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Lecture 5

SOCA01H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Consumerism, Ethnocentrism


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCA01H3
Professor
Francisco Villegas
Lecture
5

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Introduction to Sociology
Week 5; October 1st 2014
Culture
Facilitates meaning-making
Provides information regarding society
oNorms
oValues
oEthics
oExpectations
What is culture—heard in the city!
Prominently used to define norms outside of what is considered the “mainstream”
(ethnic culture) “I want to learn about new cultures”
Also used to define the elite—to be cultured one must versed in the opera, ballet,
the “classics”, etc. (see high culture) “
Can also be used to define current norms or fads i.e. pop culture references.
“Winter is coming!” “how you doin?”, “the professor looks like Walter White”
Culture as a concept
The concept of culture is broad and encompasses “shared symbols and their
definitions that people create to solve real-life problems” (p. 62)
oEveryone in society partakes in the sharing and developing of culture
oSymbols are concrete things or abstract terms that represent something
else
Clothing as a tool to define status
School as a place of learning
A badge as a sign of authority
Who makes culture?
“Culture is composed of symbols whose meanings are shared among a substantial
number of people” (p. 62)
oIt is not something only present within a single geographic space (UTSC
culture), or something only shared by people who are part of a job field
(cop culture).
These are subcultures
It is also not something shared by a small group of friends i.e. inside jokes
Origins of culture
Made up of three “building blocks”
oAbstraction
oCooperation
oProduction
Abstraction
“The ability to create general concepts that meaningfully organize concrete,
sensory experience” (p. 62)
oDeveloping theories, constructing language, providing meaning to tools
Cooperation

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“The capacity to create a complex social life by establishing generally accepted
ways of doing things and ideas about what is right and wrong” (p. 63)
oEstablishes norms (“generally accepted ways of doing things”) and values
(“ideas that identify desirable states”)
How to behave, what is aesthetically pleasing, what are considered
acceptable and desirable life choices
Production
“The human capacity to make and use tools” (p. 63)
oThe ways that physical tools are created to extract and create things from
nature. Also, the employment of symbols and values to produce
information, knowledge, and ideas.
Norms
Not all norms are created the same
oFolkways: “least important norms and they evoke the least severe
punishment”
Things that are socially frowned upon but not necessarily
considered an aggression against society
Mores (Mor-ays): “core norms that most people believe are essential for the
survival of their group or society”
oConsidered a moral, ethical, or physical violation on society. Can include
assault, theft, murder, and not wearing pants
Taboos: “when someone violates a taboo, it causes revulsion in the community
and punishment is severe”
oI.e. incest
Effects of culture
Culture has significant effects on the ways daily life is lived. It produces meaning
to many facets of life that could have been interpreted in myriad ways.
oI.e. gender roles
Within this society, women are considered to be naturally
nurturing, caring, and emotional as well as able to communicate
better than men. Men are considered as disciplinarians and
removed from emotional expression as well as active and mobile.
These are gender roles and they are based on cultural
production and essentialisms rather than any real biological
relevance
oThese gender norms affect how children are raised,
taught, and employed
ohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srnaXW9ZgZc
Think beyond the toys
Sapir-Whorf thesis
“We experience important things in our environment and form concepts about
those things. Then, we develop language to express our concerns. Finally,
language itself influences how we see the world” (p. 66)
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