Chapter 2, Culture
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Chapter 2, Culture

Course Number: SOCIOLOGY 101, Spring 2008

College/University: Mt. San Jacinto College

Word Count: 1333

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Chapter 2 Culture I Culture and Society in a Changing World Culture is the knowledge, language, values, customs, and material objects that pass from one generation to the next in society. Society or culture could not exist without the other. Nature- biological and genetic makeup. Nurture- social environment. -Tool kit- Sociologist Ann Swidler says that culture is a "tool kit of symbols, stories, rituals, and...

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2 Chapter Culture I Culture and Society in a Changing World Culture is the knowledge, language, values, customs, and material objects that pass from one generation to the next in society. Society or culture could not exist without the other. Nature- biological and genetic makeup. Nurture- social environment. -Tool kit- Sociologist Ann Swidler says that culture is a "tool kit of symbols, stories, rituals, and world views, which people use to solve different problems." A. Material Culture and Nonmaterial Culture -Material Culture- is physical or tangible creations that members of a society make, use, and share. Items of material culture begin with raw materials or resources such as ore, trees, and oil. Through technology raw materials are turned into usable items. Technology- knowledge, techniques, and tools that people transform resources into usable forms and the knowledge to use them. -Nonmaterial Culture-Abstract or intangible human creations of society that influence people's behavior, such as language, beliefs, values, rules of behavior, family patterns, and political systems. (Hand gestures) B. Cultural Universals -Cultural Universals- Anthropologist George Murdock made a list of cultural universals, which included categories of appearance (bodily adornments and hairstyles), activities (sports, dancing, games, joking, and visiting), social institutions (family, law, and religion), and customary practices (cooking, folklore, gift giving, and hospitality) Dominant cultural patterns: 1 II Components of Culture All cultures have four nonmaterial cultural components. A. Symbols -symbol- anything that meaningfully represents something else. Ex. Love, peace hate, sirens, brand logos, etc. Flags- patrtriotism Ethnicity- Black, White (people are not actually these colors). B. Language -Language-a set of symbols that express ideas and enables people to think and communicate with one another. -Sapir-Whorf hypothesis- a linguist hypothesized that shapes the view of reality of its speakers. -Language and gender- language can be seen as ignoring women by using masculine forms to refer to human beings, example: mankind, policeman etc. a) Certain jobs are considered gender specific, example: women (nurse, secretary), men (doctor, engineer. president). b) Women are thought of as sexual objects. (fox, babe). While men are, dude, stud, hunk. -Language, Race, and Ethnicity-may affect our perceptions about race and ethnicity. a) Negative images, (blackballed, black mark, Chinaman's chance of success, that's white of you) b) Derogatory terms, (nigger, honkey, chink) c) Speaking other languages ("talk English") C. Values -Values- collective ideas about what is right or wrong, good or bad, and desirable or undesirable in a culture. -Core American Values-Functionalist believe that shared values are essential for societies. The book lists some of the values. 2 -Value Contradictions-Ideal Culture versus Real Culture- D. Norms -Norms-established rules of behavior or standards of conduct. Prescriptive norms- what behavior is appropriate or acceptable. Proscriptive norms- behavior that is inappropriate or unacceptable. -Formal and informal- Formal norms are written down and involve specific punishments for violators (Laws). Sanctions-rewards for appropriate behavior or penalties for inappropriate behavior. -Folkways-informal norms or everyday customs. -Mores- strongly held norms with moral and ethical connotations that may be violated without serious consequences. Taboos- strong mores that violation is considered to be extremely offensive and even unmentionable. -Laws-formal, standardized norms that have been enacted by legislatures and enforced by formal sanctions. Civil Law- disputes among persons or groups. Criminal Law- deals with public safety and well being. III Technology, Cultural Change, and Diversity A. Cultural Change -Technology-knowledge, techniques, and tools that allow people to transform resources into usable forms and the knowledge and skills required to use what is developed. Cultural Lag- gap between tech. development and its moral and legal institutions. Invasion of privacy. 