Material Type:
Community College / Lower Division
Ohio Open Ed Collaborative
  • Beliefs
  • Coutercultures
  • Culture
  • Oss0212
  • Practices
  • Society
  • Sociology
  • Subcultures
  • Values
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Media Formats:
    Downloadable docs, eBook, Text/HTML, Video

    Define culture


    OER Text material

    What is Culture?

    Chapter 3, subsection 3.1

    Culture is defined as shared beliefs, values, and practices, that participants in a society must learn. Sociologically, we examine in what situation and context certain behavior is expected, and in which situations perhaps it is not. Rules are created and enforced by people who interact and share culture. Culture consists of thoughts (expectations about personal space, for example) and tangible things (bus stops, trains, and seating capacity).

    General Comments:

    • Types of sanction should be clearly identified
    • Symbol should be defined in more detail. It should be made clear that symbols, like the American flag, represent something else. Thus, the American flag is not just a piece of cloth; rather, it represents American pride, etc.   

    Supplementary Material (Videos and Reading)

    Major Elements that Define Culture (Video)

    This video explains the different elements of culture. It notes that the elements look different across cultures and may change over time as society evolves. Thus, certain aspects of culture may change over time

    Definition of Culture (Video)

    The video provides a good definition of culture. Culture is made up of shared perceptions and values, and it is learned meaning we are not born with it. The video gives vivid examples to indicate that culture is learned

    Cultures, Subcultures, and Countercultures: Crash Course Sociology (Video)

    In this video, the presenter defines culture by answering the question, “How do we define culture and how does it change?” In addition, she explores different categories of culture, like low culture, high culture, and sub-cultures. Also, she lectures on the structural functionalist and conflict theory perspectives on what cultures mean for society.

    Culture and Society Defined

    In this article, it is noted that culture consists of the beliefs, behaviors, objects, and other characteristics common to the members of a particular group or society. Through culture, people and groups define themselves, conform to society's shared values, and contribute to society. It is noted that, culture and society are intricately related.

    American Sociological Association: Culture

    This piece on the webpage of the American Sociological Association defines culture as the languages, customs, beliefs, rules, arts, knowledge, and collective identities and memories developed by members of all social groups that make their social environments meaningful. To understand cultural meanings, sociologists explore individual and group communication.