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 an 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.