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Lecture 4

SOC103 Lecture 4 Notes

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Lorne Tepperman

SOC103 Lecture 4 – Culture and Acculturation The controlling effects of culture • All of us are shaped by our culture to value certain things and see things in certain ways • Subsequently, our choices are not random Culture is a choice-guidance system • These things that are extremely basic in the world are not fixed, not universal, not inevitable • These are all culturally imminent o Varies from one culture to another o Varies over the course of time within a given culture • Culture structure the idea of normal versus abnormal o More exaggerated in our society than in any other society o We hate the idea of not being normal o We live in a scientific civilization, where there is an attempt to establish norms • Culture defines our preoccupation with normality Culture even has political effects • Dominant ideology is a way of thinking that takes prevail in our culture o Each culture has its own dominant ideology o Tends to support and give ammunition to the dominant social class in society o Tends to dominate our behaviour o Dominant ideology is a marketed ideology  Everything is for sale  Everything is priced according to its value  Everything is exchanged  There are always be winners and losers  The market sorts people into positions of wealth and poverty  The society determines who should get what • Dominant ideology has a tremendous impact on what kinds of legislation is enacted and how the state exercises its power • There is a link between the economic marketplace and the social marketplace Cultures vary in what they teach us • Culture varies from one society to another • There is often conflict between people from who grew up in different cultures o E.g., University of Toronto, City of Toronto • We tend to be ethnocentric o We tend to believe that the way we view the world is the right way, and the way other people view the world is the wrong way • The notion of cultural relativism o You cannot reasonably impose your cultural standards on other cultures o Cultures are simply different Moral evolution vthsus culstral relativism • In the 20 and 21 century, cultural relativism has been the predominant motif • In the 19 century, there was a strong belief in the Western world about moral progress o The most economically developed nations had higher cultures and higher moral standards than the people they were colonizing o To help these savages to see the correctness of the Western way and erase the cultural errors of their own way • Over the course of history, there had been a moral evolution • With the decline of colonialism, there was a decline in ethnocentrism E.g., the subordination of women • It is extremely difficult for Western people to view the dress of Islamic women in a culturally or morally relative way Cultural change can be painful • Immigrants most directly and fully experience the difficulties and pains of cultural change • The most difficult position is marginal o This can be very painful o You don’t have any roots or support in either community Traditionally, culture was equated with civility • We have to be cultivated by our parents and cultivate ourselves in order to have the skills, knowledge and ability to make social and economic life possible Today, we hold a broader definition of culture • Not everything that goes through your head is part of culture • It becomes part of culture because it becomes shared by other people Culture never stands still • It may move slowly, but it is always changing New cultural practices and ideas diffuse through the population • The study of diffusion took off in agricultural sociology o How do you introduce new agricultural products techniques? o There is always the same pattern of adoption • It always follows the S-curve o Over time, there is a slow beginning and then there is a take-off (e.g., contagion) o There is a saturation point, which may not hit 100% Innovators are always in the minority • There is a normal distribution o The majority of people are in the middle category (e.g., neither early or late) Cultural products include... • Everything we read, see, hear can be conceived as of a text (e.g., interpret) • Everything that we use and the ways we use it are culturally shaped and interpreted What does culture express? Consider art as one cultural product • What is the text that we are to interpret? Art and cultural capital •
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