Introduction to Society and Culture
The concepts of society and culture are central to sociology. A society is an autonomous grouping of people who inhabit a common territory, have a common culture (shared set of values, beliefs, customs and so forth) and are linked to one another through routinized social interactions and interdependent statuses and roles. Societies may be conceptualized as having different levels: at global, continental, regional, nation state and ethic group levels. Depending on various
criteria, societies may be classified in to various categories, such as First World, Second World, Third World and Fourth World Societies (based on economic development and overall socio-economic status); and hunting and gathering, pastoral, agrarian, industrial and post industrial societies (based on temporal succession and major means of livelihood).
The term “culture” refers to the whole ways of life of the members of a society. It includes what they dress; their marriage customs and family life; art and patterns of work; religious ceremonies; leisure pursuits and so forth. Culture has various dimensions such as material and non-material, implicit and explicit, organic and supra organic, ideal and actual, dynamic and static and overt
and covert. The essential elements of culture include symbols, language, values and norms. Other important aspects of culture such as culture variability; ethnocentrism, cultural relativism and culture shock; cultural universals, alternatives and specialties; and culture lag and lead are discussed.