NCERT Textbook - Culture and Socialisation Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Sociology Class 11

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Culture and Socialisation Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


 63 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
I
INTRODUCTION
‘Culture’, like ‘society’, is a term used
frequently and sometimes vaguely.
This chapter is meant to help us define
it more precisely and to appreciate
its different aspects. In everyday
conversation, culture is confined to the
arts, or alludes to the way of life of
certain classes or even countries.
Sociologists and anthropologists study
the social contexts within which culture
exists. They take culture apart to try
and understand the relations between
its various aspects.
Just like you need a map to
navigate over unknown space or
territory, you need culture to conduct
or behave yourself in society.  Culture
is the common understanding, which
is learnt and developed through social
interaction with others in society.  A
common understanding within a group
demarcates it from others and gives it
an identity.  But cultures are never
finished products.  They are always
changing and evolving.  Elements are
constantly being added, deleted,
expanded, shrunk and rearranged. 
This makes cultures dynamic as
functioning units.
The capacity of individuals to
develop a common understanding with
others and to draw the same meanings
from signs and symbols is what
distinguishes humans from other
animals.  Creating meaning is a social
virtue as we learn it in the company of
CHAPTER 4
CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
Activity 1
How do you greet another person in
your ‘culture’? Do you greet different
kinds of persons (friends, older
relatives, the other gender, people
from other groups) differently?
Discuss any awkward experience
you may have had when you did not
know how you should greet a
person. Is that because you did not
share a common ‘culture’? But next
time round you will know what to
do. Your cultural knowledge thereby
expands and rearranges itself.
2015-16
Page 2


 63 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
I
INTRODUCTION
‘Culture’, like ‘society’, is a term used
frequently and sometimes vaguely.
This chapter is meant to help us define
it more precisely and to appreciate
its different aspects. In everyday
conversation, culture is confined to the
arts, or alludes to the way of life of
certain classes or even countries.
Sociologists and anthropologists study
the social contexts within which culture
exists. They take culture apart to try
and understand the relations between
its various aspects.
Just like you need a map to
navigate over unknown space or
territory, you need culture to conduct
or behave yourself in society.  Culture
is the common understanding, which
is learnt and developed through social
interaction with others in society.  A
common understanding within a group
demarcates it from others and gives it
an identity.  But cultures are never
finished products.  They are always
changing and evolving.  Elements are
constantly being added, deleted,
expanded, shrunk and rearranged. 
This makes cultures dynamic as
functioning units.
The capacity of individuals to
develop a common understanding with
others and to draw the same meanings
from signs and symbols is what
distinguishes humans from other
animals.  Creating meaning is a social
virtue as we learn it in the company of
CHAPTER 4
CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
Activity 1
How do you greet another person in
your ‘culture’? Do you greet different
kinds of persons (friends, older
relatives, the other gender, people
from other groups) differently?
Discuss any awkward experience
you may have had when you did not
know how you should greet a
person. Is that because you did not
share a common ‘culture’? But next
time round you will know what to
do. Your cultural knowledge thereby
expands and rearranges itself.
2015-16
 64 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
others in families, groups and
communities.  We learn the use of tools
and techniques as well as the non-
material signs and symbols through
interaction with family members,
friends and colleagues in different
social settings.  Much of this knowledge
is systematically described and
conveyed either orally or through
books. 
For example, notice the interaction
below. Notice how words and facial
expressions convey meaning in a
conversation.
social set up like in villages, towns and
cities.  In different environments, people
adapt different strategies to cope with
the natural and social conditions.  This
leads to the emergence of diverse ways
of life or cultures. 
Disparities in coping mechanisms
were evident during the devastating
tsunami of 26 December 2004, which
affected some parts of the Tamil Nadu
and Kerala coast as well as the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands in India.  People on
the mainland and islands are integrated
into a relatively modern way of life. The
This learning prepares us for
carrying out our roles and
responsibilities in society. You have
already dealt with status and roles.
What we learn in the family is primary
socialisation, while that which happens
in school and other institutions are
secondary socialisation. We shall
discuss this in greater detail later in this
chapter.
