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Culture Unit - 3

Culture is one of the most important concept in social science. Culture
and society go together. It is one of the distinguishing traits of human
society. Every man can be regarded as a representative of his culture.
The term culture is derived from the English word, Kalthua latin word
cultura and sanskrit word Samskar which denotes social channel and
intellectual excellence. Culture is a way of life
According to Leglic A.Y White
Culture is a symbolic, continuous, cumulative and progressive process.
According to Malinowski
Culture is a cumulative of man, the handiwork of man and the medium
through which he achieves his ends.
1. Culture is social It is a social and not an individual heritage of man. It
does not exist in isolation. No man can acquire culture without
association with other human beings.
2. Culture is learned - It is not inherited biologically but learned socially
by man. It is often called the learnt ways of behaviors.
3. Culture is shared - It is not something than an individual can possess.
E.g :- customs, traditions, beliefs, values and morals are shared by people
of a group and society.
4. Culture is transmissive It is transmitted vertically or horizontally.
Vertical transmission is from one group to another group within same
5. Culture is continuous and cumulative - It exist as a continuous process.
It is the social heritage of man. It is linked with the past. In its historical
growth, it tends to become cumulative.
6. Culture is consistent and integrated - It is an integrated system. It
presents an order and systems. At the same time, different parts of culture
are interconnected.

7. Culture is gratifying - It provides proper opportunities and presents

means for satisfaction of our needs and desires. These needs may be
biological, ethical or social.
8. Culture is dynamic and adaptive - though customs is relatively stable,
it is not all together static. Culture is also responsive to changing
conditions of the physical world. It is adaptive and also intervenes in the
natural environment and helps man in the process of adjustment.
9. Culture varies from society to society - Every society has a culture of
its own cultural elements. E.g customs, tradition, moral ideas, beliefs,
practices are different in each society. Culture also varies from time to
10.Culture is super organic and ideational it is independent of physical
and psychological properties and characteristics. The social meaning of
national flag represents the nation and not just a piece of colored cloth.
Every society considers its culture as an ideal.
Types of culture
Material cultures
Non-material cultures
Material culture - It consists of manmade objects such as tools,
implements, buildings, and all those devices by which is controlled. Material
culture represents civilization. It can be easily communicated and makes ones
life more comfortable, meaningful and luxurious.
Non-Material Cultures It includes the concepts, values and ideas. E.g
monogamy, democracy.
Cultural Lag
The term cultural lag was coined by Ogburn others synonyms are
cultural clash, technological lag or cultural ambivalence. The word Lag
means Crippled movement hence cultural lag means the faltering of
one aspect of culture behind another.
The time interval between the arrival of change and completion of
adaptation is called a cultural lag.
The material culture progresses far better comparison with non-material
culture. E.g the sphere of fashion, dressing, art constitutes are rapid
change. Religion, nations constitutes are slow changes.

Nature of Culture

Culture is based on uniquely human capacity to classify experience. It

is usually acquired through enculturation. It is the process through which
an older generation includes and compels a younger generation to
reproduce the established life style. The culture is embedded in a persons
way of life. It is difficult to quantify as it exists at an unconscious level.
Culture tends to be so pervasive that it escapes everyday thought.

Evolution of culture
1. The evidence of material things of people such as pottery, coins etc do not
tell about the culture, but the material aspects of these reveals the
evolution of culture.
2. It is difficult to trace the origin of a specific culture as it is lost in the mist
of antiquity
3. From the discovery and invention, cultural development can be identified.
4. Materials as well as non material cultural traits have been invented but
these inventions have not contributed to the development of a culture.
5. An individuals achievement of intervention has itself been made
possible, that grows out of the culture. The individual is not the cause of
the invention, but he is only the agent of cultural condition that brings
about a modification of culture.
6. Culture was developed out of complex traits which are interdependent.
The cultural traits which are present today will influence the invention of
traits which are new. It means existing culture traits are the improvement
over past traits.
7. The inventors take elements from the old or existing mode of living to
have a new mode of living. This means the existing cultural traits
originate the new traits and the inventors get importance because he
contributes purpose and endeavors. This means people are required to
take initiative for new cultural traits. If there are no people in society, it
means no new cultural development.
8. The peculiar element involved in evolution of culture is man. The culture
developed by one generation is the basis for new generation.
Diversity and uniformity of culture
Not all societies have the same norms as customs. These extreme patterns
of behavior can be understood in terms of the concept of cultural relativism.
This means that behavior of others should be understood and judged within the
context of their beliefs and values rather than our own. This idea can help us to

overcome ethnocentrism, which is the belief that ones own culture and
behavior are superior to that of other societies and groups.
The goal is to remove biases in order to discover how diverse patterns
of behavior represent cultural universals.
The diversity of culture may depend on various factors which are as
follows :Geographical location It furnished the basis for various cultures. This
is due to different material availability for use.
Unconscious behavior imitated and later on become a custom, which
is a part of culture - An action is done unconsciously by an individual who is
imitated by others. This later on becomes the culture.
Flexibility in behavior Human being is flexible to his natural
environment. This constant adjustment of cultural behavior.
Technological advancement The culture is diverse because one group
may be backward technically.
Cultural ChangeAccording to Kings lay Davis the cultural change embraces all
changes occurring in any branch of culture including art, science, technology,
philosophy etc. as well as changes in the forms and rules of social
Technological advancement - The culture is diverse because one group
may be backward technically than others. This can cause change in culture from
one to another.
Religious beliefs - The groups differ from one to another on the basis of
religious beliefs.
Life style - change in life style due to education makes one group
different from other.

