SOC101 Lecture Notes - Cultural Relativism, Ethnocentrism, Symbolic Interactionism

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Published on 14 Apr 2013
School
University of Waterloo
Department
Sociology
Course
SOC101
[CULTURE]
January 23, 2013
Chapter: 5
1
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
Five defining features:
o Culture is learned
o Shared
o Transmitted
Generation to generation
o Cumulative
Builds on itself, grows and changes
o Human
Not from an anthropological standpoint
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
o The way we expect people to move out of the way walking on the sidewalk
Mores: norms that carry a strong sense of social importance
Laws: norms that are formally defined and enacted in legislation
Sanction: a penalty for norm violation
o Both positive and negative
o Neg: ticket for speeding
o Pos. moral high ground of not speeding
2. Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism
Ethnocentrism
o The tendency to view one’s own culture as superior to others
o Restrictive in the sense that it does not allow one to appreciate diversity
Cultural relativism
o Appreciating all that all cultures have intrinsic worth and need to be evaluated and understood on
their own terms
o Avoid judging others cultures customs and traditions before trying to understand them
Being aware of ethnocentrism and cultural re… 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
Shared cultural symbols allow us to interact, language is a key identifier of cultural boundaries
3500 languages in danger of extinction (Harrison, 2007);
Does Language Define Thought?
Linguistic determinism
o Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
Non-verbal communication includes a whole spectrum of body language
4. Cultural Diversity
Subculture
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Document Summary

Culture is a complex collection of values, beliefs, behaviours, and material objects shared by a group. January 23, 2013 passed on from one generation to the next. Five defining features: culture is learned, shared, transmitted. Builds on itself, grows and changes: human. 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. Folkways: informal norms that suggest customary ways of behaving: the way we expect people to move out of the way walking on the sidewalk. Mores: norms that carry a strong sense of social importance. Laws: norms that are formally defined and enacted in legislation. Sanction: a penalty for norm violation: both positive and negative, neg: ticket for speeding, pos. moral high ground of not speeding, ethnocentrism and cultural relativism.

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