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C HAPTER 3: C ULTURE & N ORMS. W HAT I S C ULTURE ? The knowledge, values, customs, and material objects passed from one group to another group or society.

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Presentation on theme: "C HAPTER 3: C ULTURE & N ORMS. W HAT I S C ULTURE ? The knowledge, values, customs, and material objects passed from one group to another group or society."— Presentation transcript:


2 W HAT I S C ULTURE ? The knowledge, values, customs, and material objects passed from one group to another group or society (Culture is) “A toolkit for the survival of mankind” Society and Culture are independent, neither could exist without the other In order for a society to survive there must be laws, rules, and guidelines, all of which are culture driven Functionalists might call it a “symbiotic” relationship Some cultures vary widely from others For instance the “Horns” sign commonly used at sports events in the U.S. implies that your spouse is unfaithful in Italy Even more diametric; the symbol for “ok,” in Tunisia means “I’ll kill you!” I hope at least the “peace” sign is universal…

3 T HE I MPORTANCE OF C ULTURE We (humans) are not born with the information necessary to survive, i.e. we have no instincts Nurture and not Nature An instinct is an unlearned biological behavior common to members of the same species (Spiders do not need to learn how to build webs, they just know instinctually) Reflexes and Drives A reflex is an involuntary response to physical stimuli Sneezing and blinking when faced with an irritant A drive is an unlearned impulse that satisfy basic needs Sleep, food, water, and (ahem) “procreation” Culture however can channel these reflexes and drives For sneezing, the appropriate way to respond to a sneeze

4 S UB - TYPES OF C ULTURE Material and Non-Material culture Material culture consists of the physical or tangible creations that can be made, used, or shared Food, Books, … anything “touchable” Technology is the knowledge, techniques, and tools to transform resources into usable forms Non-Material culture consists of the abstract or intangible creations that influence people’s behavior Language, Beliefs, Values, … anything of a mental construct Cultural Universals Customs and practices common to all societies Sports, bodily adornment, social institutions, (and many more!)

5 C OMPONENTS OF C ULTURE All cultures have four common components Symbols, language, values, and norms Ultimately, these four things cause either harmony or strife across societies Symbols Anything that meaningfully represents something else (A Valentine’s heart : Love) (Swastika : Hate) (Siren : Warning) Everything, arguably, could be considered symbolic of something Language A set of symbols that express ideas, and enables people to think and communicate with one another Verbal, gestural, written, even smell (subconsciously)! Sapir-Whorf hypothesis Language shapes the view(s) of reality of its speakers Language precedes thought, i.e. no language, no thought

6 L ANGUAGE AND G ENDER Quite often in the English language people often inadvertently connote predispositions to men and women when asked to describe them. For example: Women are often described by their sexual objectivity as foxes, broads, babes, chicks, or miss/ mrs. Men tend to be described by their sexual prowess as dudes, studs, or hunks (Keep in mind connotations vary greatly from generation to generation) The English language ignores women! It uses masculine forms of words to refer to human beings in general Chairman, mankind Certain words carry connotations, either negative or positive Connotations are implied definitions, dictated by a persons opinion often Denotations are the accepted, dictionary definition of the word Male TermFemale TermNeutral Term Teacher Steward Chairman Janitor Bachelor Policeman Doctor Teacher Stewardess Chairwoman Maid Spinster Policewoman Doctor Teacher Flight attendant Chairperson Custodian Single Police officer Doctor

7 V ALUES Value contradictions : Mutually exclusive values (We may want to help but it might be impossible to do so) Ideal Culture Values and standards in society profess to hold Realistic Culture Values and standards people actually follow For example: People claim to be very law abiding, yet smoke marijuana (hmm…) People think themselves to be good drivers, yet constantly drive over the speed limit Values are collective ideas about right and wrong, good or bad, and desirable or undesirable in a particular culture Do we have Core Values in the United States? Ten Core Values identified by Robin M. Williams, Jr. in the 1970’s Not THE Robin Williams, this guy is much less funny… 1) Individualism (ability, work ethic, responsibility) 2) Achievement and Success (do better in life) 3) Activity and Work (“work in play,” active lifestyle) 4) Science and Technology (expectations from…) 5) Progress and Comfort (goods, services, and necessities) 6) Efficiency and Practicality (bigger, better, faster things) 7) Equality (class equality and opportunity) 8) Morality and Humanitarianism (aiding others in need) 9) Freedom and Liberty (self explanatory) 10) Racism and Superiority (value group above others)

8 N ORMS Established rules of behavior or standards of conduct Prescriptive Norms What behavior is appropriate or acceptable Proscriptive Norms What behavior is inappropriate or unacceptable Formal and Informal Norms Formal norms are written down, and often carry specific punishments for violators Positive or negative; praise and honors; versus, disapproval to the death penalty! Informal norms are unwritten, often carry informal sanctions and are often not clearly defined (they often vary among sub- groups) Informal sanctions may include but are not limited to: frowns, gestures, scoffs, remarks, etc.

