SOC Lecture – September 26 th
Human Development Index (HDI)
1. Life expectancy at birth, as an index of population health and longevity
2. Education index, mean years of schooling
3. Standard of living, as measured by gross national income per capital (GNIpc)
2011 – Canada was 6 th
2012 – Canada is 4 th
Culture: the knowledge, language, values, customs, and material objects that are
passed from person to person and from one generation to the next in a human
group or society. Includes how we think, how we act, and what we own.
Material culture: refers to the physical creations that members of a society make,
use, and share. Everything from zippers to our homes and satellites in space.
Nonmaterial culture: consists of the abstract human creations of society that
influence people’s behaviors, language, beliefs, values, rules of behavior, family
patterns, and political systems.
We must learn about culture through interaction, observation, and imitation in
order to participate as members of the group.
Culture shapes not just what we do but also what we think and how we feel –
elements of what we commonly, but wrongly, describe as “human nature’.
1. Culture is shared
2. Culture is learned
3. Culture is taken for granted (far more the case in situations when there is a
relatively homogenous population, groups of people who see the world in
4. Culture is symbolic
5. Culture varies across time and place
Given the extent of cultural differences in the world and people’s tendency to view
their own way of life as “natural”, it is no wonder that travelers often find
themselves uneasy as they encounter an unfamiliar culture (i.e. culture shock).
No way of life is “natural” to humanity, even though most people around the world
view their own behavior that way. Language:
Language provides the categories through which social reality is understood.
Does not simply describe reality, but also influences our perception of reality.
Lawyers, politicians, marketers, = all involve in shaping reality to fit their needs.
Symbols: something that meaningfully represents something else
Language: system of symbols that expresses ideas and enables people to think and
communicate with one another
Values: collective ideas about what is right and wrong, good or bad, desirable or
undesirable in a particular culture
Norm: established rules of behavior or standards of conduct
Culture and Judgment:
Ethnocentrism: Tendency for a person to judge other cultures exclusively by
standards of their own culture.
Danger – hierarchy of cultures, prejudice & discrimination)
Cultural Relativism: Judging cultural practices and beliefs exclusively in the
cultural context in which they appear.
Danger – mostly incompatible with ideal universal human rights.
“The idea of cultural relativism is nothing but an excuse to violate human rights.”
Globalization: the process by which formerly separate