What are the elements of culture? Discuss.
Culture is regarded as the total way of life and includes beliefs, values, ideas, norms, customs, and other material as well as non-material aspects of society. Culture is an integral part of a society that help people from similar culture to experience daily life events. The uniqueness of culture is seen in the fact that it separates man from animals by shaping their personality and belief system. Every society has its own culture in form of language, rituals, and ways of thinking and acting which makes it a source of conflict by highlighting the differences among people. These different cultural traits make culture a complex phenomenon. For example, touching the feet of elders is specific to Indian culture which is not applicable in western society.
There are different elements of culture-defining one’s culture, making them uniquely different from other cultures.
Language– It is one of the most important elements of culture as it is called the vehicle of cultural transmission from one generation to another. The major use of language is in assisting daily interaction between people. Human beings have their language which allows them to be different from other species. The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis explains that it is through language one interprets reality, and it is culturally originated and not given in society. This explains that different culture has different languages.
Belief– It refers to the idea of reality that people assume to be true and hold an important place for beliefs in their life. Over time, our belief changes and gets evolved. It happens when different culture comes in contact and changes our perception. With the advancement in modern society, people discard many superstitious beliefs over time. However, some beliefs are ingrained in our consciousness that we cannot do without them.
Norms– Norms refer to rules which are prescribed by society and guide human behavior. Human beings as members of a group must behave in certain ways as prescribed by their social norms. It can be formal as well as informal. While formal norms are codified and violation of it leads to punishment and informal norms are not written people follow them because it is generally accepted behavior. Folkways refer to informal rules like brushing your teeth every morning and Mores are followed for the welfare of members. It is seen that folkways become mores when the concept of well-being of society is added.
Values– They are general guidelines for human behavior. It explains desirable and undesirable behaviors in society and differentiates between what is good and bad. Every culture has its value system and people behave according to their values to achieve goals in society. For example, the Indian value system is different from the American value system on matters like family, old age, religion, and others.
Sanctions– They refer to both reward and punishment based on people’s actions and behavior. It can either be positive like conformity to prescribed norms or negative when norms are violated. It shows the culture of a society.