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2.8: End of Chapter Discussion

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    1. Why is the concept of culture difficult to define? What do you think are the most important elements of culture?
    2. In the twenty-first century, people have much greater contact with members of other cultures than they did in the past. Which topics or concerns should be priorities for future studies in culture?
    3. COVID-19 had an impact on all cultures around the world and there were many short-term changes in behavior that we all had to incorporate into our daily lives. Since culture is integrated, what were some of the short-term changes to other aspects of our culture? What are some long-term cultural changes that we may see as a result of the pandemic?


    Acculturation: An ongoing exchange of cultural traits between groups that have continuous first-hand contact; both groups experience change while remaining two distinct groups.

    Adaptation: Any alteration in the structure or functioning of an organism (or group of organisms) that improves its ability to survive and reproduce in its environment.

    Beliefs: All the mental aspects of culture including values, norms, philosophies, worldview, knowledge, and so forth.

    Biological plasticity: An ability to adapt biologically in response to the environment.

    Colonialism: The political, social, economic, and cultural domination of a territory and its people by a foreign power for an extended time.

    Core Values: The key, basic, or central values that integrate culture and help distinguish it from others.

    Cultural adaptation: The knowledge or behavior that enables humans or groups to adjust, survive and thrive in their environment.

    Cultural generalities: Patterns or traits that are found in several, but not all, societies.

    Cultural particularity: A distinct trait or feature that is confined to a single place, culture, or society.

    Cultural relativism: The idea that we should seek to understand another person’s beliefs and behaviors from the perspective of their culture rather than our own.

    Cultural universals: Patterns or traits that are found in all cultures.

    Culture: A set of beliefs, practices, and symbols that are learned and shared. Together, they form an all-encompassing, integrated whole that binds people together and shapes their worldview and lifeways.

    Culture lag: The time that elapses between the introduction of a new item of material culture and its acceptance as part of the nonmaterial culture.

    Custom: A widely accepted way of doing something, specific to a particular society that has developed through repetition over a long period of time.

    Diffusion: The borrowing of cultural traits between cultures, either directly or through intermediaries.

    Enculturation: The process of learning culture.

    Ethnocentrism: The tendency to view one’s own culture as most important and correct and as a stick by which to measure all other cultures.

    Folkways: A loose collection of usual or customary ways in which the members of a particular cultural community behave.

    Globalization: A series of processes that work trans-nationally to promote change in a world in which nations and people are increasingly interlinked and mutually dependent.

    Independent invention: The process by which humans innovate, creatively finding solutions to problems.

    International culture: Cultural traits that extend beyond national boundaries.

    Laws: Explicitly stated rules that are enforced.

    Mores: The standards of moral conduct and ethical behavior that the people in a cultural community expect of one another; what a community considers morally or ethically right or wrong.

    National culture: The beliefs, behavior patterns, values, cultural traits and institutions shared within a country.

    Norms: The expectations or rules, formal or informal, about what is considered appropriate or inappropriate behavior in a particular society.

    Practices: Behaviors and actions that may be motivated by belief or performed without reflection as part of everyday routines.

    Popular culture: The pattern of cultural experiences and attitudes that exist in mainstream society.

    Social sanctions: Ways of communicating disapproval or putting pressure on people who violate a community’s mores.

    Society: Organized life in groups.

    Stressors: Something that causes strain or tension.

    Subcultures: Smaller groups of people who share cultural traits and patterns within the same country.

    Symbol: Something, verbal or non-verbal, that stands for something else, often without an obvious or natural connection.

    Tradition: A set of practices, a constellation of beliefs, or mode of thinking that exists in the present, but was inherited from the past.

    Values: The symbolic, abstract concepts or standards that represent the ideals of a group.

    2.8: End of Chapter Discussion is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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