that are common to all cultures are called Cultural Universals. These do
not change over time but they way they are expressed do change with time. Some
examples are language, food, music, and clothes. Cultural Universals meet basic
can be expressed materially (physical, tangible objects) and non-materially
(customs, beliefs, philosophies). Both are equally important in defining and
perpetuating a culture.
changes through 2 processes: Diffusion and Innovation.
adopting ideas and customs from one group to another. We see this most
prevalent in other countries as they absorb our food (McDonalds), our clothing
styles, and our music. American Missionaries and Anthropologists have lengthy
histories of attempting to diffuse elements of the American culture into other
in one of 2 ways: something is discovered or something is invented. Discovery
is the process of revealing new facts or knowledge. DNA strings and the genome
studies are examples of the revelation of new knowledge. Invention is taking
existing items and reshaping them to form something new. The quartz chip and
the computer chip are among 20th Century inventions.
are 3 significant parts to culture: Language, Norms and Values. All 3 always
co-exist. One cannot separate one from the others.
Language: System of word meanings and
symbols. It is the foundation of every culture. It not only describes a culture
but shapes it as well. Language includes speech (spoken sounds), written
characters (letters), numerals, symbols (& % J), and gestures (waving hello).
Norms: Established standards of behavior
maintained by society. Norms can be formal or informal. Formal norms are
written and have specific consequences for adhering to them or breaking them.
Informal norms are not written but are understood; consequences come in the
form of praise or ridicule.
Norms that are important to society’s
welfare are called Mores. These behavioral standards
generally carry some moral implication,
are difficult to change, and result in severe
punishment if violated. (Examples are
incest, child abuse, multiple marriage partners.)
Norms that govern daily behavior without
much concern for society’s welfare are called
Folkways. These behavioral
standards generally do not carry a moral implication and
change easily. (Examples are church dress,
business attire, helping a stranger.)
We are more likely to formalize mores than
Values: Concept of what is ‘good’, proper,
desirable and what is determined to be ‘bad’, improper, and undesirable within
a culture. We value specific material things (people, objects, wealth) and
general things (health, power, status). A culture demonstrates its value of a
by the lengths it goes to protect it. The most commonly devalued things in our
culture are women, children, Judeo Christian beliefs, and education.