The foundations of the human ability to adapt are found not in genes but in culture and society, the topics of this chapter.
Let's define culture and society:.
• Culture - refers to the social heritage of people - those learned patterns for thinking, feeling, and acting that are transmitted from one generation to the next, including the embodiment of these patterns in material items. It includes both nonmaterial cultures - for example: abstract creations like values, beliefs, symbols, norms, customs, and institutional arrangements - and material culture - for example: physical artifacts or objects like stone axes, computers, loincloths, tuxedos, automobiles, paintings, electric guitars, hairstyles, and domed stadiums.
• Society - refers to a group of people who live within the same territory and share a common culture.
To put it simply, culture has to do with customs of people, and society has to do with people who are practicing customs. Culture provides the meanings that enable human beings to interpret their experiences and guide their actions, whereas society represents the networks of social relations that arise among people.
Components of Culture.
Culture provides individuals with a set of common understandings that they use to fashion their actions, and makes society possible by providing a common framework of meaning. In providing common understandings, culture binds the separated lives of individuals into a larger whole, making society possible by providing a common framework of meaning. Only by sharing similar perspectives (for example: designs and ways of life) with one another, can we weave integrated webs of ongoing interaction. Let's examine more carefully some of the key components of culture that make these shared understandings possible: norms, values, and symbols and language.
First up, norms:.
To live with others in a group setting, we must share understandings that tell us which actions are permissible and which are not.