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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

CULTURE

CULTURE

Human beings, like other animals, are not born with rigid, complex, behavior patterns that enable them to survive in specific habitats. Instead, we must learn and invent cultural means of adapting to different environments, ranging from Arctic snows to desert wastelands and teeming cities. These learn ways of life, which are modified and passed on from one generation to the next, our basic to the understanding of human society.


In ordinary speech, the word culture is often used in reference to sophisticated taste in art, literature, or music. The socialogical use of the term is much wider, for it includes the entire way of life of society. In this sense, everyone who participates in a society is "cultured". To the sociologist, culture consist of all the shared products of human society. These products are the two basic kinds, material and nonmaterial. Material culture consist of all the artifacts, or physical objects, human beings create and given meaning to – ie. wheels, clothing, schools, factories, cities, books, spacecraft, totem poles. Nonmaterial culture consist of abstract human creations – ie. language, ideas, beliefs, rules, customs, myths, skills, family patterns, political systems.


It is possible, at least conceptually, to distinguish "culture" from "society". Culture consist of the shared products of society: society consist of the interacting people who share a culture. But the two are closely interrelated. A society could not exist without culture. A culture cannot exist without a society to maintain it, although traces may remain in the form of archaeological ruins and historical records. Society and culture are closely linked, and because the English language does not have a word meaning "cultural-and-society" sociologist often use either word interchangeably to refer to a complex whole.


Clifford Geertz
The anthropologist Clifford Geertz (1968) observes that cultured human beings do not in fact exist, never have existed, the most important, could not in the nature of the case exist. Without culture, neither individual human beings nor human society could survive. To understand why this is so, we must examine the unique characteristics of our own species.

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