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1 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Chapter 3 Culture and the Culture Learning Process 1

2 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Defining Culture Culture is socially constructed. Culture is socially constructed. Culture is shared by its members. Culture is shared by its members. Culture is both objective and subjective. Culture is both objective and subjective. Culture may be defined by geography, ethnicity, language, religion, history, or other important social characteristics. Culture may be defined by geography, ethnicity, language, religion, history, or other important social characteristics. Culture is socially transmitted. Culture is socially transmitted. 2

3 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Culture in Everyday Use Terms commonly used to describe social groups that share important cultural elements are: Terms commonly used to describe social groups that share important cultural elements are: –Subculture –Microculture –Ethnic group –Minority group –People of color 3

4 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Subculture Subcultures share characteristics that distinguish them from the larger society in which they are embedded; these characteristics may be a set of ideas and practices or some demographic similarity. Subcultures share characteristics that distinguish them from the larger society in which they are embedded; these characteristics may be a set of ideas and practices or some demographic similarity. Some examples of subcultures are: Some examples of subcultures are: –Corporate culture –Adolescent culture –Drug culture –Culture of poverty –Academic culture 4

5 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Microculture Microcultures also share distinguishing characteristics, but tend to be more closely linked to the larger society, often serving in mediating roles; they often interpret and transmit the ideas, values, and institutions of the larger political community. Microcultures also share distinguishing characteristics, but tend to be more closely linked to the larger society, often serving in mediating roles; they often interpret and transmit the ideas, values, and institutions of the larger political community. Some examples of microcultures are: Some examples of microcultures are: –The family –The workplace –The classroom –The school 5

6 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Minority Group Members of minority groups occupy a subordinate position in a society; they may be separated from the dominant society by disapproval and discrimination. Members of minority groups occupy a subordinate position in a society; they may be separated from the dominant society by disapproval and discrimination. Some examples of minority groups in the United States are: Some examples of minority groups in the United States are: –Racial minorities –Women –People with disabilities –Language minorities 6

7 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Ethnic Group Members of ethnic groups share common heritage, history, celebrations and traditions, similar foods; and might speak a common language other than English. Loyalty to ones ethnic identity can be very powerful. Members of ethnic groups share common heritage, history, celebrations and traditions, similar foods; and might speak a common language other than English. Loyalty to ones ethnic identity can be very powerful. Some examples of ethnic groups are: Some examples of ethnic groups are: –Irish American –Native American –Lebanese American –African American 7

8 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. People of Color This term refers to members of non- white minority groups; it is often preferred to the term minority group, but does not clearly identify specific loyalties. This term refers to members of non- white minority groups; it is often preferred to the term minority group, but does not clearly identify specific loyalties. For example, native Spanish-speakers may identify themselves as Hispanic people of color, but their cultural identity may be Puerto Rican, Mexican, or Salvadoran. For example, native Spanish-speakers may identify themselves as Hispanic people of color, but their cultural identity may be Puerto Rican, Mexican, or Salvadoran. 8

9 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Culture Solves Common Human Problems Means of communicationlanguage Means of communicationlanguage Determination of powerstatus Determination of powerstatus Regulation of reproductionfamily Regulation of reproductionfamily Systems of rulesgovernment Systems of rulesgovernment Relationship to naturemagic, myth, religion, science Relationship to naturemagic, myth, religion, science Conception of timetemporality Conception of timetemporality Significant lessonshistory Significant lessonshistory Cultural representationsmusic, story, dance, art Cultural representationsmusic, story, dance, art 9

10 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Humans Construct Culture Culture is one factor that determines the kinds of guidelines to which an individual is exposed. Culture is one factor that determines the kinds of guidelines to which an individual is exposed. The concept of culture usually refers to things, both physical and mental, that are made or constructed by human beings, rather than to things that naturally occur in the environment. The concept of culture usually refers to things, both physical and mental, that are made or constructed by human beings, rather than to things that naturally occur in the environment. 10

11 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Culture is Shared Culture is socially constructed by human beings in interaction with one another. Culture is socially constructed by human beings in interaction with one another. Cultural ideas and understandings are shared by a group of people who recognize the knowledge, attitudes, and values of one another. Cultural ideas and understandings are shared by a group of people who recognize the knowledge, attitudes, and values of one another.cont. 11

12 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Moreover, human beings agree on which cultural elements are better than others, arranging these in a hierarchy of value, which can also change over time. Moreover, human beings agree on which cultural elements are better than others, arranging these in a hierarchy of value, which can also change over time. In nearly all instances, shared cultural identification is transmitted from one generation to the next. In nearly all instances, shared cultural identification is transmitted from one generation to the next. 12

13 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Culture Is Both Objective and Subjective Objective culture Objective culture –Physical artifacts –Language –Clothing –Food –Decorative objects Subjective culture Subjective culture –Attitudes –Values –Norms of behavior –Social roles –Meaning of objective cultural elements 13

14 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Two Ways to Understand Culture Culture-Specific Approaches: Helps to understand a particular cultural group, for example, Native Americans Helps to understand a particular cultural group, for example, Native Americans A problem with this approach is that it does not account for in-group differences A problem with this approach is that it does not account for in-group differences Culture-General Approaches: Helps to understand how culture works in peoples lives; a universal perspective Helps to understand how culture works in peoples lives; a universal perspective Suggests questions to ask of any culture Suggests questions to ask of any culture 14

