Culture and Biology

Culture relates come nature (our biology and also genetics) and nurture (our environment and surroundings that additionally shape our identities).

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Learning Objectives

Examine the ways culture and biology communicate to form societies, norms, rituals and also other representations of culture


Key Takeaways

Key Points“Culture” encompasses objects and symbols, the definition given come those objects and also symbols, and the norms, values, and beliefs the pervade social life.Values reflect an individual’s or society ‘s feeling of right and also wrong or what “ought” come be.Humans additionally have organic drives—hunger, thirst, need for sleep—whose unfulfillment can result in death.Because of ours biology and genetics, we have a particular type and we have specific abilities. These collection essential limits on the variety of activities that humans can express culture, yet there is still massive diversity in this expression.Culture describes the means we understand ourselves together individuals and as members of society, consisting of stories, religion, media, rituals, and even language itself.Social Darwinism was the belief that the closer a social group was to the normative west European criter of behavior and appearance, the much more evolved lock were.Culture is the non-biological or social facets of human being life.Culture refers to the method we recognize ourselves as individuals and as members of society, including stories, religion, media, rituals, and also even language itself.Social Darwinism hinged top top the id that the closer social groups to be to the normative western European criter of behavior and appearance, the more evolved they were.Key TermsSocial Darwinism: a theory that the legislations of development by natural an option also use to society structures.culture: The beliefs, values, behavior, and also material objects the constitute a people’s way of life.

Culture and also Biology

Human us are biological creatures. We room composed of blood and also bones and also flesh. At the most simple level, our genes express us in physics characteristics, affecting bodily elements such together skin tone and eye color. Yet, people are much more than ours biology, and also this is evident particularly in the method humans generate, and also live within, facility cultures.

Defining Culture

Culture is a term provided by social scientists, like anthropologists and sociologists, to include all the facets of person experience that extend past our physical fact. Society refers to the method we understand ourselves both together individuals and also as members that society, and includes stories, religion, media, rituals, and even language itself.

It is vital to know that the term society does not explain a singular, fixed entity. Instead, it is a valuable heuristic, or way of thinking, that have the right to be really productive in expertise behavior. As a college student of the social sciences, you should think that the word society as a conceptual tool fairly than together a uniform, revolution definition. Society necessarily changes, and is changed by, a range of interactions, v individuals, media, and also technology, simply to name a few.

The background of society as a Concept

Culture is generally an anthropological term. The field of sociology emerged approximately the very same time together Social Darwinism, in the so late 19th and also early 20th century. Social Darwinism to be the belief that the closer a social group to be to the normative, Western, European standards of behavior and appearance, the much more evolved that team was. Together a concept of the world, it was essentially a racist principle that persists in particular forms up to this day. If you have ever before heard someone reference human being of afri descent as being from, or close to, the jungle, or the wilderness, you’ve encountered a form of coded language the is a modern-day incarnation of society Darwinist thought.

During the so late 19th and also early 20th century time period, the positivist school additionally emerged in sociological thought. One of the crucial figures in this school, Cesare Lombroso, studied the physical qualities of prisoners, due to the fact that he believed that he might find a biological basis for crime. Lombroso coined the term atavism to indicate that some people were throwbacks come a an ext bestial point in evolutionary history. Lombroso provided this concept to claim that details individuals were an ext weak-willed, and an ext prone come criminal activity, 보다 their supposedly an ext evolved counterparts.

In accordance v the hegemonic ideas of the time, anthropologists first theorized culture as something the evolves in the same method biological biology evolve. Similar to biological evolution, social evolution was assumed to be an adaptive device that produced unique results depending on location and historical moment. However, unlike biological evolution, society can be intentionally taught and thus spread out from one team of human being to another.

Initially, anthropologists believed that culture was a product of organic evolution, and also that cultural evolution depended exclusively on physics conditions. Today’s anthropologists no longer think it is this simple. Neither culture nor biologic is solely responsible for the other. They interact in very facility ways, which organic anthropologists will be studying for years to come.



