Sociology and Culture

In the past chapter, several sociological theories were introduced. For the purpose of this work, I will explore three of the theories, which include the Durkheim and human consciousness, Benedict and Patterns of Culture, and Bourdieu and the principles of culture. The first theory, Durkheim and human consciousness is explained as a set of shared beliefs, ideas, and moral attitudes, which perform as a way to unite society. The theory was introduced in 1893 by Emile Durkheim a French sociologist where she argued that in primitive or traditional societies (formed around tribal, family, or clan relationships), members were unified through the totemic religion by creating a common conscience, which the theorist termed it as conscience collective (Child 2016). 

The second major theory was Bourdieu and the principles of culture, which explores the theory of cultural production. Bourdieu work explores a deeper meaning of art by evaluating the condition of the art’s reception and production. In addition, Bourdieu’s theory also tackles the issue of the characteristics of cultural production and its relation to power and class. Jenkins (2013) argues that the aspect of cultural production is regulated by two opposing principles of hierarchization: the heteronomous and autonomous principles. The predominating principle among the two is the autonomous principle, which governs the economic sphere. 

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The third principle is Benedict and Patterns of Culture, which for this assignment; I believe it is of most significance. In this theory, Benedict explores cultural relativism and cultural patterning. One significant issue that was identified by Benedict is the exploration of the western colonialism, as well as, the degree to which all individuals had forged through trade, contact, and interaction. Benedict mentions that culture is a way of shaping ideas of human doings where she argues, “Anthropologists are turning from the study of primitive culture to that of primitive cultures, and the implications of this change from the singular to the plural are only just beginning to be evident” (Benedict, 1934:50). 

Accordingly, Benedict illustrates the relationship between culture and an individual. This is well illustrated in the Patterns of Culture to demonstrate the extraordinary diversity of varying cultures where she shows that an individual is a product of their culture whereas culture is a product of individuals. The author attains this by exploring varying ways in which life has been adopted by different civilization. 

Benedict in her work explores the relationship between culture and personality.  This is by exploring the behavior of an individual or the way people tend to care only about themselves rather than others. Through this, Benedict provides that there is a difference between culture and personality. She provides that culture shapes personality meaning and the region or ethnic one is born in influences their personality (Benedict, 1934). On the other hand, culture is formed by repeated ideas, beliefs, traditions, and ceremonies, which are provided over time by individuals in a community. 

The theory provides that no individual can attain the threshold of their potential without participating in a culture. Consistently, there lacks civilization with that individual analysis influences the behavior of an individual. Through this, Benedict provides that traits are generated from the behavior of an individual.  According to Benedict, an individual needs culture to rediscover him/herself where culture remains vital in re-discovering self. I will explore patterns of Culture through an example of identical twins who although they share similar genetics, they are brought up in different environments (Caffrey, 2013). The two siblings although share the biological formation they both had varying personality.

 Based on a cultural comparative approach, one of the twins was brought up in a collective culture and less extroverted. This is in contrast to the second twin who was brought up in a culture with high openness. The twin from a collective and less extroverted culture was more depressed, irritable, and stressed. In comparison, the one from a higher open society was emotionally stable, creative, calm, and more relaxed.  Comparatively, Caffrey (2013) argues that persons in Northeast are depressed, irritable, and stressed, while people in the West are creative, emotionally stable and relaxed, while in Deep South and Upper Midwest are conventional and friendly.  

The patterns of culture are more exhibited in regions with different ethnic groups. This is less evident among whites and more profound among other ethnic groups. I believe that culture is what identifies an individual. It determines and influences the personality of a person, which can be used as a form of identity. For example, an Indian brought up in India behaves totally different in comparison to a person from the West. The individuals in India tend to be more conservative in all they do. From the case study illustrated above, one of the twins was ashamed to discuss issues related to sexuality in comparison to the other who openly discussed issues related to sexuality without shame.

In conclusion, it is evident that there is a connection between society and culture as illustrated in the discussion. Although it is still not clear, the three theories can be used together or independently to illustrate the impact of society on culture. Ruth Benedict theory, Patterns of Culture was identified to be of most significance. Following a cultural comparative approach, there is a correlation between culture and personality. 


Benedict, R. (1934). Patterns of culture (Vol. 8). Boston; New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Caffrey, M. M. (2013). Ruth Benedict: Stranger in this land. University of Texas Press.

Child, L. (2016). Tantric Buddhism and altered states of consciousness: Durkheim, emotional energy and visions of the consort. Routledge.

Jenkins, R. (2013). Pierre bourdieu. Routledge.

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