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2: Culture and Society
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- 2.1: Prelude to Culture and Society
- The idea of cows with too much gas, or any gas at all, roaming city streets is probably not very appealing, but cow worship is certainly a part of India’s culture. This news story provides just one of many examples of the importance of cultural differences for beliefs and behaviors.
- 2.2: Culture and the Sociological Perspective
- If the culture we learn influences our beliefs and behaviors, then culture is a key concept to the sociological perspective. Culture influences not only language but the gestures we use when we interact, how far apart we stand from each other when we talk, and the values we consider most important for our children to learn, to name just a few. Without culture, we could not have a society.
- 2.3: The Elements of Culture
- Culture was defined earlier as the symbols, language, beliefs, values, and artifacts that are part of any society. As this definition suggests, there are two basic components of culture: ideas and symbols on the one hand and artifacts (material objects) on the other. The first type, called nonmaterial culture, includes the values, beliefs, symbols, and language that define a society. The second type, called material culture, includes all the society’s physical objects.
- 2.4: Cultural Diversity
- It is important for outsiders to become familiar with other societies and to appreciate their cultural differences. These differences are often referred to as cultural diversity. Cultural diversity also occurs within a single society, where subcultures and countercultures can both exist.
- 2.5: The Development of Modern Society
- Since the origins of sociology during the 19th century, sociologists have tried to understand how and why modern society developed. Part of this understanding involves determining the differences between modern societies and nonmodern (or simple) ones. This chapter has already alluded to some of these differences. In this section, we look at the development of modern society more closely.
- 2.S: Culture and Society (Summary)
- Culture involves the symbols, language, norms, values, and artifacts that characterize any society and that shape the thoughts, behaviors, and attitudes of the members of the society. Scholars continue to debate the relative importance of biology and culture for human behavior. Sociologists favor culture over biology for several reasons, including the cultural variations existing around the world.