Key Features of Culture

Essay by mystery_ladyCollege, Undergraduate September 2006

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Culture has been described as "the common denominator that makes the actions of the individuals intelligible to the group" (Haviland, 1993:30)

Culture is defined as the system of shared beliefs, values, behaviors and artifacts that constitute a people's way of life.

As such, it refers to the non-biological aspects of human societies such as customs, traditions, language, acceptable modes of behavior etc. which are learned and internalized by people and transmitted from one generation to the next.

According to sociologist Ralph Linton:

"The culture of a society is the way of life of its members; the collection of ideas and habits which they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation."

Clyde Kluckholmn states that culture is a "design for living" held by members of a particular society.

Culture is an extremely complex phenomenon and the definition provided is one that is widely accepted by sociologists because to a large degree culture determines how members of a society think and feel; it directs actions and defines their outlook on life.

From the definition we can ascertain that fundamentally culture is patterned behavior resulting from social interaction, that is, behavior and related products which men and women as members of a human society acquire by means of social interaction.

Three key features are social organization, customs and traditions, and finally arts and literature.

Social Organization is the social structure to which every culture bases its self on. Each culture has it's own basic needs that is met through this social organization. The most important unit is the family. This is where the children learn how they are to behave and what they are to believe. Each family has different morals and ways to teach their children. Within the family status there lives the nuclear family and the extended family. The nuclear...