Key Takeaways

Key PointsDifferent societies have different cultures; a society represents the beliefs and practices of a group, while society represents the human being who share those beliefs and also practices.Material culture refers come the objects or thing of a group of people, such as automobiles, stores, and also the physical structures where people worship. Nonmaterial culture, in contrast, consists of the ideas, attitudes, and beliefs that a society.In 18th and also 19th century Europe, the hatchet “culture” was related with civilization and considered a unique aspect of west society. Remnants of that colonial definition of culture can be seen this day in the idea of ” high culture “.During the Romantic Era, society became equated with nationalism and also gave increase to the idea the multiple nationwide cultures.Today, social scientists understand culture as a society’s norms, values, and beliefs; as well as its objects and symbols, and also the meaning given come those objects and also symbols.Key Termscivilization: one organized society encompassing countless communities, often on the range of a nation or a people; a phase or system of social, political or technical development.high culture: The creative entertainment and material artifacts associated through a society’s aristocracy or most learned members, normally requiring significant education come be appreciated or highly skilled labor to be produced.popular culture: The prevailing vernacular society in any given society, including art, cooking, clothing, entertainment, films, mass media, music, sports, and also stylenationalism: The idea of sustaining one’s country and also culture; patriotism.

Culture incorporates human facets beyond biology: for example, our norms and values, the stories we tell, learned or acquired behaviors, spiritual beliefs, art and fashion, and also so on. Society is what differentiates one team or culture from the next.

Different cultures have different cultures; yet it is important not to confuse the idea that culture with society. A culture represents the beliefs and also practices the a group, while culture represents the human being who re-superstructure those beliefs and also practices. Neither culture nor society could exist without the other.

Defining Culture

Almost every human behavior, from shopping to marital relationship to expressions of feelings, is learned. Behavior based upon learned custom-mades is no necessarily a bad thing – being familiar with unwritten rule helps civilization feel secure and confident the their actions will not be challenged or disrupted. Yet even the easiest actions – such together commuting come work, notified food native a restaurant, and also greeting who on the street – proof a an excellent deal of social propriety.

Material culture refers to the objects or belongings of a group of world (such as automobiles, stores, and also the physical frameworks where civilization worship). Nonmaterial culture, in contrast, is composed of the ideas, attitudes, and also beliefs the a society. Material and also nonmaterial aspects of society are linked, and physical objects often symbolize cultural ideas. A metro pass is a material object, but it represents a type of nonmaterial society (namely capitalism, and also the accept of paying because that transportation). Clothing, hairstyles, and also jewelry are component of product culture, but the appropriateness the wearing certain clothing for details events mirrors nonmaterial culture. A school structure belongs to product culture, however the teaching methods and educational criter are component of education’s nonmaterial culture.

These material and also nonmaterial aspects of culture can differ subtly from an ar to region. As world travel aside from that afield, moving from different regions come entirely various parts of the world, certain material and also nonmaterial facets of society become significantly unfamiliar. Together we connect with societies other 보다 our own, we become much more aware of our own society – which can otherwise be invisible to united state – and to the differences and commonalities between our society and others.

The background of “Culture”

Some people think of culture in the singular, in the method that the was thought of in Europe throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries: as something accomplished through evolution and also progress. This principle of culture reflected inequalities within European societies and their colonies roughly the world; in short, it equates society with civilization and also contrasts both through nature or non-civilization. According to this expertise of culture, some countries are much more “civilized” 보다 others, and some civilization are therefore more “cultured” 보다 others.

When human being talk about society in the sense of civilization or refinement, they are really talking around “high culture,” i beg your pardon is different from the sociological concept of culture. High society refers to upstream goods and activities, such together haute cuisine, high fashion or couture, museum-caliber art, and classical music. In typical parlance, world may describe others as being “cultured” if castle know about and take part in this activities. Someone that uses society in this sense might argue that classical music is more refined than music by working-class people, such together jazz or the aboriginal music heritages of aboriginal peoples. Well-known (or “pop”) culture, by contrast, is much more mainstream and influenced by fixed media and the usual opinion. Popular society tends to change as tastes and opinions adjust over time, whereas high society generally continues to be the exact same throughout the years. For example, Mozart is taken into consideration high culture, conversely, Britney Spears is thought about pop culture; Mozart is likely to tho be popular in 100 years, but Britney Spears will most likely be forgotten by all yet a few.



This definition of culture only establish a solitary standard of refinement come which all teams are organized accountable. Thus, people who different from those who believe themselves to be “cultured” in this sense are not usually taken as having a various culture; castle are taken as being uncultured.

Although we still check out remnants that this idea of high culture today, it has actually largely fallen out of practice. Its decrease began throughout the Romantic Era, once scholars in Germany – specifically those concerned with nationalism – developed the much more inclusive notion of culture as a distinct worldview. Although an ext inclusive, this strategy to society still allowed for distinctions between so-called “civilized” and also “primitive” cultures. By the late 19th century, anthropologists readjusted the concept of society to encompass a broader variety of societies, eventually resulting in the ide of culture adopted by social scientists today: objects and symbols, the meaning given to those objects and also symbols, and the norms, values, and also beliefs that pervade society life.

