Sociology Lecture 4
** 110 multiple choice questions, midterm.
› Culture is the sum of ideas, practices, and material objects that people crate to an effort to survive in
a complex and changing environment.
› Includes material and non-material culture.
› The definition is very broad – it can include the whole of society.
› The definition of social structure can also be expanded to include the whole of society.
› Need to distinguish culture from social structure.
Culture & social structure
› Philip Smith defines culture as the “ideal, the spiritual, and the non-material”.
› Baumann: culture consists of elements of social life that have meaning that members of society
communicate and understand.
› This distinguishes culture from the concrete elements of social life (Baumann “lived experience”),
which are embodied and enacted by actual objects and people.
› These concrete elements from social structure.
› Gender role attitudes are elements of culture. Occupational segregation by gender is an element of
› Religion is an element of culture. Religious institutions and religious discrimination are element of
Human capacities for creation of culture
› Abstraction is the capacity to generalize; it leads to creation of ideas, including symbols.
› Symbol is an element of communication that represents something else.
› The relationship between the symbol and the phenomenon it represents is arbitrary, not necessary
(unlike sign). Therefore, is must be learned.
› Co-operation is the capacity to create a complex social life by establishing norms.
› Production involves devising and using tools and techniques that improve our ability to use nature
for survival. Such tools and techniques from material culture.
Marxist explanation of culture and structure
› Orthodox Marxism: both social structure (socio-economic formation) and culture are based on the
mode of production: the way goods necessary for survival are produced.
› Economic determinism.
› Neo-Marxism: social structure and culture have their own logic of development and they, in turn,
influence mode of production.
› Marx: “dominant ideo