C hapter 3
Transcript for Author-Created Video
Introduction to Chapter 3: Culture
I. Why Focus on North and South Korea?
A. U.S. military involvement on the Korean Peninsula dates back to the end of World
B. North Korea possesses a communist-style government and has one of the most
isolated and centrally planned economies in the world.
C. South Korea is a republic, and its economy ranks among the top 15 in the world.
D. The Korean War and the subsequent division of the Korean Peninsula into North and
South have had a profound effect on Korean culture and on the meaning of being
II. The Challenge of Defining Culture
A. Core Concept 1: In the most general sense, culture is the way of life of a people.
1. Culture- the way of life of a people, including the human-created strategies for
are part of those surroundings. and to those creatures (including humans) that
a. Culture cannot exist without a society, a group of interacting people who
share, perpetuate, and create culture.
b. Sociologists face seveconceptual challenges in thinking about culture:
i. How do you describea culture?
ii. How do we know who belongs to a culture?
iii. What athe distinguishing characteristics that set one culture apart from
2. Culture consists of material and nonmaterial components.
a. Material culture - all natural and human-created objects to which people
have attached meaning. Sociologists consider both an object’s most
obvious and practical uses, and the meanings assigned to it by the people
who use it.
b. Nonmaterial culture - the nonphysical creations that people cannot hold
or see, which shape the objects of the material culture. Examples include
beliefs, values, norms, symbols, and language.
c. Beliefs - conceptions that people accept as true that concern how the
world operates and where the individual fits in relationship to others
d. Values - general, shared conceptions of what is good, right, appropriate,
worthwhile, and important with regard to conduct, appearance, and states
e. Norms - written and unwritten rules that specify behaviors appropriate
and inappropriate to a particular social situation
i. Folkways - norms that apply to the mundane aspects or details of daily
ii. Mores - norms that people define as essential to the well being of a
f. Symbols - any kind of physical or conceptual phenomenon to which
people assign a name and a meaning; not evident from the physical
phenomenon or idea alone.
g. Language - a symbol system involving the use of sounds, gestures
(signing), and/or characters (such as letters or pictures) to convey
III. The Role of Geographic and Historical Forces
A. Core Concept 2: Geographic and historical forces shape culture.
1. Sociologists operate under the assumption that culture acts as a mediator
between people and their surroundings
2. Material and nonmaterial aspects of culture represent responses to historical
and geographic challenges and circumstances.
3. Example: the division of the Korean Peninsula into North and South Korea
was a key geographic and historical event affecting the personal lives and
culture of Koreans on both sides of the DMZ.
a. A geographic event in that the division confined some Koreans to the
north of the line and others to the south.
b. A historic event in that it has affected all Koreans on the peninsula long
after the fact.
4. Conservation- and consumption-oriented values and behaviors are rooted in
circumstances of shortage and abundance.
IV. The Transmission of Culture
A. Core Concept 3: Culture is learned.
1. People do not question the origin of the objects around them, the beliefs they
hold, the values they follow, the norms to which they conform, the symbols
they use, or the words they use to communicate and think about the world.
2. People are usually unaware of other ways of thinking and behaving, because
much of their culture was in place before they were born.
3. We cannot assume that someone is part of a particular culture simply because
he or she looks like someone we expect to come from that culture.
A. The Role of Language
1. A tool that enables people to think about the world, interpret experiences,
establish and maintain relationships, and convey information
2. People see the world through the language(s) they have learned.
3. The linguistic systems in our minds give order to the world.
4. Words organize the world, allow us to notice some things and not others, and
function to ascribe significance.
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5. The linguistic relativity hypothesis - Unless people’s linguistic backgrounds
are similar, the same physical evidence does not lead to the same picture of
the universe; advanced by linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf.
B. The Importance of Individual Experiences
1. Culture functions as a “toolkit” that allows people to select from and add to a
menu of cultural options.
2. People may accept, reject, or modify various aspects of culture.
II. Culture as a Tool for the Problems of Living
A. C ore Concept 4: Culture provides a variety of formulas that enable individuals to
adjust to the challenges of being human.
1. Cultural Formulas for Relieving Hunger
a. One indicator of a culture’s influence is how people define only a portion
of the potential food available to them as edible.
b. Rice is a staple of the Korean diet.
c. Corn is a staple of the American diet.
2. Cultural Formulas for Social Emotions
a. Social emotions: internal bodily sensations that we experience in
relationships with other people.
b. Feeling rules: norms that specify appropriate ways to express the internal
I. Cultural Diffusion
A. Core Concept 5: People borrow material and nonmaterial culture from other societies.
1. Diffusion - process by which an idea, an invention, or some other cultural
item is borrowed from a foreign source.
a. Opportunity to borrow occurs whenever people from different cultures
b. Borrowing is usually selective.
c. People borrow the most concrete and most tangible elements and then
develop new associations and shape the item to serve new ends
II. The Home Culture as the Standard
A. Core Concept 6: The home culture is usually the standard that people use to make
judgments about another culture.
1. Culture shock - the strain that people from one culture experience when they
must reorient themselves to the ways of a new culture
a. Intensity of culture shock depends on several factors
i. The extent to which the home and foreign cultures differ
ii. The level of preparation for or knowledge about the new culture
iii. The circumstances (such as vacation, job transfer, or war) surrounding
b. Some cases of culture shock are so intense and unsettling that people
2. Reentry shock - culture shock in reverse, which occurs upon returning home
after living in another culture
3. Ethnocentrism - using one culture as the standard for judging the worth of
a. Several levels of ethnocentrism exist.
i. The most harmless type of ethnocentrism is simply defining foreign
ways as peculiar.
ii. Cultural genocide - An extreme form of ethnocentrism in which the
people of one society define the culture of another society not as
merely offensive, but as so intolerable that they attempt to destroy it.
4. Reverse ethnocentrism -A type of ethnocentrism in which the home culture is
regarded as inferior to a foreign culture.
5. Cultural Relativism
a. A perspective that aims to understand foreign behavior and thinking
i. A foreign culture should not be judged by the standards of a home