Culture: Components and Controversies
Three Key Questions:
How is society organized?
How is social order/control maintained?
How does society influence you?
Living in a Material World
Material Social Non-material
Technology World Values, norms
- No natural social order
- We live in a world with tension between material and non-material
o Ex. Surrogacy – is illegal in Canada, but accepted in the US. Technology versus values.
- Are our values controlled by technology or do our values contain technology?
Components of Culture
What we need to survive in our social environment
We walk around with a toolbox of scripts, rules and costumes we need not only to survive, but to
Values: standards of behaviour
We need to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
o Contradictions: real vs ideal
Ideal: everyone is concerned about the environment. Real: in practice, people don’t elect the green
party and don’t like green technology like wind energy
Norms: rules of behaviour (folkways; mores; taboo)
Criminal Code of Canada to “don’t pick your nose”. This why little kids are so tired and sleep for long
periods of time – they’re getting this toolbox “I sit here, I raise my hand to talk, etc.”
The gold star system – isn’t always about being “good” but about being compliant. Girls tend to
be compliant more than boys
Every culture/society has different things in their toolbox to equip them to deal with their.. yea.
Cohesion and Diversity
Tensions of migration and rapid social change
Multiple cultural forms
We’ve tried smoothing everyone into one culture (residential schools) but that failed.
Ethnic enclaves: ethnocentrism
Isolated communities – if you’re of a minority group, you’ll seek people out of your belief system and
identity. You have your own stores, schools and churches – i.e. Chinatown
Ethnocentrism – your culture is the best one. Stability requires system of integration
Assimilation or multiculturalism
Assimilation – the melting pot (US)
Multiculturalism – schools for groups based on difference (Canada)
Consequence of internalized culture
View own culture as natural and normal
You’re a freak, do this my way.
Judge other cultures to be inferior
Ethnocentrism is necessary (functional)
Creates identity and community
Can set up cultural conflict