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Lecture 4

Lecture 4 - Culture.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Ivanka Knezevic

Culture Definition Culture is the sum of ideas, practices, and material objects that people create to an effort to survive in a complex and changing environment Includes material and non-material culture This definition is very broad – it can include the whole of society The definition of social structure can also be expanded to include the whole of society Need to distinguish culture from social structure Cultures and Social Structure Philip Smith defines culture as “the ideal, the spiritual, and the non-material”  Emphases the idea of the idea, and something that isn‟t real Baumann: culture consists of elements of social life that have meaning that members of society communicate and understand This distinguishes culture from the concrete elements of social life (Baumann “lived experience”), which are embodied and enacted by actual objects and people these concrete elements for social structure Examples Gender role attitudes are elements of culture. Occupational segregation by gender is an element of social structure Religion is an element of culture. Religious institutions and religious discrimination are elements of social structure Human Capacities for Creation of Culture 1. Abstraction is the capacity to generalize; it leads to creation of ideas, including symbols Symbol is an element of communication that represents something else The relationship between the symbol and the phenomenon it represents is arbitrary, not necessary (unlike sign). Therefore, it must be learned 2. Co-operation is the capacity to create a complex social life by establishing norms For example, a band. There is a division of labour, there might be a leader and so on. 3. Production involves devising and using tools and techniques that improve our ability to use nature for survival. Such tools and techniques form material culture This is turning natural resources into objects and/or material we can use. This includes the knowledge of how to use tools, and how to react to certain objects, materials, or buildings. Marxist Explanation of Culture and Structure Orthodox Marxism: both social structure (socio-economic formation) and culture are based on the mode of production: the way
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