This new perspective has also removed the evaluative element of the ide of culture; it distinguishes among different cultures, yet does not rank them. For instance, the high culture of elites is currently contrasted with renowned or popular music culture. In this sense, high culture no much longer refers to the idea of being “cultured,” as all civilization have culture. High culture simply refers to the objects, symbols, norms, values, and also beliefs that a certain group that people; popular culture does the same.



Key Takeaways

Key PointsCultural universals space elements, patterns, traits, or institutions that are typical to every human cultures worldwide.There is a stress in social anthropology and social sociology between the case that society is a universal and that that is also particular. The idea of social universals runs contrary in some ways to social relativism which was, in part, a solution to western ethnocentrism.Ethnocentrism might take evident forms. For example, the belief that one people’s society is the many beautiful and true. Franz Boas understood “culture” to include not only certain tastes in food, art, and also music, or beliefs around religion yet instead presume a much broader notion the culture.Among the social universals noted by Donald Brown (1991) room abstract speech, figurative speech and also metaphors, antonyms and also synonyms, and also units of time.Among the social universals listed by Brown, part were investigated by Franz Boas. For example, Boas witnessed language as a method of categorizing experiences. Thus, although people may perceive visible radiation similarly, civilization who speak different languages slice up the continuous in different ways.Since Franz Boas, two discussions have dominated social anthropology.Key Termsculture: The beliefs, values, behavior, and also material objects that constitute a people’s way of life.particular: A details case; one individual point as protest to a whole class.universal: typical to every society; worldwide.

The sociology of culture concerns culture—usually construed as the ensemble that symbolic codes used by a society—as that is shown up in society. The aspects of culture include (1) symbols (anything the carries particular an interpretation recognized by human being who share the same culture); (2) language (system of symbols that permits people to connect with one another); (3) values (culturally-defined requirements that offer as vast guidelines because that social living; (4) ideas (specific statements that world hold to it is in true); and also (5) standards (rules and also expectations whereby a culture guides the behavior of its members). While these aspects of society may be checked out in miscellaneous contexts gradually and throughout geography, a cultural universal is one element, pattern, trait, or institution that is typical to all human societies worldwide. Taken together, the totality body of cultural universals is well-known as the human condition. Among the cultural universals noted by Donald Brown (1991) space abstract speech, figurative speech and metaphors, antonyms and also synonyms, and units that time.


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The ide of a social universal has long been discussed in the social sciences. Social universals room elements, patterns, traits, or organizations that are usual to every human cultures worldwide. Over there is a stress in cultural anthropology and social sociology between the claim that culture is a universal (the reality that all human being societies have culture), and that the is also specific (culture bring away a tremendous range of forms around the world). The idea of cultural universals—that particular aspects of society are usual to all human cultures—runs contrary to social relativism. Social relativism was, in part, a solution to west ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism might take obvious forms, in i m sorry one consciously believes the one people’s arts space the many beautiful, worths the most virtuous, and also beliefs the most truthful. Franz Boas suggested that one’s society may mediate and also thus border one’s consciousness in less apparent ways. He interpreted “culture” to include not only particular tastes in food, art, and music, or beliefs around religion however instead assumed a much more comprehensive notion the culture.

Among the social universals noted by Donald Brown, some of these were investigated by Franz Boas. For example, Boas called attention to the idea that language is a method of categorizing experiences, hypothesizing that the presence of various languages argues that people categorize, and thus experience, language differently. Therefore, although civilization may perceive visible radiation the same way, in terms of a continuous of color, human being who speak various languages slice up this continuum right into discrete colour in different ways.


Culture Shock

Culture shock is the personal disorientation a human may feel when experiencing one unfamiliar means of life in a new country.


Learning Objectives

Discuss society shock in regards to its 4 phases – honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment and also mastery


Key Takeaways

Key PointsCulture shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel once experiencing an unfamiliar method of life as result of immigration or a visit come a brand-new country.Culture shock can be described as consist of of at least one that four distinctive phases: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment, and also mastery.During the honeymoon phase, the differences between the old and also new society are watched in a romantic light.After some time (usually about three months, depending on the individual), differences between the old and also new society become apparent and also may create anxiety. This is the note of the negotiation phase.In the adjustment phase, one grow accustomed come the new society and develops routines.Lastly, in the mastery stage, assignees are able come participate fully and comfortably in the hold culture.In the adjustment phase, one grows accustomed come the new culture and establishes routines.One knows what to suppose in most situations and the host nation no much longer feels all that new.Lastly, in the Mastery stage, assignees space able come participate completely and comfortably in the hold culture.Key Termsbiculturalism: The state or top quality of gift bicultural.

