(noun) The ideas and self-concepts of a group or society (e.g., artifacts, attitudes, beliefs, customs, norms, symbols, and values) in a particular place and time, passing from one generation to the next.
Example: The culture of a nonprofit that promotes community activism as a method of curbing violence against women.
Audio Pronunciation: (cul·ture)
Download Audio Audio Pronunciation: culture.mp3
- Plural: cultures
- Culture is either nonmaterial (e.g., language) or material (e.g., pottery).
- A highly diverse culture is called a mosaic culture.
- Sociologists study (adjective) cultural aspects of society to make (adjective) culturally relevant observations and conclusions.
- “[C]ulture is a kind of knowledge, not behavior: It is in people’s heads. It reflects the mental categories they learn from others as they grow up. It helps them generate behavior and interpret what they experience. At the moment of birth, we lack a culture. We don’t yet have a system of beliefs, knowledge, and patterns of customary behavior. But from that moment until we die, each of us participates in a kind of universal schooling that teaches us our native culture. Laughing and smiling are genetic responses, but as infants we soon learn when to smile, when to laugh, and even how to laugh. We also inherit the potential to cry, but we must learn our cultural rules for when crying is appropriate” (Spradley and McCurdy 2008:2).
- “Cultures do not generally remain static. There are many forces working toward change and diversity. Some societies and individuals adapt to the this change whereas others suffer culture shock and succumb to ethnocentrism” (Kendall 2006:57).
- “Whereas a society is composed of people, a culture is composed of ideas, behavior, and material possessions. Society and culture are independent; neither could exist without the other” (Kendall 2006:42).
- Word origin of “culture” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Alexander, Jeffrey C. 2006. The Meanings of Social life: A Cultural Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Bennett, Andy. 2005. Culture and Everyday Life. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. London: Routledge.
- During, Simon, ed. 2010. The Cultural Studies Reader. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge.
- Featherstone, Mike. 2007. Consumer Culture and Postmodernism. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Friedland, Roger, and John Mohr, eds. 2004. Matters of Culture: Cultural Sociology in Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Giulianotti, R., and Roland Robertson. 2006. “Glocalization, Globalization and Migration: The Case of Scottish Football Supporters in North America.” International Sociology 21(2):171–98. doi:10.1177/0268580906061374.
- Griswold, Wendy. 2013. Cultures and Societies in a Changing World. 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
- Jenks, Chris. 1993. “Introduction: The Analytic Bases of Cultural Reproduction Theory.” Pp. 1–16 in Cultural Reproduction, edited by C. Jenks. London: Routledge.
- Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1990. Continental Divide. New York: Routledge.
- Robertson, Roland. 1978. Meaning and Change: Explorations in the Cultural Sociology of Modern Societies. New York: New York University Press.
- Rojek, Chris, and Bryan Turner. 2000. “Decorative Sociology: Towards a Critique of the Cultural Turn.” Sociological Review 48(4):629–48. doi:10.1111/1467-954x.00236.
- Roszak, Theodore. 1969. The Making of a Counterculture: Reflections on the Technocratic Society and its Youthful Opposition. London: Faber.
- Sardar, Ziauddin, and Borin Van Loon. 2010. Introducing Cultural Studies. London: Icon.
- Spillman, Lyn, ed. 2002. Cultural Sociology. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
- Steiner, George. 1983. In Bluebeard’s Castle: Some Notes on the Redefinition of Culture. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- culture jamming
- culture shock
- culture war
Kendall, Diane. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
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How to Cite the Definition of Culture
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “culture.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 16, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/culture/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
culture. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/culture/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “culture.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 16, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/culture/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“culture.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 16 Jun. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/culture/>.