Chapter 2: Culture
– the values, beliefs and perceptions of the world, shared by members of a society, that are used
to interpret experience and generate behavior, which are then reflected in their own behavior.
Sir Edward Burnett Tylor
, a British anthropologist defined culture as: "that complex
whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other
capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society"
Since Tylor's definition of culture in 1871, there have been many more attempts to
define culture. As the definition of culture evolves, one thing must be kept clear.
Culture is not an observable behavior. Ponder this thought. Culture is shared ideals,
values and beliefs that people use to interpret experiences that are typically reflected
in their own behavior.
The Characteristics of Culture
Culture is shared
Shared culture is what defines the actions of individuals, as they relate to other
members of society. It provides meaning to their lives and acts as a commonality between
– a group of individuals that share a common culture and are
interdependent within the group.
The level of interdependency varies and usually includes
economic dependency and family relationships.
– a relationship, based on rules, that holds a
society together. The rules can include duties, rights and obligations.
Because culture is shared, there cannot be a society without
culture and a culture cannot exist without a society. To this day, there are
no known human societies that to not exhibit culture.
Culture, however, it not necessarily uniformly shared by society.
For example, how are males and females differentiated?
Biologically, they are differentiated by their sex. Culturally,
males and females are distinguished by
(a meaning assigned by a
culture to differentiate between the sexes).
Cultural differentiations also exist when dealing with age.
When does one truly become an adult? At age 18? At age 21?
The progression to adulthood is usually based on rituals, that differ from
culture to culture.