Humans, what make us the most intellectual species onplanet Earth? Is it just because of our morphological characteristics andhighly developed neural network or also because of our culture? Yes, some truthis behind our body geometry but a greater role is also played by the norms,values and ideas passed on to us by our fore fathers. These complex integratedpattern of learning that is passed on just like genes from earlier civilizationto today’s generation, is defined as culture. Human societies consists of socialbehaviours and norms which is known as culture People have different ideologies on the true definition ofit but in every language it is somehow similar to its fundamental values. Agreat soviet era Psychologist named Lev Vygotsky quotes, ‘Language and Cultureare the frameworks through which human experience, communicate and understandreality’. So a greater portray on its importance can be derived from hismessage. And sociologist GeorgSimmel (1858–1918), referred to culture as ‘the cultivation ofindividuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified inthe course of history.’ Therefore,culture in the sociological field can be characterized as the mind sets, themethods for acting, and the material objects that together shape a people’slifestyle.
Elements that are common to all cultures arecalled Cultural Universals. These do not change over time but the way they areexpressed do change with time. Some examples are language, food, music, andclothes.
Cultural Universals meet basic human needs. Culture can be expressedmaterially (physical, tangible objects) and non-materially (customs, beliefs,philosophies). Both are equally important in defining and continuing a culture. Humans have been descending with theexpansion of new thoughts and items from generation to generation.
This dynamicprocedure of society expands culture with refreshment which creates some newand different culture in every generation. For its continuity and survival,society struggles as it adjusts according to environmental situation of itssurrounding. Societies and cultures are going through changes. As long as peoplekeep on inventing something that did not exist before, discover new things andalso keep on spreading cultural qualities from one group to another, the changeswill keep on continuing.
Language, norms and values are important partsto culture which cannot be separated from one another. They always coexist. Language is the foundation of every culture. It consists of word meanings andsymbols which not only describes a culture but shapes it as well. Languageincludes speech (spoken sounds), written characters (letters), numerals,symbols (& % J), and gestures (waving hello). Establishedstandards of behaviour maintained by society Unavoidably culture changes, and is changed bya handful number of factors such as, different interactions with variety of groupsas well as individuals, technology, mass media and other physical factors.
Norms are built up measuresor standards of behaviour kept up by society. People have to meet up certainstandards or follow certain rules to be a part of a particular society. Formal norms are composed and have particular outcomesfor clinging to them or breaking them. Casual or informal norms are notcomposed but rather are understood; outcomes come as praise or criticism. Norms that areimportant to society’s welfare are called Mores.
These behavioural standards generallycarry some moral consequence, are difficult to change, and result in severe punishmentif violated or dishonoured. Incest, child abuse and multiple marriage partnersare some of the examples. On the other hand norms that govern daily behaviourwithout much concern for society’s welfare are called Folkways. These behaviouralstandards generally do not carry a moral implication and change easily.(Examples are church dress, business attire, helping a stranger.) We are morelikely to formalize mores than folkways. Values are the concept of what is ‘great’,legitimate, attractive, what is determined to be ‘awful’, despicable, andunfortunate inside a culture.
We value particular substantial things(people, objects, wealth) and general things (health, power, status). A culturedemonstrates its value of a specific thing by the lengths it goes to protectit. The most commonly devalued things in our culture are women, children, JudeoChristian beliefs, and education.