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Sociology | Class 11| Culture and socialization

Sociologists and anthropologists are interested in the social conditions in which culture exists. They dissect culture in order to comprehend the relationships between its diverse parts.

Humans are distinguished from other animals by their ability to form a shared understanding with others and to derive the same meanings from signs and symbols.

Primary socialisation occurs in the home, whereas secondary socialisation occurs at school and other institutions.

Diverse settings, different cultures

Humans live in a wide range of natural environments, including mountains and plains, woods and cleared areas, deserts and river valleys, islands and main lands.

Jarawas, great andamanese, or shompens, who lacked access to contemporary science and technology, anticipated the disaster and protected themselves by migrating to higher land.

This demonstrates that having access to contemporary science and technology does not make modern cultures superior to island primitive cultures. As a result, cultures cannot be ranked but might be deemed adequate or inadequate in terms of their ability to cope with natural stresses.

Defining culture

The phrase "culture" refers to the acquisition of sophisticated taste in classical music, dance forms, and painting. This refined taste was considered to set people apart from the "uncultured" masses.

The sociologist, on the other hand, views culture as a way of life in which all members of society participate, rather than as something that distinguishes people.

The british scholar Edward Taylor provided an early anthropological definition of culture:

"culture or civilisation, taken in its broad ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society."

Dimensions of culture

Non-material (cognitive and normative) Dimension

While the cognitive and normative parts of culture are non-material, the material dimension is critical for increasing output and improving quality of life.

It refers to the abstract or intangible aspects of culture, such as ways of thinking and behavioural habits. It encompasses culture's normative and cognitive components.

Normative aspects of culture

This dimension covers social regulations and social expectations, sometimes known as a society's norms and values.

  • Norms are socially accepted norms that direct the behaviour of members of a community or social group. In other words, they represent the social norms of acceptable behaviour. Norms typically differ among societies and even within the same society across social groups.

  • A societal norm does not always correspond to actual behaviour. The majority of human acts are guided by norms ('unwritten rules'). There are various types of norms based on how stringent they are.

Folkways, mores, customs, norms, and laws comprise the normative component. These are the ideals or principles that govern social behaviour in various settings. We most typically obey societal norms because we are conditioned to do so as a result of our upbringing.

  • Laws are clear regulations, whereas norms are tacit rules. A law is a legal sanction imposed by the government in the form of a rule or principle that its citizens must observe. They apply to the entire society. And breaking the law carries with it consequences and punishment.

  • Laws derived from state authority are the most formal definitions of permitted behaviour. While different schools may set different standards for students, laws would apply to all individuals who acknowledge the authority of the state.

Social values

  • They are the criteria that determine what is good, desirable, and worthwhile in society. They are the underlined principles that drive our decisions and actions.

  • In Indian society, for example, there is a value of respect for the elderly, from which a variety of conventions governing expected behaviour toward seniors are drawn, such as offering seats to elders, caressing their feet or welcoming them, and not addressing them by first names.

Cognitive dimensions

  • The cognitive dimension of culture relates to a society's concepts, which include beliefs, knowledge, myths, superstitions, and so on.

  • Cognition is the process through which we make meaning of all the information we receive from our surroundings. In literate societies, ideas are written down in books and records and stored in libraries, institutes, and archives.

  • Ideas are written down in books and records in a literate society. However, in non-literate communities, ideas take the shape of stories and myths that are committed to memory and passed down orally. In today's world, ideas are also mirrored in audio-visual media [commercials, films].

Material dimension

It refers to the physical, tangible items that people of society own and utilise, such as machines, buildings, jewellery, modes of transportation, and technological gadgets. Culture's material and non-material characteristics vary with time. Material or technological dimensions, on the other hand, change faster than non-material aspects (values and norms are slower to change). This results in "culture lag," or a situation in which nonmaterial aspects are unable to keep up with technological progress ( material dimension ).

Material and non-material components of a culture must collaborate for integrated functioning. However, when material or technological dimensions change rapidly, non-material dimensions such as values and conventions might fall behind. When the non-material aspects are unable to keep up with technological progress, this might result in a culture lag.

For example, when the internet became widespread, several social groups objected, claiming that it had perverted cultural norms.

Identity and culture

Individual and group identities are formed via interactions with others, rather than being inherited. The social roles that an individual plays provide identity.

For example, inside the family, he or she may be a parent or a child, yet each function has its own set of obligations and powers.

Sub cultures

Sub-cultural groups act as coherent units that provide all group members with an identity. There can be multiple subcultures within a culture, such as elite and working-class adolescents.

Style, taste, and association distinguish subcultures. Specific subcultures can be identified by their speech, dress rules, musical preferences, or the way they interact with their group members.

Within such groups, there may be leaders and followers, but all members are united by the group's goal and work together to achieve it. For example, young people in a neighbourhood can join a club to participate in sports and other beneficial activities. Such activities foster a positive image of the members in the community, which not only offers the members a positive self-image but also motivates them to perform better in their activities.


Ethnocentricism is the use of one's own cultural ideals to assess the actions and beliefs of people from other cultures. This indicates that the cultural ideals portrayed as the standard or norm are thought to be superior to other cultures' ideas and values.

It celebrates and accommodates many cultural tendencies within its fold, as well as encourages cultural exchange and borrowings to enrich one's own culture.

A modern society values cultural diversity and does not exclude cultural influences from other countries.

Ethnocentrism is the polar opposite of cosmopolitanism, which values differences across civilizations.

However, such influences are always implemented in a different manner, which can merge with local cultural features. Despite its foreign additions, the English language does not become a separate language, nor does Hindi cinema music lose its identity as a result of borrowings.

Cultural change

  • Cultural change is the process by which cultures alter their cultural patterns. The urge for change might come from inside or without. In terms of internal factors, new farming or agricultural technologies, for example, might increase agricultural production, changing the nature of food consumption and the quality of life in an agrarian society. External interference, such as conquest or colonisation, on the other hand, can cause profound changes in a society's cultural customs and behaviour.

  • Cultural change can occur as a result of changes in the natural environment, contact with other cultures, or adaptation mechanisms.

  • When forest dwelling groups are denied access to the forest and its products, whether owing to legislative restrictions or deforestation, the consequences for the dwellers and their way of life can be severe.


The human child knows nothing about what we term society or social behaviour at the time of birth. However, as the child grows older, he or she continues to learn about things other than the physical world.

While socialisation has a significant impact on individuals, it is not the same as 'culture programming,' in which the child passively absorbs the influences with which he or she comes into touch. Even the most recent newborn has the ability to exert his or her will. When he or she is hungry, he or she will cry. And keep sobbing until those in charge of the baby's care respond.

The family into which he or she is born may be nuclear or extended. It also belongs to a wider community, such as a tribe or subcaste, clan or biradri, a religious and linguistic group. Membership in these organisations and groups enforces specific behavioural norms and beliefs on each member. There are duties that correspond to these affiliations, such as that of a son, daughter, grandchild, or student.

The kid is socialised through the various agencies and institutions in which he or she participates, including the family, school, peer group, neighbourhood, occupational group, and socioeconomic class/caste, region, and religion.

Individual liberty and socialisation

It may seem obvious that socialisation in normal conditions will never entirely reduce people to compliance. Many variables contribute to conflict. Conflicts may arise between socialising agencies, between school and home, and between home and peer groups. However, because the cultural environments in which we are born and grow to adulthood have such an impact on our behaviour, it may appear that we are deprived of any uniqueness or free will.

The fact that we connect with others from birth to death undoubtedly shapes our personalities, the values we hold, and the behaviours we engage in.


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