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Sociology and Current Affairs Chapter 3 Culture. Multicultural of the United States The most multicultural of the world Drawn from the Nation’s history.

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Presentation on theme: "Sociology and Current Affairs Chapter 3 Culture. Multicultural of the United States The most multicultural of the world Drawn from the Nation’s history."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sociology and Current Affairs Chapter 3 Culture

2 Multicultural of the United States The most multicultural of the world Drawn from the Nation’s history of immigration Preferences and tastes differ by culture –More/fewer children –Honor of elderly/young –Peaceful/warlike –What is polite, rude, beautiful, ugly, etc

3 What is Culture Values, beliefs, behavior and material objects that together form a people’s way of life Our link to the past and our guide to the future Nonmaterial Culture—the ideas created by members of a society Material culture—the physical things created by members of a society

4 Culture Shock Personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life

5 Culture Shock—Even in the US A trip to the Amish countryside in Ohio A New Yorker visits a small southern town Other examples?

6 Question What specific practices or social patterns familiar to us in the United States that would shock people from another society?

7 Humanity—No natural Way Since humans have the capacity to think, there is no one way for them to build a culture or act Only humans rely on culture rather than instinct to create a way of life and ensure our survival

8 Culture and Human Intelligence From primates of 12 million years ago –Animals with largest brains/body size –Closest relative Homo Sapiens of 40,000 years ago –People looked more or less like ourselves

9 River Valley Civilizations Permanent settlements Fashioning the natural environment for ourselves –Iraq –Egypt

10 Culture, Nation, and Society Culture—a shared way of life Nation—political entity, with borders—but not necessarily Society—the organized interaction of people who typically live in a nation or some specific territory The US is both a nation and a society

11 How Many cultures in the US Census Bureau list 200 languages –100 languages spoken in the LA school system 7000 languages spoken globally –But half are spoken by 10,000 people –Number spoken commonly is declining High technology, communication, international migration, expanding global economy accounts for decline

12 The elements of Culture Symbols Languages Values Norms etc

13 Symbols Anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share a culture –Word –Whistle (verb) –Graffiti –Raised fist –Flag –Winking the eye Interest, understanding, or insult

14 New Symbols are Created All the Time :-() I am shocked :- I am smiling :-II I am angry with you Etc

15 Symbols and Culture Shock The inability to “read” meaning in new surroundings Not sure how to act Fear What about seeing people burning the flag

16 Differences People in parts of Asia roast dogs for dinner We may offend people in India by asking for a hamburger because cows are sacred A fur coat may represent success or inhumanity to animals Confederate Flag—regional pride/history or a symbol of racial oppression

17 Language Helen Keller ( ) –Blind and deaf –Brought to understanding through sign language –Became famous educator Language –A system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another Cultural Transmission The process by which one generation passes culture to the next

18 Literacy The US—about 10% are illiterate Low income countries—about 50% are illiterate Language sets humans apart as the only creatures who are self-conscious, aware of our limitations, and ultimate mortality—able to dream and hope for the future and better

19 Does Language Shape Reality? Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf—yes! –Symbols are distinctive and build reality –Language has words or expressions not found in any other symbolic system –A single idea may “feel differently” in another language

20 Values and Beliefs Values: Culturally defined standards that people use to decide what is desirable, good, beautiful, and that serves as broad guidelines for social living. Values support beliefs Beliefs: Specific statements that people hold to be true Different—values are more abstract and beliefs more specific

21 Values and Beliefs (cont) Culturally mosaic nation The US differs from Asian countries like Japan and China—more culturally homogeneous

22 Key Values of U.S. Culture Equal opportunity Achievement and success Material comfort Activity and work Practicality and efficiency Progress Science Democracy and free enterprise Freedom Racism and group superiority

23 Values Sometimes in Conflict Do our values of equal opportunity conflict with our ways we view race and sex? Do we view values in a hierarchy? Are we becoming a “Culture of Victimization?” –Where has rugged individualism gone? –Where is accepting our responsibilities gone?

24 Values: A Global Perspective Higher income countries have different values than lower—Lower: –Lower income countries value survival –Physical safety –Economic security –Traditional values –Celebrate the past –Family, religion, obedience to authority, conformity

25 Higher Income Countries Individualism Self expression High quality of life Lifestyle Happiness Tolerant Divorce Abortion

26 Norms Rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members Proscriptive—what we should not do Prescriptive—what we should do Example: we are expected to applaud at the end of a musical entertainment event but not after a sermon

27 Mores (more-rays) and Folkways Mores: norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance Folkways: norms for routine or casual interaction –Appropriate greetings –Proper dress –Draw a line between the right and rude

28 Social Control Mores and folkways make dealings with others more orderly and predictable Social control—attempts by society to regulate people’s thoughts and behavior –Help to give people a conscious –“Downloading a term paper on the internet” can cuase some guilt –Mark Twain—people “are the only animals that that blush—or need to.”

29 Ideal and Real Culture We may not make achieve the ideal actions or behavior, but we should strive for it

30 Material Culture and Technology Physical human creations called “artifacts” We own 230 vehicles and half bought in recent years were SUVs –Rugged individualism –Consistent with the U.S.

31 Material Culture and Technology Technology—Knowledge that people use to make a way of life in their surroundings –The better the technology, the more people can make a life –The better to shape society around them

32 Technology Downside Has contributed to unhealthy levels of stress Created weapons capable of destroying mankind Amish of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana live simple live amid “commercialism and technology run wild”

33 New Information Technology and Culture Not so much working with your hands as working with symbols –Ability to speak –Ability to write –Ability to compute –Ability to design –Ability to create

34 Computer-Based Economy Generating new cultural ideas, images and products

35 Cultural Diversity: Many Ways of Life in One World The U.S. is the most multicultural of all high-income Japan, due to historic isolation, is the most monocultural of all high income nations Between 1820 and 2003, 69 million people came to our shores One million newcomers now arrive each year.

