Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Chapter 2: Culture Jennifer L. Fackler, M.A. What Is Culture? What Is Culture? Culture - the values , beliefs, behavior, and material objects that, together, form a peoples way of life Influences: What we think, how we act, and what we own. Our goals, sense of justice, and personal feelings. Material Culture - the tangible, physical

things created by members of a society Ex: Books, Cell Phones, Others? Nonmaterial Culture - the ideas created by members of a society Ex: Religion, Others? Society people who interact in a defined Culture Shock & Operationalizing Culture Culture Shock personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life

Examples? How many cultures are there? How could we operationalize culture? Language 200 in the U.S. 7,000 Globally Culture & Human Intelligence 3M Years Ago: Instinct Culture 250K Years Ago: Rapidly Developing Culture Evidence: Tools & Cave Art 12k Years Ago: Birth of Civilization Permanent Settlements

Creation of Specialized Occupations Fashioned the natural environment for themselves. Ever since Humans have made and remade their world in countless ways, resulting in our current cultural diversity. Elements of Culture Symbols Symbol anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share a

culture Examples? Human beings are unique because we sense our surrounding world but also give it meaning by transforming the elements of the world into symbols. We can create and manipulate symbols. Example: Winking Interest, Understanding, Insult New symbols are created all the time. Example: Emoticons We usually take our cultures symbols for granted. Example: Flag Language

Language a system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another Key to cultural transmission, the process by which one generation passes culture to the next. Language is what sets us apart from other creatures. Self-Conscious Aware of Our Limitations Aware of Our Mortality Able to Dream & Hope Human Languages: A Variety of Symbols Here the single English word Read is written in twelve of the

hundreds of languages humans use to communicate with one another. Language Does language shape reality? Does someone who speaks Cherokee experience the world differently from those who think in English? Sapir-Whorf Thesis: people see and understand the world through the cultural lens of language. Each language has its own distinctive symbols that serve as building blocks of reality.

Each language has words or expressions not found in any other symbolic system. All languages fuse symbols with distinctive emotions so that a single idea may feel different in different languages. Current thinking is that we fashion reality Values & Beliefs Values culturally defined standards that people use to decide what is desirable, good, and beautiful Serve as broad guidelines for social living. What people use to make choices about how

to live. Abstract standards of goodness. Underlie beliefs. Example: Equal Opportunity; Others? Beliefs specific ideas that people hold to be true Particular matters that people consider true or false. Values & Beliefs Key Values of US Culture What are they? Robin Williams (1970) Central to Our Way of Life Equal Opportunity (vs. Equality) Achievement & Success

Material Comfort Activity & Work Practicality & Efficiency Progress Science Democracy & Free Enterprise Freedom Racism & Group Superiority What are some key cultural values elsewhere? Selected Countries A general global pattern is that higher-income countries tend to be secular-rational and favor self-expression. By

contrast, the cultures of lower-income countries tend to be more traditional and concerned with economic survival. Each region of the world, however, has distinctive cultural patterns, including religious traditions, that affect values. Looking at the figure, what patterns can you see? Source: Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy by Ronald Inglehart and Christian Weizel, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Values & Beliefs Values: Sometimes in Conflict Reflects cultural diversity. Sparks cultural change. Causes strain and often leads to awkward balancing acts in our beliefs. We usually learn to live with the contradictions. Emerging Values Values change over time. Values: A Global Perspective Values differ in high and low-income

countries. How? Lower-Income: Survival, Tradition Higher-Income: Individual, Expression, Secular- Life Objectives of FirstYear College Students, 19692007 Researchers have surveyed first-year college students every year since 1969. While attitudes about some things such as the importance of family have stayed about the same, attitudes about other life goals have changed dramatically. Sources: Astin et al. (2002) and Pryor et al. (2005).

Norms Norms rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members Basic rules of everyday life. Make our dealings with others more orderly and predictable. The most important norms in a culture apply everywhere and at all times. Example: Obedience from Young Children; Others? Other norms depend on the situation. Example: Applaud After a Performance; Others?

Why are some norms more important than others? Who decides? Sanctions rewards or punishments that encourage conformity to cultural norms Norms: Two Categorizations Proscriptive vs. Prescriptive Proscriptive states what we should not do Example: Avoid Casual Sex; Others? Prescriptive states what we should do Example: Practice Safe Sex; Others? Mores vs. Folkways Mores norms that are widely observed and

have great moral significance Right vs. Wrong Example: Adults should not have sex with children. Folkways norms for routine or casual interaction Right vs. Rude Example: Men should wear ties to formal events. Ideal & Real Culture IMPORTANT! Values and norms do not describe actual behavior so much as they suggest how we should behave. Ideal culture (values and norms) always

differs from real culture (what actually occurs). Examples? Faithfulness in Marriage We SHOULD be faithful to our spouse (ideal culture). But many people cheat on their spouses (real culture). Technology & Culture Material Culture & Technology Artifacts a wide range of physical human creations; part of material culture Partly reflect underlying cultural values.

