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Lecture 4

Week 4 Lecture - Oct. 4.docx

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Ivanka Knezevic

Culture - Culture is the sum of ideas, practices, and material objects that people create to survive in a complex & changing environment - Includes material & 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 Culture and social structure - Philip Smith defines culture as the “ideal, the spiritual, and the non- spiritual” - 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 & people - These concrete elements form social structure - 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 & 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 - 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 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 goods necessary for survival are produced - Economic determinism - Neo-Marxism: social structure & culture have their own logic
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