Culture & Society

4 April 2015
A study exploring the inter-relationship between the individual, culture and society.

The paper explores the true meaning and distinct definitions of culture and society. It defines culture as the set of beliefs, values, behavior and material objects constituting a people’s way of life, and society as a set of cultural rules. The paper examines the paradoxical relationship between who forms who: the individual on society, or vice versa, the society is molded by individuals. The author uses the example of this process by looking at tobacco use in our society, from cultural ban to outlawed societal ban. The author writes that people bring about change by influencing others first in small groups and then in society at large by enlisting the assistance of groups, the government, and the media.
Consider the idea of culture more fully. Culture is a label for an abstraction encompassing the total way of life for a group of human beings. Culture can also refer to the shared patterns of belief, feeling, and adaptation which people carry in their minds as guides for conduct and the definition of reality. Culture helps define such things as values, symbols, language, and norms and how they will be viewed and utilized in society. A value is a belief upon which an individual acts by preference, and the clarification of values is a cognitive act leading to specific and related behavior. Behavior is determined for the individual by what he or she values. Decision-making is governed by values. This is an ongoing process whereby individuals are continually evaluating alternatives and making decisions based on the values they hold and the degree to which the various alternatives open to them fulfill and serve those values. Culture helps define how people view these issues and how they make these decisions. All societies place a high value on the inculcation of values in the young, for this is the means for perpetuating certain cultural norms and thus values from generation to generation. Clearly, values may differ from one society to another, from one culture to another, even from one region within a society to another. Every society has a set of core values are to be transmitted from generation to generation. Other values may be associated with common practice, religious beliefs, or a basic world-view that is prevalent in the given society and culture, and these are also elements of culture itself.
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