1_25 - Culture Overview Culture and Society Elements of...

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Unformatted text preview: Culture Overview Culture and Society Elements of Culture Differing Perspectives on the Elements of Culture Culture and Society Culture is the totality of learned, socially transmitted customs and knowledge Shared ways of understanding and behaving Includes language, values, norms, material objects... Culture and Society A society is a group of people defined by a shared culture and territory Since sociology is the study of human societies and human behavior... understanding culture is critical! Elements of Culture Material & Nonmaterial Culture Material Culture: material objects that distinguish a cultural group Examples... Art, buildings, utensils, hairstyles, clothing, jewelry... Material & Nonmaterial Culture Elements of Culture Nonmaterial Culture: the ways of thinking, being, and doing that distinguish a cultural group Beliefs, values, and other assumptions about the world Common patterns of behavior, including language, gestures, and other forms of interaction Elements of Culture Nonmaterial Culture Nonmaterial culture sometimes referred to as Symbolic Culture A symbol is anything to which people attach meaning What meanings do you attach to the following symbols... Elements of Culture Language A system symbols (spoken and sometimes written) that allow people to communicate Critical to transmission of culture Represents our culturally shared "reality" How we perceive the world Who we are (group identity) Elements of Culture Gestures Ways in which people use their bodies to communicate with others Nonverbal language Hook'em horns, thumbs up... Elements of Culture Values Culturally defined ideas about desirability, goodness, and what ought to be Underlie our belief systems Statements about the world that we hold to be true Elements of Culture Norms Rules by which society guides the behavior of its members Like an instruction booklet for social living Shared understanding of norms allows for social control Culture shock occurs when we don't understand cultural norms Elements of Culture Sanctions Rewards or penalties for upholding or violating social norms Positive sanction: reward for following norms (Ex. a smile; a medal of honor) Negative sanction: penalty for violating norms (Ex. a frown; execution) Elements of Culture Types of Norms Mores (morays): Norms that society takes very seriously and enforces strictly (carry severe sanctions) Folkways: Norms that society takes less seriously and enforces less strictly Widespread disobedience of either leads to social disorder Elements of Culture Subcultures A social group that shares distinctive cultural characteristics within a larger, dominant culture Cajuns, gangs, RV campers, sororities and fraternities... Differing Perspectives on the Elements of Culture The Functionalist Perspective Strong central values and norms provide social stability and consensus Cultural beliefs and practices will persist if they are functional for society Societies often allow for moral holidays Mardi Gras, Spring Break... Differing Perspectives on the Elements of Culture The Conflict Perspective Dominant Ideology: cultural beliefs and practices that help maintain the interests of the powerful Powerful groups not only control wealth, but the means of producing beliefs about reality Religion, education, media... In Sum Culture fundamentally influences social dynamics Personal and collective identity Behaviors and expectations The very way we understand the world we live in ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course SOCL 2001 taught by Professor Mecom during the Spring '07 term at LSU.

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