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Old Sunday, December 22, 2019
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Default Culture and civilization.

Can we say that civilization is static and culture is dynamic ? Please suggest the core diffrences of civilization and culture.

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Difference between Culture and Civilization

In our day-to-day talks and discussions, we often use the terms ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’ interchangeably. Even in the Anglo-French tradition, the concept of culture was often used synonymous with civilization. But sociologists differentiate culture and civilization as two different levels of phenomena.

The concept of civilization was almost equated with highly valued things, such as respect of people for one another, the sanctity of life and high regard for the good, the ethical and the beautiful. In this sense, those who were lacking in these attributes were regarded as barbaric or uncivilized.

Preliterate or primitive people who lived in a state of nature—quite naked, used to eat unbaked animal flesh—were usually termed as barbarians. However, many anthropological studies showed that many preliterate societies had their own values, beliefs, rules, religions and tools, etc.

They made certain changes in the natural order of things which are characteristics of culture, in the modern sense of the term. The use of the term ‘civilization’ as exhibited above is different from its use in sociological or anthropological sense. Defining civili¬zation MacIver and Page (1962) said, ‘by civilization we mean the whole mechanism and organization which man has designed in his endeavor to control the conditions of life’.

Similarly, S.M. Fairchild (1908) argued that it is the higher stage of cultural development characterized by intellectual, aesthetic, technological and spiritual attainment. On the basis of this meaning, he made reference of ‘civilized peoples’ in contrast to ‘uncivilized or non-civilized peoples’.

A few scholars have equated civilization with technology and progress; e.g., Robert Bierstedt (1974) emphasized on sophistication, self-criticism and other awareness as the chief characteristics of civilization. Sociologists do not use the term ‘civilization’ in the sense stated above because all above views are value-loaded.

Thus, making a distinction between culture and civilization, the following points may be noted:

1. Culture is an end (values and goals) in itself while civilization is a means (tools and techniques) to an end. Cultural facts like belief, art and liter¬ature—prose, poetry or novel, etc., gives direct satisfaction to the reader while equipment’s of civilization such as cars, computers, refrigerators, etc., do not give direct satisfaction, until and unless they do not satisfy our wants. Thus, civilization is utilitarian. It just helps in achieving the end.

2. Culture has no value in itself but it is a measurement by which we can value other articles of civilization. We cannot determine the value of culture, i.e., beliefs, norms, ideas, etc., but the value of anything can be determined by its measurement standard. Culture is a measuring rod or weighing balance.

3. Civilization is always advancing but not culture. Cultural facts like dramatic plays or poems may not be necessarily better today than the plays or poems of Shakespeare?

4. Civilization is easily passed without much effort to the next generation but not culture. Cultural facts, e.g., any art or a piece of literature, cannot be learned without some intelligence. It requires a few pains to understand it. Contrary to it, the equipment’s of civilization (building, TV, etc.) can easily be inherited without much or any use of energy and intelligence.

5. Civilization may be borrowed without making any change but not culture. Borrowing any cultural fact like any political, economic or social belief requires some necessary alteration to adjust in the new cultural environment while this is not necessary to make any material change in the civilizational equipment’s such as TV, computer, etc.

6. Culture relates to the inner qualities of society like religion, customs, conventions, etc., while civilization relates to the outer form of society such as TV, radio, fans, etc.

7. Culture is more stable than civilization—cultural change takes place in years or in centuries but civilization changes very rapidly.

8. Variability of cultures may not be accompanied by variability of civilization at different places. Civilization may be similar in variable cultural areas. For instance, there is a great difference between American and Indian cultures but there are many similarities in their civilizational equipment’s.

9. Culture is a social fact, i.e., creation of the whole society while civili¬zation, i.e., the invention of any equipment may be by a single individual. Any ordinary person can affect any change in the civilizational equipment but for any modification or alteration in any cultural fact requires the power and imagination of whole society.

There are scholars who have designated culture and civilization as the two sides of the same coin. William F. Ogburn (1964), in his theory of social change, pointed out two aspects of culture, viz., material and non-material. For him, material aspect represents civilization and the non-material aspect is the culture proper. Gillin and Gillin (1948) designated the material or tangible part of culture as civilization or culture equipment which man in his endeavor has modified from environment.

I hope this answer helps you. The difference is well explained in this.
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