15 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. The Culture-Learning Process Sources of Cultural Knowledge and Identity Sources of Cultural Knowledge and Identity –Individuals in complex societies like the United States tend to identify themselves as belonging to various cultural and social groups, depending on their personal biographies. –There are twelve major sources of cultural identity that influence teaching and learning. 15

16 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Sources of Cultural Identity 16

17 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Cultural Knowledge Is Transmitted by People and Experiences We gain the knowledge that contributes to our cultural identities through interaction with various socializing agents. We gain the knowledge that contributes to our cultural identities through interaction with various socializing agents. These agents mediate our cultural knowledge in particular ways. These agents mediate our cultural knowledge in particular ways. 17

18 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Important Socializing Agents 18

19 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. How We Learn Culture: Socialization Three stages of socialization Three stages of socialization Primary socializationof infants and young children by the family and early caregivers Primary socializationof infants and young children by the family and early caregivers Secondary socializationin childhood and adolescence, by the school, the religious affiliation, the peer group, the neighborhood, and the media Secondary socializationin childhood and adolescence, by the school, the religious affiliation, the peer group, the neighborhood, and the media Adult socializationthe workplace, travel, and assuming new roles in life Adult socializationthe workplace, travel, and assuming new roles in life 19

20 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Some Results of Socialization Because the process of socialization is intended to cause individuals to internalize knowledge, attitudes, values, and beliefs, it has several results which should not be surprising, as follows: Because the process of socialization is intended to cause individuals to internalize knowledge, attitudes, values, and beliefs, it has several results which should not be surprising, as follows: 20

21 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Ethnocentrism The tendency people have to evaluate others according to their own standards and experience The tendency people have to evaluate others according to their own standards and experience While this tendency can help bind people together, it can also become a serious obstacle when those who have internalized different ideas and behaviors begin to interact with one another. While this tendency can help bind people together, it can also become a serious obstacle when those who have internalized different ideas and behaviors begin to interact with one another. 21

22 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Perception Stimuli received by our senses would overwhelm us if it werent somehow reduced; thus, Stimuli received by our senses would overwhelm us if it werent somehow reduced; thus, What we perceivewhat we see, hear, feel, taste, and smellis shaped in part by our culture. What we perceivewhat we see, hear, feel, taste, and smellis shaped in part by our culture. 22

23 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Categorization Categorization is the cognitive process by which all human beings simplify their world by grouping similar stimuli. Categorization is the cognitive process by which all human beings simplify their world by grouping similar stimuli. Our categories give meaning to our perceptions. Our categories give meaning to our perceptions. A prototype image best characterizes the meaning of a category. A prototype image best characterizes the meaning of a category. Example: for the category bird, we usually think of robins, not chickens. Example: for the category bird, we usually think of robins, not chickens. 23

24 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Stereotypes Stereotypes are socially constructed categories of people. Stereotypes are socially constructed categories of people. They usually obscure differences within groups. They usually obscure differences within groups. They are frequently negative and play to ethnocentric ideas of the other. They are frequently negative and play to ethnocentric ideas of the other. 24

25 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Some Limits on Socialization While socialization is a powerful process, it does have limits. While socialization is a powerful process, it does have limits. –It is limited by a childs physical limits. –It is limited because it is never finished, and thus never absolute; it can be changed. –It is limited because human beings are not just passive recipients but also actors in their environments. 25

26 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Understanding Cultural Differences In a complex, pluralistic society like the United States, all people are in some ways multicultural. In a complex, pluralistic society like the United States, all people are in some ways multicultural. While we all draw on common sources of knowledge, we are socialized by different agents, with different perspectives on that knowledge. While we all draw on common sources of knowledge, we are socialized by different agents, with different perspectives on that knowledge. 26

27 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. The Culture-Learning Process 27

28 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Variations in Cultural Environments Although the sources of cultural identity are the same in all societies, the content in those sources may be different. Although the sources of cultural identity are the same in all societies, the content in those sources may be different. Moreover, each community varies considerably in the number and character of its socializing agents. Moreover, each community varies considerably in the number and character of its socializing agents.cont. 28

29 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Given this complexity, it is wise to consider the possible cultural elements in our own lives and in the lives of others. Given this complexity, it is wise to consider the possible cultural elements in our own lives and in the lives of others. Despite this potential for variation among individuals and within groups, there are similarities or generalizations that can be made about individuals who identify with particular groups. Despite this potential for variation among individuals and within groups, there are similarities or generalizations that can be made about individuals who identify with particular groups.cont. 29

30 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. What is needed is a more sophisticated way of looking at diversity. What is needed is a more sophisticated way of looking at diversity. 30

31 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Such an approach to diversity involves several elements: Questioning the dominant model, or the prototype image Questioning the dominant model, or the prototype image Questioning stereotypes Questioning stereotypes Looking for commonalities among our differences Looking for commonalities among our differences Thinking of differences as resources to learn from Thinking of differences as resources to learn from 31

32 © 2009 McGraw-Hill Higher Education. All rights reserved. Something to Think About By ignoring the cultural and social forms that are authorized by youth and simultaneously empower and disempower them, educators risk complicity in silencing and negating their students. This is unwittingly accomplished by refusing to recognize the importance of those sites and social practices outside of schools that actively shape student experiences and through which students often define and construct their sense of identity, politics, and culture. Giroux and Simon 32


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