Society is full of life. It has a number of interactions. There are many functions of society which are done with common purposes. Society wants to exist and move forward. In this continuous process of activity and interaction a number of things are learnt, practiced and adjusted as good or useful or otherwise. All such things that human society is capable of acquiring are passing on from generation to generation.
Culture is that complete whole which includes knowledge, belief, customs, art, morals, law and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. Otto Klin Berg defines culture as a way of life. The word cultivates means, to use land for rising of crops, to grow, to improve. In bacteriology the term culture is used to refer to the growth of microorganisms in the affected tissues of the body or in artificial media in the laboratory. The growth of bacteria in colons is described as culture. In sociology culture is used with reference to human beings and society. The dictionary meaning of culture is cultivation the education of the mind for improvement and refinement the result of such education possession of correct sensitive taste, rational judgment, refinement of manner and highly developed intellectual outlook. The term culture embraces a wide range of activities and characteristics of individuals as well as groups with regard to their way of life. The general mode of the life with its customs, beliefs and articles and artifacts used for various purposes by societies are all comprehensively known as culture or cultural characteristics.
Every society acquires its own ways of life. In other words the beliefs, customs, traditions, norms, values, etc., differ from society to society. Some things may also be common among societies. The abstract things like customs, behavioral patterns, etc., form nonmaterial culture. The articles and various kinds of objects and things that are made by man and also available in nature for his use are known as material culture or overt culture. Non-material culture or covert culture refers to patterns of living practices, values, customs, attitude, etc. For example, for material culture house, table, pen, motor car, tractor, jewel, musical instrument, bell, candle and so on. Fro nonmaterial culture religion, respecting elders, marriage systems, customs of burning or cremating of the dead, etc
The development of a culture of society is dependent on the different factors which govern perception and learning and the development of behaviour. Different functions and institutions in societies are need based. In the course of time theygive rise to cultural patterns. In other words, the needs determine many acts and functions and what has been going on is followed from generation to generation or adopted by one society from another. Culture is, therefore, integrated with the socio-economic conditions and also the biological needs. It is not inherited or transmitted biologically. It is through socialization that the culture diffuses, stays and changes from time to time in society. It is passed on from generation to generation through the continuous process of socialization. Since people can give up certain things or practices after finding them useless or after finding better ways of doing things, culture is constantly undergoing a change. Many practices keep on changing with time. Culture is therefore a dynamic ongoing process. Because culture is a complete whole of all ways of life it helps to bind the individuals in society together. Culture becomes therefore a readymade frame of reference for every individual and society with regard to what is acceptable and what is unsocial or harmful or not permitted.
The purpose of culture is to give to the society by continuous process of learning and experience, patterns of behaviour which are found useful for a harmonious existence and smcoth functioning in all occupations and interactions and thereby ensure individual and group survival and perpetuation.
Culture is the integrated social, economic, biological, ethnic, modes of behaviour of a group of a society. It is implied that even the possession of ideas, attitudes, values, etc., form culture. Earlier we have seen that personality is the sum total of the thought and action or attitude and behaviour patterns of an individual. Similarly we can consider culture to be the sum total of the thought and action or attitude and behaviour patterns of society or groups. Otto Klinberg defines culture simply as a way of life which is determined by social environment.
The different parts of culture must get together for the society to function efficiently over a period. People tend to reject disharmonious elements and retain useful characteristics or patterns. Every subculture or any new change in a culture must harmoniously fit into the rest of the culture. This is called cultural integration. If such integration does not take place there will be a disturbance in the cultural equilibrium. For example, abortion is opposed in most of the religions but for reasons of health or socio-economic conditions the practice of abortion gets accepted in the community. This is integrated. Another example is the use of contraception.
Enculturation is defined as the conscious or unconscious conditioning occurring within that learning process, whereby man as child and adult achieves competence in his culture. Enculturation is basically therefore synonymous with the more widely used term socialization.
Acculturation may be defined as that process of culture change in which more or less continuous contact between two or more culturally distinct groups results in one group taking over the elements of the culture of the other group or groups. It is concerned with the result of contact and interaction of at least two distinct cultural groups. It may be appreciated that acculturation can take place within the same community or can be the result of migration or living in a new one group to another can be a two way process. The term Tran culture is specifically used for the transfer of culture from one geographical area to another.
Ethnocentrism is actually due to narrow mindedness and clannishness. It sometimes helps as a defense against one’s inadequacies or maladjustment in a new culture.