The Definition of Culture Essay

The Definition of Culture Essay

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There are several meanings of culture extending from every day life explanations, cultural understandings and in terms of academics. The online dictionary(2012) defines culture in terms of everyday life, as to cultivate (plants or animals) Another dictionary definition of culture is the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellence in arts, letters, manners and scholarly pursuits ect. There are several approaches that the academics use to define culture but the most predominant are the: functionalist approach, the critical approach and the interaction approach to culture. All three perspectives address culture in different ways. Ultimately, Christmas day is the cultural object that will be analyzed using the three theoretical frameworks.
Christmas day is the annual celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, it is a religious and cultural holiday celebrated by millions all over the world. There are many customs and traditions associated with Christmas day including: Christmas carols, Christmas decorations, gift-giving, extravagant meals, spending time with loved ones and attending church. Christmas day brings people to together to celebrate the birth of Christ, it increases consumerism and proliferates interactions amongst family, friends and strangers.
The foundation of the functionalist approach of culture lies in works of well-renowned sociologist, Emilie Durkheim. He “seeks to understand the social role that religion plays in the functioning of human societies.”(Grazian, 2010, 25) Durkheim studied the earliest religions known to humankind, the Aboriginal Australian and the American Indians. He “observed that these early religions heavily on the role of signs, images and symbo...

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... keeps everything the same and doesn’t account for how and why things change. Subsequently, it disregards forms of racial, gender and social inequality. For the critical approach theory, it only looks at class conflicts and overlooks other conflicts such as race, gender, ethnicity and culture. The relationships between the two groups, the bourgeoisie and proletariat is explained in terms of economics. Essentially, it fails to explain why advertising doesn’t work in certain situations and it does not provide and adequate explanation how cultural innovation works. The limitations and critiques of the symbolic interactionism approach is that it fails to account for other social factors that could hinder value-orientated actions. Correspondingly, although value and meaning is core to the symbolic interactionism approach to culture it cannot explain or predict it.

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