have advocated for various theoretical interpretations. Anthropologists hold the view that culture has something to do with the patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in specific social groups learn, create, and share. Experts have categorized these as customs and beliefs, art, way of life and social organization of a particular country or group of people. However, many experts agree that in its totality, a people’s culture encompasses their beliefs, rules of behavior, language, rituals, art and technology, styles of dress, ways of producing and cooking food, religion, political and economic systems. All in all, these can be broken into two major groups namely the material culture and the non-material culture. However, a common practice is to divide all of culture into four broad categories: material, social, and ideological with the fourth category, the arts, sharing characteristics of both material and non-material culture. The material culture includes products of human manufacture, such as technology. The non-material culture pertains to people’s forms of social organization – how people interact and organize themselves in groups. According to Anchor (1990), the non-material culture includes people’s perceptions on value, beliefs, and commonly held ideals. Both the material and non-material culture may contain some aspects of the art culture including some activities and areas of interest such as music, sculpture, painting, pottery, theatre, cooking, writing, and fashion. The economic system is a very important notion in societies made of material cultures. All societies produce and exchange material goods so that people can feed, clothe, shelter, and otherwise provide for themselves basic needs. In most material cultures, anything that can be attached to the means of production is prioritized. Thus, when carrying out studies on the material culture of a particular society, Anthropologists look at several aspects of people’s material culture including the pattern of subsistence; the ways in which people exchange goods and services; the kinds of technologies and other objects people make and use; and effects of people’s economy on the natural environment. The aforementioned four are the major tenets of a material culture as defined in modern social groups. How advanced one material culture is determines even its levels of development. This is evidenced by itself in that the culture of any given social group defines the level of development that has been attained by that social group. Another value of the material culture is that it provides the form of exchange. Generally, it is a tradition in any society whether big or not to exchange goods and services with each other through appropriate exchange systems. In Luapula Province for example, money is not the only form of exchange, but people can use other valuable products including food stuffs, clothes, and fishing equipment to exchange with fish. On the other hand, contemporary industrial societies have organized...
References: Anchor, J. (1990), An Examination of Cultural Influences on Behavior and nonverbal Communication. Gold, Tie Cooperations.
Archer, M. (1996), Culture and Agency: The Place of Culture in Social Theory. Rev. ed. Cambridge University Press.
Hall, E. (1959), The Silent Language. Doubleday, New York: Wiley & Sons.
Sowell, T. (1996), Migrations and Cultures: A World View, London: Basic Books.
Taylor, G. (1996), Cultural Selection, London: Basic Books.
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