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the language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, and even material objects that are passed from one generation to the next

Material Culture

the material objects that distinguish a group of people, such as their art, buildings, weapons, utensils, machines, hairstyles, clothing, and jewelry

Nonmaterial Culture

(also called symbolic culture) a group's way of thinking (including its beliefs, values, and other assumptions about the world) and doing (its common patterns and behavior, including language and other forms of interaction)

Culture Shock

the disorientation that people experience when they come in contact with a fundamentally different culture and can no longer depend on their taken-for-granted assumptions about life


the use of one's own culture as a yard-stick for judging the ways of other individuals or societies, generally leading to a negative evaluation of their values, norms, and behaviors

Cultural Relativism

not judging a culture but trying to understand it on its own terms

Symbolic Culture

another term for nonmaterial culture


something to which people attach meanings and then use to communicate with others


the ways in which people use their bodies to communicate with one another


a system of symbols that can be combined in an infinite number of ways and can represent not only objects but also abstract thought

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

Edward Sapir's and Benjamin Whorf's hypothesis that language creates ways of thinking and perceiving


the standards by which people define what is desirable or undesirable, good or bad, beautiful or ugly


expectations, or rules of behavior, that reflect and enforce values


expressions of approval or disapproval given to people for upholding or violating norms

Positive Sanction

a reward or positive reaction for following norms, ranging from a smile to a prize

Negative Sanction

an expression of disapproval for breaking a norm, ranging from a mild, informal reaction such as a frown to a formal reaction such as a prison sentence or an execution


norms that are not strictly enforced


norms that are strictly enforced because they are thought essential to core values or the well-being of the group


a norm so strong that it often brings revulsion if violated


the values and related behaviors of a group that distinguish its members from the larger culture; a world within a world


a group whose values, beliefs, norms, and related behaviors place its members in opposition to the broader culture

Pluralistic Society

A society made up of many different groups.

Value Cluster

values that together form a larger whole

Value Contradiction

values that contradict one another; to follow the one means to come into conflict with the other

Ideal Culture

the ideal values and norms of a people; the goals held out for them

Real Culture

The norms and values that people actually follow

Cultural Universal

a value, norm, or other cultural trait that is found in every group


a framework of thought that views human behavior as the result of natural selection and considers biological factors to be the fundamental cause of human behavior


in its narrow sense, tools; its broader sense includes the skills or procedures necessary to make and use those tools

New Technology

the emerging technologies of an era that have a significant impact on social life

Cultural Lag

Ogburn's term for human behavior lagging behind technological innovations

Cultural Diffusion

the spread of cultural elements from one society to another

Cultural Leveling

the process by which cultures become similar to one another; refers especially to the process by which Western culture is being exported and diffused into other nations

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