Culture — Definition, Discussion and Examples

So What Is Culture, Exactly?

  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • M.A., Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • B.A., Sociology, Pomona College

Culture is a term that refers to a large and diverse set of mostly intangible aspects of social life. According to sociologists, culture consists of the values, beliefs, systems of language, communication, and practices that people share in common and that can be used to define them as a collective. Culture also includes the material objects that are common to that group or society. Culture is distinct from social structure and economic aspects of society, but it is connected to them—both continuously informing them and being informed by them.

How Sociologists Define Culture

Culture is one of the most important concepts within sociology because sociologists recognize that it plays a crucial role in our social lives. It is important for shaping social relationships, maintaining and challenging social order, determining how we make sense of the world and our place in it, and in shaping our everyday actions and experiences in society. It is composed of both non-material and material things.

In brief, sociologists define the non-material aspects of culture as the values and beliefs, language, communication, and practices that are shared in common by a group of people. Expanding on these categories, culture is made up of our knowledge, common sense, assumptions, and expectations. It is also the rules, norms, laws, and morals that govern society; the words we use as well as how we speak and write them (what sociologists call «discourse»); and the symbols we use to express meaning, ideas, and concepts (like traffic signs and emojis, for example). Culture is also what we do and how we behave and perform (for example, theater and dance). It informs and is encapsulated in how we walk, sit, carry our bodies, and interact with others; how we behave depending on the place, time, and «audience;» and how we express identities of race, class, gender, and sexuality, among others. Culture also includes the collective practices we participate in, such as religious ceremonies, the celebration of secular holidays, and attending sporting events.

Material culture is composed of the things that humans make and use. This aspect of culture includes a wide variety of things, from buildings, technological gadgets, and clothing, to film, music, literature, and art, among others. Aspects of material culture are more commonly referred to as cultural products.

Sociologists see the two sides of culture—the material and non-material—as intimately connected. Material culture emerges from and is shaped by the non-material aspects of culture. In other words, what we value, believe, and know (and what we do together in everyday life) influences the things that we make. But it is not a one-way relationship between material and non-material culture. Material culture can also influence the non-material aspects of culture. For example, a powerful documentary film (an aspect of material culture) might change people’s attitudes and beliefs (i.e. non-material culture). This is why cultural products tend to follow patterns. What has come before in terms of music, film, television, and art, for example, influences the values, beliefs, and expectations of those who interact with them, which then, in turn, influence the creation of additional cultural products.

Why Culture Matters to Sociologists

Culture is important to sociologists because it plays a significant and important role in the production of social order. The social order refers to the stability of society based on the collective agreement to rules and norms that allow us to cooperate, function as a society, and live together (ideally) in peace and harmony. For sociologists, there are both good and bad aspects of social order.

Rooted in the theory of classical French sociologist Émile Durkheim, both material and non-material aspects of culture are valuable in that they hold society together. The values, beliefs, morals, communication, and practices that we share in common provide us with a shared sense of purpose and a valuable collective identity. Durkheim revealed through his research that when people come together to participate in rituals, they reaffirm the culture they hold in common, and in doing so, strengthen the social ties that bind them together. Today, sociologists see this important social phenomenon happening not only in religious rituals and celebrations like (some) weddings and the Indian festival of Holi but also in secular ones—such as high school dances and widely-attended, televised sporting events (for example, the Super Bowl and March Madness).

Famous Prussian social theorist and activist Karl Marx established the critical approach to culture in the social sciences. According to Marx, it is in the realm of non-material culture that a minority is able to maintain unjust power over the majority. He reasoned that subscribing to mainstream values, norms, and beliefs keep people invested in unequal social systems that do not work in their best interests, but rather, benefit the powerful minority. Sociologists today see Marx’s theory in action in the way that most people in capitalist societies buy into the belief that success comes from hard work and dedication, and that anyone can live a good life if they do these things—despite the reality that a job which pays a living wage is increasingly hard to come by.  

