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SOCI 1P80 (42)


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Professor Cottrel

Culture refers to a total way of life shared by people in a society (i.e., shared customs, traditions, norms, beliefs, values, material products, and technology) that is passed from one generation to the next. • Culture is a unique human capacity. Components of Culture • Material Culture – the material objects that distinguish a group of people, such as their art, buildings, weapons, utensils, machines, clothing, and jewelry • Nonmaterial Culture – a group’s ways of thinking (including its beliefs, values and other assumptions about the world) and doing (it common patterns of behavior, including language and other forms of interaction) • Material and nonmaterial culture are interrelated. Characteristics of Culture 1) There is nothing "natural" about material or nonmaterial culture 2) Culture penetrates deep into our thinking, becoming a taken-for-granted aspect of our lives 3) Culture provides the lens through which we see the world and obtain our perception of reality 4) Culture provides implicit instructions that tell us what we ought to do in various situations; it provides a fundamental basis for our decision-making 5) Culture provides a "moral imperative"; that is, by internalizing culture, people learn ideas of right and wrong 6) Coming into a radically into contact with a radically different culture challenges our basic assumptions of life 7) Although the particulars of culture differ from one group of people to another, culture itself is universal Diversity Between Cultures • Culture Shock – the disorientation that people experience when they come in contact with a fundamentally different culture and can no longer depend on their taken-for-granted assumptions about life • Ethnocentrism – the use of one’s own culture as a yardstick for judging the ways of other individuals or societies, generally leading to a negative evaluation of their values, norms, and behaviors • Cultural Relativism – understanding a people from the framework of its own culture Diversity Within Cultures • Subculture – a group whose values and related behaviors distinguish its members from the larger culture • Counterculture – a group whose values, beliefs, and related behaviors place its members in opposition to the broader culture • Cultural Hegemony – the control over cultural institutions by an elite group of individuals Normative Culture - Values are shared ideas about what is socially desirable and undesirable, what is good and bad. - Norms are rules, expectations, and guidelines that govern what people should and should not think, feel, and do in a given social situation; norms define expected and accepted be
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