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What is culture?
 

What is culture?

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Credits to MJC EL department (General Paper)

Credits to MJC EL department (General Paper)

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  • Nice presentation, very colourful and impressive. What I like the most about it is bright pictures. The material which was used is very interesting, it's not just dates or definitions from the book. I think the author did really great job gathering those facts about the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts.
    I understood that culture is the different activities that group of people practice, such as language. I became more interesting in Material and Social culture because of these slides.
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    What is culture? What is culture? Presentation Transcript

    • What is Culture ? MJC JC1 GP (2005)
    • What is culture
      • Distinguishes man from beast, one human group from another.
      • Patterns of behaviour & thinking that people living in social groups learn, create & share.
        • Symbolic , learned , shared & adaptive .
      • People who share a common culture - especially common rules of behaviour & social organisation – can constitutes a society .
    • Categorising culture
      • Edward B. Tylor (1871):
        • Culture includes socially acquired knowledge, beliefs, art, law, morals, customs & habits.
      • George P. Murdock (1930):
        • 637 major subdivisions of culture.
        • Human Relation Area Files to identify & sort distinctive cultural variations.
      • Later anthropologists:
        • 3 broad categories: material , social & ideological .
        • 4 th category: the arts (has characteristics of material & ideological culture)
    • Material culture
      • Products of human manufacture.
        • Raise your own examples.
      • The economy .
        • Methods by which people obtain or produce food (pattern of subsistence)
        • Technologies & objects people make and use.
        • Ways in which people exchange goods & services
      • Effects of economic activities & products on natural environment.
    • Social culture
      • Forms of social interaction & organization .
        • Bonds by kinship and marriage
        • Work duties and economic position
        • Political position.
        • Important factors include age & gender
      • You consider :
        • How is S’pore society organised?
        • How is your family structured?
        • How is your social network structured?
    • Ideological culture
      • Beliefs : understanding of how world works & how to respond to others’ actions of others & their environments. Often tie in closely with the daily concerns.
      • Values : differentiate right from wrong or good and bad.
      • Ideals : models for what people hope to achieve in life. Could be based on religious &/or secular beliefs & values
    • The arts
      • Material arts : painting, pottery, sculpture, textiles and clothing & cookery.
      • Performing arts : music, dance, drama and dramatic arts, storytelling & written narratives.
      • Can be incorporated into material production. Such utilitarian items can have varying levels of artistic qualities.
      • Other forms serve no real functional purpose but are created as pure expression of the artiste’s or the society’s thoughts and actions.
    • High vs. Popular/Mass Culture
      • High culture used to be the realm of the wealthy and educated classes.
      • “ high art”
        • Opera, historic art, classical music, traditional theater or literature.
      • Widely perceived as the work of professional artists, serious in intent & valuable.
        • Intellectual input & introspection needed.
    • High vs. Popular/Mass Culture
      • Popular culture used to be considered commercial entertainment for the lower classes.
      • “ low art”/mass culture
        • Opposite of high cultural art forms.
        • Many forms of cultural communication including newspapers, television, advertising, comics, pop music, radio, cheap novels & movies.
      • Often linked to commercial or mass production & perceived as having little or no serious aesthetic, intellectual or economic value
        • Inspiration drawn from daily experiences
    • Pop Culture is part of our lives
    • High vs. Popular/Mass Culture
      • Gulf closed with rise of Pop Art in 1950s/60s.
      • Artists incorporated i mages borrowed from mass culture into their works, such as:
        • Beer bottles, soup cans, comic strips, & road signs.
        • Images of themselves, sometimes in startlingly modified form.
        • Material manufactured using modern technology (e.g. PVC) figured prominently.
      • Influenced subsequent artists & commercial, graphic & fashion design.
      • Popular culture continues to develop, adapt & evolve over the last few decades.
    • Pop Culture Evolves
    • High vs. Popular/Mass Culture
      • Much of pop culture is dumbed down, low-brow entertainment, but there is intellectually stimulating content.
        • Elements from high culture .
        • Light-hearted commentary/critique of life & even popular culture itself.
        • Develops new genres
      • However, not everyone is privy to the benefits.
        • Many people lack the ability & knowledge to “get it”.
        • They are not interested or have not come into contact with such content.
    • Pop Culture invents , borrows & modifies
      • From mass culture