Uniformity of culture is far more complex than it seems. It means
common culture or same type of culture prevailing all over the area. In India
uniformity of culture is based on belief that God is one, who is superior to all.
Culture and Socialization
Culture and socialization are interrelated. Socialization teaches human
society about culture from generation to generation. It means human infants are

born without any culture. They

must be transformed by the agents of
socialization such as family, school, peers, mass media into culturally and
socially adapt human beings. This general process of acquiring culture is
referred as socialization. In socialization language of culture is learned.
It is also important in the process of personality formation. Much of
human personality is the result of genes. The socialization can mould it in
particular direction. By encourages specific beliefs and attitudes as well as
selectively providing experience.
Cultural diffusion
It is the process by which the cultural traits invented or discovered in one
society will spread directly or indirectly to other societies. In the course of
transmission, it may be difficult to trace the origin of cultural traits. The culture
of one society may be borrowed by other society, but the physical isolation may
influence the cultural contact of various cultures e.g Buddhist thought spread
from India to China, Japan.
The new ideas which have been acquired through diffusion have to be
accommodated with the features of other culture. It becomes a part of its life
and has added to its progress.
When conjunction of 2 cultures occurs causing cultural growth and they are
intimately related to each other rather than identified by its own process is
called as acculturation.
When we are exposed to different cultures, naturally the cultivation of the
dominant group will result, e.g learning to speak their language, cooking new
dishes etc.
When one culture becomes so intimate with others culture as it lose its
The experience gained is accumulated and passed on one generation to its
successive generation through social heritage.
When a growing child learns to conform to his own cultural tradition is known
as enculturisation.

Cultural practices Influences health

Health practices and beliefs are part of every culture. Most ancient modern
people believe that disease is due to some supernatural powers. Scientific
medicine conflicts with folk medicine and its sub cultural scientific health
works often fail because they do not realize that they are dealing with a
subculture that must be sympathetically understood. Physicians must understand
the sub culture with which they are dealing if they are to change the attitude of
the patients towards hospital services.
Cultural practices which have beneficial health effects

Getting up early in the morning and bathing.

Drinking tulsi water every morning.
Drinking water stored in an earthen ware pot.
Early to bed and early to rise.
Periodic fasting for cleansing the GI tract.
During the stress, individual appeals to God to get the moral support and
Circumcision of Muslim male child reduces UTI
Cultural practices adversely affecting family welfare programmes in India.
1. Early marriage to girl extents the reproductive period of the girl child
affecting her physical and mental maturity of health.
2. Preference for male child prevents contraceptive protection for spacing is
needed for regaining the health of the mother and provides her with free
time for the first child.
3. Low status of women deprives her basic nutritional food, shelter,
clothing, education, freedom of speech, selection of mates and decision
4. Taboos in discussing sexual problems openly results in increase in STDs,
and related health problems, aggregating family welfare.
Cultural beliefs related to health
1. Eating papaya during the first trimester and last trimester will induce
abortion and premature delivery.
2. Placing jasmine over the breast of postnatal women will suppress the
secretion of milk and consumption of garlic will produce more milk in
lactating mother.
3. Purdah system by Muslim women causes vitamin D deficiency.
4. Giving iron object during convulsion period will reduce intensity of
5. Male child is preferred by Hindu parents for performing their last

6. Brahmin and viasyaks will not consume garlic, onions, and non vegetarian food.
7. Beet root consumption increases blood production.
8. Jain do not eat curd, Muslims and Jews do not eat pork, and Hindus do
not eat beef.
9. Alcoholism and drug addiction are indications of rich class and
complex societies culture.
10.Avoiding cold food (butter, milk, curd etc.)
Difference between Culture and Civilization



It is the more complex and evolved form
of culture. Culture becomes civilization
only when it possesses written language,
specialized division of labourers and
complex technology. It is a later phase of
super organic culture.
It includes useful materials and methods
of producing and using them.
The authority of man over natural
phenomena as well as special technology
or morals which controls main behaviour
Prcised standard of measurement based
on utility.

Culture is a complex whole which
morals, customs and habits
acquired by the members of
It consists of values, ideas, mental
and emotional aspects of groups.
It includes basic elements which
brings satisfaction and pleasure to
Has no qualitative or quantitative
standard measurement because
culture is end itself. The elements,
needs, values and thought changes
in accordance with time and place.
It is not an organized advancement.


It is an organized advancement.


Transmitted without effort based on Efforts are needed for transmission.

utility and connected with external life of
human life


It is easily adapted we may enjoy the The adaptation of culture depends

products without sharing the capacity upon personality and nature.
which creates them.
It is an external process
It is an internal additional pattern.