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• Shared products of human groups (society)
• Learned human behaviors patterns
• Includes the physical and abstract:
• Material Culture: things, artifacts, physical objects
• Nonmaterial Culture: the abstract- ideas, beliefs, symbols
3 Layers of Culture
– Traits: body of cultural traditions that distinguish your specific society; an
individual tool, act or belief
– Culture Complexes are interrelated traits; ex. Everything needed to eat or
everything needed to play soccer
– Culture complexes form Patterns: the “whole,’’ what is typically studied by
sociologists. Ex: the pattern of American athletics
Cultural Universals:
• Features common to ALL cultures
• learned behavior patterns shared by all of humanity collectively. No matter
where people live in the world, they share these universal traits.
5 Components of Culture:
1. Technology: combination of objects and the rules for using them
2. Symbols– anything that stands for something else and people RECOGNIZE
and AGREE on its meaning.
3. Language—how the spoken/written word is organized into a standard
system all use
4. Values—shared beliefs about good/bad; wanted/unwanted; right/wrong,
5. Norms—shared rules of conduct created to enforce one’s culture and guide
social behavior (expectations for behavior)
1. Folkways: norms for socially acceptable behavior; no real moral
significance; non-conformity OK
2. Mores: norms of GREAT moral significance! CONFORMITY A MUST
3. Laws: written rules of conduct, implemented by the govt.
Culture vs. Society
• Cultures are learned behavior patterns.
• Societies are:
Group of mutually interdependent people who have organized in such a way as
to SHARE common culture
Cultural Variation
• Ethnocentrism- view your own culture superior to anyone else’s
• Cultural relativism- belief that cultures should be judged by their own
standards rather than by applying the standards of your culture.
• Subculture/Counterculture:
• Groups with their own values, norms, behaviors (unique traits) that
are NOT shared by entire population—subculture. Don’t reject all
values of larger society (live among)
Groups that challenge and reject values, norms, behaviors of larger
society and replace with a new set of cultural patterns—
counterculture (within). Can pose a threat to society.