Lecture 7

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6 Jun 2011
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Lecture 7 – Solutions to the Problem of Order
Society and the Individual
There are two statements:
-society is the product of human activity
-individuals are the product of society
Time situation (Dynamic process): We create society and over time people are born into it and
changed by that society. Those people in turn change society. Thus we are continually creating
society. Social order is not guaranteed, it must be created.
Individuals as Creators:
e.g. Robinson Crusoe: (Pop culture equivalent: Gilligan’s Island)
-Friday and Crusoe create society from scratch. They create rules: Every Friday we’ll eat fish.
----Over time, fish becomes institutionalized and normative. It becomes mythologized: the
human origins of the custom are hidden. (People used to eat fish on a specific day before because
there was no refrigeration and fish goes bad fast; thus, they made up a religious reason for it)
-Eventually, you might go as far as to have a “fish police” (constraining force) making sure
everyone eats fish on Fridays. Modern day e.g. smoke police (Canada), Green police (Colombia)
Individuals as Products:
Societal metaphor: Bus
-People get on (born) and off (die) the bus, and they can change where the bus is going.
-Trains and planes are not a good metaphor since they have a set course. A bus can’t go off-road
either, not a jeep, i.e. there is limits to what you can do- but you can still go around.
Are there cultural universals?
e.g.Everybody eats is not one; since it is too vague. There are variances on how, when, how
often. Plus every other species in the planet does it.
Tentative answer: Yes there are cultural universals, but they are not very specific
e.g. 1 Incest taboo: Cutting line varies since in some culture royalty incest is ok, how far along
familiarity to do you trace the line cousins, second cousins..?
e.g. 2 Violence in the group: Does not always work (rape/violence in family)
e.g. 3 Funerals (i.e. mourning): Changes over time. Before, in traditional Ireland, women were
supposed to mourn and wear black for a year (at the same time they would show some of their
breast to show that they were available soon). Now, work regulations allow you to take 3 days
off for a close relative, one day for everyone else. Mourning is not unique to humans. Elephants
mourn, especially when matriarch dies. They will still come back years later to the bones and
hold them.
Are there emerging cultural universals?
-Human rights: we have a long way to go, but working on it
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Virtually all social practices are relative
(Larceny, incest, infanticide, parricide)
Ethnocentrism: the tendency to judge other cultures by the standards of one’s own culture
-We are all ethnocentric to some degree, e.g. food preference
Solutions to the problem of order
Recall: Threats to social order:
1. Egotism
2. Inequality
3. Meaninglessness
Solutions to problem of order:
1. Socialization
2. Sanctions (Force)
3. Exchange
4. Emotion
Solution # 1: Socialization
Individuals must be socialized
Individuals not socialized:
e.g. Feral and neglected children, children raised by animals. If we discover these children we
can save them up to a certain age (~10) after that they can’t learn to socialize properly.
-Socialization & Order (Conformity& constraint)
Learn basic values and norms of society (speaking, walking)
- Internalization & guilt
Internalize thisin” the self. They motivate us (superego) and spring us to action. Obey or feel
guilty. Seek approval from others
Contrast to oversocialized conception of persons
But How Deep Does Socialization Go?
Sapir-Whorf Thesis:
1.Experience
3.Verbalization 2.Conceptualization
(language) (thought)
-Part 123 of the theory are uncontroversial. Experience or environment influences thought,
and we must think before we speak. The way we think about something affects the way we refer
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