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Sociology Class 11 Notes Chapter 4 Culture and Socialisation

  • Society is defined as a web of social relationships.
  • All human societies are marked by culture.
  • Tyler defines culture as the “complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, law, customs and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”
  • Clyde Kluck defines culture as a total way of life of people.
  • Thus culture consists of all the learnt and shared ways of thinking, feeling and doing. It is a lens through which we perceive and evaluate the world around us. It affects everything that we think, do or feel.

Major characteristics of Culture:

  • Culture is learned. It is an acquired behaviour.
  • It is shared (cannot be possessed by an individual in isolation) and transmitted amongst the members of a society. It binds the members of a society.
  • Culture is dynamic. It constantly changes. It makes each society and group unique or distinct.
Animal Society Human Society
Majority of behaviour is instinctive. Inherited and genetically patterned behaviour are common to all the normal members of a species. Majority of behaviour is acquired The behaviour makes a particular group of society distinct and unique

Major components of Culture:
Two types:
1. Non-material (Cognitive and Normative)
2. Material

Non-material Culture:
It refers to the abstract or intangible elements of culture, such as the ways of thinking and patterns of behaviour. It includes the normative and cognitive dimensions of culture.

(A) Normative:
This dimension includes social rules and social expectations, i.e. the norms and values of a society. Norms are socially approved guidelines which direct behaviours of members of a society or a social group. In other words, they are the social expectations of proper behaviour.

Norms usually vary across societies and even within the same society across different social groups. A social norm is not necessarily actual behaviour. (‘Unwritten rules’) Most of human actions is norm-governed. There are different types of norms, depending on how strict they are.

  • Folkways: It refers to traditional customary ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. Most people conform to folk ways out of habit. They are the lesser order of norms, as they are not as strictly enforced as mores or laws.
  • Mores: Mores are higher order norms linked to the core values of a group. They are considered vital for the group and are expressed as ‘must’ or ‘must not’ behaviour. They are more strictly enforced as compared to folk ways. Violations of these are not taken lightly.
    Eg: Behaving in a decent manner when you go out; not eating non-veg when visiting religious places; maintaining silence in hospitals.
  • Laws: Most formal definition of acceptable behavior. They are the formal standardized expressions of norms. (Laws are codified norms and have been given a sanction).

Usually those norms are qualified as laws about which society feels strongly about. Laws may be based on customs, but they are different from customs because:

  • They are upheld by the authority of the state implied to all those accepting the authority of state.
  • They are backed by penal sanctions. Laws are enforced by the courts.

In a few cases where laws are contrary to the folkways and mores, the enforcement of law becomes difficult.

Social Values:

  • They are the standards that define what is good, desirable, worthwhile in society. They are the underlined principles guided by choices and actions.
  • Any action contrary to cherished values is condemned.

Differences between Norms and Values:

Norms Values
Norms are guidelines to actions which apply to specific situations. More general guidelines,
A number of specific norms are a reflection of single value.
 E.g.: Like a dress code for a function is a norm e..g.: Respecting elders (norms under this: norm.touching feet)

Example. In Indian society there is a value of respect for seniors and from that a number of norms are derived regarding expected behaviour towards seniors, such as offering seats to elders, touching their feet, or greeting them, not addressing by first names.
Importance of Norms and Values:

  • Shared values and norms bring commonality in the outlook between members of society binding them together.
  • It makes social life orderly and predictable. E.g.: without norms, we would never know, whether to shake hands with a new acquaintance or give them an affectionate push.
  • Norms are essential because they regulate the behaviour of numbers of society or group. Without norms there would be chaos and disorder.

(B) Cognitive Dimension:
The cognitive dimension of culture refers to ideas which include beliefs, knowledge, myths, superstitions etc. of a society.

  • In literate society, ideas are transcribed in books and documents.
  • But in non-literate societies ideas are in the form of legends and myths which are committed to memory and transmitted orally.
  • In the contemporary world ideas are also reflected in audio-visual media [ads, films]

Material aspect of Culture:
It refers to the tangible, concrete products that members of society possess and make use of; c.g.-machines, buildings, jewellery, modes of transportation, technological gadgets.

Both material and non-material dimensions of culture undergo change over time. However, material or technological dimensions change faster than non-material aspects (values and norms are slower to change). This gives rise to “cultural lag” or a situation whereby non¬material dimensions are unable to match the advances of technology (material dimension ).

Ethnocentrism and Cosmopolitism:

  • Ethnocentricism—It refers to tendency to devalue others, disrespect of diversity, looking through and evaluating other cultures through our own cultural lens. It is the application of one’s own cultural values in evaluating the behaviour and beliefs of people from other cultures. It implies devaluing others by looking at them through your cultural lens. Ethnocentrism is not open in diversity.
  • Cosmopolitanism: It is exactly the opposite of ethnocentrism. It accommodates other cultures’ and their beliefs .

Cultural Changes:

  • External: changes in environment, colonialism, revolutions, media.
  • Internal: evolution

Both internal and external changes influence social change that is totally internal.


Socialisation is a process by which a person learns to behave in an acceptable manner within the society or group. It refers to the way by which the values and norms of the society or group become a part of the individual’s own way of thinking and feeling. This process is referred to as socialisation and through this the individual becomes a part of the given culture. For society to operate smoothly, individuals must be socialised into institutionalised patterns of behaviour, values and norms.

According to Gillin and Gillin, “By the term socialisation we mean a process by which an individual develops into a functioning member of the group according to its standards, conforming to its mode, observing its traditions and adjusting himself to the social situations.”