Both theorists were right about the role that culture plays in society, but neither was exclusively right. Culture can be a force for oppression and domination, but it can also be a force for creativity, resistance, and liberation. It is also a deeply important aspect of human social life and social organization. Without it, we would not have relationships or society.

www.thoughtco.com

20 Powerful Beliefs That Will Push You Toward Success

I’m sure you’ve met at least one person in your life who is successful, motivated and self-empowered. This is someone who seems to always land on his feet and turn everything into gold. It’s like success comes his way quick and easy.

I’m also sure you have stopped to think about why such person is so energetic, driven and successful with no apparent struggle. You, on the other hand, seem to always have something getting in the way of your progress.

Success, first of all, is not a set of achievements or a combination of external factors. Believe it or not, it is a mindset. Success is an attitude that comes from a framework of powerful beliefs and empowering thoughts. There have been many books written about this, probably some of which you have read already.

In the ones I have read, there always seemed to be a certain partiality – an incomplete picture – perhaps biased towards financial success or some other area but not another.

In the following list of beliefs and empowering thoughts, I would like to present a rounder view of success. One that I hope will give you a clearer view of its true meaning.

1 I am in charge of my life

Life does not happen to you but is a result of how you respond to opportunities and challenges. It is believing that you and only you are responsible of what you make of a given situation.

2 I can make tomorrow better

The belief that you can change your future by your actions today. Some people are stuck in a fatalist (and dis-empowering) mindset where they believe they have little control over their lives.

3 There is a lot of opportunity out there

Successful people have their mind set on abundance and opportunity and not scarcity and lack. Trust me, this makes a world of a difference. Believe that life, energy, positivity, love, opportunities, success, and happiness are abundant…because they are!

4 I don’t need the approval of others to succeed

If you are always looking for others’ approval and consent, you will not go very far off and you will certainly not be self-empowered. Successful people follow their heart even when others are skeptical or do not consent.

5 My intentions have effect on my reality

This is not to believe in magic where you can wish things into being. Most people are blind to this but successful people know, consciously or otherwise, that a focused and strong intention is indeed a powerful thing. It can make a lot of things happen and it can certainly get you to your destination faster.

6 People are catalysts and not barriers to success

If approached in the right way and you network with the right people, you will leverage your efforts by a thousand fold. You will get things done faster by getting help from others.

7 Positive thoughts are powerful and empowering

Successful people know very well that choosing to start a day with a positive rather than a negative outlook means having a successful day as opposed to a frustrating one. It’s definitely in the attitude.

8 I am not separate from the rest

This is a deep insight which only the truly successful and wise ones keep at heart. Commonly, people believe that they are separate and cut off from the rest because they are individuals. True knowledge will tell you that everything is interconnected and success comes from acknowledging that you are not separate but one with the forces of life and the universe.

9 How can I use this situation?

When life throws a bad streak at you or your plans go down the gutter, ask yourself “How can I use this?”

My life changed as I started doing this. You can always turn a situation around even by just observing, learning and sharpening your attitude.

10 Hard work & perseverance are rewarded

This is a rule of thumb even if reward doesn’t always come immediately. Hard work pays off in the long run.

11 My past can be reviewed and rewritten

Some people are locked in their past or think that their past circumstances determine their future. Successful people are skillful in the art of interpreting their past and reframing it according to their optimal advantage.

12 There are forces and energies which can help me if I’m conscious

You might be thinking magic and fairies. Well, this isn’t exactly about that. We cannot perceive certain subtle energies but some successful people believe in positive and negative energy flows. It’s just like the ancient Chinese traditions that believed in the flow of the Chi (Qi) or life energy. You can make yourself aware of this but it takes practice.

13 Failure is good

As in point 9, empowered people can turn a failure into success by learning from it and moving on.

14 Don’t take it personally

Get out of the trap of taking life circumstances personally or you will end up enslaved emotionally. When you get rejections, criticisms or treated coldly, put them within an impersonal bracket. They are not rejecting you but they have an idea of you in their mind.

15 Bad patches are temporary

We all pass through bad patches. It’s the cycle of life. We all get out of them unless we chose not to. Think outside of the moment.

