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Chapter 2 outline - Chapter 2 Culture What is Culture...

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Chapter 2: Culture What is Culture? Easier to define by description rather than definition Culture is the language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, and even objects that are passed from one generation to the next Material culture are the material objects that distinguish a group of people such as their art, buildings, weapons, utensils, machines, hairstyles, clothing, etc. Nonmaterial culture ( or also called symbolic culture ) is a group’s way of thinking (beliefs, values, etc.) and doing ( common patterns of behavior like language and other forms of interaction ) People are more comfortable with the customs they learn during childhood and often become uncomfortable when their basic assumptions of the world are challenged Culture and Taken-for-Granted Orientations to Life: It is essential to understand how culture affects people’s lives Our speech, gestures, beliefs and customs are normally taken for granted o We assume they are “normal” or “natural” and we follow them without question o Ralph Linton said “The last thing a fish would ever notice would be water.” Came into this world without a language, values, religion, money, love etc. o So essential in determining the type of people we’ve become o At this point in our lives, we have acquired them and by sociologist definitions this is called culture within us o Example on pg. 37 “Culture becomes the lens through which we perceive and evaluate what is going on around us” remains largely beyond our perceptions Culture shock is the disorientation people experience when in contact with a fundamentally different culture o No longer depend on their taken-for-granted assumptions about life An important consequence of culture within us is ethnocentrism o The use of one’s own culture as a yard-stick for judging the ways of other individuals or societies, generally leading to a negative evaluations of their values, norms and behaviors o All of us learn the ways of our groups are good, right, proper and sometimes superior than other ways of life o Sociologist William Sumner developed this concept saying “One’s own group is the center of everything and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it” Ethnocentrism has positive and negative consequences o POSITIVE it creates in-group loyalties o NEGATIVE can lead to discrimination against people whose ways differ from ours IN SUM: 1. There is nothing “natural” about material culture -Arabs wear gowns on streets which is natural to them; Americans do the same with jeans 2. There is nothing “natural” about nonmaterial culture -It is just as arbitrary to stand in line as it is to push and shove 3. Culture penetrates deep into our thinking -Taken-for-granted lens through which we see the world and obtain perception of reality
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4. Culture provides implicit instructions that tell us what we ought to do and how we ought to think -Fundamental basis for our decision making 5.
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