SOCA01 - Chapter 3 Review Notes.docx

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Sheldon Ungar

CHAPTER 3: SOCA01: REVIEW NOTES Learning about:  Culture is a shared set of symbols and their definitions  Humans thrive in their environments because of their unique ability to generate and use culture. CULTURE includes the ability to think abstractly, cooperate and make tools and other artifacts.  The development of culture makes people freer, people have more choice in how they live.  The development of culture puts limits on who we can become. Culture As Meaning Generator Side note: chapter 2 introduced concrete/abstract levels of experience. Concrete level focuses on your empirical sensations of touch, taste, smell, sound and sight.  Culture allows our sensory experiences to become meaningful.  Once your cultural experience conditions you to interpret concrete experiences a certain way, this becomes your reality. Culture Defined Culture refers to high culture (culture consumed by upper classes: ex: Ballet, opera) OR popular culture/mass culture (culture consumed by all classes)  Sociological definition: shared symbols and their definitions that people create to solve real life problems Symbols: concrete things or abstract terms that represent something else. Symbols fill human experience. Example: the ring on my finger represents my marital status  The meaning of a symbol resides in what it refers to  Symbols have an abstract dimension: this abstract feature of a symbol’s definition tells us what aspect of culture it refers to.  Symbols are shared, one person cannot just view a symbol.  Culture is composed of symbols whose meanings are shared among a substantion number of people  Members who acquire a set of shared, meaningful symbols participate in common culture Culture is the primary driver of what people do because individuals respond to the meaning of events, and the meaning of events derive from our culture. CULTURE INTERVENES BETWEEN CONCRETE EXPERIENCE and US ASSIGNING ITS SIGNIFICANCE. The Origins of Culture Culture is the primary means where humans adapt to their environments: this is why our definition of culture emphasizes that we create culture to solve real life problems. 1. Abstraction: is the ability to create general concepts that organize concrete, sensory experience that means something to you.  Concepts that result from abstraction: most universal type of symbols in human culture  Concepts allow humans to organize, classify and generalize their experiences  Ex of a concept: we can sit on many things, however “chairs” have four legs, a back… therefore the concept of a chair is generalized through experience 2. Cooperation: capacity to create a complex social life by establishing norms, or generally accepted ways of doing things, and ideas about what are right and wrong/ desirable states.  Different times and places give rise to different norms and values. 3. Production: involves making and using tools and techniques that improve our ability to take what we want from nature.  These tools have a name: material culture: tangible items that comprise the tools and techniques that enable people to get tasks accomplished  Non-material culture: intangible: symbols, norms, values Three Types of Norms  Folkways: least important norms, they evoke the least severe punishment. They are social preferences  Mores: are core norms that most people believe are essential for the survival of their group or their society. They are social requirements  Taboos: among the strongest norms. When someone violates a taboo, it causes revulsion in the community and punishment is severe. Example: Incest Culture and Biology Evolution of Human Behaviour Biology sets broad human limits and potentials including the potential to create culture. Male promiscuity, Female Fidelity, Myths 1. Universal claim: Men are more likely than women are to want many sexual partners 2. Survival-value argument: Fertile women typically release only one egg per month. These differences allow men and women to develop different strategies to increase the chances of reproduction. 3. Conclusion: these biologically based reproductive strategies are encoded or hardwired in our genes. Therefore, male promiscuity and female fidelity are necessary. EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGIST THREE STEP ARGUMENT Process: universal human behavioral trait, offered explanation of why this behavior increases survival chances, conclusion that it cannot be changed  Problem: many of these psychologist’s “universal claims” are false. Your genes do not hardwire your behavior patterns (male or female)  Must abandon evolutionary psychology and use sociological skills to analyze the effects of social structures in order for understanding of social environment on human behaviour Language and the Sapir-Whorf Thesis Language: system of symbols strung together to communicate thought Language provides us with shared understandings allowing us to pass experience and knowledge down from generations. SAPIR-WHORF THESIS: holds that we experience certain things in our environment and form concepts about those things. Then we develop language to express our concepts. Then language itself influences our views. Experience Verbalization
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