Nonmaterial Culture versus Material Culture
Sociologists view a community’s culture from two distinctive angles. Firstly, they define a community as a material one based on the physical things that can be related to that society. The other angle is being a nonmaterial culture, which relies on the nonphysical ideologies associated with that community (Olsen 87). Analyses have shown that non material cultures are more problematic than material ones. There are several reasons that support the aforementioned statement.
Lack of proper evidence to support the source and implementation of the ideologies in a nonmaterial culture is one of the leading causes as to why it is more problematic than a material society. Some nonmaterial cultures work by beliefs that originated several years ago. However, the primary problem related to such beliefs is that their credibility is unreliable. Over the years, there could have been incidences where the beliefs were altered to suit the community or leaders. Therefore, the ideologies are questionable and often people alter them in accordance to their current situation. Such alterations may lead to a conflict among the people in a community since some may view it as an unfair gesture.
In a material culture, by contrast, the evidence is present, which is in the form of artifacts, for example, passed down from earlier generations. Additionally, the social structures in communities such as churches, schools, and temples provide evidence to prove that the current cultural practices were still in existence even in the olden days. In turn, people in such a community end up upholding cultural practices with little or no conflicting beliefs. Moreover, people in such communities are united by the physical objects that they all can relate to in the society. For example, people in a community that has a synagogue passed down from their ancestors often visit and worship in it together.
Ideologies, beliefs and other nonphysical materials that cultures value are bound to objection. Such materials are easy to come up with in current society with many people formulating new ideologies. For example, in the religion culture, people have always believed that there is a Supreme Being. However, time has passed, and some people tend to object this and give scientific evidences to prove that the Supreme Being does not exist. Conversely, material culture is not a subject of obligation since people find it easy to believe in physical materials. Therefore, disagreements and problems are common among people who base their culture on nonphysical material (Olsen 107).
Indeed, nonmaterial culture stands out as a factor that often promotes the various development schemes in the society. However, material culture is essentially the preferable option when it comes to fuelling developments in the society (Dawson 52). For example, a community may have a mining background as the material factor related to the people in the society. Others may be butchers by way of culture, which all relate to materials that communities have owned and passed down from different generations. Thus, people in such communities rely on the professions passed down to them by their forefathers in developing their societies. Ideologies and other nonphysical materials have an integral change in the society, but their impact is much less when compared to physical material based changes. In addition, nonphysical materials may be political ideas, for example, which are bound to do more harm than good. The ideas may be good, but problems may arise when the implementation process is wrong. Hence, it is clear that nonmaterial culture is more problematic than material culture.
Dawson, Christopher. We the People, Servants of Deception: Reconsidering Social Reality. Indiana: Xlibris Corporation, 2012. Print.
Olsen, Bjørnar. “Material Culture after Text: Re-Membering Things.” Norwegian Archaeological Review, 36.2 (2003): 87-104. Print.