Feb 16, 2011

What is the difference between culture and society?

The first thing Id like to clear up before I begin to look at culture is that my perspective on culture is a lot broader than is normally used in everyday life(kind of anthropological). When you say England has a different culture than say, Germany what you are really referring to is ‘society’. The society is different, there is a different language, some behaviors are different etc. In other words it fits the following definitions:
Definition of SOCIETY

1: companionship or association with one's fellows : friendly or intimate intercourse : company
2: a voluntary association of individuals for common ends; especially : an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession
3a : an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another
b : a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests

Culture is a broader perspective and can be expanded depending on the classifications you use. Using the above example England and Germany are both Christian majority countries, they share similar economic and democratic values, they share a common ancestral language…infact that ancestral language is shared with the Indian subcontinent as well! A cultural diffusion took place around 4000 B.C. probably from the north Caucasus region as it went from semi-arid to desert. The tribes from this area spread south, west and north-west. That is why all the cultures that developed in the Mediterranean had a very similar pantheon of gods as the Hindus (for example: both Zeus and Indra throw lightning bolts). Later it was discovered that certain languages share roots and we now know that Greek, Persian, Latin, Hindi and English all originate from the same tribal group millennia ago. (You can find an overview of Indo-European Language Subfamilies here)

Each of these groups (Greeks, Hindus etc.) has different societies but they share a cultural heritage. One aspect of my study in this blog will be to examine the broadness of our cultural heritage.

Definition of CULTURE

5a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations
b : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time
c : the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization
d : the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic

"For anthropologists and other behavioral scientists, culture is the full range of learned human behavior patterns." Dennis O'Neil

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