Thursday, November 5, 2009 - Lecture 8 Sociology of Culture
READ: Brym Chapter 14 pages 441-418, Brym 18, Ungar chapter 10.
Why Study Culture?
Consider the following important questions:
-Who do you hangout with? Why?
-What types of music is cool in your books?
-What is with the skinny jeans deal?
-Why are you hear to listen to me talk at you for an hour?
-These relate to values, beliefs, ideologies,
What is Culture?
-Culture as symbolic:
Requiring interpretation and meaning making through interaction.
-Culture vs. structure:
Culture: Abstract elements and their direct physical embodiments. (Ex. paintings, skinny
jeans, music we listen to, etc.)
Structure: Concrete elements and social processes/systems. (Ex. political systems)
-These perspectives do not provide us with a clear-cut definition. Like the health care system,
does the study count as a cultural research? Cultural things include emotions, values. This shows
us that it is not so clear-cut with culture and structure.
-Symbolic boundaries -Group formation
-Differential access to resources
-For example, why use a LV bag? Reasons may be the social class that one wants to show that
they are in.
Research Topics in Culture
-Production and Reception of movies, literature, music, fashions, etc.
-Reception looks as people and how they receive culture.
Culture is Dynamic
-Culture varies along time, space, and social groups.
-For example, top baby names are very different from 1989 and 1940 between whites and blacks.
Marxist Perspective on Culture
-Base (Mode of production) Æ Superstructure (Culture)
-Culture is a product of the capitalist system and serves to legitimate it.
-Culture is not a reflection of the base. Believe that culture is pro-capitalist and reflect goals of
certain groups. (Those who have special stakes in culture.)
Functionalist Perspective on Culture
-Culture provides consensus, order, stability, and solidarity allowing society to run smoothly.
-For example, social solidarity runs through rituals.
Symbolic Interactionist Perspective
-Cultural meanings arise from interaction and communication between people. Individuals create
and implement culture.
-Ann Swidler looked at the culture toolkit. Consists of how to act, flow, (Ex. job interviews)
Important Concepts I
Three types of cultural capital
are transmissible LQPDWHULDOLW\´
For example, a piano in a house.
understand and interpret culture.
For example, having the knowledge and skill to play the piano.
-Institutionalized: Educational qualifications conferring on its holder a conventional, constant,
legally guaranteed value with respect to culture.
For example, why are we sitting in class? Because we want to credentials for the future.
-There is some degree of exchange between cultural capital and economic capital.
For example, we need cultural capital in order to gain economic capital like getting a job.
What are the functions of cultural capital?
-Social Reproduction: Use of culture for cohesion/exclusion. To maintain their level in society
when parents invest in their children they way their parents invested in them.
classical music lessons.) Move to a new cultural society.
Important Concepts II
-Symbolic boundaries: Conceptual distinctions that we make to categorize objects, people, and
practices and even time and space.
-Types of music draw boundaries; classical music is highbrow, while rap for example, is
-Richard Peterson said that high-class people are listen to lowbrow music too.
Important Concept II
-Where do these different musical tastes come from?
Important Concepts III
-Learn how to act, behave, what sounds good, foods you like, how to talk, etc, are learned from
childhood but are endured through life.
-Habitus we develop in childhood affect our life in the future.
Thursday, november 5, 2009 - lecture 8 sociology of culture. Read: brym chapter 14 pages 441-418, brym 18, ungar chapter 10. Culture: abstract elements and their direct physical embodiments. (ex. paintings, skinny jeans, music we listen to, etc. ) Structure: concrete elements and social processes/systems. (ex. political systems) These perspectives do not provide us with a clear-cut definition. This shows us that it is not so clear-cut with culture and structure. Reasons may be the social class that one wants to show that they are in. Production and reception of movies, literature, music, fashions, etc. Reception looks as people and how they receive culture. Culture varies along time, space, and social groups. For example, top baby names are very different from 1989 and 1940 between whites and blacks. Culture is a product of the capitalist system and serves to legitimate it. Culture is not a reflection of the base.