What kinds of things come to mind, when
we mention the word ―CULTURE?‖
Can animals have culture?
All that human beings learn to do, to use,
to produce, to know, and to believe as
they grow to maturity and live out their
lives in the social groups to which they
Culture and Biology
Human beings acquire the means to meet their
needs through culture.
Although human infants cry when hungry, the
responses to the cries vary.
In some groups, infants are breast-fed; in
others, they are fed prepared milk formulas
from bottles; and in still others, they are fed
according to the mother’s preference.
Culture is shared, and
Transmitted from one generation to the next
The difficulty people have adjusting to a
new culture that differs markedly from
When one makes judgments about other
cultures based on the customs and values
of one's own.
An Iranian female in a meeting with
students at FIU…
Ethnocentrism and what we eat!
Ethnocentrism and what we value!
Recognizing cultures must be understood
on their own terms before valid
comparisons can be made.
With which cultural background do
you identify with the most? Choose
A. Anglo (white, non-Hispanic)
C. African American, black
D. Native American (American Indian)
Components of Culture
Material culture (objects)
Nonmaterial culture (rules)
Cognitive culture (shared beliefs)
Everything human beings make and use.
Material culture allows humans to cope
with extreme environments and survive in
Material culture has made human beings
the dominant life form on earth.
Knowledge, beliefs, values, and rules for
Elements of nonmaterial culture:
Do you favor or oppose an amendment
to the U.S. Constitution that would make
English the official language of the
C. No opinion
The rules of behavior that are agreed
upon and shared within a culture and that
prescribe limits of acceptable behavior.
Norms define ―normal‖ expected behavior
and help people achieve predictability in
Strongly held norms that usually have a
moral connotation and are based on the
central values of the culture.
Violations produce strong negative
reactions, often supported by the law.
Examples: sexual molestation of a child,
rape, murder, incest, and child beating.
Norms that permit a wide degree of
individual interpretation as long as certain
limits are not overstepped.
People who violate folkways are seen as
peculiar but they rarely elicit a strong
The way we dress, the music we listen to, or
the ―good manners‖ can be considered
Ideal and Real Norms
Ideal norms - expectations of what
people should do under perfect
Real norms - Norms that are expressed
with qualifications and allowances for
differences in individual behavior.
A culture’s general orientations
toward life—its notions of what is
good and bad, what is desirable and
Language and Culture
Language makes it possible for humans
to share culture.
Animals are controlled by their biology,
but human behavior is determined by
culture and language.
Children learn culture through language,
socialization, and role models.
The language a person uses determines their
perception of reality.
Different languages classify experiences
Example: The Hopi Indians
Two words for water—pahe (water in a
natural state) and keyi (water in a container).
One word to cover every thing or being that
flies, except birds.
Perceptions of time
Anything representing something else,
carrying a particular meaning recognized
by members of a culture.
Can you think of some common symbols we
use in the United States?
Symbols are entirely arbitrary and rely on
cultural conventions for their meaning.
Symbols in Cyberspace
:-) smile |^o Snoring
:-( sad :-@ Screaming
:-0 wow %-) Dazed or silly
:-X my lips are sealed %*} Drunk
LOL laughing out loud %-( Confused
:-|| I am angry :-C Astonished
Culture and Adaptation
Culture is the primary means by which
humans adapt to the challenges of their
We are culture producing, culture
transmitting, and culture dependent.
Take away culture and the human
species would perish.
Mechanisms of Cultural
Two mechanisms are responsible for
Innovation – new concepts, ideas, and
Diffusion - the movement of cultural traits
from one culture to another.
Invention - recombining elements already
available to a society.
Discovering new concepts.
Finding new solutions to old problems.
Devising and making new material
Results when people from one group or
society come into contact with another.
Diffusion is marked by reformulation, in
which a trait is modified in some way so
that it fits better in its new context.
The phenomena through which new
patterns of behavior emerge even though
they conflict with traditional values.
Distinctive lifestyles, values, norms, and
beliefs of certain segments of the
population within a society.
Types of subcultures include: ethnic,
occupational, religious, political,
geographic, social class and deviant.
Developed to solve common societal
Division of labor
Rites of passage
Families differ between cultures depending on
who is allowed to marry and how many spouses
The basic family unit of husband, wife, and
children is recognized in almost every culture.
Sexual relations among a family (other than
between husband and wife) are almost
Functions of the Incest
Helps keep sexual jealousy under control.
Prevents the confusion of authority
relationships in the family.
Ensures family offspring will marry into
other families, creating a network of social
Rites of Passage
Standardized rituals marking life transitions.
Examples of rites of passage:
Bar and bat mitzvahs
Funerals and wakes
Functions of Rites of
Help the individual achieve a social
Map out the individual’s life course.
Aid the individual in making life plans.
Provide people with a context to share
Beliefs and values that help groups maintain
identity as a social unit.
Examples of deeds performed in the name of
Abolitionists, prohibitionists, trade
Civil rights activists, feminists,
Culture and Individual Choice
Culture tells humans what to do, how to
do it, and when it should be done.
Humans have more individual freedom of
action than any other creature.
Society and culture limit choices and
make it difficult to act in ways that deviate
from cultural norms.