• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What do sociologists mean by culture? What functions does it perform in society? How, if at all, does it help to understand the differences between human and animal societies, seen from the perspective of the long-term process of biological evolution?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What do sociologists mean by culture? What functions does it perform in society? How, if at all, does it help to understand the differences between human and animal societies, seen from the perspective of the long-term process of biological evolution? Introduction There are many different definitions of culture that exist. To give an idea of how many, when researched, 200 different definitions were found by Kroeber and Kluckholn (1952) (Taylor, 1997). This is probably due to the complicated nature of the word, due to the fact that it is applied to so many different topics and processes. Williams believes that culture is "one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language" (Williams, in Jenks 1993:1). In everyday conversation culture is normally thought of as being things like art, language, philosophy, journalism, advertising or fashion. However, sociologists normally use broader definitions which I will expand on later in this essay. Also, in this essay I will look at the function of culture in society, and how it helps us to understand the differences between human and animal societies. How sociologists define culture Definitions of culture used by sociologists normally include the same things used in everyday definitions of culture, but also includes the notion that because every aspect of life is influenced by society, it is therefore also influenced by culture. ...read more.

Middle

They also allow us to understand other people's reactions to something that we might do, and effectively "understand and predict the behaviour of others" (Taylor et al., 1997:9). Functionalists believe that norms provide consensus in society, and that they are shared ideas that often change, for example homosexuality was once a psychological disorder, but is now widely accepted. However, a criticism of the functionalist's ideas is that they can be too positive, and don't acknowledge that conflict may occur in the same culture with the same norms. Functionalists also believe that the function of values in society is to provide shared norms and this is necessary for social solidarity, and without this society would be in conflict and chaos (Taylor, 1997). Values are the basis of norms, and their function in society is to distinguish between right and wrong, and provide moral guidelines (Taylor, 1997). Giddens (1997) believes subcultures have a very important function within society as they allow social change, creativity, freedom, expression of hopes and opinions that otherwise may not have been socially permitted. Taylor (1997) says that religion allows societies to explain things that they previously couldn't. ...read more.

Conclusion

These are all learnt through a process known as socialization that lasts for the whole length of a person's life. All of these aspects of society play a very important role in its functioning as without these cooperation and communication would be almost impossible between members of a society. Culture also helps us to understand the differences between human and animal societies. This is because culture gives human society a uniqueness that other animals don't have, and because of culture human and animal societies have evolved differently. Animals can't learn from experience in the same way as humans, and therefore have to evolve physically rather than mentally to survive changes in their environment. Animals can't over-come their biological needs like humans can as they have no cultural motivations such as religion. Humans have sophisticated communication methods such as talking which allows us to pass on information of experiences through writing or word of mouth, and the reason that humans have this is because they can recognise the symbols involved in writing and talking, and can communicate with other members of society because these symbols have the same meaning for everyone in the particular culture. Culture affects all parts of life, and without it human society couldn't exist in the way that it does today. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Discuss the major changes to have taken place in family life in Britain since ...

    cited in Harris, C.C., 1983). But many would argue that after divorce this is not so since reconstituted families are increasing, therefore a degree of stability is restored. Although divorce is increasing this has not resulted in the decline in the popularity of marriage.

  2. Haralambos & Holborn (2004, ), state that the differences between men and women are ...

    Genetically they have both female (XX) and male (XY) chromosomal patterns and, thus have ambiguous sexual characteristics. These people who have this syndrome are male in external appearance, although they show low levels of testosterone and they show breast enlargement and have small penis, (Andersen 1997: 25).

  1. A Woman's Place Is In The Home - People who agree with this statement ...

    People who disagree with the statement: Ann Oakley --> Housewife 1974 She argues: What Murdock says is that it is not because of genetics that they have separate gender roles it is because it is efficient to do so. His survey outlined all the possible jobs men would do which women would not be seen doing.

  2. Jessica Yassen's Philosophy of Meaning and Value Plan

    This will be factored in her decision-making process. Every decision is limited only by what she is capable of now or in the future and her ability to identify alternatives. She will explore alternatives available keeping in mind her core values, commitments, resources, and constraints. Working hard and never underestimating what can be achieved is the author's motto.

  1. All societies and cultures place a great emphasis on the differences between males and ...

    (Herdt, pg 68, 1987) Throughout history many people have long since argued to what extent culture can shape gender and what influences gender identity. The physical appearance of someone, the way they dress and how they act are all supposed to be characteristics of being either male or female.

  2. How might a consumer culture generate crime?

    Those viewing these adverts believe that they should have the cars that the working class citizens in the adverts do. Once again this is a prime example of relative deprivation. In short, cars are often stolen for the same reason that they are bought and they are largely bought for the reasons hinted at in advertising.

  1. Some sociologists even speak of an 'educational revolution'

    That's also what I'm working on, even in such budgetary hard times. I fear that the political enthusiasm for social policies in higher education somehow is fading away. More and more politicians question the idea that state funded social policies in higher education are effective.

  2. Gender Socialisation

    baby's room Blue Pink Typical Toys Cars Dolls Types of children's clothes Trousers Dress Adult response to a child falling over Picking child up and saying everything's OK Hugs and kisses Playground games catch, football Hop scotch, skipping Sports Football None Comics/reading materials Comics Story books Games adult plays with

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work