A number of sociologists have classified the content of culture into large components material culture’ and ‘non-material culture’. Ogburn has even used this distinction as the basis for a theory of cultural change.
As Robert Bierstedt has pointed out, the concept of ‘material culture’ is relatively more precise and less ambiguous. But the concept of non-material culture is more ambiguous and less clear. It may be used as a ‘residual category’ that is to mean ‘Everything that is not material’.
Material and Non-Material Culture:
(i) Material Culture Material culture consists of man-made objects such as tools, implements, furniture, automobiles, buildings, dams, roads, bridges, and in fact, the physical substance which has been changed and used by man. It is concerned with the external, mechanical and utilitarian objects.
It includes technical and material equipments like a printing press, a locomotive, a telephone, a television, a tractor, a machine gun, etc. It includes our banks, parliaments, insurance schemes, currency systems, etc. It is referred to as civilisation.
(ii) Non-Material Culture:
The term ‘culture’ when used in the ordinary sense, means ‘non-material culture’. It is something internal and intrinsically valuable, reflects the inward nature of man. Non-material culture consists of the words the people use or the language they speak, the beliefs they hold, values and virtues they cherish, habits they follow, rituals and practices that they do and the ceremonies they observe. It also includes our customs and tastes, attitudes and outlook, in brief, our ways of acting, feeling and thinking.