Class Notes (1,100,000)
CA (620,000)
UTSC (30,000)
Sociology (2,000)
SOCA01H3 (600)

Origins of Culture

by OC91

Course Code
Malcolm Mac Kinnon

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Origins of Culture
-Total way of life of some groups
How they talk, what they use
Material Culture: Comprised of tools and techniques that enable people to get tasks
Power Culture: The behaviour of a group is not random or all over the place, it is
patterned or ordered. A level of predictability.
Lecture Hall Decorum for example
Culture is responsible for behavioural regularity
Most powerful and wide spread factor of behaviour and mind
Paradox and Culture (limits and opens up freedom on the other hand)
Culture and social forces hold you back from doing what youre not supposed to do
Culture increases our freedom
Multiculturalism- youre freer to pursue your own ethnic identity
Postmodernism- break down of old ways of thinking, replaced by relativistic ways of
thinking, tolerance of how people behave are increased
Culture constrains us
Rationalization- increase of science and technology in our lives
Bureaucratization- the growth of huge organizations, unions
Consumerism- tendency to define ourselves in terms of goods we purchase
oConsumers motivated to make purchases because of bombardment of
advertising in form of North Americas shop-till-you-drop lifestyle
oCan also choose to buy items that help define us as members of particular
subculture: Adherents of a set of distinctive values, norms, and practices
within a larger culture
oA constraint- everybody’s livelihood is dependent on the things we buy
Cultural Production and Symbolic Interactionism
Acc. To symbolic interactionist view, people do not accept culture passively
Rather, people actively produce and interpret culture, creatively fashioning it and
attaching meaning to it in accordance with their diverse needs
We have a certain liberty to choose how culture influences us
*feral child- found in wild, cannot walk, unable to see things normal people see, cannot talk
From Counterculture to Subculture
Consumerism is remarkable effective at taming countercultures: Subversive
subcultures that oppose dominant values and seek to replace them
EX. Hippies of 1960s and environmentalists today
Consumerism acts as social control mechanism that normally prevents
countercultures from disrupting social order
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Accomplished this by (i) transforming deviations from mainstream culture into
means of making money, and (ii) by enticing rebels to become entrepreneurs
Culture: the sum of practices, languages, symbols, beliefs, values, ideologies, and
material objects that people create to deal with real-life problems
Enables people to adapt to and thrive in their environments
High Culture: cultures consumed mainly by upper classes (opera, ballet, etc.)
Popular culture: Culture consumed by all classes
Morality, culture tells us what is right and what is wrong
Culture is shared (how culture is widespread)
If ideas are peculiar to an individual, idiosyncratic
If somebody dont fall in the mass culture they are called crazy or mentally disturbed
Collective action is possible, cooperation
Culture is passed on from others, usually older to younger (transmitted)
oIn todays society younger people may know more than the older generation
Culture changes the way we see the world (perception)
Cultural spectacles: the world takes on meaning the way culture wants us to see
When we look at frozen water we see ice, Inuit see different kinds of ice for seal
hunting purposes
Level of discrimination is not familiar with outsiders
Culture is Arbitrary
As we socialize we lose touch of how arbitrary culture can be
oWhen we are younger we are still more aware of how arbitrary culture is ex.
Broken things and why
When there is one answer to a question we say that answer is absolute
When a question of what should be done there are multiples of answers (absolutes)
Cultural distortion: to view the arbitrary premises of your own culture while viewing
others results in Ethnocentrism
Ethnocentrism: Tendency for person to judge other cultures exclusively by standards
of their own culture, impairs sociological analysis
Culture Relativism
Culture is Acquired
We are the creators of social forces
People are socially constructed
Nature vs. Nurture
oWe are born with some predisposition
oHumans have the least amount of nature when we are born
Origins of Culture
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