We use our culture, our ideas and knowledge, to understand and interpret the world around us and thus to determine what action or behavior is right for us. Yet culture is far from being the only cause of our actions. Geography and climate, for instance, also limit the range of possible behavior open to us. Climate rather than culture makes it impossible for Eskimos to go naked and for Polynesians to dress in furs. Yet culture does help determine how Polynesians choose to dress from among the countless possibilities available in their region and climate. After nonhuman factors such as climate and geography, and in addition to factors like culture and personality, some of the most powerful determinants of the possible behavior open to us are other people around us, their interrelationships, and their behavior.
"Society" is the simplest name for this whole human world we live in. Understanding, interpreting, and changing society is one of the most important purposes of culture. And culture in turn is partly shaped and determined by society. The relationship between "society" and "culture," then, is so close and complex that, understandably, the two words are sometimes used almost interchangeably, as if they meant
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Publication information: Book title: Oral History:An Introduction for Students. Contributors: James Hoopes - Author. Publisher: University of North Carolina Press. Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC. Publication year: 1979. Page number: 51.
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