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The smallest unit of culture is called a trait. According to Hoebel, trait is a reputedly irreducible unit of learned behavior pattern or material product thereof.
Traits of the material culture would include such things as the nail, the screwdriver; the pencil etc and the nonmaterial culture would be shaking hands, saluting the flag or driving. Each culture includes thousands of traits.
Culture complex is a cluster of related traits. Another cluster of objects, skills and attitudes form the surfing complex. The culture complex is intermediate between the trait and the institution. An institution is a series of complexes centering upon an important activity. Thus the family includes the engagement-marriage complex, the honeymoon complex, the child-care complex and several others. Some complexes are part of institutions; others revolving around less important activities such as stamp collecting are simply independent complexes.