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Difference Between Society and Culture

Society vs Culture

Society and culture are two terms that are commonly encountered in the writings of sociologists and are used in daily life also. Many remain confused with the difference between the two concepts as they think they are same and often use them interchangeably. However, there are differences between society and culture that will be highlighted in this article and readers can better appreciate these words after going through this article.

Society refers to the population, civilization, or the group in which an individual lives and interacts. When one says that society is much more tolerant now, he refers to the community in which he lives. On the other hand, culture refers to behavioral traits that make up boundaries for socially acceptable behaviors in any society. Culture is the sum total of beliefs, values and practices that are common in any population or community. For example, people kiss one another as a form of greeting when they meet in the western world whereas kissing may be seen as an unacceptable behavior in the eastern part of the world. This one example is enough to show that culture tells people what to do and what to avoid. Normal practices in any society are called its culture.

Culture is a very broad term and the example given above is only a very minuscule part of any culture. Culture is often reflected in the traditional products, art and music of any community or population. These are the manifestations of the beliefs, practices and moral values of any society. However, you cannot pick up any one thing and call it as culture. It is the sum total of all such things that makes a composite culture of any society.

People residing in a country make up the society. For example, groups of people in US, Japan, and India make up different societies. When it comes to greeting, people in US shake hands and say Hi, people in Japan bow down while Indians fold their hands and say Namaste. These different forms of greetings will let you know the differences in cultures of different countries.

Though neither society nor culture is static and keeps on changing, culture has a historic perspective and traditional beliefs and practices are handed down over generations. These practices are reflected in all demeanors and behaviors such as art, music, teaching, structures, religion, foods, sense of dressing, literature, poetry etc. Society on the other hand has got to do with laws, government structures, constitutions, family, men women, labor, and in general all things social. Society is a more abstract concept than culture.

Society vs Culture

• Society is the sum total of all different social groups and their interactions

• Culture is the sum total of beliefs, practices and moral values that are handed down over generations

• Highly cultured society has a refined level of intellectual and artistic sensitivity

• Culture is reflected in the products, art, music and cuisine of a society

• Society is a more abstract concept than culture


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