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Sheldon Ungar

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Sociology September 22
, 2010.
Reading: NS Ch. 2, SLDI ch. 2
Many believe there is a benevolent spirit so we must follow some rituals and then
we will be happy in the afterlife
All elements of culture try and solve some human need/problem that exists
Has to become wildly shared before we can call it culture
Culture is the sum of socially transmitted ideas, practices, and material objects
that people create to overcome real-life problems. Culture gives us guidelines for
how to act
Culture becomes culture when it fulfills human need
A ritual becomes culture once it is socially transmitted, once it is transmitted from
one person to another, becomes widely accepted shared, and is learned
Example: steam engine once used to open doors when it was f irst created after Christ and
was promptly forgotten, was revived later on and was improved to fulfill human needs and
wants. It then became part of culture, once it became useful (social need for it developed)
and not before, before that it was forgotten for 1700 years
Complication with culture:
People tend to take their own culture for granted
We are often unaware of the dimensions and aspects of culture in our lives
We have trouble understanding the culture of other people
The practices and ideas of cultures other than our own seem odd or irrational and we
conclude they are inferior to our own ideas and practices
Ethnocentrism – involves judging another culture exclusively by the standard of our own
culture. Hinder the sociological understanding of culture
Cultural relativism – the belief that all elements of all cultures should be respect as
equally valid. All cultures are equally valid and all aspects of other cultures should be
given equal respect
Although some aspects of culture can make us freer, come can constrain us
Culture provides us with an opportunity to do as we wish
We create elements of culture in our everyday lives to express our needs and
wants, hope, dreams, etc
It enhances our freedom when we create culture.
Existing culture put certain limits on what we can do
An intense globalization of the world
The amount of international travel since 1983 has tremendously increased
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