The two main perspectives that one can sociologically understand culture is though the functionalist perspective and the conflict perspective. Functionalist sociologists argue that society is a whole and consists of several independent parts[s2]. This can be proved because the functionalist perspective focuses in social institutions. Institutions in this respect is defined as a pattern of shared and stable behavior. This institutions are patterns of behavior that is carried out by large numbers of people and is such as religion, work , and education.
It can be argued that religions are social institutions because the shape the way humans think and act [s3]and also govern their everyday actions. As example, churches for Christians are social institutions; The Christians are required to attend church for mass every Sunday. This pattern of behavior is shared by a unanimous crowd of Christians all over the world. Furthermore, functionalists look at society in two different levels. The first level consists of basic cultural values and norms.
These are core social values and the ideas at this level is general and very abstract. It can also be proved that the ideas at this level are bound by certain rules. As example, the right to free speech is among the ideas at this level, and although every human on the face of the planet has a right to free speech, it is paramount that they do not go over the border with what they are trying to say[s4], may it be about another person, about an institution, or even the government. The second level looks at the different groups in society and exists at a sub-cultural level.
Sub cultural levels relate to the fact that the membership of different sub-cultural groups will produce new norms and values in an individuals life. As example, the membership of a person in a skinhead and neo-nazi sub-cultural group will subject an individual to the norms and lifestyles of a skinhead su`chsuch as shaving their heads bald, tattoingtattooing the Nazi symbol on their bodies, as well as directly contributing to racism against immigrants by neo-Nazi Americans in the United States of America. Moreover, these are learnt through direct experience with the social world and not from institutions as it was discussed earlier.