Soc. 101 rw ch. 4


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Soc. 101 rw ch. 4

  1. 1. Chapter 4
  2. 2. Outline Culture Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism Material and Symbolic Culture Values, Norms and Sanctions Dominant culture, Subcultures, and Countercultures Polysemy and Cultural Change
  3. 3. Culture Culture-entire way of life of a group of people- includes material & symbolic elements – culture is passed from one generation to the next and is a lens through which we view the world  Learned-becomes ingrained into our way of thinking  Function-to provide meaning to people’s lives  Ndembu tribe’s mudyi tree vs. the U.S. flag Examples of culture? (Music, art, food, tradition) All our behavior, feelings & thinking influenced by culture Page 91 – Study of Nacirema
  4. 4. Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism Ethnocentrism-using one’s own culture as a standard for judging another culture or individual, leading to the view that cultures other than one’s own are abnormal  Sociologists want to have clear view of society so we must suspend our ethnocentrism Cultural relativism-principle of understanding another culture on its own terms  not better or worse, right or wrong, just different  Discover new interpretations
  5. 5. Material and Symbolic Culture Material culture-any physical object to which we give social meaning  Ex. Tools, weapons, clothing, etc.. Symbolic culture-the ideas assoc. with a cultural group, including ways of thinking (beliefs, values, and assumptions) and ways of behaving (norms, interactions, and communication)  Sign-symbol that stands for an idea  Convey information  Gestures-ways of using body to communicating w/out words
  6. 6. Language Language-system of communication using words, gestures, symbols-primary way we perpetuate culture  Basis of symbolic culture  Allows us to fully develop and express ourselves as humans  Human universal-present in all societies Sapir-Whorf hypothesis-idea that language structures thought  Mean Girls
  7. 7. Values and Norms Values and norms are symbolic culture in action Values-shared beliefs about what is desirable or contemptible and right or wrong in a particular group  General Norms-the rules or guidelines regarding what kinds of behavior are acceptable and appropriate within a culture  Specific to time period and situation  Develop from a culture’s values  Formal and informal norms
  8. 8. Norms Folkways-ordinary conventions of everyday life  Ex. Etiquette & standards of dress  Not strictly enforced or punished  Ensure smooth social interaction and acceptance Mores-norms that carry moral significance  Related to the core values of a culture  Many become laws  Taboos-norm engrained so deeply that even thinking about violating it evokes feelings of disgust or horror  Ex. cannibalism, incest
  9. 9. Laws and Sanctions Laws-a common formally defined norm  Provides explicit statement about what is permissible and illegal in a given society Sanctions-means of enforcing norms  Rewards for conformity and punishment for violations  Functionalist-help to est. social control Social control-formal and informal mechanisms used to increase conformity to values and norms and increase social cohesion
  10. 10. Are NormsConstant?  1619-VA colonists required to grow hemp (cannabis sativa)  1770-Washington and Jefferson grow hemp (fabric, rope, paper)  1937-Marijuana Tax Act-hemp farming made illegal at fed. level  2002-CA, CO, IL, NY, OH decriminalize for medical purposes- other states give long prison sentences for possession (up to life w/out parole)  2005-Supreme Court rules that federal antidrug laws can still be used to prosecute
  11. 11. Dominant Culture and Subcultures Although our culture is filled with many smaller subgroups, they are not all equal (size, wealth, power) Dominant culture-values norms, and practices of the group w/in society that is most powerful in terms of wealth prestige, status, influence, etc…  Others are seen as alternative or minority (2nd class)  Given cultural hegemony (ideas are accepted by all) Subcultures-a group differentiated by distinctive values, norms and lifestyle  Ex. age, ethnicity, interests  Harmonious with dom. culture
  12. 12. Countercultures Counterculture –group w/in society that openly rejects and/or actively opposes society’s values and norms  Some political groups, others resist mainstream values  OK City bomber, Black Panthers, polygamist sects  171 militia mvmt. groups as of 2003 What is considered mainstream now may later be defined as deviant Why?-because values change over time and differ across cultures
  13. 13. Culture Wars Culture wars-clashes w/in mainstream society over the values and norms that should be upheld  Values and morality  Played out on media Ideal culture-norms, values, and behavior that members of a society believe should be observed in principle Real culture-patterns of behavior that actually exist  May or may not correspond to ideal  What we believe in vs. what we do
  14. 14. High, Low and Popular Culture How we define high and popular culture are based on traits of their audience  Boundaries-Diff. of class, education, race, etc… help create categories Popular culture-forms of communication assoc. w/ the masses and consumer goods High culture-forms of cultural expression usually assoc. w/ the elite classes  They can intersect (sampling, Led Zeppelin)
  15. 15. High, Low and Popular Culture David Halle (1993)-upper class vs. working class homes Taste publics-groups of people who share similar artistic interests Taste cultures-areas of culture that share similar aesthetics and standards of taste
  16. 16. Polysemy Polysemy-having many possible meanings for a cultural product  The Simpsons  Audiences come from different backgrounds, which help define experiences  We make meaning individually and together Interpretive community-group of ppl. dedicated to the consumption and interpretation of a cultural product
  17. 17. Cultural Change Happens slowly and incrementally Technology-material artifacts and the knowledge and techniques required to use them  How is the digital revolution shaping our culture? Technological determinism-developments in material culture drive social change  “The medium is the message”-McLuhan  The medium is what actually has the greater power to change our cultural framework
  18. 18. Cultural Diffusion and Imperialism Cultural diffusion-dissemination of beliefs and practices from one group to another  Usually occurs in direction from more developed to less developed nations Cultural leveling-process by which cultures that were once distinct become increasingly similar  Wal-Marts, malls, chain-restaurants, etc… Cultural Imperialism-imposition of one’s culture’s beliefs, practices and artifacts on another culture through mass media and consumer goods  Like an invading force