16 What I learn can be improved and refined

Self-empowered people have a very dynamic view on life. There is always space for change and improvement. especially on skills and lessons learnt.

17 I am constantly developing and expanding new capabilities

Just like the previous point, empowerment comes from a non-static outlook where life-affirming mind states are believed to expand not contract.

18 Things are impermanent

This is a Buddhist concept which successful people have learnt through experience. You might think that successful people are materialistic. I think the really successful people are those who have a richer view on life and know how to ride life’s waves without getting emotionally attached.

19 Forget, forgive, rejoice

Don’t get stuck in resentment and grudges. Travel light without dragging an emotional baggage full of past disappointments.

20 I already have all I need

Self-explanatory. The path to success is through self-discovery and not world conquest as some would believe. People who have made it knew how to uncover their skills and true potential instead of obsessing with possessing.

www.dumblittleman.com

List of Top web Browsers present online

Internet is a Jungle with web Browsers acting as passages to find out what lies inside internet Websites.

There are a lot of browsers with awesome features and popularity. But which ones are the Top Web Browsers? Here we have compiled a list of top web browsers which are feature rich, faster, secure and have user popularity.

Please note that all these web browsers are unique and magnificent in their own way. There is no top browser among them but all these have been chosen based on user friendliness and popular reviews.

List of Top Web Browsers

Google Chrome

Popular Browser by Internet giant Google. Focuses on enhanced performance of web applications. Hundreds of useful extensions can be downloaded for free from Chrome Store and can be used for personal use.

A large array of apps and add ons available at Chrome Store. These adds a considerable amount to the browsing experience of the users.

  • Private browsing
  • Fast Startup
  • Phishing/ Malware Filter

Mozilla Firefox

A web browser designed for simplicity, security, extensibility yet flexibility and power. Available for Linux and android as well. There are lots of plugins and extensions with some powerful developer tools.

Constant updates, high performance delivered and customizable interface is a bliss for advanced users. Firefox allows an open architecture which accepts the installation of themes and extensions. Themes give the browser a customizable new look. Developers can write extensions to make the browser perform functions as desired like check your Gmail account when you open the browser, or block all ads.

  • RSS Headlines
  • Chat Extensions
  • Spam/ Malware Filter

Opera Web Browser

Constantly evolving and improving and the most popular mobile browser, opera has came a long way from being a browser to a full fledged internet suite.

Free fast browser with good support for updates. Features like page zoom and developer shortcuts allow users to have unique experience. There are some compatibility issues found in certain websites but with constant updates these problems are scarce.

  • Email suite
  • Phishing Filter
  • Bit Torrent

Safari Web Browser

Safari is a web browser developed by Apple inc. It is the most popular browser with MAC users.

Safari is a clean browser, very fast based on the WebKit rendering engine. Safari comes with the features you want in a modern browser, like tabbed browsing, popup blocking and built-in search functionality. It also has one of the best RSS-reading feature available online, it is easier to keep track a number of websites than using bookmarks.

  • Most Popular Macintosh Browser
  • Import Bookmarks from any browser
  • Private Browsing

Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer by Microsoft is the default browser for Windows operating system. Its still very popular with many internet users. Startup speed is a big issue with internet explorer.

There are a lot of necessary features like Active X capabilities, SmartScreen Filters, a list of recommended sites and more. Internet Explorer is still considered to be falling behind in the race, but latest editions promise fast load, packed with latest features. We can wait and see if it comes back to top.

  • Add ons
  • Customization options
  • Mouse Gestures

Slimjet Browser

Slimjet is a powerful and one of the best browsers around. It has in built extensions to ease internet browsing. Powered by Blink Engine, Slimjet supports all Chrome Apps plus a bundle of more extensive build in apps.

Slimjet is as good as Chrome, has powerful and customizable interface like Firefox, reliability features and in built apps which load a power packed browser everytime you use it.

  • Ad blocker & Download Manager
  • Social Sharing and Youtube Downloader
  • Faster, Secure and Reliable

Maxthon

A fast browser with a lot of features and reliable user interface. Powered by Maxthon Cloud Engine, it offers seamless browsing and downloads. Works on all platforms.

