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In this example of commuting, culture consists of thoughts (expectations about personal space, for example) and tangible things (bus stops, trains, and seating capacity). Material culture refers to the objects or belongings of a group of people. Metro passes and bus tokens are part of material culture, as are automobiles, stores, and the physical structures where people worship. Nonmaterial culture , in contrast, consists of the ideas, attitudes, and beliefs of a society. Material and nonmaterial aspects of culture are linked, and physical objects often symbolize cultural ideas. A metro pass is a material object, but it represents a form of nonmaterial culture, namely, capitalism, and the acceptance of paying for transportation. Clothing, hairstyles, and jewelry are part of material culture, but the appropriateness of wearing certain clothing for specific events reflects nonmaterial culture. A school building belongs to material culture, but the teaching methods and educational standards are part of education’s nonmaterial culture. These material and nonmaterial aspects of culture can vary subtly from region to region. As people travel farther afield, moving from different regions to entirely different parts of the world, certain material and nonmaterial aspects of culture become dramatically unfamiliar. What happens when we encounter different cultures? As we interact with cultures other than our own, we become more aware of the differences and commonalities between others’ worlds and our own.

Cultural universals

Often, a comparison of one culture to another will reveal obvious differences. But all cultures also share common elements. Cultural universals are patterns or traits that are globally common to all societies. One example of a cultural universal is the family unit: every human society recognizes a family structure that regulates sexual reproduction and the care of children. Even so, how that family unit is defined and how it functions vary. In many Asian cultures, for example, family members from all generations commonly live together in one household. In these cultures, young adults continue to live in the extended household family structure until they marry and join their spouse’s household, or they may remain and raise their nuclear family within the extended family’s homestead. In the United States, by contrast, individuals are expected to leave home and live independently for a period before forming a family unit that consists of parents and their offspring. Other cultural universals include customs like funeral rites, weddings, and celebrations of births. However, each culture may view the ceremonies quite differently.

Anthropologist George Murdock first recognized the existence of cultural universals while studying systems of kinship around the world. Murdock found that cultural universals often revolve around basic human survival, such as finding food, clothing, and shelter, or around shared human experiences, such as birth and death or illness and healing. Through his research, Murdock identified other universals including language, the concept of personal names, and, interestingly, jokes. Humor seems to be a universal way to release tensions and create a sense of unity among people (Murdock 1949). Sociologists consider humor necessary to human interaction because it helps individuals navigate otherwise tense situations.

Questions & Answers

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shobha Reply
what r the structure of poverty in India?
paddri Reply
what are important roles that institution of the family plays in society
George Reply
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Shelton Reply
Auguste Comte
Pooja
what do you mean by auguste comte
Ismail
Father of Sociology
Pooja
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august comte
Muhammad
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Diksha Reply
the way of life
Ismail
refers to a groups shared practices,values and beliefs
Erika
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Ismail
the way we conduct ourselves in Society
Brijesh
yup
Ismail
glad to discuss with you
Ismail
the study& observation of people places & things
a way of life
Tony
customs , ideas, beliefs of the society
AISHWARYA
what is conflict management
Zeenat Reply
with the reference of international relations
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what is Conformity and what are reasons for it?
Emmanuel Reply
It's to comply with standard, rules etc. Fitting into society
Kerri
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Ismail
what is Conformity and what are reasons for it?
Emmanuel Reply
what is sociology
COGF Reply
The study of social development and function. How society functions.
Kerri
the study of human being and how their interact
Muhammad
Sociology is the scientific study of society, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture of everyday life. It is a social science that uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about social order, acceptance, and chang
Icecool
It's Unveil of Miracle of Life
Tendai
study of Unveil
Tendai
sociology is the stud of how people live together and how their lives are structured by social institutions ,culture and history how does sociology impact your life?
chnor
the study of the development, structure and function of society
Ayushi
study of human behaviour with their society.positive or negative
Deedag
what do you think c.wright Mills meant when he said that to be a sociologist one had to develop a sociological imagination?
Jamesnhialchan Reply
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Explain the importance of beliefs or a note of Beliefs.
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sociological lmagination
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origin and development of sociology
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what's to join
Prisca
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Muhammad
it means either of the two sexes (Male /female)
Prisca
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Muhammad
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Rakshita
gender studies is the study of the roles that men and women play in our society ...how those roles have been shaped..what factors have influenced them ...and their pros and cons etc
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is sociology similar to political science
connect
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sociology is the study of social life...society, culture, social changes etc
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the study of human behaviour and how interact with each other
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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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