The term culture refers us to a wide and diverse set of aspects, above all, intangible aspects of social life. It is primarily made up of the values, beliefs, language and communication systems, and practices that people share in common and can be used to define a collective, as well as the material objects that are common to that group or society. Culture is distinct from, but connected to, the social and economic structural aspects of society – both continually influencing and being influenced by them.
Culture is one of the most important concepts in sociology because sociologists recognize that it plays a crucial role in shaping social relations, maintaining and challenging the social order, determining how we make sense of the world and our place in it. , and in the shaping of our daily actions and experiences in society. It is made up of both material and non-material things .
In summary, sociologists define as immaterial aspects of culture values and beliefs, language and communication and practices that are shared in common by a group of people. Thus, culture is made up of our knowledge, common sense, assumptions and expectations, as well as the rules, norms, laws and customs that govern society; the words we use and the way we speak and write about what we do (what sociologists call ” speech “) and the symbols we use to express meaning, ideas and concepts (such as traffic signs and emojis, for example).
Sociologists view the two sides of culture, the material and the non-material, as intimately connected. Material culture, more commonly referred to as cultural objects, arise and are formed by the non-material aspects of culture. In other words, what they value, believe and know, and what we do together in everyday life, influences the things we do. But, it is not a one-way relationship between material and non-material culture. The material itself also influences non-material aspects. For this reason, cultural objects tend to follow patterns. What has come before, in terms of music, film, television and art, for example, influences the values, beliefs and expectations of those who interact with them, who then, in turn, influence the creation of cultural products.
Why culture is important to sociologists.
Culture is important for sociologists because it plays a significant and important role in the production of the social order , which refers to the stability of society based on the collective agreement to follow the rules and norms that allow us to cooperate, function as a society , and (ideally) live together in peace and harmony.
For sociologists, both are good and bad aspects to this fact.
Rooted in the theory of the classical French sociologist Émile Durkheim, the material and immaterial aspects of culture are valuable because they hold society together. The values, beliefs, morals, communication and practices that we share in common provide us with a shared sense of purpose and a valuable collective identity. Durkheim revealed through her research that when people come together to participate in rituals, they reaffirm the culture they have in common and thus strengthen the social ties that unite them. Nowadays, sociologists see this important social phenomenon that happens in religious rituals and celebrations such as (some) weddings and the Holi Festival in India, but also in secular ones such as proms of a high school and also in those sporting events. widely televised such as the Super Bowl and Championship Division I Men’s Basketball NCAA, among others.
The famous Prussian theorist and social activist Karl Marx established the critical approach to culture in the social sciences. According to Marx, it is in the realm of non-material culture that a minority can maintain unfair power over the majority. He reasoned that by subscribing to mainstream values, norms, and beliefs that keep people immersed in unequal social systems that don’t work to achieve their best interests, but benefit the powerful minority. Sociologists today see Marx’s theory in action in the way that most people in capitalist societies believe that success comes from hard work and dedication, and that anyone can live a good life if they do,
Both theorists were right about the role that culture plays in society, but neither was exclusively correct. Culture can be a force of oppression and domination, but it can also be a force for creativity, resistance and liberation. And it is a very important aspect of human social life and social organization. Without it, we would have no relationship or society.