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Lecture 1 Sept 14.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Vanina Leschziner

SOC483Y1- Culture and Cognition Lecture 1- Wednesday September 14, 2011 What is culture and cognition? = Study of patterns and thinking and acting in particular institutional settings. Thinking and acting go together bounded by place in which we act. Those institutional settings will bound the way we act… Anchor on some empirical data… It is easier when we study or look at smaller environments to see patterns those people share in those environments We can define this area of culture and cognition as – looking at how actors use culture through shared cognitive schema How actors use culture through shared cultural scheme embedded in institutional settings What do we mean by culture? – In terms of what goes on in our minds, patterns of thinking, cognitive patterns differ… those we share with other people Sociologists try not to speculate – how do we get at what goes on inside our minds? Neuroscience – relied on to see what goes on in the mind Sociologists look at other things that show some evidence on how and what people are thinking… we can look at certain norms- repertoires of actions (different ways people act) these ways of thinking (subjectivity – not used in this area as a term) but think of studying some form of subjectivity developed maintained or changed in institutional settings… sometimes they can be small like a peer group and sometimes large as UofT. Also cognitive sociology – culture and cognition is still a new area, not much defined/consensus… - there are some specific things about this area: of course we assume acting and thinking go together, focus on that… 3 things characterize this area - 3 levels of analysis 1. Actions or practices: 2. Cognition 3. Social structures: include different kinds of institutional settings, can be small influx peer group We will try and see in all discussions how the 3 are interconnected Contemporary society understanding- the relationship is more complex than we have assumed *how culture and how cognition work – how the two work Culture & Cognition is something we can find anywhere – not as strictly structured as Sociology of Family To see how people put their thinking at work… some thinking through practice/discourses… COGNITION - We mean things cognitive schema, patterns, mental structures/schema, different ways of referring to what goes on in life, in ways that are patterned- we are looking at one level of analysis – not individual ways of thinking – we are looking at social cognition, patterns we share - Other extreme- universalistic view focusing on mental mechanisms common to all humans – we will read some of this – this is relied on to tell certain patterns of thinking whether cultural, shaped by environment, how brains work? – knowing some mental mechanisms we can infer a little about how culture may be shaping those patterns of thinking Culture and cognition focused on trying to explain middle level- not the individual or universal – we want to focus on social origin/natures - Before this field, more speculation CULTURE - In progress, component of identity - Culture is a distinct aspect of any phenomenon we do, that meaning we give to things, those ideas in flux or changing, norms values – we could find culture in anything we deal with then… - Culture and cognition- culture not outside of us or objects/values, it is- we think of culture as SHARED MENTAL SCHEMA – what is inside our minds and enacted in particular settings, enacted through discourses and practices… - The understanding of culture has changed a lot through time… 4 basic moments of understanding of culture 1. Culture is shared norms, values, and beliefs - The notion of socialization is central, through socialization those ideas are reproduced and passed down, what we do is mainly driven by values, goals, and norms - Think of classical sociologists who would fit in this view- Durkheim, Parsons (later typical case) - Rituals- people moved to these, they were more concrete, more anthropologist’s terrain. They were interested in rituals because they thought they were the most powerful per formative actions, a reproduction of practice and beliefs through rituals. That rituals are essential for construction of norms – this was the terrain of anthropologist Mary Douglas and Levy Strolls - Anthropologists looked in the West – to study things not so exotic - Sociologists also interested in studying everyday practice- driven by idea of looking at routines of everyday practice from which we can learn about culture because those things are central and embody our representations of space and time - Central in late 70s and early 80s for understanding culture, still influential today - Practicetheory- theories that s
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