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.

A sociocultural system may be described as having an infrastructure, a structure, and a superstructure. "A society's infrastructure (or material base) is its system of production and reproduction, which is determined by a concatenation of ecological, technological, environmental, and demographic variables." A society's infrastructure shapes its structure and superstructure. "A society's structure is comprised of its domestic economy (social organization, kinship, division of labor) and its political economy (political institutions, social hierarchies), while its superstructure consists of the ideological and symbolic sectors of culture; the religious, symbolic, intellectual and artistic endeavors."[2]

Each sociocultural system depends on the ecosystem of which it is a part. If a sociocultural system functions in a way that constantly degrades the carrying capacity of the ecosystem, that degradation will eventually lead to the collapse of the sociocultural system. See Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.[3]

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".[4] The term sociocultural system is most likely to be found in the writings of anthropologists who specialize in ecological anthropology.

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. ^ Margolis, M.L., Kottak, C.P. (2008). "Marvin Harris (1927−2001)". American Anthropologist, Volume 105 Issue 3, pages 685−688.
  3. ^ Diamond, Jared (2005). Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York, NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-303655-6
  4. ^ Kauffman, Draper L. (1980). Systems One: An Introduction to Systems Thinking. Minneapolis, MN: Future Systems Inc. ISBN 978-99962-805-1-1