Soc Ch 2 - CHAPTER 2: Culture What is Culture? - Culture:...

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CHAPTER 2: Culture What is Culture? - Culture: the ways of thinking, the ways of acting, and the material objects that together form a people’s way of life - Nonmaterial culture consists of ideas created by members of a society (art to Zen) while material culture refers to physical things (armchairs to zippers) - Society: people who interact in a defined territory and share a culture. - Culture shapes what we do, what we think, and how we feel; wrongly called “human nature” (some cultures thing that violence is natural while others thing living peacefully is natural) - Culture shock: personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life - Only humans rely on culture rather than instinct to ensure their survival - 250,000 years ago, Homo sapiens had emerged. - 12,000 years ago, the founding of permanent settlements and the creation of specialized occupations in the Middle East marked that instincts had almost disappeared. In its place was a more efficient survival scheme: fashioning the natural environment to our purposes. - More than 200 languages are spoken in the US, most of which were brought by immigrants. - Globally, there are almost 7,000 languages documented. Roughly half of these are spoken by less than 10,000 people each. - The decline in the number of languages spoken is a result of high-technology communication, increasing international migration, and the expanding global economy. The Elements of Culture - There are four common elements between cultures: 1. Symbols: things that carry a particular meaning that is recognized by people who share a culture a. Ex. Flashing red light, wolf-whistle, raised fist. b. Culture shock is really the inability to “read” meaning in unfamiliar surroundings; not understanding symbols leaves a person feeling lost, isolated, and unsure of how to act.
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c. A traveler can experience culture shock and can inflict culture shock on others by acting in ways that offend them. d. Symbolic meanings can vary within a single society 2. Language: a system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another a. Different alphabets, different writing directions b. The three most widely spoken languages are English, Chinese, and Spanish. c. Cultural transmission: process by which one generation passes culture to the next d. Sapir-Whorf thesis holds that people see and understand the world through the cultural lens of language. i. Current thinking is that although we do fashion reality out of our symbols, evidence does not support that language determines reality (children know what family means before they learn the word) 3. Values and Beliefs a. Values: culturally defined standards that people use to decide what is desirable, good, and beautiful and that serve as broad guidelines for social living
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This note was uploaded on 12/19/2009 for the course SOC 101 taught by Professor Miller during the Fall '07 term at Ohio State.

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Soc Ch 2 - CHAPTER 2: Culture What is Culture? - Culture:...

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