Introduction to Sociology
Monday February 8, 2010
Culture lecture, presented by Daina Harvey
We used to think of culture as limited to the sorts of things we might now think of as "high
culture," such as art and classical music, but now culture is a more inclusive concept and extends
to such things as graffiti artists and pop performers (e.g., Lady Gaga).
consists of the values, norms, material goods, practices, and ways of seeing and thinking
about the world that members of a given group hold.
are ideas about what is desirable, good, proper, or bad, wrong, evil. But don't all societies
share similar values? Yes and no. There are what we call cultural universals. These are ideas or
beliefs shared by all cultures or better yet held by all (or most). But many values are not quite so
widespread, so we can't just conclude all societies share similar values.
are the rules people are expected to observe in a given range of social situations, so that
when people violate norms, there is usually some type of sanction. If men work and women take
care of the home, we might punish women for entering the work force. There are also
proscriptions against certain activities, such as having sex with dead people – most cultures have
rules against this.
The part of the definition of culture most people are probably most familiar with are
). These are simply the physical objects we associate with particular groups
of people. Cultural products can go global, such as the Zhuzhu, which was most popular
Christmas toy in 2009. Other cultural products remain more local, as the sorts of homes we see
in Norway and Japan can be quite different from what we're used to seeing in the US.
are simply ways of doing things. You can think of norms as formal ways of doing
things and practices as informal.
3rd Rock from the Sun
clip on tipping (in restaurants). Why was it funny, or why was it
supposed to be funny? There are several scripts involved, including the script that if you
antagonize your waiter, s/he might do something to your food.
Example: You run into a Japanese man asking for the name of block in US. That sounds strange,
because here the blocks don't have names. Streets have names, but blocks do not, so the man's
question seems strange. If you went to Japan, however, and asked for the name of a street, you'd
be informed that the streets have no names. Rather, blocks have names (or numbers). If you want
to find a particular house on a particular block, you should keep in mind houses are numbered