Material and non material culture pdf

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material and non material culture pdf

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The Cultural Dimension of Healthcare

Humans are social creatures. Living together, people form common habits and behaviors—from specific methods of childrearing to preferred techniques for obtaining food. In modern-day Paris, many people shop daily at outdoor markets to pick up what they need for their evening meal, buying cheese, meat, and vegetables from different specialty stalls. In the United States, the majority of people shop once a week at supermarkets, filling large carts to the brim.

How would a Parisian perceive U. Almost every human behavior, from shopping to marriage to expressions of feelings, is learned. In the United States, people tend to view marriage as a choice between two people, based on mutual feelings of love. Conversely, someone from a traditional Kolkata family might be perplexed with the idea of romantic love as the foundation for marriage and lifelong commitment.

In other words, the way in which people view marriage depends largely on what they have been taught. Behavior based on learned customs is not a bad thing. But even an action as seemingly simple as commuting to work evidences a great deal of cultural propriety.

How would a visitor from the suburban United States act and feel on this crowded Tokyo train? Take the case of going to work on public transportation. Whether people are commuting in Dublin, Cairo, Mumbai, or San Francisco, many behaviors will be the same, but significant differences also arise between cultures.

Typically, a passenger will find a marked bus stop or station, wait for his bus or train, pay an agent before or after boarding, and quietly take a seat if one is available. But when boarding a bus in Cairo, passengers might have to run, because buses there often do not come to a full stop to take on patrons. Dublin bus riders would be expected to extend an arm to indicate that they want the bus to stop for them. And when boarding a commuter train in Mumbai, passengers must squeeze into overstuffed cars amid a lot of pushing and shoving on the crowded platforms.

That kind of behavior would be considered the height of rudeness in the United States, but in Mumbai it reflects the daily challenges of getting around on a train system that is taxed to capacity.

In this example of commuting, culture consists of thoughts expectations about personal space, for example and tangible things bus stops, trains, and seating capacity.

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. 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? Often, a comparison of one culture to another will reveal obvious differences. But all cultures also share common elements. 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 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 Sociologists consider humor necessary to human interaction because it helps individuals navigate otherwise tense situations.

Imagine that you are sitting in a theater, watching a film. The movie opens with the heroine sitting on a park bench with a grim expression on her face. Cue the music.

The first slow and mournful notes play in a minor key. As the melody continues, the heroine turns her head and sees a man walking toward her. The music slowly gets louder, and the dissonance of the chords sends a prickle of fear running down your spine.

You sense that the heroine is in danger. Now imagine that you are watching the same movie, but with a different soundtrack. As the scene opens, the music is soft and soothing, with a hint of sadness. You see the heroine sitting on the park bench and sense her loneliness. Suddenly, the music swells. The woman looks up and sees a man walking toward her. The music grows fuller, and the pace picks up. You feel your heart rise in your chest.

This is a happy moment. Music has the ability to evoke emotional responses. In television shows, movies, even commercials, music elicits laughter, sadness, or fear. Are these types of musical cues cultural universals? The research team traveled to Cameroon, Africa, and asked Mafa tribal members to listen to Western music. The tribe, isolated from Western culture, had never been exposed to Western culture and had no context or experience within which to interpret its music.

Even so, as the tribal members listened to a Western piano piece, they were able to recognize three basic emotions: happiness, sadness, and fear. Music, it turns out, is a sort of universal language. Researchers also found that music can foster a sense of wholeness within a group. In fact, scientists who study the evolution of language have concluded that originally language an established component of group identity and music were one Darwin Additionally, since music is largely nonverbal, the sounds of music can cross societal boundaries more easily than words.

Music allows people to make connections, where language might be a more difficult barricade. As Fritz and his team found, music and the emotions it conveys can be cultural universals. Despite how much humans have in common, cultural differences are far more prevalent than cultural universals. For example, while all cultures have language, analysis of particular language structures and conversational etiquette reveal tremendous differences.