Partly reflect a societys level of technology. Examples: Chopsticks vs. Cutlery; Automobiles in America Technology knowledge that people use to make a way of life in their surroundings The more complex a societys technology, the more its members are able to shape the world for themselves. Ex: Superhighways; Others? Both a blessing and a curse. Ex: Medicine vs. Violence; Others? Not equally distributed. Ex: The Digital Divide

Gerhard Lenski Gerhard Lenski described how societies changed over the past 10k years; focused on technology and how it shapes society; helps us understand the major differences among societies Sociocultural Evolution changes that occur as a society gains new technology Simple Technology little control over nature; can support just a small number of people

Complex Technology support hundreds of millions of people in far more affluent ways of life Inventing or Adopting New Technology Societal Change Technology Faster Change Do you agree or disagree? Examples? 5 Types of Societies: H&G, H&P, A, I, P-I Gerhard Lenski Hunting & Gathering 3M-200 Years Ago; use simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation Everyone spends most of their time searching for game & plants. Men Hunt & Women Gather - But both of the tasks were seen as

equally important so the sexes had roughly the same social importance. Small societies comprised of several dozen people living in a nomadic, family-like group. No formal leaders. Egalitarian way of life. Vulnerable to the forces of nature due to limited technology. Gerhard Lenski Horticultural & Pastoral Began ~10k Years Ago H the use of hand tools to raise crops

Formed Settlements P the domestication of animals Nomadic, searching for grazing land. Populations expanded from dozens to hundreds. Greater Specialization Of Labor More Socially Diverse More Inequality Due to material surplus that required only certain members of society to be focused on getting food. Gerhard Lenski Agrarian began ~5k years ago; large-scale

cultivation using plows harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources Dawn of Civilization Resided in permanent settlements. Expanded in size and population. Even greater specialization of labor. People had a greater range of life choices. Exhibit extreme social inequality (even more than present). Gerhard Lenski Industrial started around 1775; the production of goods using advanced sources of energy to drive large machinery (steam engine)

Drew people away from the home and reduced importance of family and tradition. Made the world seem smaller. Higher living standards for all. Greater Individualism and Personal Freedom Gerhard Lenski Postindustrial term was coined in 1973; the production of information using computer technology Rather than producing things, produces ideas and information. Changes the skills that define a way of life.

We now create symbolic culture on an unprecedented scale: new words, music, and images. Do all 5 still exist somewhere in the world today? Examples? Gerhard Lenski Limits of Technology? Provides no quick-fix for social problems. Creates its own new problems. Gives us more personal freedom, but destroys our sense of community. Social Networking Sites?

Can be used for both good and evil. Threatens the physical environment. Cultural Diversity High Culture & Popular Culture High Culture cultural patterns that distinguish a societys elite Examples? Popular Culture cultural patterns that are widespread among a societys population

Mass media and celebrities have great importance in its spread. Examples? Which is superior? Neither elites nor ordinaries share all the same tastes and interests. Does high culture receive praise because it is inherently better or because its supporters have more money, power, and prestige? Ex: Violin vs. Fiddle Subcultures & Countercultures Subculture cultural patterns that set apart

some segment of a societys population Ex: Korean Americans, Yankees, Others? We participate in many subcultures without having much commitment to any of them. Involve both difference and hierarchy. Dominant or Mainstream? Favored by powerful segments of the population. Source of variety, but also tension and sometimes violence. Ex: Religious Wars, Ethnic Cleansing Counterculture cultural patterns that

strongly oppose those widely accepted within Multiculturalism, Ethnocentrism & Cultural Relativism What seems right and natural in one society can be seen as puzzling and even immoral in others. Ethnocentrism the practice of judging another culture by the standards of ones own culture Necessary to be attached to your own way of life. But can generate misunderstanding and conflict. Cultural Relativism the practice of judging a culture by its own standards

Requires openness. Gives rise to questions If almost any kind of behavior is the norm somewhere, does that mean everything is equally right? How can we avoid imposing our own standards on others? Multiculturalism a perspective recognizing the cultural diversity of the US and promoting equal standing for all cultural traditions The View from Down Under North America should be up and South America down, or so we think.

