SOC101 Lecture Notes - Cultural Relativism, Ethnocentrism, Canadian Indian Residential School System

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Published on 12 Apr 2013
School
University of Waterloo
Department
Sociology
Course
SOC101
Chapter 5
Culture
1. What is Culture?
Culture is a complex collection of values, beliefs, behaviours, and material
objects shared by a group passed on from one generation to the next
---everything! It is passed on from one generation to the next.
Five defining features
Culture is learned
Culture is shared
Culture is transmitted: from one generation to the next
Culture is cumulative: grows and builds on itself
Culture is human
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Material Culture
The tangible artifacts and physical objects found in a given culture
Non-material Culture
The intangible and abstract components of a society, including values and
norms
Values: beliefs about ideal goals and behaviours
Norms: rules that outline appropriate behaviour
Folkways: informal norms that suggest customary ways of behaving, less
important.
ie. the way you except to pass someone on the sidewalk
Mores:
norms that carry a strong sense of social importance and value.
expected to do.. MORE important and serious
Laws- norms that are formally defined and enacted in legislation. very important.
there is consequence if not followed
Sanction: a penalty for norm violation
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2. Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism
Ethnocentrism ******
The tendency to view one’s own culture as superior to others
Restrictive in the sense that it does not allow one to appreciate diversity
Cultural Relativism ******
Appreciating that all cultures have intrinsic worth and need to be evaluated
and understood on their own terms
Avoid judging other cultures customs and traditions before trying to
understand them
Being aware of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism helps you become a more
informed and critical thinker
3. Language and Culture
A symbol is something that stands for or represents something else
A language is a shared symbol system of rules and meaning
composed of and constructed of symbols which stands for unique
characteristics of a specific culture
Shared cultural symbols allow us to interact, language is a key identifier of cultural
boundaries
3500 languages in danger of extinction (Harrison,
6. Cultural Change
Cultures are constantly changing to adapt to new social and technological
changes
Three sources inspire cultural change:
1.1. Discovery
Something previously unrecognized or understood is found to have social or
cultural applications
1.2. Invention/innovation
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Document Summary

Culture is a complex collection of values, beliefs, behaviours, and material objects shared by a group passed on from one generation to the next. It is passed on from one generation to the next. Culture is transmitted: from one generation to the next. Culture is cumulative: grows and builds on itself. The tangible artifacts and physical objects found in a given culture. The intangible and abstract components of a society, including values and norms. Laws- norms that are formally defined and enacted in legislation. very important. there is consequence if not followed. Sanction: a penalty for norm violation: ethnocentrism and cultural relativism. The tendency to view one"s own culture as superior to others. Restrictive in the sense that it does not allow one to appreciate diversity. Appreciating that all cultures have intrinsic worth and need to be evaluated and understood on their own terms. Avoid judging other cultures customs and traditions before trying to understand them.

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