Culture shock is the an individual disorientation a person may feel once experiencing an unfamiliar method of life because of immigration or a visit come a new country, or to a move between social environments. One of the many common reasons of culture shock entails individuals in a foreign country. Over there is no true means to entirely prevent society shock, as individuals in any society are personally impacted by cultural contrasts differently.

Culture shock deserve to be defined as consists of at least one of four distinctive phases: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment, and mastery. During the honeymoon phase, the differences in between the old and also new society are watched in a romantic light. Throughout the first few weeks, most people are fascinated through the brand-new culture. Lock associate with nationals who speak your language, and who are polite to the foreigners. This duration is full of observations and new discoveries. Like many honeymoon periods, this stage ultimately ends.



After part time (usually about three months, depending on the individual), differences between the old and new society become apparent and also may develop anxiety. This is the mark of the negotiation phase. Excited may at some point give method to unpleasant feelings that frustration and also anger together one continues to experience unfavorable events that may be perceived as strange and also offensive to one’s cultural attitude. Still, the many important change in the duration is communication. Human being adjusting come a new culture often feeling lonely and homesick because they room not yet supplied to the brand-new environment and meet human being with whom they are not acquainted every day.

Again, after some time, one grow accustomed come the new society and develops routines, marking the convey phase. One knows what to expect in most situations and the host nation no longer feels all the new. One becomes concerned with basic living again and also things become an ext normal. One start to develop problem-solving skills for taking care of the society and begins to expropriate the culture’s ways with a positive attitude. The society begins to make sense and an unfavorable reactions and responses come the society are reduced.

In the mastery stage, assignees are able come participate totally and comfortable in the organize culture. Mastery does not mean complete conversion. World often keep plenty of traits indigenous their earlier culture, such as accents and languages. The is often referred to as the biculturalism stage.

Ethnocentrism and social Relativism

Ethnocentrism, in comparison to social relativism, is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the view of one’s very own culture.


Learning Objectives

Examine the concepts of ethnocentrism and social relativism in relation to her own and also other cultures in society


Key Takeaways

Key PointsEthnocentrism often requires the belief that one’s own race or ethnic group is the most important or that some or all elements of its society are premium to those of other groups.Within this ideology, individuals will referee other groups in relationship to your own certain ethnic team or culture, especially with problem to language, behavior, customs, and religion.Cultural relativism is the id that the concepts and values that a society cannot be totally translated into, or completely understood in, various other languages; that a specific cultural artifact (e.g., a ritual) has to be interpreted in regards to the larger symbolic system of which that is a part.Cultural relativism is the principle the an separation, personal, instance person’s beliefs and activities should be taken by rather in regards to that individual’s own culture.Key Termsethnocentrism: The tendency to look in ~ the human being primarily indigenous the view of one’s own culture.cultural relativism: cultural relativism is a principle that was established as axiomatic in anthropological research study by Franz Boas in the first couple of decades the the twenty century, and also later popularized by his students. Boas first articulated the idea in 1887: “…civilization is no something absolute, but… is relative, and… our ideas and conceptions room true only so far as our human being goes. “

Ethnocentrism, a term coined by wilhelm Graham Sumner, is the tendency to look at the people primarily native the perspective of your very own ethnic culture and the belief that the is in fact the “right” method to look at the world. This leads to do incorrect assumptions around others’ behavior based upon your very own norms, values, and also beliefs. For instance, reluctance or aversion come trying one more culture’s cook is ethnocentric. Social scientists strive come treat social differences as neither inferior nor superior. That way, they have the right to understand their research topics in ~ the appropriate social context and examine their own biases and also assumptions in ~ the exact same time.

This method is recognized as “cultural relativism.” cultural relativism is the principle the an individual person’s ideas and tasks should be taken by rather in terms of that individual’s very own culture. A key component of social relativism is the ide that nobody, not also researchers, originates from a neutral position. The method to resolve our own assumptions is not to pretend that they don’t exist yet rather to identify them, and also then usage the awareness the we are not neutral to educate our conclusions.

An instance of cultural relativism can include slang indigenous from specific languages (and also from certain dialects within a language). Because that instance, the word “tranquilo” in Spanish translates straight to “calm” in English. However, it deserve to be supplied in many more ways than just as an adjective (e.g., the seas are calm). Tranquilo deserve to be a command or suggestion encouraging one more to patience down. The can likewise be provided to ease tensions in an argument (e.g., everyone relax) or to suggest a level of self-composure (e.g., I’m calm). Over there is not a clear English translate into of the word, and in stimulate to completely comprehend that many possible uses, a social relativist would certainly argue the it would certainly be essential to fully immerse oneself in cultures where words is used.