II
DIVERSE SETTINGS, DIFFERENT CULTURES
Humans live in a variety of natural
settings like in the mountains and
plains, in forests and clear lands, in
deserts and river valleys, in islands and
main lands.  They also inhabit different
fisherfolk and the service personnel in the
islands were caught unaware and
suffered large scale devastation and
much loss of life.  On the other hand, the
‘primitive’ tribal communities in the
islands like the Onges, Jarawas, Great
Andamanese or Shompens who had no
access to modern science and technology,
foresaw the calamity based on their
experiential knowledge and saved
themselves by moving on to higher
ground.  This shows that having access
to modern science and technology does
not make modern cultures superior to
the tribal cultures of the islands. Hence,
cultures cannot be ranked but can be
judged adequate or inadequate in
terms of their ability to cope with the
strains imposed by nature.
Commuter asks autodriver: “Indiranagar?” The verb that conveys the question —
“Bartheera?” or “Will you come?” — is implied in the arch of the eyebrow. Driver
jerks his head in the direction of the back seat if the answer is “Yes”. If it is “No”
(which is more likely the case as every true blue Bangalorean knows) he might
just drive away or grimace as if he has heard a bad word or shake his head with
a smile that seems to suggest a “Sorry”, all depending on the mood of the moment.
2015-16
Page 3


 63 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
I
INTRODUCTION
‘Culture’, like ‘society’, is a term used
frequently and sometimes vaguely.
This chapter is meant to help us define
it more precisely and to appreciate
its different aspects. In everyday
conversation, culture is confined to the
arts, or alludes to the way of life of
certain classes or even countries.
Sociologists and anthropologists study
the social contexts within which culture
exists. They take culture apart to try
and understand the relations between
its various aspects.
Just like you need a map to
navigate over unknown space or
territory, you need culture to conduct
or behave yourself in society.  Culture
is the common understanding, which
is learnt and developed through social
interaction with others in society.  A
common understanding within a group
demarcates it from others and gives it
an identity.  But cultures are never
finished products.  They are always
changing and evolving.  Elements are
constantly being added, deleted,
expanded, shrunk and rearranged. 
This makes cultures dynamic as
functioning units.
The capacity of individuals to
develop a common understanding with
others and to draw the same meanings
from signs and symbols is what
distinguishes humans from other
animals.  Creating meaning is a social
virtue as we learn it in the company of
CHAPTER 4
CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
Activity 1
How do you greet another person in
your ‘culture’? Do you greet different
kinds of persons (friends, older
relatives, the other gender, people
from other groups) differently?
Discuss any awkward experience
you may have had when you did not
know how you should greet a
person. Is that because you did not
share a common ‘culture’? But next
time round you will know what to
do. Your cultural knowledge thereby
expands and rearranges itself.
2015-16
 64 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
others in families, groups and
communities.  We learn the use of tools
and techniques as well as the non-
material signs and symbols through
interaction with family members,
friends and colleagues in different
social settings.  Much of this knowledge
is systematically described and
conveyed either orally or through
books. 
For example, notice the interaction
below. Notice how words and facial
expressions convey meaning in a
conversation.
social set up like in villages, towns and
cities.  In different environments, people
adapt different strategies to cope with
the natural and social conditions.  This
leads to the emergence of diverse ways
of life or cultures. 
Disparities in coping mechanisms
were evident during the devastating
tsunami of 26 December 2004, which
affected some parts of the Tamil Nadu
and Kerala coast as well as the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands in India.  People on
the mainland and islands are integrated
into a relatively modern way of life. The
This learning prepares us for
carrying out our roles and
responsibilities in society. You have
already dealt with status and roles.
What we learn in the family is primary
socialisation, while that which happens
in school and other institutions are
secondary socialisation. We shall
discuss this in greater detail later in this
chapter.
II
DIVERSE SETTINGS, DIFFERENT CULTURES
Humans live in a variety of natural
settings like in the mountains and
plains, in forests and clear lands, in
deserts and river valleys, in islands and
main lands.  They also inhabit different
fisherfolk and the service personnel in the
islands were caught unaware and
suffered large scale devastation and
much loss of life.  On the other hand, the
‘primitive’ tribal communities in the
islands like the Onges, Jarawas, Great
Andamanese or Shompens who had no
access to modern science and technology,
foresaw the calamity based on their
experiential knowledge and saved
themselves by moving on to higher
ground.  This shows that having access
to modern science and technology does
not make modern cultures superior to
the tribal cultures of the islands. Hence,
cultures cannot be ranked but can be
judged adequate or inadequate in
terms of their ability to cope with the
strains imposed by nature.
Commuter asks autodriver: “Indiranagar?” The verb that conveys the question —
“Bartheera?” or “Will you come?” — is implied in the arch of the eyebrow. Driver
jerks his head in the direction of the back seat if the answer is “Yes”. If it is “No”
(which is more likely the case as every true blue Bangalorean knows) he might
just drive away or grimace as if he has heard a bad word or shake his head with
a smile that seems to suggest a “Sorry”, all depending on the mood of the moment.
