Culture Is A Dynamic Process

976 WordsJan 30, 20174 Pages
If one were asked to define culture, answers would include things such as one’s own religion, traditions, interests, etc. Many would take a while to answer, reaching back into their memories and coming up empty by the existential question. Why is that? Defining culture is almost like defining love: each person feels culture differently, yet every single person is a part of it. As Franz Boas, the father of American anthropology, states, “culture embraces all manifestations of social behavior of a community, the reactions of the individual as affected by the habits of the group in which he lives, and the product of human activities as determined by these habits” (as cited in Just & Monoghan, 2000, p. 37). Culture is a dynamic process; it…show more content…
Society is an abstraction; anthropologists regard society as a “statistical description of individual choices and actions” but also a “collective consciousness” (Just & Monoghan, 2000, p. 72). Émile Durkheim’s idea of collective consciousness “implies an internal knowing known by all, or a consciousness shared by a plurality of persons” (Piepmeyer, 2007, p. 1). It is cohesive; we are a part of society and society is a part of us (humankind). Anthropologists not only study present societies, they study all societies across time and space and compare them to discover a “universal proposition about social behavior” (Just & Monoghan, 2000, p. 74). Through participant observation, anthropologists collect information and experiences from a particular society and then compare them to other societies; these cross-societal comparisons help draw conclusions about human behavior and social identities. Culture and society are continuously working together. Society is shaped by culture. A culture cannot exist without a society; a society cannot exist without a culture. One may argue that a society can exist without a culture; however, even a lack of culture is a culture. If we speak of both culture and society as universal principles, they are virtually synonymous. Both include shared knowledge and behavior. Society is ever-changing, just like culture. Society controls the social roles and processes just as culture does. One can attribute
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