This book review was written by Eugene Kernes
“What is culture, and where does it come from? “Culture” refers to the traits that define groups of people. The concept has its roots in animal behavior; humans sometimes think of themselves as “above” animals, but in many ways human behavior is merely a more complex and organized version of what animals do.” – James T. Shea, Chapter I: Introduction, Page 12
“”Values” refer to the things that a culture considers important, which informs things like morality, purity, and right-vs-wrong. Values establish the criteria by which all other aspects of a culture are shaped and judged.” – James T. Shea, Chapter II: Cultural Values, Page 18
“The most basic elements of human society are centered
around the family. However, when society
gets larger, “family ties” often won’t cut it.
A large culture requires interaction and cooperation between lots of
people who lack family ties; instead, people are held together by common values
and ideals, as well as the authority of a central figure or council.” – James
T. Shea, Chapter IV: Social Structure, Page 77
Is This An Overview?
Culture is group traits.
Cultures have values that they propagate. A set of ideas to be passed down and shared
with others. A culture influences how
everyone behaves in society, economics, warfare, and the arts. Cultural values provide the standard by how
every other aspect of culture are to be judged.
No culture is absolute for deviation is normal, but limited. The closer the deviation is to the core
values, the more normal and acceptable they are. Finding unacceptable the ideas that deviate
too much, and shunning those who share them.
Family ties are not enough in a society of strangers. Culture’s common values enable people to
interact and cooperate without family ties.
Governance is needed as well, with cultures influencing who takes
leadership of the government.
Influencing how much power a government has over others. Art reflects cultural values and
This is a book that is composed of a very diverse set of
examples. Examples of diverse cultures
and how their cultural traits are expressed.
How culture influences group behavior.
There is not much of systematic analysis on the cultural traits. Although there is a lot of diverse examples,
they are all short. To understand any
specific culture, would require more research.