SOC 102 Topic 2 Discussion 1

SOC 102 Topic 2 Discussion 1



Both material and nonmaterial culture are represented within our lives. Material culture is easily seen; we use clothing, utensils and other devices to help us through our daily routine. Nonmaterial culture is much harder to see, such as the belief that women should always be subservient to men or the idea that white people are superior to black people. We have been taught this through media outlets and social stigmas.

Material culture is things made of concrete, things you can see and touch. Nonmaterial culture is everything else that makes up a group’s tradition: stories, songs, ideas, customs (e.g., holiday celebrations), food, and family heirlooms. Problems with material culture are when we are too rigid about what the things should be, such as in traditional dress. The problems with nonmaterial culture are when we dismiss them as not important. Everything from an ancestor’s wedding ring to a poem learned in school that touches you deeply is part of your first language and should not be looked at negatively.”

The biggest way to see culture is through its material or nonmaterial culture. Nonmaterial culture includes music, dance, poetry, philosophy and religion. Material culture consists of tools, weapons, homes, clothing, agriculture and architecture. These were all important to the livelihood of early humans. Some examples are the Magna Carta, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliette, Roy Lichtenstein’s “Sleeping Girl”, Chopsticks by The Chines

Material culture includes those items that we use to make our life easier and more entertaining. The use of material cultures is constantly changing as the lives are becoming increasingly enriched by nonmaterial culture, such as interests and hobbies. Material culture also includes inventions which improve our lives. A good example of material culture is a car, which can be used for transportation to take us to where we need to go. Bicycles are an example of nonmaterial culture– even though they can be used to travel, too. Both bicycles and cars can be fun hobbies, but they both have been greatly influenced by technology and society.

Culture is a complex system that pervades the beliefs, behaviors, and material objects of a group of people. The ability to observe and understand the differences between material and nonmaterial culture can help students prepare for a variety of situations.

There are two types of culture at my school: material and nonmaterial. Material culture includes all the physical objects in our school. These include, but are not limited to, desks, paper, books, etc. Non-material culture are customs and behaviors that have been passed down through our generations. One example of non-material culture is passing notes during class. We don’t write notes on paper, we pass them by passing them underneath our desks. This is a tradition that has been taught to us and we have passed it on to the next generation. Another example of non-material culture is the mascot of my school’s football team. Although he doesn’t directly impact our daily life, he represents our school at home games, which has been a part of our school for as long as anyone can remember.

Unfortunately, over the past 200 years, humans have consumed nonrenewable energy sources much faster than it can be replenished. A material culture is the forced dependence on an economy of consumerism, which is supported by the current economic system. This economic system uses a set of social controls (money and markets) to allocate resources (manufacturing). As this economic standard has become universalized, it has forced cultures around the world to adopt its values. Increasing consumerism rates and a lack of regulation for industries also contribute to making this culture grow exponentially. On the other hand, a nonmaterial culture is when people strive to take control from consumerism by rejecting the established socioeconomic pattern and starting to live with respect for the environment; in essence, decreasing our overall dependency on natural resources. In these types of societies, people embrace their spirituality and strive for inner peace, because they do not depend on money or material goods for happiness.

As a teenager, I am often told by my parents that we are going out for dinner and in order to do this we need to buy an extra seat at the table. When I hear this, I start to feel like money and material things are what my family wants more of. My brother is not home for dinner as often as me so I don’t see why I need to buy the extra seat even though he is here sometimes. This shows my family’s preferences towards money over time with their actions, but when it comes to holidays with my family money doesn’t seem to be a factor at all.

For thousands of years, people shared stories and learned from each other. To pass things on, they needed to be memorable. Powerful stories survive and continue to affect many generations after they’re first told—memories of these stories remain so powerful that they can be passed on to future generations with only a few sentences or gestures.



Compare and contrast material and nonmaterial culture. Provide examples of both from your life.

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