Sociocultural system

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A sociocultural system is a "human population viewed (1) in its ecological context and (2) as one of the many subsystems of a larger ecological system".[1]

Conceptual Model of a Sociocultural System.

The term "sociocultural system" embraces three concepts: society, culture, and system. A society is a number of interdependent organisms of the same species. A culture is the learned behaviors that are shared by the members of a society, together with the material products of such behaviors. The words "society" and "culture" are fused together to form the word "sociocultural". A system is "a collection of parts which interact with each other to function as a whole".[2] The term sociocultural system is most likely to be found in the writings of anthropologists who specialize in ecological anthropology.

In 1979, Marvin Harris outlined a universal structure of sociocultural systems. He mentioned infrastructure (production and population), structure (which is behavioural, like corporations, political organizations, hierarchies, castes), and a superstructure (which is mental, like beliefs, values, norms).[3][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nanda, Serena (1984). Cultural Anthropology, second edition. Stamford, Connecticut: Wadsworth Publishing Company (Cengage Learning). ISBN 978-0-534-02749-0
  2. ^ Kauffman, Draper L. (1980). Systems One: An Introduction to Systems Thinking. Minneapolis, MN: Future Systems Inc. ISBN 978-99962-805-1-1
  3. ^ Elwell, Frank W., 2013, "Harris on the Universal Structure of Society," Retrieved 2015-02-15,
  4. ^ Sociocultural Systems:Principles of Structure and Change, Frank W. Elwell, CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 CA.