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SOCI 461 (17)

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McGill University
Sociology (Arts)
SOCI 461
Richard Koestner

Culture as Freedom -culture has 2 faces 1. Provides us w/ an opportunity to exercise our freedom 2. It constrains usexisting cultures put limits on what we can think and do Cultural production and symbolic interactionism: -culture used to be regarded as a “reflection” of societya dependent variable -recently, symbolic interactionists regard culture as an independent variable -people do not accept culture passively -we actively produce and interpret culture in accordance w/ our diverse needs -implies that to a degree, we are at liberty to choose how culture influences us Cultural diversity: -part of the reason we are increasingly able to choose how culture influences us is that there is more to choose from -ex. Canada is undergoing rapid cultural diversification b/c of increased immigration -marriage b/w different ethnic groups and interracial marriage is increasing Multiculturalism: -critics of multiculturalism say that multiculturalism has 3 negative consequences: 1. multicultural education hurts students who are members of minority groups by forcing them to spend too much time on noncore subjects 2. multicultural education causes political disunity and results in more interethnic and interracial conflict 3. multiculturalism encourages the growth of cultural relativismthe belief that all cultures and all cultural practices have equal value The Rights Revolution: A Conflict Analysis of Culture: -The rights revolution is the process by which socially excluded groups struggle to win equal rights under the law and in the practice beginning in the 2 ndhalf of the century -the rights revolution fragments Canadian culture by: -legitimizing the grievances of groups that were formally excluded from full participation -renewing their pride in their identity and heritage From diversity to globalization: -in preliterate or tribal societies, cultural beliefs and practices are virtually the same for all group members -many organize rites of passage -their culture is homogenous -preindustrial Western Europe and N.A. were rocked by the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the French and American Revolutions -there was cultural fragmentation -picked up steam during industrialization -its pace is quickening again today due to globalization -one of important roots of globalization is the expansion of international trade and investment -globalization destroys political, economic, and cultural isolation, bringing people together in what Marshall McLuhan called a “global village” The globalization of English: -English is the most widespread language on earth (w/ exception of variations of Chinese) -b/c Britain and US were the world’s most powerful and influential countries for over 200 yrs -however, several thousand languages around the world are being eliminated -much of the culture of a people is expressed through language -loss of language amounts to the disappearance of tradition and perhaps even identity -often replaced by traditional identity of the colonial powers Aspects of Postmodernism: -postmodernism is characterized by an electric mix of cultural elements and the erosion of consensus -erosion of authority and decline of consensus around core values -easier to create personalized belief systems and practices by blending facets of different cultures and historical periods -frees people to adopt religious, ethnic, and other identities they are comfortable w/ -Canadians increasingly willing to feast off a religious smorgasbord that combines a conventional menu w/ a wide assortment of less conventional beliefs and practices (ex. psychics, tarot cards etc.) -seems likely that people who emerge in cultural blending are usually more tolerant and appreciative of ethnic, racial, and religious groups other than their own -the erosion of authorityCanadians nowadays are more likely to challenge authority and hold the
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