Difference Between Social Behavior and Culture

Social Behavior vs Culture

Exploring the difference between social behavior and culture will let you know how much these two are related to each other. First of all, let us see what culture is. Culture is a way of showing a society’s characteristics by many means, such as art, music, traditions, lifestyles, knowledge, etc. Culture is a social phenomenon and each and every society in the world has its own cultural values, which are different from each other. Social behavior is also a social phenomenon that describes the way how people behave in the social scenarios. Usually, social behaviors are characterized by the particular society’s cultural values. That means, one’s behavior determines the cultural values that are upheld by his/her society. Let us look at the terms in detail.

What is Culture?

Culture, as mentioned above, is a social phenomenon that shows the characteristics of a particular society. Culture includes art, music, knowledge, beliefs, habits, values, etc. and almost all the members of a particular society share these cultural traits. Culture is not a biologically inherited phenomenon. It is acquired socially. An infant acquires cultural traits by observing the adults’ behavior. Moreover, culture is not static. It changes over the time. All the members of a particular society contribute to change the culture over the time. The music, food, clothing patterns, lifestyles of a certain period depend on the culture of that era. For example, ancient kings’ era had a different lifestyle which is totally different from the modern era. These changes have been caused by the cultural change. However, art, music, food, clothes, etc. are all material representations of a culture but theculture itself is a very abstract phenomenon. Culture shapes the behavior of individual members of a particular society, and it is the culture that brings diverse people together to form one unique community.

Difference Between Social Behavior and Culture - What is Culture

Clothes is one aspect of culture

What is Social Behavior?

Social behavior is how individual members of a society react with each other, and it can be defined as the behavior directed towards the society. Social behavior is usually determined by the cultural values and traditions of a particular society. Those, who go against the accepted social behavioral patterns, are called deviants. Social behavior helps to bring diverse individuals together and it encourages sharing and caring among the members of one community. Further, social behaviors are characterized by various social interactions and social relations. That means, depending on the situations and people, we may change the behavioral patterns in a social context. However, social behaviors are acquired and learned through observations and interactions. Social behaviors are learned by an individual in the process of socialization.

Difference Between Social Behavior and Culture - What is Social Behavior

Greeting is one main social behavior

What is the difference between Social Behavior and Culture?

When we take the terms, culture and social behavior together, we see a relationship between them. Culture and social behavior are social phenomena. It is mostly the culture that determines social behavior of an individual. Also, both,culture and the social behavior, are major study areas of Sociology. They are not biologically inherited, but individuals acquire them through social interactions. Both culture and social behaviors are subjected to change over the time and not static.

• When we look at differences we see that culture is a collection of material and non-material things whereas social behavior is an individual phenomenon, shaped by the culture.


Images Courtesy: 

  1. Marie Antoinette in her famous “muslin” portrait, 1783 via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Greeting via Wikicommons (Public Domain)