Culture, Society
and Culture
SOC 370: Social
Dr. Kimberly Martin
A group of people who live according to a
shared culture
Social refers to interactions between two or
more people
Socialization occurs when you learn the
behavior patterns of your group
The abstract, learned, shared
rules/patterns/standards for generating
behavior and interpreting experience.
Enculturation is learning the culture you
grow up in.
Acculturation is learning a culture different
from that in which you grew up.
The Nature of Culture
Culture does not exist outside of people’s heads
Each person has his or her own version of a
culture based on life experience and the roles
he or she knows (age, gender, professional,
social class, ethnicity, etc)
No one person knows the entirety of a culture
Culture is a composite of all the rules for all the
roles that anyone plays in a given society
The Fluid Nature of Culture
Culture change occurs in one of two ways
1. A new behavior pattern spreads through a
group, followed by a change in the rules and
standards to conform with the new behavior
pattern (eg. the sexual revolution of the
2. A change in the conscious rules of the society,
followed by a change in behavior patterns (eg.
the civil rights movement in the 1950’s and
Change in behavior patterns and changes in rules
do not usually occur simultaneously
Aspects of Culture Change
• Source
• Motivation
• Internal Source =
invention or
• Internal Motivation =
cultural evolution
• External Source =
• External Motivation =
conquest or
Types of Culture Change
Group Change
• Evolution = change
within a society that
results when cultural
changes are voluntarily
integrated into the daily
life of the society
• Diffusion = when a
society borrows a culture
trait from another society
• Syncretism = the
blending of culture traits
from two distinct cultures
Individual Change
• Acculturation = when an
individual learns a culture in
addition to the one in which
he/she is raised
• Assimilation =
acculturation that has
progressed to the point that
the individual is
indistinguishable from
members of the new society
• Biculturalism = when an
individual is fluent in two
cultures and can switch at
will from one to the other
Cultural Evolution
• This is the sort of natural change that
occurs in all societies, as people adjust
their cultures to fit new environmental
conditions and situations. Individuals try
out new strategies and/or beliefs, and the
rest of the society decides whether the
new practice is working well. When a new
practice is adopted by a significant
segment of the society, then culture
change has occurred.
• This occurs when a culture trait is
borrowed by a society in which it did not
develop. For example, Coke and Pepsi
are found throughout the world in literally
hundreds of societies. These products
have diffused around the world.
• Syncretism occurs when aspects of two
cultures are blended into a single culture
trait. A good example of this is Mexican
food as it is served in Southern California.
Taco Bell and El Torito are not authentic
Mexican food. They are a blending of
Mexican and American ingredients cooked
in Mexican styles that have been adapted
to American tastes.
• This is what occurs when individuals or
groups migrate to an new country or culture.
They must adjust to the new cultural context
in which they find themselves. Immigrants
tend to acculturate at different rates
depending on the part of culture they need to
change, and the number of immigrants from
their home culture that are living in the new
society. Religion is usually one of the last
aspects of culture to be changed.
• This is what happens when individuals
acculturate to a new culture and become so
fully immersed that they are indistinguishable
from native members of the new society into
which they have moved. Research shows
that it takes three generations for immigrants
to fully assimilate to a new culture. The
actual immigrants themselves have little
chance of assimilation. It is their
grandchildren who will be fully assimilated.
• Biculturalism occurs when an individual
knows two cultures extremely well, and
can act as a native in either culture.
Bicultural individuals frequently switch
back and forth from one culture to another,
depending on the social context in which
they find themselves.
Types of Change Movements
Massive change in entire culture
Short time period
May be new culture or return to past traditions
Internally Motivated
Externally Motivated
1. Revolution = violent
overthrow of existing
1. Conquest = forced massive
change after war
2. Colonization = occupation
2. Millenial Movement =
with goal of economic
secular with political leader
2. Revitalization = religious
with religious prophet as
Study Guide
Behavior patterns
Cultural rules
Internal source
External source
Internal motivation
External motivation
Millenial movement
Revitalization movement

370 Culture Change Basics PowerPoint