      From high culture From life
    • Culture is symbolic
      • Based on symbols .
      • Dependent on man’s ability to communicate with symbols .
      • Enables people to create, explain & record new ideas and information .
        • Human language
        • Sign language
        • R ed, white & blue on the American flag
        • Green to Muslims
    • Culture is learned
      • Culture is captured as knowledge .
        • Scientific discoveries
        • Objects such as works of art
        • Traditions such as observance of holidays.
      • Socially inherited from other people in a society, at home and in school.
        • Taught
        • “ Caught”
    • Culture is learned
      • Enculturation / cultural transmission begins in the family & continue throughout a person’s life.
        • Older members -> younger ones
        • Respect for elders because of the knowledge & skills they have accumulated over a lifetime.
    • Culture is shared
      • People in a society share common behaviours & ways of thinking.
      • Different societies can also exchange & share culture.
      • Culture is shared when these take place:
        • Migration, tourism, trade
        • Conquest, change of political &/or religious systems
      • Aided by improving information & communication technologies
    • Culture is shared
      • Cultural exchange led to the rise of an increasingly globalised culture :
        • With increasing globalisation, it has become difficult to find culture that is shared within only a single society.
      • Benefits
      • Exchange of:
        • Ideas
        • People
        • Manufactured goods
        • Natural resources .
      • Adopted &/or adapted
        • Develop the 4 categories
        • Correct undesirable aspects
    • Culture is shared
      • Drawbacks
      • Acculturation - members of one culture adopt features of another - can disrupt original lifestyle.
        • Problems : Cultural dilution or loss (although there are cases of the cultures being enriched)
        • Indigenous peoples adopted Spanish language & customs of Spain when South and Central America were colonised in the 1500s.
      • Culture shock - immersion in a very different culture can cause confusion & disorientation.
        • Can happen when one migrates.
        • Can happen within multicultural societies.
        • Problems : misunderstandings & intolerance
    • Culture is shared
      • Rise of subcultures - groups of people in a larger society share distinct cultural traits. Can co-exist or clash with the mainstream culture .
        • Mennonite communities in the US/Canada
        • Drug culture, clubbing culture among the young
      • Ethnocentrism - members of a society who share culture often share some feelings of notion that one’s culture is more sensible/superior to that of other societies . At its worst:
        • Ethnocide: destruction of cultures
        • Genocide: destruction of entire populations
    • Culture is shared
      • Cultural imperialism
        • Americanisation of the world
        • Influx of J-pop & K-pop culture into Asia
        • Criticism : much of what is exported reflects questionable morals or is dumbed down, low-brow content.
      • You evaluate :
        • How have YOU been affected? Are you sure you are immune? For better or worse?
    • Global Pop Culture
      • American Pop Culture
      Asian Pop Culture
    • Culture is adaptive
      • People use culture to flexibly & quickly adjust to changes in to the natural environment & the manmade world .
        • End of the last Ice Age in N. America (beginning about 15,000 years ago)
          • Large game animals disappeared.
          • Many land areas submerged.
          • People developed new technologies
          • Learned to subsist on new plant & animal species.
          • Some settled into permanent villages.
    • Culture is adaptive
      • Cultural adaptation make mankind one of the most successful species.
        • History, major developments in technology, medicine & nutrition have allowed people to reproduce & survive in ever-increasing numbers.
      • Rise of consumer culture/throwaway society has created devastating problems.
        • Depletion of natural resources & fossil fuels.
        • Material & chemical wastes.
        • Process of burning fuels and producing wastes altering the global climate.
    • Summation – what have you learnt?
      • Culture consists of material , social and ideological categories and the Arts .
      • It range from high-brow to low-low brow.
      • It is not static but evolves by inventing , adopting and adapting .
      • Every society has its mainstream culture and subcultures .
      • Many societies still retain their distinctive cultures but these are nonetheless being changed by the influx of global popular culture . There is cultural loss or dilution.
      • Popular or mass cultural products can differ greatly in terms of quality . Depending on what we absorb, we are more positively or negatively affected .
      • Some of us experience high culture and that asserts its influence over us too .
      High Popular / Mass Low
    • Preparing for P1 S’pore-based questions / P2 AQs
      • You describe :
      • What makes up Singaporean culture?
      • What makes up global culture?
      • You evaluate :
      • Do Singaporeans experience more of high or popular culture?
        • What are the gains and losses?
      • Do young people in the world experience more of high or popular culture?
        • What are the gains and losses?