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SOC101Y1 Lecture Notes - Cultural Relativism, Ethnocentrism

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Adam Green

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Lecture 03: Culture
September 30, 2008
Berger and Luckmann 1966
humans have “underdeveloped instincts”
humans require symbolic systems to compensate for lack of instincts
If human’s social life is not determined by our instincts, then what is?>CULTURE
Culture is the sum of socially transmitted ideas, practices, and material objects that people
create. Culture gives us guidelines for how to think and act.
A society exists when people interact and share culture, generally in a geographically delimited
culture is like air.. it’s everywhere but no where at the same time
Adam & Eve
eg. person asks their sister if she had a boy or a girl
The idea that babies are either male or female are a culture artifact. Not all humans are born
male or female. ( Could be born ‘intersexed’ )
People find it hard to accept because it is not considered ‘normal’.
Gwen: (Feb 1985 – Oct 2002)
Killed by a group of men because she was transgendered.
Native American societies do not have 2 genders but THREE ( BERDACHE or TWO-SPIRIT).
married men.
not considered male or female but considered a bit of each.
example of third gender
Indian culture: HIJRA
born male but have stronger identification with female (have sex with males)
Travesti of Brazill
born male but appear feminine
achieved by injecting silicone into certain areas
rarely cut off penis (highly value)
Human beings come in a wide variety of genders. Gender is a social construction.
Ethnocentrism involves judging another culture exclusively by the standards of one’s own.
Cultural relativism is the belief that all elements of all cultures should be respect as equally
Cliterectomy – procedure where the external female genital is removed for cultural purposes
performed as a right of passage for girls aged 4 – 14
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