TitleIntroductionSociologists generally define the culture as a system of behaviors, beliefs, mores, norms, values and everything that shape people’s way of living (Macionis, 2000). Every culture represents symbolic dimension of man that is always in progress (Alisher, 2000). Humans continuously conceive ideas and enact these by finding their concrete representation in reality (Alisher, 2000). Through this process, cultural messages are developed and conveyed through socialization.
Hence, our modes of living are not entirely biologically-encoded in our brain. In fact, variation in the stereotype-attitude of different races such as achievement-oriented styles of both American and Japanese citizens, the peace-loving traits of Malaysian Semai and the ferocity of the Yanomamos in Venezuela are some of the great manifestations of social-cognitive cultural absorption (Macionis, 2000). Similarly, Judith Rich Harris (1998) elaborated environmental forces that shaped the personality of every individual.Approaches in Cultural AnalysisStructural-Functional ApproachThe philosophical tenets of idealism gave birth to the structural-functional analysis of culture (Macionis, 2000). Idealism holds that ideas, the basis of reality, are constant and real (Macionis, 2000). This implies the universality of ideas; thus, since a culture is a set of ideas that shapes our lifestyles, cultural attributes which are universally true should be present in every culture. As such, universal cultural traits are the central focus of studies under the structural-functional approach. In connection to this, George Peter Murdock discovered similarities in varied cultural traits of different cultures in the world (Macionis, 2000).
For instance, the concept of a “family” has been universally true in any culture. Although, structural-functional analysis gave insights in the development of cultural systems, it undermined the manifestation of cultural diversity (Macionis, 2000).Social-Conflict ApproachThe conflict among classes because of societal inequality in a particular culture is the undermining principle of social-conflict analysis (Macionis, 2000). Karl Marx through his doctrine of materialism stated that cultural attributes like mores and values are shaped by our mode of interplay with the material world (Macionis, 2000). The stratification of the society based on economic status has demarcated the social interactions between the ruling class and the subject class. As such, specific cultural traits became exclusive characteristics of a particular class.
While this approach generated insights on social inequalities and social change processes in a cultural system, it underrated the integrative cultural attributes in the system (Macionis, 2000).Sociobiological ApproachSociobiology is an endeavor in exploring the essence of biological attributes of humans on psychosocial behavior and culture. The inception of sociobiology was attributed to Edward O. Wilson in 1975 (Schaefer, 2008). He used the term with the goal of integrating biological and social sciences to understand the complex behavioral nature of man.
During that time, most theorists believed that man himself is responsible for all his behavioral actions (Schaefer, 2008). Wilson and other sociobiologists pioneered on the assessment of biological attributes in relation to cultural development and human personality. They tried to establish correlation between human behaviors and cultural mores such as language acquisition, emotions, incest taboo, child-rearing practices, delinquency, behavioral problems and the like with genetic factors (Schaefer, 2008).Sociobiologists believed that unique behavioral patterns are genetic predisposition, thus, similar cultural traits are widely present in every cultural system (Elwell, 2003). For instance, Murdock stated that every society has been against incestuous relationship for it may cause genetic defects and aberration resulting to undesirable biological traits (Elwell, 2003). Also, activities like playing, courtship, social celebrations, daily hygiene practices, and religious beliefs are common elements among cultures (Elwell, 2003).
However, feminists strongly objected on the assertions of this theory specifically on the aspect of gender roles. While feminists perceived that gender roles are dictated by culture, sociobiologists viewed it as a fundamental human characteristic shaped by genetic evolution (Schaefer, 2008). Sociobiologists explained the acquisition of gender roles through genes and evolution. For instance, as a consequence of their child-bearing nature, pre-historic women were always left at home and spontaneously learned child-rearing and household chore practices (Buss, 1995).
On the other hand, because of physical strength, men were able to secure food sources for their family and provide protection for their respective families (Buss, 1995). These conditions ran through human evolution which in turn encoded into the genes and naturally acquired by females and males for adaptation and sustenance of their existence (Buss, 1995). Moreover, through hormonal changes which differently occurred between males and females during puberty, they learned to associate themselves with their same-sex peers and attraction with the opposite sex may possibly commence (Schaefer, 2008). Nonetheless, delinquencies, other behavioral problems and substance abuse were attributed by sociobiologists to biological characteristics like genetic predisposition, brain structure, and faulty nervous system (Schaefer, 2008).Analysis and ConclusionCulture is treated as a function of knowledge with under specific purpose for socialization in structural-functional approach (Alisher, 2000).
Even though it paved for the recognition of novel knowledge on science-culture system, still it was inadequate for the creation of an intensive view of the system (Alisher, 2000). On the other hand, although George Peter Murdock has identified universal cultural traits, variations still dominate these cultural similarities. These include relative interpretation of incest, different forms of sports, several means of celebrating a particular occasion, various hygienic practices, and different forms of religion and ways of worships (Schaefer, 2008). Meanwhile, the manifestation of similar cultural attributes between societal classes undermined the notion of social-conflict theory. In terms of gender role acquisition, modeling takes precedence on the promotion of values, attitudes or behavioral pattern.
Modeled behavior is perceived by the individual and more often than not, generates a new behavioral pattern. Hence, gender conceptions are possibly acquired through a modeling process (Bussey and Bandura, 1999).While biological attributes are the backbone of our unique abilities, experiences in a cultural system hone and enrich abilities (Schaefer, 2008). As M.S. Kogan conceived culture as human activity, culture then is a product of human activity conglomeration (Alisher, 2000). Since, humans have the capacity to make and transform sociological conditions for the attainment of an ordered societal status, any cultural system is a masterpiece of human ingenuity (Alisher, 2000). Human then is the heart of every culture creation and development, hence, a dynamic microsystem and a subject of any cultural system (Alisher, 2000).
Therefore, multi-perspective approach should be employed in the analysis and interpretation of every culture. The aforementioned theories then are complimentary in such a way that the strengths of one theory mend the weaknesses of the other.ReferencesAlisher, A. ( 2000). The Human Person as Object and Subject of Culture.
Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Changes Series IIIC, Central Asia, Volume I. Shermukhamedov, S. and Levinskaya, V. Eds.
Washington, DC: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy.Buss, D. M. (1995). Psychological sex differences: Origins through natural selection. American Psychologist, 50, 164-168.Bussey, K.
, and Bandura, A. (1999). Social Cognitive Theory of Gender Development and Differentiation. Psychological Review, 106, 676-713.
Elwell, F. (2003). The Sociology of Karl Marx.
Retrieved February 18, 2009, from http://www.faculty.rsu.edu/~felwell/Theorists/Marx/index.htmHarris, J. R.
(1998). The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do. New York: Free Press.Macionis, J.J. (2000).
Sociology, 8th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.Schaefer, R. T. (2008).
Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 7th ed. New York: McGraw?Hill.