In some Middle Eastern cultures, it is common to stand close to others in conversation. If your professor comes into an early morning class holding a mug of liquid, what do you assume she is drinking?

The way cuisines vary across cultures fascinates many people. Almost everyone is a little bit ethnocentric. But ethnocentrism can lead to disdain or dislike for other cultures and could cause misunderstanding and conflict. European colonizers often viewed the people in the lands they colonized as uncultured savages who were in need of European governance, dress, religion, and other cultural practices.

A more modern example of cultural imperialism may include the work of international aid agencies who introduce agricultural methods and plant species from developed countries while overlooking indigenous varieties and agricultural approaches that are better suited to the particular region. Ethnocentrism can be so strong that when confronted with all of the differences of a new culture, one may experience disorientation and frustration.

A traveler from Chicago might find the nightly silence of rural Montana unsettling, not peaceful. An exchange student from China might be annoyed by the constant interruptions in class as other students ask questions—a practice that is considered rude in China. But as they experience unanticipated differences from their own culture, their excitement gives way to discomfort and doubts about how to behave appropriately in the new situation.

Eventually, as people learn more about a culture, they recover from culture shock. Anthropologist Ken Barger discovered this when he conducted a participatory observation in an Inuit community in the Canadian Arctic. Originally from Indiana, Barger hesitated when invited to join a local snowshoe race.

Sure enough, he finished last, to his mortification. To the Inuit people, winning was enjoyable, but their culture valued survival skills essential to their environment: how hard someone tried could mean the difference between life and death. Over the course of his stay, Barger participated in caribou hunts, learned how to take shelter in winter storms, and sometimes went days with little or no food to share among tribal members.

Trying hard and working together, two nonmaterial values, were indeed much more important than winning. During his time with the Inuit tribe, Barger learned to engage in cultural relativism. Practicing cultural relativism requires an open mind and a willingness to consider, and even adapt to, new values and norms. However, indiscriminately embracing everything about a new culture is not always possible. Even the most culturally relativist people from egalitarian societies—ones in which women have political rights and control over their own bodies—would question whether the widespread practice of female genital mutilation in countries such as Ethiopia and Sudan should be accepted as a part of cultural tradition.

Sociologists attempting to engage in cultural relativism, then, may struggle to reconcile aspects of their own culture with aspects of a culture that they are studying. Sometimes when people attempt to rectify feelings of ethnocentrism and develop cultural relativism, they swing too far to the other end of the spectrum. Perhaps the greatest challenge for sociologists studying different cultures is the matter of keeping a perspective.

It is impossible for anyone to keep all cultural biases at bay; the best we can do is strive to be aware of them. In the airport, she heard rapid, musical Spanish being spoken all around her. Exciting as it was, she felt isolated and disconnected. Her imposing father kept his distance.

An introduction to material culture

Culture as a general concept consists of both material and non-material culture. Material culture is a term developed in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries, that refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations. In contrast, non-material culture does not include physical objects or artifacts. Examples include any ideas, beliefs, values, or norms that shape a society. Social norms are group-held beliefs about how members should behave in a given context. Values are related to the norms of a culture, but they are more global and abstract than norms. Norms are rules for behavior in specific situations, while values identify what should be judged as good or evil.


Material culture includes all of the physical things that people create and attach meaning to. Nonmaterial culture includes creations and abstract ideas that are not.


An introduction to material culture

Researchers have adopted a concept for sustainable development SD that has given rise to different systems of sustainability assessment, systems to which several authors have suggested non-material components should be incorporated. This work aims at developing a conceptual model to integrate these components into systems of sustainability assessment. A review of the literature made it possible to design a conceptual model for the non-material components of sustainability and to identify associated themes. The proposal was considered by the actors involved interviewees to be generally adequate, and suggestions for improvement and adjustment were put forward by them, to facilitate both the understanding and practical application of the model.

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