2015-16
 65 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
Discuss how natural settings affect culture
2015-16
Page 4


 63 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
I
INTRODUCTION
‘Culture’, like ‘society’, is a term used
frequently and sometimes vaguely.
This chapter is meant to help us define
it more precisely and to appreciate
its different aspects. In everyday
conversation, culture is confined to the
arts, or alludes to the way of life of
certain classes or even countries.
Sociologists and anthropologists study
the social contexts within which culture
exists. They take culture apart to try
and understand the relations between
its various aspects.
Just like you need a map to
navigate over unknown space or
territory, you need culture to conduct
or behave yourself in society.  Culture
is the common understanding, which
is learnt and developed through social
interaction with others in society.  A
common understanding within a group
demarcates it from others and gives it
an identity.  But cultures are never
finished products.  They are always
changing and evolving.  Elements are
constantly being added, deleted,
expanded, shrunk and rearranged. 
This makes cultures dynamic as
functioning units.
The capacity of individuals to
develop a common understanding with
others and to draw the same meanings
from signs and symbols is what
distinguishes humans from other
animals.  Creating meaning is a social
virtue as we learn it in the company of
CHAPTER 4
CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
Activity 1
How do you greet another person in
your ‘culture’? Do you greet different
kinds of persons (friends, older
relatives, the other gender, people
from other groups) differently?
Discuss any awkward experience
you may have had when you did not
know how you should greet a
person. Is that because you did not
share a common ‘culture’? But next
time round you will know what to
do. Your cultural knowledge thereby
expands and rearranges itself.
2015-16
 64 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
others in families, groups and
communities.  We learn the use of tools
and techniques as well as the non-
material signs and symbols through
interaction with family members,
friends and colleagues in different
social settings.  Much of this knowledge
is systematically described and
conveyed either orally or through
books. 
For example, notice the interaction
below. Notice how words and facial
expressions convey meaning in a
conversation.
social set up like in villages, towns and
cities.  In different environments, people
adapt different strategies to cope with
the natural and social conditions.  This
leads to the emergence of diverse ways
of life or cultures. 
Disparities in coping mechanisms
were evident during the devastating
tsunami of 26 December 2004, which
affected some parts of the Tamil Nadu
and Kerala coast as well as the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands in India.  People on
the mainland and islands are integrated
into a relatively modern way of life. The
This learning prepares us for
carrying out our roles and
responsibilities in society. You have
already dealt with status and roles.
What we learn in the family is primary
socialisation, while that which happens
in school and other institutions are
secondary socialisation. We shall
discuss this in greater detail later in this
chapter.
II
DIVERSE SETTINGS, DIFFERENT CULTURES
Humans live in a variety of natural
settings like in the mountains and
plains, in forests and clear lands, in
deserts and river valleys, in islands and
main lands.  They also inhabit different
fisherfolk and the service personnel in the
islands were caught unaware and
suffered large scale devastation and
much loss of life.  On the other hand, the
‘primitive’ tribal communities in the
islands like the Onges, Jarawas, Great
Andamanese or Shompens who had no
access to modern science and technology,
foresaw the calamity based on their
experiential knowledge and saved
themselves by moving on to higher
ground.  This shows that having access
to modern science and technology does
not make modern cultures superior to
the tribal cultures of the islands. Hence,
cultures cannot be ranked but can be
judged adequate or inadequate in
terms of their ability to cope with the
strains imposed by nature.
Commuter asks autodriver: “Indiranagar?” The verb that conveys the question —
“Bartheera?” or “Will you come?” — is implied in the arch of the eyebrow. Driver
jerks his head in the direction of the back seat if the answer is “Yes”. If it is “No”
(which is more likely the case as every true blue Bangalorean knows) he might
just drive away or grimace as if he has heard a bad word or shake his head with
a smile that seems to suggest a “Sorry”, all depending on the mood of the moment.
2015-16
 65 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
Discuss how natural settings affect culture
2015-16
 66 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
Defining Culture
Often the term ‘culture’ is used to refer
to the acquiring of refined taste in
classical music, dance forms, painting.
This refined taste was thought to
distinguish people from the ‘uncul-
tured’ masses, even concerning
something we would today see as
individual, like the preference for coffee
over tea!
