Sociology of culture


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  • Lecture Notes-Richard Florida wrote a book in 2002 entitled The Rise of the Creative Class in which he outlined the future of economic growth in America. Unlike previous epochs, new economic growth will be controlled by those who are most creative (as opposed to noblilty, landowners, capital-controllers, or brute strength.) His thesis is that the cities (which he feels will lead our economic future) that are most tolerant, have the most social capital, and most open to new ideas will prosper. I agree with his claims. I would add self-actualization to the list. “The Purpose Driven Life” is now the second best-selling book of the 21st century. Warren and other pastors have struck a chord with secular audiences who are seeking to find their life’s purpose. This value was not as prevalent in earlier generations because earlier generations were focused on taking care of basic material needs”.
  • Sociology of culture

    1. 1. Sociology of Culture GS 138: Introduction to Sociology Seth Allen
    2. 2. What is culture?“Culture is the knowledge, language, values, customs, and material objects that are passed from one person and from one generation to the next in a human group or society”Culture includes: Material Culture Non-material culture I-Pods Human Rights Cars Beauty Books Deferring to Elders Clothing Religion Weapons of war Patriotism
    3. 3. Culture, Part Deux Culture is NOT society-culture is a blueprint for how we live, think and act, while society is a group of people within a geographic area Culture guides our thoughts and actions: ◦ Communism is bad ◦ Adults should be free to do what pleases them without interference from others ◦ „Artsy‟ or techie types use Apple products, everybody else uses PC ◦ If we work hard and get a college degree, we will „make it‟ in society. ◦ There is one God, not many gods
    4. 4. Cultural Universals Cultural universals are basic traits, but there is much variation to these traits and what constitutes a violation of norm* Murdock (1945) listed these universals: ◦ Division of labor ◦ Incest taboo ◦ Marriage ◦ Family ◦ Rites of Passage
    5. 5. Five Components of CultureAlthough there are a few cultural universals, the number of cultural differences outweighs what he have in common.Functionalists see cultural universals as proof of universal human needs for order and meaning, while critical theorists view them in light of colonialism and the imposition of a certain culture‟s beliefs onto others.The 5 components of culture are:1. Norms2. Values3. Symbols4. Language5. Material Culture(These components might show up on an exam….AHEM!!!)
    6. 6. Component #1 - Symbols Not universal-specific to a culture Can be icons, images, gestures, and tangible things
    7. 7. Power of SymbolsWhat do you think this person’s intent is?How does it make you feel?
    8. 8. Component #2 - Language Sociologists study both official rules of language, various types of registers, and the connotations of words/phrases ◦ “White collar” employment, formal and informal second person prounoun in Spanish (You=Tu, Usted) Slang/colloquialisms unite a group and divide others Sapir-Worf Hypothesis- language shapes the view of reality of its speakers. If people are able to think only through language, then language must precede thought.
    9. 9. Teen Talk on the WebDoes slang exclude certain groups of people?
    10. 10. Component #3 - ValuesValues are collective ideas about what we believe is good or bad, desirable and undesirable in lifeRobin Williams’ 10 Core American Values Individualism Achievement & Success Activity and Work Science & Technology Progress & Comfort Efficiency & Practicality Morality & Equality humanitarianism Freedom Racism & group superiority
    11. 11. Changing Values Through conflicts that arise in value contradiction, values shift over time: Future of American values: ◦ Kendall-‟Going green‟, Spirituality, Honest Relationships ◦ Richard Florida-Creativity, Work-Life Balance ◦ Seth Allen-Self-actualization  Examples of these emerging values-Popularity of Oprah, Dr. Phil, the best-selling books “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen and “The Purpose-Driven Life” by Rick WarrenWhat do you think are some emerging American values?
    12. 12. Component #4 –NormsNorms are established rules of behavior or standards of conduct, not just ideas or ideals Either formal (codified in law) or informal (subject to reproach of others) Prescriptive (Write a thank you letter to everyone who gave you a wedding gift) and proscriptive (Don‟t wear white after Labor Day) Societal sanctions are ranked by severity: Folkways Mores Taboos
    13. 13. Social Distance and Norms Let’s try this as a group!!!
    14. 14. Component #5 - Material CultureAny tangible thing a society produces
    15. 15. Cultural ChangeCultures change through three methods: ◦ Discoveries-new tools, practices, and inventions that change culture (Ex. Printing press, birth control pill) and often led to cultural lag (norms do not mach with new technologies) ◦ Diffusion-two groups contact one another and one groups takes on the traits of new groups (Ex. Influx of Latinos and popularity of Mexican food in USA) ◦ Invention-modifying an existing tool or trait for a new cultural setting (Ex. Facebook)
    16. 16. Applying Theories of CulturalChangeHow might the sexual revolution of the 1960‟s be related to the invention of the „pill‟ in the 1950‟s? What sociological concept does this exemplify?
    17. 17. Cultural Relativism andEthnocentrism Ethnocentrism-judging the practices of another culture by one‟s own culture ◦ Ex.-Why do people from other cultures stand so close? Cultural Relativism-Judging the cultural practices of another culture by the value for that culture ◦ Ex.-Jews and the prohibition of eating pork
    18. 18. Functionalist Perspective onCulture Culture is the „glue‟ of society-uniting diverse peoples by their tastesHow might functionalists approach religion and its function for society?
    19. 19. Conflict Perspectives on Culture Culture is the means by which the ruling class dominates other classes, creating a false sense of unity, creating „needs,‟ and reinforcing negative stereotypes to oppress groups.How might the cover of Vogue Magazine and concept of being ‘hood rich’ reinforce the conflict perspective of culture?
    20. 20. Quote from Herbert MancuseExcerpt from One-Dimensional Man, p. 429“If the worker and his boss enjoy the same television program and visit the same resort places, if the typist is as attractively made up as the daughter of her employer, if the Negro owns a Cadillac, if they all read the same newspaper, then this assimilation indicates not the disappearance of classes, but the extent to which the needs and satisfactions that serve the preservation of the Establishment are shared by the underlying population.”
    21. 21. Symbolic Interactionism on Culture People „negotiate social reality‟ by their interactions with others; we create, manipulate, and transform culture through our actionsHow might a woman allowing a man to open a door for her orpeople shaking hands with the president create a social reality?