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Lecture 2

SOCL 2001 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Mardi Gras, Symbolic Culture, Human Behavior

Course Code
SOCL 2001

of 5
I. Culture
a. Language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, and even material objects that
characterize a group and passed from one generation to the next
b. Lens through which we perceive and evaluate what is going on around us
c. Penetrates our thinking
d. Provides implicit instructions
a.i. Establishes fundamental beliefs
b. Provides moral imperative
c. Material culture
a.i. The material objects that distinguish a group of people such as their art,
buildings, weapons, utensils, machines, hairstyles, clothing, and jewelry
a.ii. Unnatural
b. Nonmaterial culture
a.i. A group's way of thinking (including its beliefs, values, and other
assumptions about the world) and doing (its common patterns of behavior,
including language and other forms of interaction) also called symbolic culture
a.ii. Unnatural
b. Culture within us
a.i. Learned and shared ways of believing and of doing
b. Shock
a.i. The disorientation that people experience when they come in contact with
a fundamentally different culture and can no longer depend on their taken-for-
granted assumptions about life
b. Ethnocentrism
a.i. Developed by William Sumner
a.ii. The use of one's own culture as a yardstick for judging the ways of other
individuals or societies generally leading to a negative evaluation of their
values, norms, and behaviors
a.iii. Positive
a.i.1. Creates in-group loyalties
a.ii. Negative
a.i.1. Can lead discrimination
b. Relativism
a.i. Not judging a culture but trying to understand it on its own terms
a.ii. Attempt to refocus our lens of perception so we can appreciate other ways
of life
a.iii. Under attack by Robert Edgerton
a.i.1. Suggested that we develop a scale for evaluating culture on their
quality of life
b. Symbolic
a.i. Nonmaterial culture
a.ii. Symbol
a.i.1. Something to which people attach meaning and then use to
communicate with one another
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a.ii. Gestures
a.i.1. The ways in which people use their bodies to communicate with
one another
a.ii. Language
a.i.1. A system of symbols that can be combined in an infinite number of
ways and can represent not only objects but also abstract thought
a.i.2. Allows culture to exist
a.i.3. Allows human experience to be cumulative
a.i.1.a. Allows culture to develop by freeing people to move
beyond their immediate experiences
a.i.2. Provides a social or shared past
a.i.1.a. Memories
a.i.2. Provides a social or shared future
a.i.1.a. Future events/plans
a.i.2. Allows shared perspective
a.i.1.a. Talking about events allows us to arrive at the shared
understandings that form the basis of social life
a.i.2. Allows shared goal-directed behavior
a.i.1.a. Blend individual activities into an integrated sequence
a.i.2. Sapir & Whorf
a.i.1.a. Hypothesis: Language not only expresses our thoughts and
perceptions but also the way we think and perceive
a.ii. Values
a.i.1. The standards by which people define what is desirable or
undesirable, superior or inferior, good or bad, and beautiful or ugly
a.i.2. Underlie our preferences, guide our choices, and indicate what we
hold worthwhile in life
a.ii. Norms
a.i.1. Expectations of right behavior
a.i.2. Sanctions
a.i.1.a. Either expressions of approval given to people for
following norms or expressions of disapproval for violating them
a.i.1.b. Positive
a.i.1.a.i. Reward or positive reaction for following norms,
ranging from a smile to a material reward
a.i.1.b. Negative
a.i.1.a.i. Expression of disapproval for breaking a norm,
ranging from a mild informal reaction such as a frown to a
formal reaction such as a prize or prison sentence
a.i.2. Moral holidays
a.i.1.a. Specified times when people are allowed to break norms
a.i.1.a.i. Mardi gras
a.i.1.a.ii. Carnival
a.i.1.a.iii. Etc.
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a.i.2. Folkways
a.i.1.a. Norms that are NOT strictly enforced
a.i.2. Mores
a.i.1.a. Norms that are taken seriously
a.i.1.b. Essential to core values and insist on conformity
a.i.2. Taboo
a.i.1.a. Norm strongly ingrained that the thought of violation is
greeted with revulsion
a.i.1.a.i. Example: cannibalism , incest,etc..
a.i.2. Cultural worlds
a.i.1.a. Subcultures
a.i.1.a.i. The values and related behaviors of a group that
distinguish its members from the larger culture; a world within
a world
a.i.1.a.ii. Not limited to occupations
a.i.1.a.iii. Examples: teenagers, politicians, some ethnic
groups, etc…
a.i.1.b. Countercultures
a.i.1.a.i. A group whose values, beliefs, norms, and related
behaviors place its members in opposition to the broader
a.i.1.a.ii. Examples: hippies, KKK, polygamists, etc…
a.i.2. U.S Society Values
a.i.1.a. Pluralistic society
a.i.1.a.i. Society made up of different groups
a.i.1.b. Core values
a.i.1.a.i. The values that are central to a group builds a
common identity
a.i.1.a.ii. 10 core values by Robin Williams
Achievement & success
Hard work
Efficiency and practicality
Science and technology
Material comfort
Group superiority
3 additional
Romantic love
a.i.1.b. Value clusters
a.i.1.a.i. Values that together form a larger whole
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