Maxthon has Lots of nifty features, including video-ad fast-forwarding, Speedy performance and Two page rendering engines(Webkit and Trident) for better compatibility.

  • Anti Spyware
  • Pop up Blocker
  • Cloud Browsing

SlimBrowser

A popular choice for users who like speed and security. It is based on Internet Explorer’s Trident Engine and is a robust and powerful browser. It flaunts better usability features and speed compared to internet explorer browser.

Slimbrowser takes care of your privacy and security every time you are surfing online. Slimbrowser starts as quickly as possible and allows you to have an amazing web surfing experience.

  • Omni Bar mode
  • Integrated Plugins(Ad Blocker, Photo Salon)
  • Low Crash and Bugs

Netscape Browser

Originally published by AOL, Netscape browser has released latest version based on Mozilla Firefox. It is fast, secure and is a choice of many users online.

  • Dynamic HTML
  • Integrated Search Engine
  • Opensource Development

UC Browser

A popular browser for both desktop and mobile devices. Tabbed browsing and fast startup make it a popular choice for thousands of users. Full download manager and full screen browsing ads on nicely.

  • Quick browsing
  • Quick Page sharing
  • Multiple Apps

list of Top 10 Web Browsers Online | Feature Reviews

The list of Browsers featured here is based on user reviews, performance reviews, interface, speed and other extensive views towards these browsers. This list is to give internet users more information on which browser has what features.

All these browsers deserve to be in the list of top web browsers because of their unique style, interface, applications and relevant features.

www.slimjet.com

Most Popular World Religions

  • M.A., Geography, California State University — Northridge
  • B.A., Geography, University of California — Davis

While there are and have been hundreds of religions and spiritual beliefs across the globe the major faiths practiced by the majority of people on Earth can be broken down into a few major groups. Even within these groups different sects and types of religious practices exist. Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics are both considered Christian even though their religious practices differ greatly.

Abrahamic Religions

Three of the world’s most dominant religions are considered to be the Abrahamic religions. They are named such because of each claiming descent from the ancient Israelites and follow the God of Abraham. In order of founding the Abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

www.thoughtco.com

How it Ends: The Ancient Roots of Doomsday Prophecies and End of the World Beliefs

Hollywood’s obsession with the End of Times is not over yet – Armageddon, Deep Impact, Doomsday, Legion, Thor: Ragnarok and 28 Days Later, are just a few of the blockbusters, out of hundreds, that deal with mankind’s demise. And now, yet another apocalyptic film is set to be released. ‘ How it Ends ’ imagines how a sudden societal collapse could occur in the modern U.S. as a result of a geological apocalypse. But man’s obsession with the end of the world is not a new one.

Doomsday prophecies are as old as recorded time. For as long as humans have existed, there has been a fear of an apocalypse or ‘end of times’, when the gods wish vengeance upon their people, when humans pay for the sins of their fathers and forefathers, and when the demons of the world rise up and devour all that is good. Prophecies of the end of times stem from the mythologies of civilizations past: the Norse story of Ragnarök, the tale of Noah and the Flood, and the Biblical apocalypse. Though these civilizations are all thousands of years in the past, the same fear that drove them to make these myths—the fear of the unknown—continues to haunt the human race today.

Supposedly, the earliest prediction of the end of the world came from the Assyrians, a powerful Mesopotamian culture that lasted for roughly two thousand years. A tablet was found dating back to sometime between 2800 and 2500 BCE that bears the first known prophecy of the end of days. According to the translation, it claims that the earth was in its final days in those years, and that the world was slowly deteriorating into a corrupt society that would only end with its destruction. Though it is not known who wrote this inscription, and where specifically the tablet came from, it is a fervent example of how far back in human history apocalyptic prophecies world began.

