Essay on the Study of Human Society

Culture includes all modes of thought and behaviour and all kinds of material or non-material achievement of man that are handed down from one generation to another through language. The possession of culture makes not only man but his society unique. The addition of culture has made the humanoid to stem out of primates with all the difference.

The study of human society, thus, necessarily involves the study of culture. The impact of culture is there on all the parts of society. If we study, for example, the family patterns, then they are understood as cultural patterns; their variations from time to time and place, as cultural variations.

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The difference between marriage and mating; legitimacy and illegitimacy; authority and dominance can be understood only with cultural interpretations. Culture is equally significant in providing ex­planations for economic, religious, legal, political, educational and other organisations.

The analysis of human society can be made on the cultural level. But the content of culture is so diverse that it includes art, architecture, music, literature, science, technology, philosophy, reli­gion and such other millions of things. No single discipline can set out to study culture in all its infinite details.

Most of the sciences of man (the so called humanistic science) are actually the science of culture. A social scientist is interested in culture to the extent to which culture is related to the social life of man. He selects for his study those aspects of culture which throw light on social organisation and behaviour.

Of the social scientists, a sociologist or social anthropologist is more interested in culture for it contributes to the complexity and continuity of human society. He takes more interest in those aspects of culture, that condition the patterns of social interaction, that is, the folkways, mores, customs, values, law and institutions that govern conduct.

It is true that the cultural element is so pervasive in human society that no behaviour is free from its influence. Man’s political, economic, educational, occupational and such other activities are all influenced by culture.

Still it cannot be said that a social scientist is primarily or exclusively interested in culture as such. He is concerned primarily with society and with culture insofar as it influences man’s life in society.

The social sciences are devoted to the study of mental and not physical phenomena. The physi­cal objects that constitute the parts of physical phenomena are the outcome of ideas and techniques which are included in social heritage. “From the sociological point of view such physical objects are products made possible only by transmission of principles and ideas from person to person”.

What is more important here is the meaningful interaction between different individuals. Such things as-social solidarity, economic exchange, technological production, political organisation, kinship identifica­tion etc., involve mutual awareness and symbolic communication. They would exist because of the contact of mind with mind. Thus, the social phenomena must essentially be construed as mental phenomena.

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