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  1. 1. The Real World An Introduction to Sociology 4th Edition Chapter 3: Cultural Crossroads
  2. 2. Culture and Sociology • Culture is one of the fundamental elements of social life and thus a very important topic in sociology. • You need to think about how culture is relevant to the things you already know from your own life experience. 2
  3. 3. What Is Culture? • Culture is the entire way of life for a group of people.
  4. 4. The Real World Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 4 What is Culture? • A Broader Definition: – Culture is the knowledge, language, values, customs, and material objects that are passed from person to person and from one generation to the next in a human group or society. – It is hard for us to see our own culture, so we may not recognize the extent to which it shapes and defines who we are.
  5. 5. What Is Culture? • It includes things such as language, standards of beauty, hand gestures, styles of dress, food, and music. • Culture is learned. It is passed from one generation to the next through communication—not genetics.
  6. 6. Nature vs. Nurture • Nature – our biological and genetic makeup • Nurture – your social environment • Instinct – an unlearned, biologically determined behavior pattern common to all members of a species that predictably occurs whenever certain environmental conditions exist. The Real World Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 6
  7. 7. Is there any part of our behaviors that are genetic? • Reflex – an unlearned, biologically determined involuntary response to some physical stimuli. (Sneezing, blinking eyes) • Drives – unlearned, biologically determined impulses common to all members of a species that satisfy needs such as sleep, food, water, and sexual gratification. • Reflexes and drives are nature. However, how we express these biological characteristics is nurture (learned). 7 T h e R e al W or ld C o p yr ig ht © 2 0 0 8
  8. 8. Why is Culture Important? • Culture is essential for our individual survival and communication with other people. • We rely on culture because we are not born with the information we need to survive. • It provides shared rules for societies to create order. 8 T h e R e al W or ld Co pyri
  9. 9. Why is Culture Difficult to Study? • It is easier to study other cultures, however, you still have biases and background assumptions about other cultures. (“They drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.”) • Studying your own culture is especially difficult because it is normal and natural to you. Therefore, you’re less likely to question it and assume it is not worth studying. 9
  10. 10. Ethnocentrism • You may have experienced this yourself—if you’ve ever watched a program on television where they’re showing you some remote tribe of people and their way of life seems very different you might say something like, – “Oh, that is so gross, I can’t believe those people eat that…” • You’re assuming that your way of life is better than their way of life. Interestingly, if that tribe watched your daily life, they would question some of the things that you consider “normal.” • Ethnocentrism occurs when a person uses their own culture as a standard to evaluate another group or individual, leading to the view that cultures other than one’s own are abnormal.
  11. 11. Why is Culture Difficult to Study? • Here is an example of something we all do and experience each day. However, it is written as if the author has never witnessed this experience. This is an excerpt from “Body Ritual among the Nacirema” by Horace Miner. • “While each family has at least one shrine, the rituals associated with it are not family ceremonies but are private and secret…The focal point of the shrine is a box or chest which is built into a wall. In this chest are kept the many charms and magical potions without which no native believes he could live…Beneath the charm-box is a small font. Each day every member of the family, in succession, enters the shrine room, bows his or her head before the charm-box, mingles different sorts of holy water in the font, and proceeds with a brief rite of ablution.” 11
  12. 12. 12
  13. 13. The Real World Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 13 Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism • As sociologists, we want to have as clear a view of any society as possible; this requires that we suspend, at least temporarily, our ethnocentrism. We can do this through; – Sociological Imagination – C. Wright Mills – A quality of mind that allows us to understand the relationship between our individual circumstances and larger social forces. – Beginner’s Mind – Bernard McGrane – Approaching the world without preconceptions in order to see things in a new way. – Culture Shock is the disruption that people feel when they encounter cultures radically different from their own, and believes they cannot depend on their own taken-for-granted assumptions about life.
  14. 14. Cultural Relativism • We can also clear our view of society by; • Cultural relativism is the process of understanding other cultures on their own terms, rather than judging according to one’s own culture. • When studying any group, it is important to try to employ cultural relativism because it helps sociologists see others more objectively.
  15. 15. COMPONENTS OF CULTURE Language, Values, and Norms 15
  16. 16. Components of Culture • Culture consists of two different broad categories: material culture and symbolic culture.
  17. 17. Material Culture • Material culture includes the objects associated with a cultural group, such as tools, machines, utensils, buildings, and artwork; basically, any physical object to which we give social meaning.
  18. 18. Symbolic Culture • Symbolic culture are the ideas associated with a cultural group including ways of thinking (beliefs, values, and assumptions) and ways of behaving (norms, interactions, and communication). • One of the most important functions of symbolic culture is to allow us to communicate through signs, gestures, and language.
