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Characteristics of Culture

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1 Characteristics of Culture
Chapter 14 Characteristics of Culture

2 Chapter Preview What is Culture? Why Do Cultures Exist?
Ethnocentrism: Are Some Cultures Better than Others?

3 The Concept of Culture A society’s shared and socially transmitted ideas, values, and perceptions which are used to make sense of experience and which generate behavior is what defines culture. Everyone at some point in one’s early life will become enculturated into their culture, it is through this process that one learns how to become a member of their society.

4 Characteristics Of Culture
Culture is learned Culture is shared. Culture is symbolic. Culture is integrated. Culture is dynamic.

5 Culture Is Learned All culture is learned rather than biologically inherited. Individuals of a culture will learn the socially appropriate way to satisfy biologically determined needs. The ability for learned behavior along with innate (instinctual) behavior is present in most all mammals. Primates have the highest degree of learned behavior patterns.

6 Culture Is Shared All members of a culture will hold a shared set of values, ideas, perceptions, and standards of behaviors. This does not mean that everyone within a culture will act and think the exact same way. Culture cannot exist without society- an organized group of people who share a territory, language, and culture. There are no known human societies that do not exhibit culture.

7 Subcultures Within larger societies there can be subcultures which are distinctive sets of standards and behavior patterns by which a group within a larger society operates. The Amish of North America represent a subculture within North American society, specifically an ethnic group.

8 Amish-Ethnic Group Ethnic groups are people who collectively and publicly identify themselves as a distinct group based on various cultural features such as shared ancestry and common origin, language, customs, and traditional beliefs. The Amish live among but keep their beliefs, values, and traditional lifestyle separate from that of mainstream North Americans. Ethnicity- Ideas held by ethnic group.

9 Multi-Ethnic Pluralistic societies or multi-ethnic are examples by which two or more ethnic groups or nationalities are politically organized into one territorial state but maintain their cultural differences. As it might appear this can often lead to conflict and misunderstandings between groups.

10 Culture Symbolic Symbols are signs, emblems, and/or other things that are arbitrary but represent something in a meaningful way. Language is probably the most significant cultural symbol, it is the transportation by which humans transmit culture from one generation to another. How many symbols can you think of?

11 Culture Is Integrated All aspects of a culture function as an integrated whole. Any changes in the culture can ultimately effect another part of the culture. There are three main categories by which a culture is divided: super, social, and infrastructure.

12 Superstructure A society’s shared sense of identity and worldview.
The collective body of ideas, beliefs, and values by which a group of people makes sense of the world—its shape, challenges, and opportunities—and their place in it. This includes religion and national ideology.

13 Social Structure The rule-governed relationships- with all their rights and obligations- that hold members of a society together. This includes households,families, associations, and power relations, including politics.

14 Infrastructure The economic foundation of a society, including its subsistence practices, and the tools and other material equipment used to make a living.

15 The Barrel Model of Culture
Every culture is an integrated system. There are functional relationships among the economic base (infrastructure), the social organization (social structure), and the ideology (superstructure).

16 Culture is Dynamic Cultures are dynamic systems that respond to motions and actions within and around them. A culture must be flexible enough to allow adjustments in the face of unstable or changing circumstances. Luckily all cultures are adaptable to some degree. Cultural adaptation- complex of ideas, technologies, and activities that allow members of a group to survive and even thrive in their environment.

17 What is the function of culture?
Hold strategies for the production and distribution of goods and services considered necessary for life. Ensure the biological continuity of its members. Provide a social structure for reproduction and mutual support. Pass on knowledge and enculturate new members.

18 Facilitate social interaction and provide ways to avoid or resolve conflicts within their group as well as with outsiders. Maintain order among members, as well as between them and outsiders. Motivate members to survive and engage in those activities necessary for survival. Be able to change to remain adaptive under changed conditions.

19 How Do Cultures Change? Every culture will change at some point but there are several factors that can account for the changes which might be minor or major. Environmental changes. Violent or forced change from an outside party. Values, ideas, or perceptions change over time.

20 Culture, Society, and the Individual
A society is the union of people whom have their own special needs and interests. In order to thrive a balance must be struck between the personal interest of members and the demands of the society as a collective whole. When personal needs are not met before the groups needs and this occurs over a period of time the result can often be resentment towards a scapegoat- perceived reason for a particular problem.

21 Ethnocentrism and Culture
When the belief that the way of life of one’s own culture is the only proper way of life is held this is called ethnocentrism. Anthropologists attempt to battle against ethnocentric views by taking a different approach that one must suspend judgment of other peoples practices in order to understand them in their own cultural terms, also called cultural relativism.

22 How good is your culture for you?
Cultures can be evaluated according to: Nutritional status Physical and mental health of population Incidence of violence, crime, and delinquency Demographic structure Stability and tranquility of domestic life By studying these factors one can examine how well a culture has meet the needs of it’s members both psychologically and physically.

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