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Sociology, the scientific study of human social relations or group life.

Other disciplines within the social


sciencesincluding economics, political science, anthropology, and psychologyare also concerned with
topics that fall within the scope of human society. Sociologists examine the ways in which social structures
and institutionssuch as class, family, community, and powerand social problemssuch as crime and
abuseinfluence society.
Social interaction, or the responses of individuals to each other, is perhaps the basic sociological concept,
because such interaction is the elementary component of all relationships and groups that make up human
society.
Culture, in anthropology, the patterns of behavior and thinking that people living in social groups learn,
create, and share. Culture distinguishes one human group from others. It also distinguishes humans from
other animals. people!s culture includes their beliefs, rules of behavior, language, rituals, art, technology,
styles of dress, ways of producing and cooking food, religion, and political and economic systems.
Culture is the most important concept in anthropology "the study of all aspects of human life, past and
present#. nthropologists commonly use the term culture to refer to a society or group in which many or all
people live and think in the same ways. $ikewise, any group of people who share a common cultureand
in particular, common rules of behavior and a basic form of social organi%ationconstitutes a society.
&hus, the terms culture and society are somewhat interchangeable. 'owever, while many animals live in
societies, such as herds of elk or packs of wild dogs, only humans have culture.
Culture has several distinguishing characteristics. "(# It is based on symbolsabstract ways of referring to
and understanding ideas, ob)ects, feelings, or behaviorsand the ability to communicate with symbols
using language. "*# Culture is shared. +eople in the same society share common behaviors and ways of
thinking through culture. ",# Culture is learned. -hile people biologically inherit many physical traits and
behavioral instincts, culture is socially inherited. person must learn culture from other people in a society.
".# Culture is adaptive. +eople use culture to flexibly and /uickly ad)ust to changes in the world around
them.
Human ecology examines how people interact with their natural environments, such as to make a living.
nthropologists may collect large amounts of data about features of a culture!s environment, such as types
of plants and animals, the chemical and nutritional properties of medicines and foods, and climate patterns.
&his information can provide explanations for some characteristics of a people!s culture. It is the study of
people within environment0 a branch of sociology that studies the relationships between human beings and
their natural and social environments.
nthropology, the study of all aspects of human life and culture. nthropology examines such topics as
how people live, what they think, what they produce, and how they interact with their environments.
nthropologists try to understand the full range of human diversity as well as what all people share in
common.
nthropologists ask such basic /uestions as0 -hen, where, and how did humans evolve1 'ow do people
adapt to different environments1 'ow have societies developed and changed from the ancient past to the
present1 nswers to these /uestions can help us understand what it means to be human. &hey can also
help us to learn ways to meet the present2day needs of people all over the world and to plan how we might
live in the future.
&wo interrelated anthropological concepts, society and culture, are crucial to understanding what makes
humans uni/ue. In its general sense, a society consists of any group of interacting animals, such as a herd
of bison. 3ut human societies often include millions or billions of people who share a common culture.
Culture refers to the ways of life learned and shared by people in social groups. Culture differs from the
simpler, inborn types of thinking and behavior that govern the lives of many animals. &he people in a
human society generally share common cultural patterns, so anthropologists may refer to particular
societies as cultures, making the two terms somewhat interchangeable.
Culture is fundamentally tied to people!s ability to use language and other symbolic forms of representation,
such as art, to create and communicate complex thoughts. &hus, many anthropologists study people!s
languages and other forms of communication. Symbolic representation allows people to pass a great
amount of knowledge from generation to generation. +eople use symbols to give meaning to everything
around them, every thought, and every kind of human interaction.