Culture

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This is a powerpoint to accompany Introduction to Sociology:
http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Introduction_to_Sociology

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Culture

  1. 1. Introduction to Sociology: Culture
  2. 2. Introduction ● Culture is the non-biological or social aspects of human life, basically anything that is learned by humans is part of culture. Human without culture Human with culture
  3. 3. Culture ● culture encompasses objects and symbols, the meaning given to those objects and symbols, and the norms, values, and beliefs that pervade social life
  4. 4. The Origins of Culture ● human physiology and neurology developed in conjunction with the first cultural activities ● human instincts were culturally formed ● Humans have evolved the ability to have culture, but babies are born as “culturally blank slates”
  5. 5. The Artificiality of Cultural Categorization ● “There is no such thing as culture or society out there in the real world. There are only people who work, joke, raise children, love, think, worship, fight, and behave in a wide variety of ways. To speak of culture as one thing and society as another is to make an analytical distinction between two different aspects of human experience. One way to think of the distinction is that culture designates the expressive aspect of human existence, whereas society designates the relational (and often practical) aspect.”
  6. 6. Subcultures ● A subculture is a culture shared and actively participated in by a minority of people within a broader culture. ● Subcultures incorporate large parts of the broader cultures of which they are part, but in specifics they may differ radically. Trekkies or Trekkers are a subculture.
  7. 7. Countercultures ● A counterculture is a subculture with the addition that some of its beliefs, values, or norms challenge or even contradict those of the main culture of which it is part Modern polygamists are typically viewed as a counterculture.
  8. 8. Ethnocentrism & Cultural Relativism ● Ethnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one's own culture. ● Cultural relativism is the belief that the concepts and values of a culture cannot be fully translated into, or fully understood in, other languages; that a specific cultural artifact (e.g. a ritual) has to be understood in terms of the larger symbolic system of which it is a part.
  9. 9. Functions and Dysfunctions of Culture ● Positive Functions: – Culture can provide orientation, ward off chaos, and direct behavior toward certain lines of action and away from others. – “Groups and societies need collective representations of themselves to inspire sentiments of unity and mutual support, and culture fulfills this need." – culture can have a certain utilitarian function – the maintenance of order as the result of shared understandings and meanings. ● Dysfunctions: – culture can create and sustain social inequalities – cultural notions of race, class, gender, and sexualities may be used to explain and justify societal level patterns of oppression and privilege by allowing social beings to believe existing inequalities simply reflect the way things have always been
  10. 10. Cultural Change ● Culture can and does change ● Cultural change can have many causes, including: the environment, inventions, and contact with other cultures.

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