Functions of Culture - Sociology

Culture functions

Culture is a complex and diverse phenomenon, so studying and understanding the general patterns of cultural functioning entails considerable difficulties.

The question of the functions of culture involves the consideration of those roles that the culture fulfills with respect to society. In the functional aspect, culture is seen as a dynamic, interrelated system in which the change of some elements entails a change in the others. Based on the methodology of structural and functional analysis (T. Parsons), in culture as a system we distinguish four main functional units: adaptive, goal-oriented, integrative and cultural reproduction functions and removal of latent stresses .

These blocks contain the following functions:

- socialization and inculturation;

- value-normative (axiological);

- cognitive (epistemological);

- information;

- activity;

- communicative;

- symbolic.

Of course, in real life these functions intertwine, mutually condition each other, flow into one another. Therefore, the isolation of each function separately in our analysis is to some extent conditional. However, we are forced to do this in order to represent the entire field of functioning of culture.

Socialization and incubation. W. Freud in the work "Dissatisfaction with the culture" wrote:

Joint life for the first time became possible only with the formation of a majority - stronger than any individual, and united against each individual individually. The power of such a society opposes now as "right"; the power of the individual, condemned henceforth as "brute force". The replacement of the power of the individual with the power of society was the decisive step in the meaning of culture. Its essence lies in the fact that members of society limit themselves in their ability to satisfy drives, while the individual does not recognize any restrictions whatsoever. The next cultural requirement is the requirement of justice, that is, a guarantee that once the established order is not violated in favor of an individual ... "

Socialization and inculturation are closely related concepts, as we are talking about the process of assimilation and active reproduction of a socio-cultural experience, which includes norms, values, patterns of behavior, roles, attitudes, customs, cultural traditions, collective beliefs. The availability and use of both terms in the special literature is connected with the need for researchers to single out a social or cultural dominant for certain purposes. In the American anthropological tradition, focused on the study of culture, prefer the term inculturation, which was once introduced by M. Herskovitz, and also use the concept of "culture" proposed by C. Clackhon.

By the middle of XX century. followers of structural functionalism R. Parsons began to absolutize the process of socialization, considering it all-powerful and effective. However, socialization and inculturation is an experimental process, the result of which is not predetermined in advance and which, although it affects the behavior and beliefs of people, can not determine them.

So, the supporters of symbolic interactionism emphasized that socialization is the process of transaction (interaction) between an individual and a society in which both parties enjoy the same influence on each other. The result of their criticism of the exaggerated role of society in human life has been the recognition that people rarely totally are formed by the culture of their society primarily because the culture is dynamic and diverse. Especially in our time, when a child at an early age is facing through the media with a variety of cultural samples.

And one more thing in the relationship of society and personality, which I would like to draw attention to. The great humanist Albert Schweitzer is a theologian, organist and musicologist, a physician who founded the hospital in Lambarene (Gabon) in 1913, the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1952, in the famous book "Culture and Ethics" expressed a very important thought when thinking about contemporary totalitarian regimes: if society affects a person more strongly than a person on society, then the culture degrades.

Value-normative the function establishes, organizes and regulates people's attitudes. It is based on a system of values ​​that are built into a certain hierarchy, depending on the traditions of culture, the features of the historical moment, the patterns that dominate the culture (patterns). This function is realized through the system of norms, rules and laws of morality and law, the observance of which ensures the collective existence of members of society, the common mode of adaptation to the environment of the individuals belonging to it.

Cognitive function acts as a social and intellectual memory of humanity, accumulating, preserving, reproducing and transmitting from generation to generation information about the surrounding world and the culture itself. And this information is broadcast not only rational, but also emotional, sensual way, in particular through art in its most diverse forms.

Activity finds its expression in the activities of people, generating new images and cultural patterns, values ​​and knowledge, norms and rules, this is the creative component of human existence.

Communicative the function has a deep ontological status precisely because of the diversity of cultural forms and patterns. The possibility of implementing this function lies in the diversity of languages ​​of culture, in which the social experience of humanity is coded.

Symbolic function is associated with communicative. Communication of members of society is carried out in symbolic forms through the exchange of gestures, signs, symbols. It's about the "cultural texts", which allow you to capture and broadcast socially significant information, knowledge, views, images.

We gave a brief interpretation of the main functions of culture, which have the most general character and provide the most important: social integration and the consolidation of people. These functions form the basis for the sustainable collective existence of people, activity and reproduction of culture and therefore are universal in character, that is, they are inherent in any culture, but each culture has its own system of the most desirable and most approved ways to achieve this purpose.

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