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Culture What is Culture? The Components of Culture

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1 Culture What is Culture? The Components of Culture
Cultural Diversity: Many Ways of Life in One World Theoretical Analysis of Culture

2 What is Culture? Culture is the most important concept in the social sciences. It includes the values, beliefs, behaviors, and material objects that, together, form a people’s way of life. Non-Material- The beliefs and ideas created by the members in a certain society. Material- The tangible objects created by members of a society. Includes the items a society finds of value.

3 Culture, Nation, and Society
Culture is a shared way of life, a nation is a political entity, and a society is the organized interaction of people in a nation. Each one of these concepts is important to sociologists.

4 Components of Culture Culture is comprised of five different components: symbols, language, values, beliefs, and norms. Material culture now includes technology. Symbols- anything that stands for or represents something else. This includes: symbolic words, phrases, and images associated with social movements and ideologies, which can evoke powerful images and emotional reactions.

5 Language- The key to the world of culture.
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. Values- a collective conception of that which is desirable. This conception usually has both emotional and symbolic components. Values may range from those that are subjectively meaningful to a given individual to those that are shared cultural norms. Beliefs- specific statements that people hold to be true.

6 Key Values of US Culture
Equal opportunity- Society should provide everyone with the chance to get ahead according to individual talents and efforts. Achievement and success- Our way of life encourages competition to that each person’s rewards should reflect personal merit. Material comfort- Success in the U.S. generally means making money and enjoying what it will buy.

7 Activity and work- Our culture values action over reflection and controlling events over passively accepting one’s fate. Practicality and efficiency- People in the U.S. value the practicality over the theoretical, or “doing” over “dreaming.” Progress- The U.S. culture celebrates progress equating the “very latest” with the “very best.” Science- The U.S. has a cultural tendency to devalue emotion and intuition as sources of knowledge.

8 Democracy and enterprise- We believe that a just political system is based on free elections in which adults select their leaders and on as economy that responds to the choices of individual consumers. Freedom- Our cultural value of freedom means that we place a higher value on individual initiative than on collective conformity. Racism and group superiority- Despite strong notions about individualism and freedom, most people in the U.S. still evaluate individuals according to gender, race ethnicity, and social class.

9 Norms- rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members.
Proscriptive: what should not be done. Prescriptive: what should be done. Mores- norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance. Folkways- norms that are routine and casual interaction. Social Control- various means by which members of society encourage conformity to norms.

10 “ideal” and “real” Culture- Values and norms tell us how to behave, they don’t take into account all the different variables in one’s life, rather they inform us of how we should behave.

11 Cultural Diversity High culture- refers to people who the socially elite of society. Those going to the opera and attending symposiums. Popular culture- is the cultural patterns that are widespread among society’s population. Subculture- cultural patterns that set apart some segment of society’s population. Example: Skateboarders, bowlers, Young people who listen to rap music, people who like to go two stepping, or sandcastle builders.

12 Multiculturalism- an educational program recognizing the cultural diversity of the U.S. and promoting the equality of all cultural traditions. Eurocentrism- the dominance of European cultural patterns. Afrocentrism- the dominance of African cultural patterns. Counterculture- cultural patterns that strongly oppose those widely accepted within a society. Cultural integration- the close relationships among various elements of a cultural system.

13 Inventions of Today Invention- the process of creating new cultural elements telephone- 1876 airplane- 1903 computer- late 1940’s Ethnocentrism- the practice of judging another culture by the standards of one’s own culture. Cultural relativism- the practice of evaluating a culture by its own standards.

14 Global Culture 1. The Global Economy: the flow of goods.
2. Global Communication: the flow of information. 3. Global Migration: the flow of people.

15 Theoretical Analysis of Culture
Structural-Functional Analysis- The structural-functional paradigm depicts culture as a complex strategy for meeting human needs. Culture values give meaning to life and bind people together. Other aspects of culture function in various ways that support a way of life.

16 Cultural Universals- traits that are part of every known culture
Cultural Universals- traits that are part of every known culture. In 1945 George Murdock identified dozens of cultural universals: family which control sexual reproduction and oversee the care of children, funeral rites, every community copes with death, jokes which are universal and serve as a safe means to ease social tension. Social-Conflict Analysis- this paradigm stresses the link between culture and inequality. From this point of view, any culture trait benefits some members of society at the expense of others. A conflict analysis could begin by asking why certain values dominate a society in the first place.

17 Social-conflict theory- is rooted in the philosophical doctrine of materialism, which holds that a society’s system of material production (such as our own industrial-capitalist economy) has a powerful effect on the rest of a culture. Sociobiology- a theoretical paradigm that explores ways in which human biology affects how we create culture.

18 Culture and Human Freedom-
Underlying the discussion in this chapter is an important question: To what extent are cultural creatures free?

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