Main Difference – Culture vs Custom
The two terms culture and custom are interrelated concepts that are unique to different social groups. Culture is a complex whole including beliefs, knowledge, rituals, morals, customs, and other habits and capabilities of people. Custom is a traditional way of behaving or doing something that is specific to a particular place, time or society. The main difference between culture and custom is that custom is a part of the culture; to be more accurate, it is a representation of the culture.
What is Culture
Culture is a social phenomenon which indicates the features of a particular society. Culture can refer to the lifestyles built up by a group of people. According to E.B. Taylor, who was the founder of cultural anthropology, culture is a “complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” As this definition states culture is not inherent, but acquired and comprises of traits such as beliefs, habits, values, art, music, language, rituals and knowledge. Almost all the members of a specific culture share these cultural traits. The behavior of an individual is shaped by the culture.
Cultural practices and traits differ according to different ethnicities, nationalities, and even different age groups. Moreover, culture does not remain static; it changes over time. Culture is not a concrete concept; it is an abstract. Food, clothes, rituals, art, etc. are only material representation of culture. Therefore, the term culture can refer to different concepts. For example, culture can refer to various fields such as the way of dressing, the way of eating, ingredients used in cooking, music form, etc.
What is a Custom
A custom is a widely accepted, traditional way of behaving or doing something that is specific to a particular society, place, or time. Each society, religion, community have their own unique customs. Customs are an essential feature of culture. As mentioned above, custom can be a representation of culture. Let’s look at a Chinese wedding ceremony for example. There are unique customs and traditions that are followed. All these customs are a reflection of Chinese culture.
A particular gesture, behavior, event or act turns into a custom when it is continuously practiced. When this is followed for many years and passed down to younger generations, it becomes a tradition.
Difference Between Culture and Custom
Culture is a complex whole including beliefs, knowledge, rituals, morals, customs, and other habits and capabilities of people.
Custom is a traditional way of behaving or doing something that is specific to a particular place, time or society.
Culture is an abstract, represented through concrete elements.
Custom is a way of behaving or doing things.
Culture can be represented through custom.
Custom is a part of culture.