Soc 160- lecture notes

Soc 160- lecture notes - Soc 160 Soc of Culture Lecture 1...

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Soc 160 Soc of Culture Lecture 1 What is Culture? Modernity Problematic Culture o Nature came into existence What is nature? Nature was created in the 17 th century The environment of culture and natural world was mixed and coexists Scientists came into existence to study nature Nature (science) avoided theology /omnipotence Led to technology (modern era) Development of Ideas, Motivation, Social Order Universal ideas in Europe o Ideas/values were imposed on the world The “Other” People The imposed o Who are they? Why do they not share the same values/ o Universalism v. Rationalism Main Topics 1. The Locus of Culture? (Where is it?) 2. Function of Culture 3. Problems of Cultural Interpretation 4. Geertz and Bellah (Reading) Sources of the enlightenment What is Culture? The real question is “what is not culture?” o There is always choice when it comes to culture o We choose what culture we belong to Locus of Culture Approaches in 2 directions 1. Max Weber: Sociology studies what culture is- it is a context of subjective meanings (personal point of view) Weber says that culture is located at where we study it ( relativism ) It is located within our heads/hearts 2. Emile Durkheim Studied from the observation of objective behaviors (standard definition of meanings to follow) Culture as a form of symbolic representations o Everything in culture can be viewed either subjectively (Weber) or objectively (Durkheim) Social Function of Culture Durkheim : Culture is what binds people together Marx/Hegel: It also has the function of the legitimization of authority
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o Marx was interested in the role of culture in validating power/authority o Is there such thing as illegitimate power? o Culture helps legitimizing power, but can fail at the same time o How can culture begin to change social evolution ? Freud: The civilization of the individual o No matter where we live, we are born as feral animals o How do we come to respect authority? o Where do rules come from? Why do we obey them? If we are feral, then does civilization curb our inhibitions? Collective Orientation o Who are we? Where are we? What is the nature of the world? o General questions that are somewhat unanswered o Culture can sometimes answer this, or address this. Geertz: Thick Description Example of culture in subjective meanings o We are born in a web of signification o It is up to the ethnographer to interpret what he sees o If everything is truly subjective , then how do we know who is right, and who is wrong? How can subjective meaning be scientific? o It is not like other sciences, we have to use our own interpretations (ex: Cohen and his involvement with different cultures) o Ethnographer’s job Is to interpret meanings Ex: Cohen Jewish merchant gets restitution, French police assumed he’s a Jew who steals Ethnographer : Explain why people act the way they act o Cautions We can’t expect definitive explanations
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Soc 160- lecture notes - Soc 160 Soc of Culture Lecture 1...

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