7 sociocultural universals HSC 4M

1. Social Organization

1. Social Organization

The family patterns & social classes of a culture. Family patterns are a very significant unit of social organization.

  • Social classes: rank/status of people
  • Creates social structure by organizing its members into small units to meet basic needs.
  • Family Patterns: Family is the most important unit of social organization. Through the family children learn how they are expected to act and what to believe.

Customs and Traditions

  • The way people act and dress
  • Different types of food they eat
  • Laws and rules

Note: Rules of behaviour are enforced ideas of right and wrong. They can be customs, traditions, rules, or written laws.

3. Religion

Answers basic questions about the meaning of life and supports values that groups of people feel are important.

  • Religion is often a source of conflict between cultures.
  • Monotheism is a belief in one god. Polytheism is a belief in many gods, and Atheism is a belief in no gods.

4. Language

Language is the cornerstone of culture.

  • All cultures have a spoken language (even if there are no developed forms of writing).
  • People who speak the same language often share the same culture.
  • Many societies include a large number of people who speak different languages.Each language can have several different dialects (a version of a language spoken by a particular group)

5. Arts and Literature

A way people entertain themselves, a product of people’s imaginations, and they help us pass on the culture’s basic beliefs.

  • E.g. Stories, music, dance, etc.

6. Form of Government

Group of people that control the general public.

  • Provide and enforce laws
  • Provide protection from external threats

Some Basic Types of Government:

  • Democracy: people have supreme power, government acts by and with consent.
  • Republic: people choose leaders who represent them.
  • Dictatorship: ruler/group holds power by force usually relying on military support for power.

7. Economic Systems

Produce and distribute goods and services in the society.

  • How people use limited resources to satisfy their wants and needs.
  • An economic system answers the basic questions: What to produce, How to produce it, and for Whom.

The 6 Cultural Economies:

  1. Hunter-Gatherer
  • foraging, scavenging, hunting of wild animals, fishing, etc.
  • Often nomadic (that means they have no permanent settlement – they move with their food source)

2. Horticultural

  • Groups who cultivate plants and domesticate animals on what’s called a subsistence level – that means that they are doing it for themselves and their families. It’s not LARGE scale farming.
  • There may be some trade within and between small communities
  • They may also be mobile, but tend to have more stable food sources

3. Pastoral

  • These groups’ economies are centred around the domestication and care of herd animals
  • They move with the herds – but the animals are owned (for food and for trade) by the group, as opposed to hunted
  • i.e. the Maasai

4. Agricultural

  • Non-nomadic peoples who live in permanent settlements
  • Working one piece of land continuously and intensively
  • Specialization and trade – that means that individuals and families do not accomplish all the necessities of life for themselves – people specialize (farmers, teachers, tradesmen, doctors, pottery makers, etc.)
  • Therefore, there is a specific division of labour

5. Industrial

  • Human energy is harnessed to power machinery
  • Most people work outside of the home – they work for MONEY to buy food – they are not expending their energy to either catch or make food
  • The focus is on the production or procurement of goods
  • Modern and complex political and economic ideologies emerge with industrialization (capitalism, communism, etc.)

6. Communication-Based

  • Cultures are not entirely here yet…some urban centres (Japan, US, Dubai) are getting pretty close
  • Reliance on electronically generated data
  • Characterized by mass media and computer technology
  • Work has become abstract – primary and secondary industries have been outsourced`
Created By
Sandra Rogers


Created with images by Devanath - "indian boy child" • Devanath - "indian boy child" • jeniffertn - "buddha religion buddhism" • Niyaz from Baku - "Azerbaijan national dances - Yallı" • Ranya - "temple of poseidon ancient greek" • PublicDomainPictures - "asia buddhism culture" • familymwr - "Army Photography Contest - 2007 - FMWRC - Arts and Crafts - Ghost Prayin" • sasint - "ancient architecture asia"

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