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2Culture - Chapter 2 Culture Culture the values beliefs and...

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Chapter 2: Culture 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" o 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 these individuals. o Society – 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. Social structure – 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. o For example, how are males and females differentiated? Biologically, they are differentiated by their sex. Culturally, males and females are distinguished by gender (a meaning assigned by a culture to differentiate between the sexes). o 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.
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A result of these discrepancies sometimes creates subgroups, which leads to the development of a subculture . Subcultures include their own distinctive standards, but also share some of the common standards of their society. The Amish are a good example of a subculture. The Amish hold values and beliefs that are unique to their culture, yet they are able to function within a larger society. Native American Indians are another subculture that exists within a larger society. o Today's society can be described as multicultural, or pluralistic , in which diverse cultural patterns exists. Culture is learned Anthropologist Ralph Linton defined the process of learning culture as humanity’s social heredity.
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