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What Is Culture? How does culture link the individual to society?

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Presentation on theme: "What Is Culture? How does culture link the individual to society?"— Presentation transcript:

1 What Is Culture? How does culture link the individual to society?
1. Ralph Linton’s definition: Problem: To what extend can the cultural progamming socialize the individual into the society (to make him meet the norms and requirements of the society)?

2 What is Culture? What use is culture to the individual?
2. Goodenough’s definition: Problem:

3 What is Culture? How to define the ‘borders’ of a culture?
Child and Kiese’s definition: Question: to what extent do the characteristics of the groups, say ‘Texans’, ‘Parisians’, or ‘docs’, or ‘showbiz’, relating to certain patterns of thought, belief or behaviour, really differentiate them from other cultural groups?

4 Elements of Culture The element which derives from biological needs:
Eating: Muslim, Buddhism, Jewish, … Sexual behaviour: circumcision and clitoridectomy Death: funeral, mourning, …

5 Elements of Culture Language: Whorf-Sapir hypothesis:
The language we learn in the community where we are born and raise shapes and structures our world-view and our social behaviour. (could be challenged, in many cases language simply reflects culture.)

6 Elements of Culture Language: Example 1: business negocio 商業
See Handout 1

7 Elements of Culture Social institutions, material and symbolic production Social institutions: 7 universal types by Malinowski) 1. Family; clan (Scotland, 氏族, 宗親會…) 2. A horde of nomads, village, town, region, province, the ‘mega-tribe’ 3. 晚晴協會, boy/girl scout, 中華民國殘障協會 4. Freemanson (, Rotary Club, 洪門,

8 Elements of Culture Social Intuitions:
5. American Medical Association (AMA) 6. Social class system, caste system 7. State, nation-state (Tibetans in China; gays/lesbian in Catholic countries; Swedish-speaking Finns in Finland)

9 Elements of Culture Productions:
1. Material productions: food, clothing, ornaments, 2. Productions of intellect, artistry and service: Credit card; world wide web; War and Peace; Aquina, Hume, 莊子; Music;

10 Elements of Culture Symbolic and sacred elements: symbol
Physic world metaphysical world Example: Fire; color; cross; 八卦; Swastika; OM; serpent;

11 Culture and nationality
culture ≠ nationality one culture → one nation → state (nation state) (theoretically desired but practically impossible) Example: India: one nation, sub-cultures Swiss: one nation, multi-culture Singapore: one nation, multi-culture Kurds: one culture, multi-nation

12 Sources of Culture Sources of culture (at the individual level):
language(s); nationality; education; profession; group (ethnicity); religion; family; sex; social class; corporate or organizational culture Example: Chinese American, female, playwright, Christian, …

13 Culture and competence
What influence the competence of people in different cultures? Environmental variables, e.g, climate; continental v.s. oceanic: only an indirect influence Physiological variable: scarcely credible now Education systems and rearing practices: Feeding and nourishing, weaning, personal hygiene and toilet training, the degree and modes so socialization into various parts of the community (with other children, with adult, with the opposite sex), the reward/sanction systems

14 Culture and social representations
1. a class of psychic and social phenomena that relate the individual to the social aspect of collective life. 2. Miniatures of behaviour, copies of reality and forms of operational knowledge in order to reach and implement everyday decisions.

15 Culture and social representations
According to what criteria do you make your health-care decision? If you want to make yourself look more beautiful, what will you do? family violence: Do people see violence in their own or others’ families differently before and after the enforcement of ‘家庭暴力防治法’?

16 Culture and social representations
Cultural representations (orientations): Being or doing Power distance: hierarchical or egalitarian Linerity or cyclicity of time Collectivism or individualism Categorical or holistic thinking Logic: straight or curve

17 Culture and social representations
Social presentations: Less profound, constantly updated through social situations, individual behaviour and social activities (ten to twenty years); more suited to the urgent need for collective and individual adaptation to reality. Culture presentations—change over centuries

18 Assignment 1
Search the website listed above. After reading the writings (at least for five countries/regions) about different country, write your own ‘How to tell if you’re a Taiwanese (or Chinese, Hukanese, …whatever you would like to call yourself)’

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