36 High Cultural and Popular Culture High culture—cultural patterns that distinguish a society’s elite Popular culture—cultural patters that are widespread among a society’s population The text author suggests we may praise high culture more simply because people have more money in that culture—oh, really? What about: –Dangers that may exist in more popular culture –Untried new habits that sprang up as just popular, in the culture’s face, hooky actions –Just because it’s different

37 Subculture Subculture—cultural patterns that set apart some segment of a society’s population –“chopper” riders (author forgets…now yuppies) –Polish Americans –New England “Yankees” –Etc.

38 What Kind of Commitment ot Subculture Can set people apart from one another— sometimes referred to as “tribal mentalities” or “Balkanism” Yugoslavia –1990s civil war fueled by extreme diversity –Two alphabets, three religions, four languages, five major nationalities, six political republics, absorbing cultures of seven surrounding countries –The above was a source of pleasing variety but also outright violence

39 The “Melting Pot” is Questioned Out of many, one The author suggests that one subculture is as good as another—the rich skier in Aspen is equal to the skateboarder in L.A. (can’t a rich skier also be a skateboarder in L.A.?) Therefore, some sociologists prefer to level the playing field by emphasizing multiculturalism

40 Multiculturalism An educational program recognizing the cultural diversity of the United States and promoting the equality of all cultural traditions (how do you do that?) Formally, we defined ourselves through Western (primarily English) culture Historical traditions or contemporary diversity—is that the real question?

41 Eurocentrism The dominance of European (especially English) cultural patterns But the country is moving to where people of African, Asian, and Hispanic ancestry will be the majority (really?? Then what about the tendencies to cross-marry, etc) Some educators call for Afrocentrism— emphasizing and promoting African cultural patterns (OK, but what about the Asians, Hispanics and Indians)—or is it really just the loudest voices speaking?

42 Multicultural Criticism Divides people by looking at their skin pigment rather than looking at people as individuals –Is it better to live, breathe, and “ooze” in the color of one’s skin or is it better to simply accept all people as equals and children of God as made in the image of God. –Do we obsess over our differences through the philosophy of multiculturalism rather than embracing each other through the simple faith that we are all seekers of God and the promise of everlasting life?

43 Multiculturalism Criticism (cont) Does multiculturalism unify? Or does it d separate us by pointing out divisions and differences among us? Instead of recognizing “truth”, does not multiculturalism interpret truth through the “prism” of race? Or gender? Do we not dissolve into an “African experience” or “Asian experience” instead of a human experience

44 Multiculturalism Criticized (cont) What ever happened to Dr. Martin Luther King’s statement that implores people to evaluate people based not upon the color of one’s skin but on the content of one’s character? Are we to study only certain topics and issues from one point of view? How intellectual is that?

45 Cultural Change Change remains a constant Today’s students more interested in making money rather than developing a philosophy of life—true? Cultural integration—when one thing changes, the change(s) effects other things.

46 Cultural Lag When some things change faster than others Does the laboratory fertilization of an egg with sperm from a stranger change the traditional ideas of motherhood and fatherhood? If yes, then what about adoption?

47 Causes of Cultural Change Invention: like the telephone, airplane, and computer Discovery: a better understanding of something already in existence—such as new elements Diffusion: the spread of cultural traits from one cultural to another

48 Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism Confucius: “All people are the same; it’s only their habits that are different” Ethnocentrism: the practice of judging another culture by the standards of one’s own culture –Common to “come from some place” when evaluating others –But, there can be conflict

49 Cultural Relativism Judging a culture by its own standards Requires openness Requires putting aside cultural standards known

50 Problems—Are Some Cultural Norms Just Plain Wrong? What about the children of Indian and Moroccan families who worked long hours Before judging, first ask what do they think about the norm

51 A Global Culture The world is flat Everyone is wearing jeans More people are speaking English Migration Communications Economy

52 The World is Flat Limitations? The author say the advantages go to North America and Europe—really? What about the internet? Poverty sets people apart from others People see cultural differences differently—Harry Potter has more influence in one nation than another

53 The Functions of Culture: Structural-Functional Analysis Complex—strategies for trying to meet human needs Cultural values bind us together Think functionally—why do these people live this way? The Amish? Cultural universals: family, funerals, care of children, etc

54 Critical Review—Structural- Functional Emphasizes dominant cultural patterns Downplays change

55 Inequality and Culture: Social- Conflict Analysis Link between culture and inequality –Any trait benefits some members more than others –Marx said that man’s social being determines his consciousness –Materialism verses structural functionalism

56 Capitalism Serves the interests of the countries wealthy elite. (your author) Really? What about all those who have moved from poor to middle class and middle class to wealthy in this system? Teaches us that the rich work harder and are more deserving—Oh? Disparages economic equality—Oh, how?

57 Evolution and Culture Sociobiology—a theoretical approach that explores ways in which human biology affects how we create culture Rests on Charles Darwin—natural selection—organisms change over time Adaptation and survival of the fittest But—is one race superior to another?

58 Culture as a Constraint Habit –Racial prejudices –Gender discrimination

59 Culture As Freedom We are forced to chose and we make choices—having that freedom We continue to make and re-make Good?


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