Key Takeaways

Key PointsStudying a culture ‘s relationship to materiality is a lens through which society and social attitudes deserve to be discussed. People’s relationship to and perception the objects are socially and culturally dependent.A view of society as a symbolic device with adaptive functions, varying from location to place, led anthropologists to develop of different societies as having unique patterns of enduring conventional sets that meaning.Anthropologists distinguish in between material society and symbolic culture, no only because each reflects different kinds of human activity, but likewise because they constitute different kinds of data and require various methodologies to study.This view of culture, which pertained to dominate sociology between human being War I and also World battle II, implied that each society was bounded and had to be construed as a whole, top top its own terms.The result is a id in cultural relativism, which suggests that there space no ‘better’ or ‘worse’ cultures, just various cultures.Key Termsmaterial culture: In the social sciences, material society is a term, arisen in the late 19th and early 20th century, that describes the relationship in between artifacts and also social relations.Symbolic culture: Symbolic culture is a concept used through archaeologists, society anthropologists and sociologists come designate the social realm constructed and also inhabited unique by Homo sapiens.

In the social sciences, material culture refers to the relationship between artifacts and also social relations. Material society consists in physical objects that people make. This objects for sure reflect the historical, geographic, and social conditions of your origin. Because that instance, the garments that you room wearing can tell researchers of the future around the fashions of today.


People’s partnership to and perception of objects room socially and culturally dependent. Accordingly, society and cultural attitudes have the right to be questioned through the lens of a culture’s partnership to materiality.

Material culture is additionally a term supplied by historians, occasionally termed “material history,” which describes the study of ancient objects and also artifacts in order come understand how a particular culture was organized and also functioned over time.

This see of society as a symbolic system with adaptive functions, differing from ar to place, led anthropologists to check out different societies as having unique patterns that enduring conventional sets that meaning. Anthropologists hence distinguish in between material culture and symbolic culture, not only because each reflects various kinds of human being activity, but additionally because they constitute various kinds of data and require different methodologies come study.

This watch of culture, which came to dominate sociology between world War I and World war II, implied the each society was bounded and also had come be construed as a whole, ~ above its own terms. The an outcome is a id in cultural relativism, which argues that there are no ‘better’ or ‘worse’ cultures, just different cultures.


Key Takeaways

Key PointsIn contrast to product culture, non-material society does not encompass physical objects or artifacts.It has things that have no presence in the physical world however exist totally in the symbolic realm.Examples are principles such as good and evil, mythical creations such as gods and underworlds, and social constructs such as promises and football games.The ide of symbolic culture draws from semiotics and emphasizes the means in i beg your pardon distinctively human society is mediated v signs and concepts.The symbolic facet of distinctively human society has to be emphasized in anthropology by Emile Durkheim, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Clifford Geertz, and many others.Semiotics emphasises the method in i beg your pardon distinctively human society is mediated through signs and also concepts.Key Termssocial construct: society constructs room generally construed to be the spin-offs of plenty of human choices rather than laws resulting from magnificent will or nature.

Culture together a general concept consists that both material and also non-material culture. Material culture is a term occurred in the late 19th and also early 20th centuries, that refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations. In contrast, non-material culture does not include physical objects or artifacts. Examples include any type of ideas, beliefs, values, or norms that form a society.

When sociologists talk about norms, they space talking about what’s thought about normal, appropriate, or ordinary for a certain group that people. Social norms are group-held beliefs around how members need to behave in a provided context. Sociologists explain norms as laws that administrate society’s behaviors. Values are regarded the standards of a culture, however they are more an international and abstract 보다 norms. Standards are rule for actions in certain situations, while values recognize what must be judged as an excellent or evil. Flying the national flag on a holiday is a norm, yet it exhibits patriotism, which is a value. Attract dark clothing and also appearing solemn space normative actions at a funeral. In details cultures castle reflect the worths of respect and also support that friends and also family. Different cultures honor different values. Finally, ideas are the means people think the cosmos operates. Beliefs can be spiritual or secular, and they can refer to any type of aspect the life. Because that instance, many civilization in the U.S. Think that hard work is the vital to success.

Members take part in a culture even if each member’s an individual values perform not entirely agree with some of the normative worths sanctioned in the culture. This reflects an individual’s capability to synthesize and also extract aspects beneficial to them indigenous the multiple subcultures lock belong to.

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Norms, values, and also beliefs are all deeply interconnected. Together, they provide a way to know culture.