9 D EGREES OF N ORMS The following are considered to be of increasing degree as one progresses downward Norms are often classified by their relative social importance Folkways Informal, everyday customs that if violated carry little consequences, and are not enforced Lack of: deodorant, brushing teeth, or appropriate clothing Mores (“Mor-ays”) A particular cultures strongly held norms with moral and ethical connotations that may not be violated without serious consequences May result in loss of employment, ridicule, or imprisonment “ Taboos, ” strong mores that their violation is extremely offensive, and unmentionable Incest is a widely accepted taboo Laws Formal, standardized norms enacted by legislatures and enforced throughout

10 C ULTURAL C HANGE Cultures are not static, they often change over time Typically, cultures change with the onset of major technology (and understanding), or a radical regime change Cultural Lag Cultural Lag (coined by William Ogburn) is the gap between technical development and its moral and legal institutions Occurs when material culture changes faster than non-material culture Onset of computers and personal privacy for instance Changes that can alter culture: Discovery, invention, and diffusion Learning and recognizing, new technology, transmission of other culture

11 C ULTURAL D IVERSITY The range of cultural differences within a nation Nations can be homogenous or heterogeneous Essentially same or different (Sweden compared to the U.S.A.) Subcultures Category of people who share distinguishing attributes, beliefs, values, and/or norms that set them apart from the primary culture in some way. Significant age differences, the Amish, Native Americans, Ethnic groups in nation (like Chinatown or Little Havana) Countercultures Group that rejects dominant societal values and norms Beatniks (‘50’s), Flower Children (‘60’s), Drug Enthusiasts (‘70’s)**, members of cults and sects **How old is Professor Thomas?...

12 C ULTURE S HOCK, E THNOCENTRISM, AND R ELATIVISM Culture Shock refers to disorientation upon experiencing radically different cultures See Napoleon Chagnon and the Yanomamö tribe (pg. 92) Ethnocentrism The practice of judging all other cultures by one’s own culture Positive or negative; anthems and flags, to superiority and stereotypes Cultural Relativism The belief that the behaviors and customs of any culture must be analyzed by the culture’s own standards See Hinduism and sacred cattle (pg. 93)

13 G LOBAL P OPULAR C ULTURE Cultural Imperialism: The extensive infusion of one nation’s culture into other nations For Example The widespread infusion of the English language The second most exported item in the U.S. is its culture in the form of films, clothing, and pop- culture High Culture versus Popular Culture High Culture consists of classical music, opera, ballet, live theater, heavy European influence Typically found among Upper and Upper-middle class persons Popular Culture consists of activities, products, and services that are assumed to appeal to the middle and working class Rock concerts, sports events, sit-coms, etc. U.S. pop-culture is considered “homegrown” Forms of Pop-Culture Fad A temporary but widely copied activity, followed enthusiastically by a large number of people Four sub-categories: object, activity, idea, personality Fashion Currently valued style of behavior, thinking, or appearance, usually more widespread than a fad Leisure Activity Culturally accepted form of activity

14 A S OCIOLOGICAL A NALYSIS OF C ULTURE Functionalist Culture helps people meet their biological, instrumental, and expressive needs Conflict Ideas are a cultural creation of society’s most powerful members and can be used by the ruling class to affect the thoughts and actions of members of other classes Control via cultural occupation of lower class Symbolic-Interactionis t People create, maintain, and modify culture during their everyday activities; however, cultural creations can take on a life of their own and end up controlling people Postmodern Much of culture today is based on simulation of reality rather than reality itself How television and internet depict reality Macro-levelMicro-level

15 R EFERENCES AND A CKNOWLEDGEMENTS o Sociology In Our Times (Seventh Edition) o By: Diana Kendall o Notes incorporated o By: James V. Thomas, NIU Professor (Emeritus) o Formatted By: Jacob R. Kalnins, NIU student o Pictures Incorporated o Clip Art (PowerPoint: 2007) o Google Images: Sociology In Our Times

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