Difference between Culture and Society

Key Difference: Culture reflects the characteristics that describe a society at a particular time; and the culture is mostly associated with the art forms. On the other hand, society is a long-standing group of people sharing cultural aspects such as language, dress, norms of behavior and artistic forms.

Wikipedia defines culture as “The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively”. The word culture has been derived from Latin word ‘cultura’, meaning cultivation.  In 18th or 19th century, the word culture was used in Europe to refer to a process of cultivation or improvement. Later in the 19th century, the term evolved and started being used for referring to the betterment or refinement of the society and, then to fulfillment of national ideals or aspirations. In 20th century, it finally emerged as an important concept in anthropology describing the human related phenomena that cannot be considered genetically inherited. It is an attribute referring to members of groups. Culture is always transmitted by the society, not by an individual.

Wikipedia defines society as “A group of people involved with each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or social territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations”. The word society has been derived from the Latin word ‘societas’, meaning bond or interaction among parties or friends. When one says that the society which he recently shifted in is much more tolerant than the old one, it means he is talking about the community where he is residing now.

Culture is a historic perspective and traditional beliefs and practices that are ongoing over the generations, whereas, society has to do everything with laws, government, constitutions, family, and many things. In short, one has to live a social life considering all these aspects in life. Society can also have many different cultures but one culture is always dominant.

Comparison between Culture and Society:






  • The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.
  • These patterns, traits, and products are considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population.
  • The totality of social relationships among humans.
  • A group of humans broadly distinguished from other groups by mutual interests, participation in characteristic relationships, shared institutions, and a common culture.

Derived from

Latin word ‘cultura’

Latin word ‘societas’

Sum total

Is the sum total of beliefs, practices and moral values that are ongoing over the generations

Is the sum total of all different social groups and their interactions


Products, arts, music and cuisine of a society

Intellectual and artistic sensitivity


Culture is more real concept than society

Society is more abstract concept than culture


It is a collective body of knowledge, including attitudes, norms, etc.

It is the resultant behavior of the people who know the body of knowledge.

Related to

Culture is related to a person

A person is related to his own society


A culture represents an individual

A small and a large group of the same culture represents a society

CULTURE is basically the sharing of values and knowledge by a SOCIETY.

Image Courtesy: sexandthestate.com, mindful.org

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