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Culture - Lecture + Textbook

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Sheldon Ungar

Culture - Is defined by sociologists as the sum of practices, languages, symbols, beliefs, values, ideologies, and material objects that people create to deal with real-life problems. o It enables people to adapt and thrive in their environments - High Culture o Is cultured consumed mostly by the upper class o Distinguishes it from popular/mass culture e.g. opera, ballet - Mass/Popular Culture o Is culture consumed by all classes - Shared culture is socially transmitted o society is composed of people who share culture The Origins and Composition of Culture - Human culture has 3 main tools for survival 1) Abstraction o The ability to create general ideas or way of thinking o It is unique to humans o It allows us to classify and generalize our experiences symbols o Symbols ideas that carry meaning language, formulas, signs 2) Cooperation o Is is the capacity to create a complex social life by norms and values E.g. families members cooperate to to raise children, and in the process, they develop and apply norms and value about which child rearing practices are appropriate and desirable Animals have some kind of cooperation but is it more instinctual base o Norms are generally accepted ways of doing things o Values ideas of what is right or wrong 3) Production o Unique to humans it is the capacity to make and use tools and improves our ability to take what we want from nature. o Material culture tangible tools and techniques that enables a task to be completed o Non-material culture non-tangible symbols, norms, etc - How do these tools create different kinds of ideas, norms, and elements of material culture? o In medicine, theoretical ideas about the way our bodies work are evaluated using norms about how to test theories experimentally. Experimentation, in turn, results in the production of new medicines and therapies part of material culture. o In law, values (shared ideas about what is right and wrong) are embodied in a legal code, consisting of norms defining illegal behavior and punishments for breaking the law. The application of the law requires the creation of courts and jails part of material culture. o Religious folklore traditional ideas about how the universe was created, the meaning of life, and so forthis expressed in religious customs regarding how to worship and how to treat fellow human beings. Religious folklore and customs can give rise to material culture that includes churches, their associated art and architecture, and so forth. Sanctions, Taboos, Mores, Folkways - People are rewarded/punished when they follow cultural guidelines/not. - Sanctions o Rewards (positive sanctions) and punishments (negative sanctions) aimed at ensuring conformity System of social control the sum of sanctions in society by means of which conformity to cultural guidelines is ensured. - Taboos among the strongest norms o When someone violates a taboo causes revulsion in the community, and punishment is severe E.g. incest, rape, murder - Core norms o considered to be essential for survival of a community William Graham Sumnero also called mores (Latin for customs) e.g. walk on street without any pants o least important norms called folkways evoke the least severe punishment e.g. walk on street without a top - Stable but vibrant societies are able to find a balance between social control and cultural innovation. Evolution of human behaviour Culture Biology - The ability of humans to create culture is built on a strong biological foundation biology sets limits - Sociobiologists claim that genes can play a part on how humans behave - Charles Darwin evolution theory species that are best adapted to their environments are more likely to survive longer and have offspring Male Promiscuity, Female Fidelity, and Other Myths - Universal trait they claim that men are more likely than women to want many sexual partners - Explanation why this behaviour? increases survival chances e.g. males produce millions of sperm, women only one per month these are different strategies for optimum survival - These behaviour cannot be easily changed encoded i
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