By contrast, the sociologist looks at
culture not as something that
distinguishes individuals, but as a way
of life in which all members of society
habits acquired by man as a member
of society” (Tylor 1871). 
Discuss how the visual
captures a way of life
Two generations later, the founder
of the “functional school” of anthro-
pology, Bronislaw Malinowski of
Poland (1884-1942) wrote: “Culture
comprises inherited artifacts, goods,
technical process, ideas, habits and
values” (Malinowski 1931:621-46).
Clifford Geertz suggested that we
look at human actions in the same way
as we look at words in a book, and see
them as conveying a message. “… Man
is an animal suspended in webs of
significance he himself has spun.  I take
culture to be those webs…”.The search
is not for a causal explanation, but for
an interpretative one, that is in search
for meaning (Geertz 1973:5). Likewise
Leslie White had placed a comparable
emphasis on culture as a means of
adding meaning to objective reality,
using the example of people regarding
water from a particular source as holy.
participate. Every social organisation
develops a culture of its own. One early
anthropological definition of culture
comes from the British scholar Edward
Tylor: “Culture or civilisation taken in
its wide ethnographic sense, is that
complex whole which includes
knowledge, belief, art, morals, law,
custom and any other capabilities and
Activity 2
Find out from at least one region
other than your own how natural
environment affects food habits,
patterns of dwelling, clothing and
the ways in which God or gods are
worshipped.
Activity 3
Identify equivalents in Indian
languages for the word culture.
What associations do these carry?
2015-16
Page 5


 63 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
I
INTRODUCTION
‘Culture’, like ‘society’, is a term used
frequently and sometimes vaguely.
This chapter is meant to help us define
it more precisely and to appreciate
its different aspects. In everyday
conversation, culture is confined to the
arts, or alludes to the way of life of
certain classes or even countries.
Sociologists and anthropologists study
the social contexts within which culture
exists. They take culture apart to try
and understand the relations between
its various aspects.
Just like you need a map to
navigate over unknown space or
territory, you need culture to conduct
or behave yourself in society.  Culture
is the common understanding, which
is learnt and developed through social
interaction with others in society.  A
common understanding within a group
demarcates it from others and gives it
an identity.  But cultures are never
finished products.  They are always
changing and evolving.  Elements are
constantly being added, deleted,
expanded, shrunk and rearranged. 
This makes cultures dynamic as
functioning units.
The capacity of individuals to
develop a common understanding with
others and to draw the same meanings
from signs and symbols is what
distinguishes humans from other
animals.  Creating meaning is a social
virtue as we learn it in the company of
CHAPTER 4
CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
Activity 1
How do you greet another person in
your ‘culture’? Do you greet different
kinds of persons (friends, older
relatives, the other gender, people
from other groups) differently?
Discuss any awkward experience
you may have had when you did not
know how you should greet a
person. Is that because you did not
share a common ‘culture’? But next
time round you will know what to
do. Your cultural knowledge thereby
expands and rearranges itself.
2015-16
 64 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
others in families, groups and
communities.  We learn the use of tools
and techniques as well as the non-
material signs and symbols through
interaction with family members,
friends and colleagues in different
social settings.  Much of this knowledge
is systematically described and
conveyed either orally or through
books. 
For example, notice the interaction
below. Notice how words and facial
expressions convey meaning in a
conversation.
social set up like in villages, towns and
cities.  In different environments, people
adapt different strategies to cope with
the natural and social conditions.  This
leads to the emergence of diverse ways
of life or cultures. 
Disparities in coping mechanisms
were evident during the devastating
tsunami of 26 December 2004, which
affected some parts of the Tamil Nadu
and Kerala coast as well as the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands in India.  People on
the mainland and islands are integrated
into a relatively modern way of life. The
This learning prepares us for
carrying out our roles and
responsibilities in society. You have
already dealt with status and roles.
What we learn in the family is primary
socialisation, while that which happens
in school and other institutions are
secondary socialisation. We shall
discuss this in greater detail later in this
chapter.
II
DIVERSE SETTINGS, DIFFERENT CULTURES
Humans live in a variety of natural
settings like in the mountains and
plains, in forests and clear lands, in
deserts and river valleys, in islands and
main lands.  They also inhabit different
fisherfolk and the service personnel in the
islands were caught unaware and
suffered large scale devastation and
much loss of life.  On the other hand, the
‘primitive’ tribal communities in the
islands like the Onges, Jarawas, Great
Andamanese or Shompens who had no
access to modern science and technology,
foresaw the calamity based on their
experiential knowledge and saved
themselves by moving on to higher
ground.  This shows that having access
to modern science and technology does
not make modern cultures superior to
the tribal cultures of the islands. Hence,
cultures cannot be ranked but can be
judged adequate or inadequate in
terms of their ability to cope with the
strains imposed by nature.
