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Lecture 8

Lecture 8

Course Code
Sheldon Ungar

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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?
Two perspectives:
-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.
Culture Structure
-Symbolic boundaries -Group formation
-Social stratification
-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.
Neo-Marxist Perspective
-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.)
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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 LQPDWHULDOLW\´
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.
Important Concepts
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.
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