According to Bogardus, “Socialization is the process of working together, of developing group responsibility, of being guided by the welfare means of others.”

Characteristics of Socialization:

  • Process of learning: Socialization is a matter of learning and not of biological inheritance. In the socialization process the individual learns the folkways, mores, sanctions and other patterns of culture as well as skills ranging from language to manual dexterity.
  • Lifelong process: The process of socialization starts right from the time of birth and continues till the death of the individual.
  • Process of cultural assimilation: An individual not only learns the folkways, mores, sanctions, norms and values but he imbibes and assimilates the culture of his society.
  • Process of becoming a functional member of society: Socialization consists of teaching the person the culture which we must acquire and share. It makes him a participating member in the society and in various groups.
  • Process of cultural transmission: Socialization is a process through which society transmits the cultural heritage from one generation to another.

Process of Socialization:
The process of socialization is operated not only in childhood but throughout the life. It is a process which begins at birth and continues till the death of the individual.
According to Prof. Johnson, there are four stages of socialization:

  • Oral Stage: A child is born with some inborn physical and mental capacities. The mother is the first of the parents who begins the process of socialization. It is from her that the earliest social stimuli to which a child is subjected to learn. He responds to the stimuli by imitating them. Generally this stage continues till about one and a half years.
  • Anal Stage: This stage starts from one and a half year and continues till three years. In this stage the main source of socialization of the child is the family. In the family he starts to learn many things like speaking, walking, eating, etc. He also leams toilet training and starts recognizing family relations.
  • Latency Stage: Generally this stage continues from 3-4 yrs to 12-13 yrs. The child requires something from his equals which he cannot get from a person in authority. From them he acquires the co-operative mentality and some of the informal aspects of culture like folkways, praises, facts, secrets, forbidden knowledge etc.
  • Adolescent Stage: This is the most important stage of socialization. It starts from 14 -15 yrs till 18-19 yrs. During this stage the individual is more attracted towards the classmates and friends. He gets interested more into recreation, fashion, clubs, sports etc.

Factors of the process of Socialization:
There are four factors of the process of learning. These are:

  • Imitation: It is copying by an individual the actions of another. This may be conscious or unconscious, spontaneous or deliberate, perceptual or ideation. Imitation is the main factor in the process of socialization of a child. Language and pronunciation are also required by the child.
  • Suggestion: It is the process of communicating information which has no logical or self-evident basis. Suggestion influences not only behavior with others but also one’s own private and individual behavior. Propaganda and advertising are based on the fundamental principles of suggestion.
  • Identification: In the early years, the child cannot make any distinction between his self . and the environment. Most of his actions are random. As he grows in age he comes to know about the nature of things which satisfy his needs. Such things become the object of his identification. The spread and area of identification increase with the advancement in age. Through identification he becomes sociable.
  • Language: It is the medium of social interactions. It is the means of cultural transmissions. At first the child utters some random syllables which have no meaning but gradually he comes to learn his mother tongue. The mother tongue moulds the personality of the individual from infancy.

Importance of Socialization:

  • It makes transmission of culture possible over generations.
  • It helps individuals to perform their social roles.
  • It transforms individuals from a biological being to a social person.

Phases of Socialization
There are two broad phases:

  • Primary phase: It occurs from infant to late childhood. During this stage, family is the most important agency of socialization. The child learns the language and the basic behavior pattern during this phase, which forms a foundation for later learning.
  • Secondary phase: It extends from late childhood to maturity. During this phase other agents of socialization also play a role e.g. : peer group, school, media etc.
  • Adult Socialization: Socialization, however, is a lifelong process. Individuals throughout their lives are learning new roles associated with different stages of life which extend even beyond the stage of attaining maturity.

Thus, one can talk about adult socialization. It takes place when individuals enter roles in which primary and secondary socialization has not prepared them fully.

As an individual enters a new life and a new group, he/she learns the roles associated with the new status. Agencies of Socialization include: Family, peer group, mass media etc.

Important terms:

  • Ethnocentrism: It is the application of one’s cultural values in evaluating behaviour and beliefs of people from other culture.
  • Little tradition: It consists of the cultural traits or traditions which are oral in nature. It operates at the village level.
  • Great Tradition: The cultural traits or traditions which are generally written make great traditions. Such kind of cultural traditions is popular among the elites of a society who are educated and learned.
  • Estates System: It was a system of ranking in feudul Europe. Occupation of the people was the base of this system. The nobility clergy and the third state were the three estates of this system. The third estates generally consisted of chiefly professional and idle class people. Each class had his own representative but the peasants and labourers did have regret to hope.
  • Sub-culture: A group of people within a large culture represents sub-culture. They borrow from or often distant, exaggerate or invent the symbols, values and beliefs of the people.
  • Social Roles: Social roles signify rights and responsibilities associated with a person’s social position or status.
  • Self Image: The image of a person expressed in the eyes of others.
  • Cultural Evolution: It is a theory of culture. According to this theory, just like natural species, culture also evolves through variation and natural selection.
  • Cognitive aspect of culture: It refers to how we learn to process what we hear, so as to give it a proper meaning.
  • Normative aspect of culture: It refers to rules of conduct like not opening other people’s letters, performing rituals at death.
  • Acculturation: It comprehends those phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact with subsequent changes in the original cultural pattern of either or both of groups.
  • Socialization: It means the process of inducting the individual into the social and cultural world of making him a participant member in the society and its various groups and inducing him to accept the norms and values of that society.
  • Conformity: It is action that is oriented to a social norm (or norms) and falls within the bank of behaviour permitted by the norm.
  • “The social looking glass is the group or society in which persons imagine how others see them.”

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