  19. 19. Components of Culture • Signs (or symbols), such as a traffic signal or product logo, are used to meaningfully represent something else. • Gestures are the signs that we make with our body, such as hand gestures and facial expressions; it is important to note that these gestures also carry meaning.
  20. 20. Examples of Symbols 20
  21. 21. Examples of Gestures 21
  22. 22. Components of Culture • Finally, language is a system of communication using vocal sounds, gestures, and written symbols. • This is probably the most significant component of culture because it allows us to communicate.
  23. 23. Components of Culture (con’t.) • Language is so important that many have argued that it shapes not only our communication but our perceptions of how we see things as well. • The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which is the idea that language structures thought and that ways of looking at the world are embedded in language, supports this premise. – If I made up a word right now and I told you that the word I just made up is an animal and then asked you to picture that animal, could you do it? – Sapir-Whorf tells us that if we don’t have language, or the words to describe something, we can’t even think of it. In other words, language shapes our thoughts.
  24. 24. Values • Values are shared beliefs about what a group considers worthwhile or desirable; these guide the creation of norms. –What are some examples of values? • Value Contradictions are values that conflict with one another or are mutually exclusive. – Are there dominant U.S. Values?
  25. 25. Dominant U.S. Values 1. Achievement and Success 2. Activity and Work 3. Moral Orientation 4. Humanitarianism 5. Efficiency and Practicality 6. Progress 7. Material Comfort 8. Equality 9. Freedom 10. External Conformity 11. Science 12. Nationalism-Patriotism 13. Democracy 14. Individual Personality 15. Racism and Group Superiority
  26. 26. Norms • Norms are the formal and informal rules regarding what kinds of behavior are acceptable and appropriate within a culture. • Norms are specific to a culture, time period, and situation. • Norms can be either formal, such as a law or the rules for playing soccer, or informal, not written down and unspoken.
  27. 27. Types of Norms • Types of norms can also be distinguished by the strictness with which they are enforced.
  28. 28. Types of Norms: Folkways • A folkway is a loosely enforced norm that involves common customs, practices, or procedures that ensure smooth social interaction and acceptance.
  29. 29. Types of Norms: Mores • A more is a norm that carries greater moral significance, is closely related to the core values of a group, and often involves severe repercussions for violators.
  30. 30. Types of Norms: Taboos • A taboo is a norm engrained so deeply that even thinking about violating it evokes strong feelings of disgust, horror, or revulsion for most people.
  31. 31. How do we enforce norms? • Sanctions are positive or negative reactions to the ways that people follow or disobey norms, including rewards for conformity and punishments for norm violators. • Sanctions help to establish social control, the formal and informal mechanisms used to increase conformity to values and norms and thus increase social cohesion. • They may be formal or informal • They can be positive or negative 31 T h e R e al W or ld Co pyri
  32. 32. VARIATIONS IN CULTURE Dominant Culture, Subcultures, Countercultures, & Culture Wars 32
  33. 33. Variations in Culture • Cultural Universals are customs and practices that occur across all societies. – These are the things that all cultures have; like laws, food, family etc. However, the manifestations of those things vary from culture to culture.
  34. 34. Variations in Culture • Multiculturalism values diverse racial, ethnic, national, and linguistic backgrounds and so encourages the retention of cultural differences within society, rather than assimilation. • In the United States there is a trend that encourages multiculturalism, however, we still often see the dominant culture as the “norm” and therefore many minority cultures feel pressure to conform. – Example: The push for Hispanics to learn English
  35. 35. Dominant Culture, Subcultures, and Countercultures • The dominant culture refers to the values, norms, and practices of the group within society that is most powerful in terms of wealth, prestige, status, and influence.
  36. 36. • A subculture is a group within society that is differentiated by its distinctive values, norms, and lifestyle. • They interact with the dominant group, but maintain their distinctive values, norms, and lifestyles. • Subcultures include skateboarders, vegetarians, and college students. Dominant Culture, Subcultures, and Countercultures (cont’d.)