An Assyrian Tablet from 2800 BC bears the first known prophecy of the end of the world. Photo: Assyrian Tablet from Nineveh, northern Iraq. Credit: The British Museum

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok is a series of apocalyptic events that will define the end of the world, where giants of frost and fire will together fight the gods in a final battle that will ultimately destroy the planet, submerging it under water. According to the legend, the world will resurface, the surviving and returning gods will meet, and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors.

‘The downfall of the AEsir’. The heavens split and the ‘Sons of Múspell’ ride forth upon the AEsir at Ragnarö. The Norse apocalyptic battle, Ragnarok. ( Wikimedia Commons )

Numerous other prophecies have appeared throughout history pertaining explicitly to the mortal fear of the ‘Second Coming of Christ’ —the belief that a day will come when humankind would be judged for all of their sins, and Christ would battle the Anti-Christ, Satan, and a False Prophet in the biblical Armageddon. The Four Horsemen, traditionally named War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death, will ride during the Apocalypse. Most, if not all, prophets claimed that preceding the enormous battle would be the Rapture, where the purest of humankind would be removed from the Earth before the battle between Christ and the Anti-Christ. The expectation of this event and the fear of what would happen to humankind during it called for various people from numerous religious and ethnical backgrounds to try to predict the event so those alive could prepare for what they believed was an inevitable end, and so those soon to be born could be taught to live a pious life to survive such an ending. The belief in Armageddon and the Rapture primarily stems from the Bible and biblical translators and interpreters, however the cryptic and symbolic language used in the text creates quandaries about the appropriate date and time of the so-called Second Coming.

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov. Painted in 1887. ( Wikimedia Commons )

It was also feared for a long time that the year 1000 AD would be the end of the world. Y2K created the same type of millennia fear, as it was assumed that the ’00 of 2000 would be misread in computers as 1900 and create a bug that would force all technology to fail, causing worldwide confusion and tremendous destruction. New millennia, years ending in ’99, and the beginning of new centuries have all been subject to doomsday prophecies in the past, and the present era is no exception to that. Uncertainties about the future continue to plague the human race, such as the recent belief that cataclysmic events would transpire on or around 21 December 2012, a date regarded as the end-date of a 5,126-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.

Mayan calendar on parchment. Source: BigStockPhoto

More recently, there has been a doomsday theory put forward in relation to the four blood moons appearing in the twelve months between April 2014 and September 2015, which are said to be an indication of the end because such an occurrence is so rare. Despite the advancement of the human race, and the technological tracking abilities at their disposal, new and unknown events and situation remain terrifying, leading many people around the world, known as ‘Doomsday Preppers’ to continue preparing for the ‘end of the world as we know it’, seeing such as efforts as a more ideal option than risking being blindsided.

It is clear that fear is the driving factor behind the prophecies of doomsday throughout human history. The effort of mapping out the future—when the end will come, how the end will come, and who will survive it—is, and has always been, an attempt to outsmart circumstances that are not within human control and cannot be within human control. Though many people know and understand this, it has never stopped humans from trying to predict the outcome. It is safe to say that as long as life on earth continues to grow and thrive and even encounter devastating calamities, doomsday prophecies will continue to prevail.

Featured image: Depiction of Mayan Apocalypse. Source: BigStockPhoto

Bibliography

Boserup, Mogen, «Fear of Doomsday: Past and Present,» Population and Development Review , 4.1, (March 1978), pp. 133-43.

Lemprière, John. Universal biography: containing a copious account, critical and historical, of the life and character, labors and actions of eminent persons, in all ages and countries, conditions and professions (E. Sargeant: BLANK, 1810).

Lewis, James R., «Doomsday Prophecies: A Complete Guide to the End of the World,» Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 9.1, (August 2005), pp. 121-122.

Strauss, Mark. «Ten Notable Apocalyrses That (Obviously) Didn’t Happen: Apocalyptic predictions are nothing new—they have been around for millennia,» Smithsonian, November 2009.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/ten-notable-apocalypses-that-obviously-didnt-happen-9126331/?no-ist=

Thompson, Damian. The End of Time: Faith and Fear in the Shadow of the Millennium . (University Press of New England: New Hampshire, 1997.)

www.ancient-origins.net

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