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SOCI 3220 (1)
Midterm

SOCI 3220 Exam 1 Guide

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOCI 3220
Professor
Rabita Hadj- Moussa
Semester
Fall

Description
1 ON NATURE/CULTURE 1) What is the relation between sociology and anthropology as scientific disci- plines and the distinction between nature and culture? - sociology studies society and anthropology focuses on culture - sociologists focus primarily on industrial societies while anthropology tends to focus on remote or ‘barbaric’ societies - sociologists both study culture with a particular interest in the social consequences of material goods, group structure, and belief systems as well as how people communicate with one another - the chief concern of anthropologists is to understand culture, a people’s total way of life; culture includes a group’s (1) artifacts, such as its tools, art, and weapons; (2) struc- ture, the patterns that determine how its members interact with one another (such as po- sitions of leadership); (3) ideas and values, the ways the group’s beliefs affect its mem- bers’ lives; and (4) forms of communication, especially language - like anthropologists, sociologists also study culture; they, too, do research on group structure and belief systems, as well as on how people communicate with one another - unlike anthropologists, sociologists focus primarily on industrialized societies - early anthropologists sought theoretical insight from the perceived tensions between culture, as a social entity, and nature, as a bio-physical entity - for many, culture is considered superior to nature - in social science it is about what shapes us both as individuals and as members of so- ciety. - Inherited genetic predisposition ("nature") or what we learn as we grow up ("nurture") that predominantly shapes us and our differences as individuals? - Similarly, anthropologists ask how much of our behavior as a group is pre-determined by geography, culture, or history - Studies increasingly indicate what most of us know from common sense: these differ- ences between us as individuals and those between groups of people can be explained by no single factor alone, but by the complex interaction between them - cultural is always something other than nature, - culture always implies a transformation and denial of natural - the anthropological concept of "culture" is a reaction against Western discourses on opposition “culture" and “nature", according to which some human beings lived in a "state of nature" 2 2) Why was the argument of progress crucial not only in the above distinction but also the distinction between different societies? - the reason and progress of the Enlightenment related to the classical conception of culture as “the best that has been thought and said” - influenced by theory of evolution; people knowing and mastering their environments - societies that are the most advance (technology, capitalism, democracy) are consid- ered more “evolved” than “tribal societies” 2) What are (is) the theories (theory) of culture that were (was) used in the film the Wild Child? - aesthetic/elitist definition of culture; French culture as the standard that Victor should be held to - doctors approached Victor in an empirical manner because science was defining cul- ture at the time; descriptive/anthropological - cultures situated between savage and civilized; “you are not completely civilized, but you are not completely animal” 2) What are the conceptions of culture that were identified by Edles? Are they similar to the ones identifies by Thompson? EDLES -Aesthetic/Humanistic: humanistic refinement and elite activities like ballet, classical mu- sic and museums - the best that has been thought and said - refers to individual qualities and culture is a collective phenomenon and by definition shared - creates a high/low culture dichotomy -Ethnographic/Anthropologic: includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and “any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”; - emphasizes the fact that culture is not out of reach for the everyday person (high cul- ture) but is a part of our everyday experience - the aesthetic definition fails to link “society” with “culture” to a satisfactory degree - but one of the greatest problems with the ethnographic definition is that it may link them too much leading to a complete fusion of the social and cultural realms -Symbolic: systems or patterns of shared symbols and meaning -aesthetic limits culture to only the arts while the symbolic includes all symbolic -phenomena like language, religion and fashion 3 - emphasizes the fact that all culture is shared - can lead to the implication that culture is only symbolic THOMPSON Structural Conception of Culture -a modification of the symbolic conception of culture that takes into account socially structured contexts and processes -5 characteristics of symbolic forms in the structural conception: 1)intentional: “symbolic forms are expressions of a subject and for a subject (or sub- jects)”; symbolic forms are used to express what you are meaning to say or intending to do and there is a message for another subject to perceive 2)conventional: “the production, construction or employment of symbolic forms, as well as the interpretation of symbolic forms by the subjects who receive them, are processes that typically involve the application of rules, codes or conventions of various kinds”; the ways in which we interpret symbolic forms is based on the rules and norms that govern us and the context we are situated in 3)structural: “symbolic forms are constructions which display an articulated structure”; symbolic forms display an articulated structure in that they stand in fixed and decided re- lationships to one another 4)referential: “symbolic forms are constructions which typically represent something, re- fer to something, say something about something”; symbolic forms typically represent something; aspects of symbolic forms are referred to differently 5)contextual: “symbolic forms are always embedded in specific social-historical contexts and processes within which, and by means of which, they are produced, transmitted and received”; the way symbolic forms are constructed and broadcasted received and they ways that people receive them depends on where they come from and where they are being received ON ELIAS 1) What is the difference between culture and civilization - in the French tradition, Civilization is conceived of as a complex and many sided whole that includes political, economic, religious moral and social facts - it sums up