  37. 37. Dominant Culture, Subcultures, and Countercultures (cont’d.) • A counterculture is a group within society that openly rejects and/or actively opposes society’s values and norms. – A counterculture is a subculture that strongly rejects dominant societal values and norms and seeks alternative lifestyles. – Its norms and values are often incompatible with or in direct opposition to the mainstream. – Historically – hippies, antiwar protestors, civil rights activists and feminists – Today: anti-abortion activists, street gangs, and terrorists. 37 T h e R e al W or ld Co pyri
  38. 38. Dominant Culture, Subcultures, and Countercultures (cont’d.) • Countercultures
  39. 39. Culture Wars • Mainstream culture is often characterized by points of dissension and division, which are sometimes called culture wars. – Culture Wars – clashes within mainstream society over the values and norms that should be upheld. • Sociologists also make a distinction between norms and values are more aspired to (ideal culture) than actually practiced (real culture). 39
  40. 40. Ideal vs. Real Culture • Ideal Culture – the norms, values, and patterns of behavior that members of a society believe should be observed in principle. • Real Culture – the norms, values, and patterns of behavior that actually exist within a society (which may or may not correspond to the society’s ideals). 40 T h e R e al W or ld C o p yr ig ht © 2 0 0 8
  41. 41. Ideal vs. Real Culture • Examples: – ideal: waiting till your married to have sex – real: most people end up have sex before getting married • ideal: after high school you go to college • real: many students can't go to college due to financial problems – ideal: getting married and creating a family – real: many marriages end up in divorce. Also, many Americans are choosing not to get married and have children at all. – ideal: become rich – real: in today society it is harder and harder to start up your own business and become financially wealthy 41 T h e R e al W or ld C o p yr ig ht © 2 0 0 8
  42. 42. Ideal vs. Real Culture • Real Example of Ideal vs. Real Culture – Tucson Garbage Project (1973) • Quantitative data from bins was compared with information known about the residents who owned them. The results have shown that information people freely volunteered about their consumption habits did not always tally with the contents of their waste bins. For example, alcohol consumption was proven to be significantly higher in reality than in the questionnaires completed by the people studied. Such findings have highlighted the difference between people's self- reported and actual behaviors. 42
  43. 43. High vs. Popular Culture • Popularly speaking, being cultured means being well-educated, knowledgeable of the arts, stylish, and well-mannered. • High culture—generally pursued by the upper class—refers to classical music, theater, fine arts, and other sophisticated pursuits. • Members of the upper class can pursue high art because they have cultural capital, which means the professional credentials, education, knowledge, and verbal and social skills necessary to attain the “property, power, and prestige” to “get ahead” socially. • Low culture, or popular culture—generally pursued by the working and middle classes—refers to sports, movies, television sitcoms and soaps, and rock music. • Remember that sociologists define culture differently than they do cultured, high culture, low culture, and popular culture. 43
  44. 44. High vs. Popular Culture • High culture is distinguished from low culture based on the characteristics of their audiences, not on characteristics of their cultural objects. • High culture refers to those forms of culture usually associated with the elite or dominant classes. • Popular culture refers to the forms of cultural expression usually associated with the masses, consumer good, and consumer products. 44
  45. 45. High vs. Popular Culture • Culture capital theory is based on the assumption that high culture is a device used by the dominant class to exclude the subordinate classes. – This theory, introduced by Pierre Bourdieu, refers to the symbols, ideas, tastes, and preferences that can be strategically used as resources in social action. Bourdieu argued that, above and beyond economic factors, “cultural habits and…dispositions inherited from” the family are fundamentally important to school success • For example, middle-class parents area able to endow their children with the linguistic and cultural competencies that will give them a greater likelihood of success at school and at university. • In contrast, working class children, without access to such cultural resources, are less likely to be successful in the educational system. Thus, education reproduces class inequalities. 45
  46. 46. High vs. Popular Culture • Popular culture refers to the forms of cultural expression usually associated with the masses, consumer good, and consumer products. – Fads - A fad is any form of behavior that develops among a large population and is collectively followed with enthusiasm for some period, generally as a result of the behavior's being perceived as novel in some way. • Object fads • Activity fads • Idea fads • Personality fads – Trends - A trend in culture can also mean any form of behavior that develops among a large population that last longer than ten years. These trends usually occur in fashion, technology, or business. A well known example of this is the cellphone.
  47. 47. CULTURAL CHANGE Technology, Cultural Diffusion, Cultural Leveling, and Cultural Imperialism 47
  48. 48. Cultural Change • Cultures usually change slowly and incrementally, though change can also happen in rapid and dramatic ways. • At times, a subculture can influence the mainstream and become part of dominant culture, or something that is dominant can change to a counterculture.
  49. 49. The Real World Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 49 Technology and Cultural Change • Technological Change – This is one of the most significant influences on any society and its material culture. This has been the case for all of human history…not just today. Some argue it is THE most important force behind change. • Technology, according to you text, are the material artifacts and the knowledge and techniques required to use them. • Technological Determinism – a theory that proposes developments in material culture provide the primary driving forces behind social organization and social change.
  50. 50. Cultural Diffusion • Cultural Diffusion is the dissemination of beliefs and practices from one group to another.
  51. 51. Cultural Leveling • Cultural Leveling is the process by which cultures that were once unique and distinct become increasingly similar.
  52. 52. Cultural Change • Cultural Imperialism is the imposition of one culture’s beliefs and practices on another culture through mass media and consumer products rather than by military force.
  53. 53. Cultural Imperialism?
  54. 54. Globalization • Globalization is the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets.
  55. 55. Globalization
  56. 56. 57