What Are the Five Components of Culture?

Exotica.im/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

The five components of culture include symbols, language, values, beliefs and norms. Symbols may be either physical or non-physical. A flag is an example of a physical symbol, and bows and curtsies are examples of non-physical symbols.

Language is used for communication. It can be written or spoken. Even when a culture uses the same basic language as another culture, differences in terminology and inflection create new meanings.

Values help define acceptable behavior within the society. Values can be different for each group to which a person belongs. For example, it may be acceptable in the family group to eat certain foods that are not accepted within the religious group a person chooses.

Beliefs fulfill the spiritual needs of a culture. A whole culture can be based on one set of beliefs, yet a larger cultural group may have many different sets of beliefs.

Norms are the rules, mores and traditions within a culture. As a group develops laws and regulations, norms change. A law that was necessary 100 years ago may not be needed in modern times.

Technological advances also change the way cultures behave. Traditions are norms that a culture holds onto once the norms are no longer common. Wearing certain clothing for a holiday is an example of a norm that has become a tradition.