When Sociologists use the term ‘culture’ they are referring to a ‘whole way of life’ within a particular society i. e. Different societies have different cultures. Some societies however may share similar things within their cultures, for example, British society shares the same language (English) with American society. There are a number of different sociological interpretations of culture. Ralph Linton states that ‘The culture of a society is the way of life of its members; the collection of ideas and habitats which they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation’.
Culture is learned through the process of ‘socialization’, it is also shared and provides a ‘design for living’. There would be a broken and disrupted communication if culture was not shared, cooperation would decay altogether and this would ultimately lead to disorder and the collapse of human society, therefore culture is crucial in civilised human life. Culture is expressed through routine behaviour and symbolic culture of their society by following guidelines and rules, these are known as ‘norms’ and ‘values’ and are important in maintaining order in society.
Norms are specific rules members of a society must abide by. They guide people in particular situations with appropriate and sensible behaviour. Norms are enforced by positive and negative sanctions which can be addressed formally and informally. Values work more as general principles for human behaviour and maintain morals. In order for a stable society that operates most effectively, norms and values must be shared and preserved. British society has a culture just like every other civilisation. People who live in Britain are part of its culture and society and must obey its norms and values.
There are various customs and conventions associated with British culture. Britain’s culture can be defined through a number of things. This includes language which is essential as it allows communication and cooperation, the necessary ingredients in an active and shared culture. Britain’s predominant language is English, this is mainly because it is taught in schools and is used broadly in public. Foreigners are urged to learn English and fit into British society. David Blunkett proposed that all those who live in Britain must learn and speak English at all times, including at home.
He also suggested that those who want admission into Britain must pass a test on British history. Many would agree with Mr. Blunkett that this is a progressive step for British culture as it gives foreigners a better opportunity to adapt into the British society. Dress also plays an important part in British culture. For example someone wearing ‘salwaar kameez’ may be stared at in central London, as it is not a ‘normal’ way to dress however British people are beginning to accept and recognise ‘different’ dress senses. In British culture, as in others, there are norms that govern dress.