Module I: Introduction

I. The Culture Concept

B. A Definition of Culture

Although there is no standard definition of culture, most alternatives incorporate the Boasian postulates as in the case of Bates and Plog's offering, which we shall accept as a working version:

Culture: The system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning (p7).
This is a complex definition and points to four important characteristics stressed by cultural relativists:
  1. symbolic composition,
  2. systematic patterning,
  3. learned transmission,
  4. societal grounding.

Go to Next Section: Symbolic Composition