Culture refers to the norms, values, beliefs, language together with other aspects that
define the way of life of a people. Sociologists describe human culture using two interrelated
elements: culture's physical components and the concepts related to them.
Material culture describes the physical aspects of a people's culture. It includes the
resources and the spaces that members of society utilize to distinguish their culture (Attfield,
2020). Prominent examples of material culture include homes, religious places, workplaces,
tools, production, goods, products, and stores. For instance, technology is an essential element of
material culture in American society. Hence, American students must learn to use computers to
facilitate their college and business survival compared to a young adult in the Amazon who must
learn to hunt and build weapons.
In contrast, non-material culture defines the non-physical elements that define people. It
encompasses aspects like values, language, norms, rules, institutions, and organizations (Barrera-
Fernández & Hernández-Escampa, 2017). For instance, a community's religious beliefs
encompass the thoughts and ideas about morals, ethics, worship, and the Supreme Being. These
beliefs determine how a culture reacts to spiritual issues, topics, and events. When describing the
non-material culture, sociologists include the various processes that shape the thoughts, feelings,
and actions. The most critical elements include language, symbols, norms, and values.
Although material and non-material culture is interrelated concepts, they exhibit different
characteristics. For instance, non-material culture evolves faster than material culture. Non-
material culture encompasses the non-tangible elements of culture, including beliefs, norms,
values, and language. Due to society's dynamics and the emerging rapid interaction among social
groups, the ideas and concepts of people are subject to change. Interaction with different cultures
allows for the diffusion and integration of new ideas and concepts of life. For instance, people's
language aspects may rapidly change as members interact with people from other cultures.
However, material culture also evolves, although at a slower pace.
Attfield, J. (2020). Introduction: The material culture of everyday life. Wild
Barrera-Fernández, D., & Hernández-Escampa, M. (2017). Malaga versus Picasso: Rebranding
a city through non-material heritage. Going Beyond, 277-