What Are the Six Basic Elements of Culture?

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According to Flat World Education, the six elements of culture are beliefs, values, norms, language, roles and social collectives. There are shared symbols in every society that represent the elements of culture. These symbols evoke specific emotions and reactions from people.

Language is the basis of interaction and communication among people. Norms are expectations and rules of behavior created by external and internal social controls. Values are the things that people consider important, such as love, loyalty, hard work, compassion, knowledge and humanitarianism. Values define what is just, fair and good in a given society. They represent a society’s ideal culture and social standards but may not reflect how people actually behave. Beliefs are the things that most people in a society consider to be true. Beliefs create a bond among people from the same culture. Roles are the things which define a person’s associates, responsibilities, power and wealth. Social collectives refer to the togetherness among people from the same culture.

It can be difficult to live up to cultural values. This is why people who claim to value monogamy may still engage in infidelity and those who value good health may find it hard to quit smoking. Punishments, sanctions and rewards are used to motivate the practice of ideal cultural values among people in a society. Cultural values are not static because they change over time due to evaluation, social debate and belief progression.