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The Basic Concepts of Culture in Sociology and Anthropology

Updated on April 21, 2012
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Christopher F. Bueno is currently the Dean of the College of Education, University of Northern Philippines, Vigan City.

The study of culture was first used by the pioneer English Anthropologist Edward B. Tylor in his book, Primitive Culture, published in 1871. Tylor said that culture is the complex whole, which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.

The study of culture has complex relationships that provide the societal information in the given society. This is the reason why Tylor explained it as complex whole as it provides the multi-dimension societal factors that is affected by the inter and intra-relationships of man in the social environment.

The educational learning process of human beings in a given societal information. This can be learn in the parents later on revolves in the family then to the tribal community as it could adopt the sensory motors of the child in the environment. Basically, in the pedagogy of education the learning process is confined in the cognitive domain or simply the intelligence or the mental ability of the human beings. It directs the physiological response of the brain to mentally process that dictated in the sensory system as primarily directed by sight; felt by touch; listen by the sounds and taste by the smell. The mental capability must go hand in hand with the emotional or psychological attachment including intimacy and love.

Primarily, the concept of culture revolves in the human society on its belief, art, morals, custom and other capabilities such as values, norms, traditions, mores, folkways, language , race, ethnicity, technology, fads, and laws. These social variables provide the unique definition of culture for the understanding and adjustment of life in a given societal condition.

This article revolves the discussion on important concept of culture such as values, beliefs, norms, language, folkways, mores, laws, traditions and other similar concepts that will provide better understanding about the whole social experiences of man in the society.

1. Tradition as a general term refers to the customs, rituals, belief, folklore, habits in a given ethnic group. When we speak about culture, the usual key concept is still on tradition because of the universality of the concept on the social experiences derive from that community.

2. Folkways are the expected behavior being practiced in certain ethnic groups. They provide us the set of expected behavior to follow within the customs and habits in the ethnic groups. A good example of the folkways in the community is the courtship and dating, which prescribed certain behavioral practices that need to be followed as it is distinctly complement the kind of custom and habits they have in that ethnic group.

3. Beliefs are the ideas , viewpoints and attitudes of the particular group of society. They are consists of fables, proverbs, myths, folklore ,traditions, superstition, education and etc. that influence the ideas, values, emotions, perceptions and attitude of the members of the society. They also think and decide on particular course of action which they believe conform on the sets social experience in the society.

4. Values are the common ethical standards in a civilized society wherein group members have the ability to distinguish what is right or wrong. These are approved sets of action to follow as part of societal life and violation of this act may require sanctions and punishment within the family or institutions of the society.

5. Norms are the proper conduct of social behavior that should be followed in the society. Norms are unquestionable standards of what society consider as good and proper for social behavior. There are prescribe societal standards that should be followed because these are appropriate, legal, ethical and right actions. However, those who would not follow the set of societal standards are considered illegal, immoral, wrong, bad and improper.

6. Language is a form of communication that represents the spoken and written words to convey information to an individual or group of people. The language also the best way to communicate specific group of people who have decipher and construct new form symbolic dialect that have been passed by one generation to another. These are in written forms, words, numbers even non-verbal communication such as facial expression and body movements and other sign languages.

7. Mores are the long-established customs and traditions that have bearing in moral and ethical values of the society. They are the accepted customs of the society that prohibits following such as incest, infidelity or sex abuse.

8. Laws are the rules, regulation and guiding policies of societal institutions. The violation of the laws means sanction or punishment for some wrongful acts by the individual such as homicide, murder, abortion, rape, robbery and other criminal acts.

Basically, these are the common concepts as applied in sociology and anthropology to further study the nature of man and society. It is usually the understanding of the social experiences as man interacts in the society. Generally, it is the way of life that would focus the how the people think, act and produce materials in its natural habitat. On the other hand, the sense of culture reflects the human products such as audio- visual arts and literary arts that revolved in the past history and civilization of the ethnic society. The grouping as one tribal community interacted to form a distinct and unique culture that defines them later as race.



The Basic Concepts of Culture in Sociology and Anthropology

The Human Evolution and Development

Areas of Sociology

The Characteristics of Culture

The Concept of Beliefs in Sociology and Anthropology


The Meaning and Concept of Tradition

The Definition of Group

Group : Its Nature, Principle and Concept in the Development of Society


The Social Phenomenology of Human Reciprocity and Generosity

The Defining Moment of Human Freedom and Integrity of the Arab Nations

The Social Phenomenology of the "Rise and Fall Syndrome" in the Arab World

The Contemporary International Politics of the Weberian Dialectics on Religion and Social Class

Human Vanity ( Ethics, Morality and Political Culture)

The Easter Reminder of our Beloved Father on Greed and Vanity

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.The Family-Oriented Approach to Human Development: A Social Equity Model for “Family Empowerment”

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