3 B. Cultural Diversity Refers to the wide range of cultural differences found between and within nations. This mat be the result of natural circumstances (climate, geography), or social circumstances (level of technology, composition of the population). Homogeneous societies- people who share a common culture and who are typically from similar social, religious, political, and economic backgrounds (Sween). Heterogeneous societies- people who are dissimilar in regard to social characteristics such as religion, income, or race/ethnicity (United States). -Subcultures- category a of people who share distinguishing attributes, beliefs, values, and/or norms that set them apart from the dominant culture. -Ethnic subcultures- African Americans, Latinos/Latinas (Hispanic Americans), Asian Americans, and some "white ethnics" [Irish, Americans, Polish Americans, Anglo Americans (Caucasians)]. -Countercultures- a group that strongly rejects dominant societal values and norms and seeks alternative lifestyles. C. Culture Shock -Culture Shock- the disorientation that people feel when they encounter cultures radically different from their own. D. Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism -Ethnocentrism- the practice of judging all other cultures by one's own culture. Positive ethno- National anthem. Negative ethno-derogatory stereotypes that ridicule immigrants. -Cultural relativism- the belief that the behaviors and customs of any culture must be viewed and analyzed by the culture's own standards. IV A Global Popular Culture? People thought that culture meant fine arts, literature, and classical music and people who were cultured meant that they had a highly developed sense of style or an appreciation of the "finer" things. 4 -High Culture- is classical music, opera, ballet, live theater and other elite things. They are people of upper-middle and upper-classes, who have time, money, and knowledge needed to appreciate fine things. -Popular culture- activities, products, and services that are assumed to appeal primarily to members of the middle and working classes. Cultural capital theory- French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu views high culture as a device used by the dominant class to exclude the subordinate class. People must be trained to appreciate high culture and, sometimes through elite educational systems, especially higher education. A. Forms of Popular Culture -Fad-a temporary but widely copied activity followed enthusiastically by large numbers of people. a) object fads- objects of little value that people purchase. b) activity fads- body piercing, diets, and the internet. c) idea fads- new age ideologies. d) personality fads- celebrities. -fashion- a currently valued style of behavior, thinking, or appearance that is longer lasting than a fad. -Leisure activitiesCultural imperialism- infusion of one nation's culture into other nations. V. Sociological Analysis of Culture Sociologists see culture through different lenses guided by different theological perspectives. A. Functionalist perspectives -Functionalist perspectives-based on the assumption that society is a stable, orderly system with interrelated parts that serve specific functions. Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski said that culture helps people meet their different desires and when they share common language and core values they are more likely to have harmony.. a) biological needs- food, procreation. b) instrumental needs- law and education. c) integrative needs- religion and art. 5 B. Conflict Perspectives -Conflict perspectives- social life is a continuous struggle in which members of groups seek to control scarce resources. Cultural creations- ideas of a society's most powerful members. Ideology- an integrated system of ideas that is external to, and coercive of, people to maintain their positions of dominance in a society. C. Symbolic Interactionist Perspectives -Symbolic interationist- a macrolevel view that society is the sum of all people's interactions. People create, maintain, and modify culture as they go about their everyday activities. D. Postmodernist Perspective -Postmodernist- believe that we should speak of cultures, rather than culture. This view contrasts the view of most theories that western culture is Eurocentric (European culture is the true universal culture in which people should believe). Picture page.67. Hyperreality- a situation where the simulation of reality is more real than the thing itself. -Complexity and diversity- postmodernist makes us aware that no single perspective can grasp the complexity and diversity of the social world and that reality may not be what it seems. -Criticisms of Postmodernism- 1) lack of clear conceptualization of ideas. 2) the tendency to critique other perspectives as being "grand narratives" where they offer their own opinions. 3)analysis of culture leads to profound pessimism about the future. Concept Table 2.A page. 71 VI Culture in the Future Cultural diversity will be more important in the future because of the attitudes in the US. In schools children speak different languages, technology will have a profound effect on the culture through television and radio (satellite), films and video, and electronic communications (internet). "Cell Phones!" 6

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