But because we live on a globe, up and down have no meaning at all. The reason this map of the Western Hemisphere looks wrong to us is not that it is geographically inaccurate; it simply violates our ethnocentric assumption that the United States should be above the rest of the Americas. Cultural Change Cultural Integration the close relationships among various elements of a cultural system Change in one part of a culture usually sparks change in others. Example: Working Women Delays Marriage Age & Raises Divorces

Cultural Lag the fact that some cultural elements change more quickly than others, disrupting a cultural system Example: Genetic Advances Law & Medicine Three Causes of Cultural Change: Invention continual process of creating new cultural elements Ex: Telephone, Airplane, Others? Discovery recognizing and better understanding more fully something already in existence Ex: Planets, Herbs & Plants, Others? Diffusion spread of cultural traits from 1 society to another;

impact of globalization? Ex: Coins, Food, Others? A Global Culture? Today, more than ever, we can observe many of the same cultural practices the world over. Ex: Blue Jeans, Products & Brands, Others? Why? Societies now have more contact with one another than ever before due to globalization. Global Economy Flow of Goods Global Communication Flow of Information Global Migration Flow of People

These links make the cultures of the world more similar. Limitations to this global-culture thesis: Flow is uneven with urban areas having many ties, rural areas having few ties, and world super powers (like the USA) having more influence. Assumes people everywhere can afford these goods, which is not the case. Cultural elements may be similar, but their meanings are not. Ex: Harry Potter Books in Tokyo vs. London; British Comedy; Foreign Films Theoretical Analysis of Culture Sociologists try to understand how culture helps us make sense of ourselves and the surrounding

world. Structural-Functional Analysis Explains culture as a complex strategy for meeting human needs. Values are the core of culture because they: Direct our lives. Give meaning to what we do. Bind people together (solidarity). All cultural traits have functions that support the operation of society. Seeks cultural universals, traits that are part of every known culture.

Murdock (1945) identified dozens. Like what? Family controls sexual reproduction and oversees the care of children Funeral Rites to cope with the reality of death Jokes safe means of releasing social tensions Critical Review Largely ignores cultural diversity. Downplays the importance of change. Social-Conflict Analysis Stresses the link between culture and inequality. Any cultural trait benefits some members of society at the expense of others. Culture is shaped by a societys system of economic production (Marx).

Ties our cultural values of competitiveness and material success to our countrys capitalist economy, which benefits the wealthy elite. This is encourages us to view capitalism as natural. Hope that eventually the strains of inequality will erupt into movements for social change. Ex: Civil Rights Movement, Womens Movement Critical Review Understates the ways that cultural patterns integrate members of society.

Symbolic-Interactionist Analysis What do you think symbolic-interactionists say about culture? Evolution & Culture: Sociobiology Sociobiology a theoretical approach that explores ways in which human biology affects how we create culture Rests on Darwins Theory of Evolution and 4 Principles of Natural Selection Survival of the Fittest All living things live to reproduce themselves.

The blueprint for reproduction is in the genes. Some random variation in genes allows a species to try out new life patterns in a particular environment. The variation allows some organisms to survive better than others and pass on their advantageous genes to offspring. Over thousands of generations, the genetic patterns that promote reproduction survive and become dominant. Bio-Logic: Sociobiologists claim that the large number of cultural universals reflects the fact that humans are members of a single biological species. Critical Review Could revive biological arguments that claim genetic superiority. Minimal empirical support.

Culture & Human Freedom Read page 65 in your textbook. Culture: Constraint or Freedom? As symbolic creatures, humans cannot live without culture. But the capacity for culture does have some drawbacks. We are the only creatures that experience alienation. Culture is largely a matter of habit, which limits our choices and drives us to repeat troubling

patterns. (Ex: Prejudice & Discrimination) Our societys emphasis on competitive achievement isolates us from one another. Material things divert us from the security and satisfaction that come from close relationships and spiritual strength (false consciousness). Culturgram for the 90s Customs & Courtesies Greetings Visiting Eating Gestures The People General Attitudes

Personal Appearance Population Language Religion Lifestyle The Family Dating & Marriage Diet Business Recreation Activity: Can you fill these in for various cultures?

Discussion Questions Do you think you can learn more about a people by studying their material or their nonmaterial culture? Why? Why is culture a more effective strategy for survival than reliance on instinct? How are core American values other than achievement and success reflected in childhood games? How has the virtual culture impacted you? What are the primary means by which society attempts to exert social control over its members? Is a technologically more advanced society necessarily a superior one? Do you think that teenagers constitute a distinct

American subculture? Why? Is cultural relativism always good? Under what circumstances do you feel that it is appropriate to Conclusion Culture is made up of a variety of material and non-material elements. Lenski identified the process of sociocultural evolution by which societies and cultures evolve as a result of technological innovation. There are distinct groups within each culture known as subcultures and countercultures. Cultures can and do change frequently. The various sociological paradigms view culture quite differently.

Visual Summary on Pages 67-68 Review Questions on Page 69

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