Anthropology

SOCIETY AND CULTURE

Concept of society

Long years ago, Aristotle stated that man is a social animal, that means they lives in the company of other such people. The roots word of society in Latin is socius which means friendship.

Society means to a group of people and the pattern of norms and interactions among them. Society is understood as a tangible object but for sociology and anthropology, it an intangible entity with multiple factors.

Several thinkers termed Society as following-

  • August Comte advocated that society is a social organism which lives in harmony within its structure and function.
  • Emile Durkheim – society as a reality in its own right.
  • Talcott Parson – Society is complex of human relationships in so far as they grow out of the action in terms of means-end relationship intrinsic or symbolic.
  • G.H Mead – society as an exchange of gestures with the use of symbols.
  • Morris Ginsberg – society is a collection of individuals united by certain relations and mode of behavior which make them different from others and thus who do not enter into these relations and behavior.
  • Cole – Society is a complex of organized associations and institutions with a community.
  • MacIver and Page – Society is a web of social relationship system of usages of authority and mutual help of many groups and divisions, of controls of human behavior, liberties.

A society is a relatively large autonomous human group which is, relatively independent and self-perpetuating in demography.

Society is a group of people living in a social network having inter-relations and enjoy social status. Functional dimensions of society include a group in reciprocal relationships, interacting among themselves, helping each other towards a common interest. Structural dimensions of society include social heritage, institutions, folks, habits, traditions, emotions, ideals and ideas.

Characteristics of Society: –

For McIver “society is a web of social relationships “and “society means likeness”.

  • Interdependence
  • Self-reliant
  • Common laws
  • Common likeness
  • Subordinates  
  • Cooperation
  • Also difference in options and practices to have diversity.

Concept of culture

It is not possible for human beings to live without social relations among people and some minimum tangible material objects. Without minimum social network of life of humans is not possible as culture provides design for their living.

Culture is historically created design for living which is unique to the human species. It has moral force developed over times to serves as a modal code of conduct for human action and behaviors in the society. Culture is does not transfer with blood and thus not non-genetic but is transferred from generations to next through inculcations, practices and learning. It has unity as well as diversity.

Society and Culture are related as a culture is the way of life of specific part of human society which is called their society.

The classic definition stated by E.B.Tylor in his book Primitive Culture in 1871 said that ‘Culture or Civilization, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and any capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society’. Tylor postulated one-way theory of unilinear development of human culture ranging from savagery, barbarism to civilization. Culture designs the collective system of their units. But it does not happen randomly. Ruth Benedict advocated that cultures are not haphazard collection of customs and beliefs, but are integrated, patterned systems.

Anthropologists formulated that culture has following features: –

  • Socially learned how to be a member of that culture
  • Shared beliefs, ideas, behavior
  • Systemic and integrated to live together
  • Has Values, Morals and Rules
  • Symbolic features
  • Culture has Overtness as in the form of medicines, houses pattern, clothing, books, etc and covertness like fears, values, sentiments, beliefs.
  • Explicit and implicit as people’s awareness and written or verbal form
  • Norms to appear uniformly
  • Culture is stable in their norms and values
  • Rewards and penalties.
  • Sub parts as building blocks of composite culture
  • Culture is patterned and structured
  • Culture can be Region specific
  • Culture is stable and also changes as it is adaptive
  • Passed on to their children and over to the next generation thus it is Organic and also Super-organic
  • Operational creatively differences the ideal culture and real culture
  • Cultural has some Universal features, some specialties and also alternatives
  • Culture Shock happens when some people act unfamiliar to culture
  • Culture affect people in their everyday lives

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