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SOC Lecture – September 26th.docx

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Christian O.Caron

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SOC Lecture – September 26 th Human Development Index (HDI) Operationalized as: 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 similar ways) 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
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