Commuter asks autodriver: “Indiranagar?” The verb that conveys the question —
“Bartheera?” or “Will you come?” — is implied in the arch of the eyebrow. Driver
jerks his head in the direction of the back seat if the answer is “Yes”. If it is “No”
(which is more likely the case as every true blue Bangalorean knows) he might
just drive away or grimace as if he has heard a bad word or shake his head with
a smile that seems to suggest a “Sorry”, all depending on the mood of the moment.
2015-16
 65 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
Discuss how natural settings affect culture
2015-16
 66 INTRODUCING SOCIOLOGY
Defining Culture
Often the term ‘culture’ is used to refer
to the acquiring of refined taste in
classical music, dance forms, painting.
This refined taste was thought to
distinguish people from the ‘uncul-
tured’ masses, even concerning
something we would today see as
individual, like the preference for coffee
over tea!
By contrast, the sociologist looks at
culture not as something that
distinguishes individuals, but as a way
of life in which all members of society
habits acquired by man as a member
of society” (Tylor 1871). 
Discuss how the visual
captures a way of life
Two generations later, the founder
of the “functional school” of anthro-
pology, Bronislaw Malinowski of
Poland (1884-1942) wrote: “Culture
comprises inherited artifacts, goods,
technical process, ideas, habits and
values” (Malinowski 1931:621-46).
Clifford Geertz suggested that we
look at human actions in the same way
as we look at words in a book, and see
them as conveying a message. “… Man
is an animal suspended in webs of
significance he himself has spun.  I take
culture to be those webs…”.The search
is not for a causal explanation, but for
an interpretative one, that is in search
for meaning (Geertz 1973:5). Likewise
Leslie White had placed a comparable
emphasis on culture as a means of
adding meaning to objective reality,
using the example of people regarding
water from a particular source as holy.
participate. Every social organisation
develops a culture of its own. One early
anthropological definition of culture
comes from the British scholar Edward
Tylor: “Culture or civilisation taken in
its wide ethnographic sense, is that
complex whole which includes
knowledge, belief, art, morals, law,
custom and any other capabilities and
Activity 2
Find out from at least one region
other than your own how natural
environment affects food habits,
patterns of dwelling, clothing and
the ways in which God or gods are
worshipped.
Activity 3
Identify equivalents in Indian
languages for the word culture.
What associations do these carry?
2015-16
 67 CULTURE AND SOCIALISATION
´ Do you notice anything in
Malinowski’s definition that is
missing in Tylor’s?
Apart from his mention of art, all the
things listed by Tylor are non-material.
This is not because Tylor himself never
looked at material culture. He was in
fact a museum curator, and most of his
anthropological writing was based on
the examination of artifacts and tools
from societies across the world, which
he had never visited. We can now see
his definition of culture as an attempt
to take into account its intangible and
abstract dimensions, so as to acquire a
comprehensive understanding of the
societies he was studying.  Malinowski
happened to be stranded on an island
in the Western Pacific during the First
World War, and discovered thereby the
value of remaining for an extended
period with the society one was
studying. This led to the establishment
of the tradition of “field work” you will
read about it in Chapter 5.
The multiple definitions of culture
in anthropological studies led Alfred
Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn
(anthropologists from the United
States) to publish a comprehensive
survey entitled Culture: A Critical
Review of Concepts and Definitions in
1952. A sample of the various
definitions is presented below.
´ Try comparing these definitions to
see which of these or which
combination of these you find most
satisfactory.
You may first find yourself noticing
words which recur–‘way’, ‘learn’ and
‘behaviour’. However, if you then look
at how each is used, you may be struck
by the shifts in emphasis. The first
phrase refers to mental ways but the
second to the total way of life.
Definitions (d), (e) and (f) lay stress on
culture as what is shared and passed
on among a group and down the
generations. The last two phrases are
the first to refer to culture as a means
of directing behaviour.
Culture is…
(a) a way of thinking, feeling, believing.
(b) the total way of life of a people.
(c) an abstraction from behaviour. 
(d) learned behaviour. 
(e) a storehouse of pooled learning. 
(f) the social legacy the individual acquires from his group.
(g) a set of standardised orientations to recurrent problems. 
(h) a mechanism for the normative regulation of behaviour.
2015-16
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