all the ways in which Western society in the last 200 or 300 years believes itself superior to other societies present and past - to the Germans, civilization was something that was very external and pragmatic; it didn’t really translate to their national values 4 - Kultur is something German people spoke of when they expressed pride in achieve- ments; intellectual, artistic and religious facts as opposed to the political, economic and social facts of the French Civilization - Kultur was not only national, but personal 2) How does Elias define and explain the civilizing process? - Elias identifies gradual changes in expectations of people's interpersonal conduct in European societies, as well as the way they approached their own bodily functions and emotions - to be civilized means to be polite, have manners, be considerate, clean and hygienic, be restrained and self controlled; not just technology and capitalism but behavior - as time went on the standards applied to violence, sexual behaviour, bodily functions, eating habits, table manners and forms of speech became gradually more sophisticated, with an increasing threshold of shame, embarrassment and repugnance - manners emerge in small, wealthy and educated groups of people and then spread to other areas of society - civilizing process is an expression of the West’s self consciousness - used authors from the middle ages and Renaissance to demonstrate the genesis of the civilizing process - there is no absolute starting point for the genesis of manners - changes in manners became more apparent in the Renaissance when society was be- ing restructured - 4 ideas that characterize the curve of the civilizing process: -the progressive refinement of manners, particularly outward manner towards other people -the advancement of the threshold and limits of embarrassment -the hiding of what is felt to be embarrassing behind the scenes of social life -the psychological aspects and dimensions of these processes; self containment 2) What is sociogenesis? Psychogenesis? - what Elias called sociogenesis - is necessarily linked to the analysis of psychogenesis SOCIOGENESIS - the way we explain changes in manners - the material reason is not a good reason for the sociogenesis of manners; it is a factor but people used the material reasons after the change occurred - the explanation of the change after the behavior developed 5 - health and hygiene also not seen as good reasons for the sociogenesis of manners; hygienic reasons came after people discovered the behavior; society found reasons not to spit after the practice stopped - change of social structure caused ruling powers to become closer to laypeople; ruling class used manners to distance themselves from emerging middle classes - creating distance between people using the notion of respect - classes became physically closer and good manners created to maintain distance in interaction - good manners started with the aristocrats and spread across society - no single cause of the sociogenesis of manners; three causes and material, health and hygiene and respect between classes - manners are embedded with power relations PSYCHOGENESIS - individuals begin to internalize manners - the individual internalizes the imposed manners and they become theirs; there is no distinguishing between the external and internal - the psychology is the internalization of manners; one no longer notices them and will defend them - manners implemented from top to bottom and the bottom internalizes them strongly - manners are sociologically defined and the physically and psychologically inscribed in us - the emergence of the state is essential to the development of manners: - the state plays a role in curbing violence and the laws tell us not to use our pow- er to abuse others (there are courts, tribunals, prison) - the state is the only entity that can use violence; controlling violence and bad behavior by taking it upon itself to inflict violence - people and classes will not fight each other but will use bureaucracy to prevent struggles - the law comes to soften the violence in each of us 2) Which structure has the monopoly of violence? - the state has the monopoly of violence - war and rumors of war are prevalent conditions of the civilizing process - when the power to deploy the means of violence is placed in the hands of a few, and for the benefit of certain small groups, it can be used to make war on other states and their populations 6 - violence as a technique of terrorizing and demoralizing whole populations and prevent- ing them from engaging in organized or thought out resistance - modern civil societies are chronically threatened by an external source of incivility - the creation of the modern state - an impersonal, abstract entity that stands above and is distinct from both the government of the day and the governed - was a precondition and effect of the civilizing process - state builders developed standing professional armies to deal with armed banditry, homicide and assaults, rape and riot - state builders sought to regulate their subjects’ lives through a multitude of rules and ordinances governing such matters as dress, gender relations, incarceration and forms of organized crime - the state was to wield a monopoly of armed force over a population that would then en- joy freedom from everyday violence precisely because it comes to see the state’s mo- nopoly of violence as legal and legitimate ON POPULAR CULTURE AND THE BRITISH CULTURAL STUDIES SCHOOL 1) What is the difference between the Frankfurt School’s position on popular cul- ture and the BCSS’ perspective? FRANKFURT SCHOOL - response to Leavisist school of thought that says popular cultur is “low culture” and a less valued practice - Frankfurt School didn’t see how popular culture resisted when faced with mass produc- tion - popular culture no longer existed because of the domination of mass culture - wanted to know what happened to working class culture in the mid 20th century - critical of things happening in European culture; creation of a cultural industry - culture no longer comes from people but is imposed by mass culture; indoctri- nation/brainwashing - popular/working class culture squashed - popular culture became a byproduct of mass culture and is manufactured and distributed; based on a market - mass culture is like a drug; “indoctrination” and use of propaganda to influence actions and practices of people - not creating culture - the culture of the people is a passive culture and cannot react to mass culture; no criti- cal reaction 7 BCSS - the culture of the people (popular culture) is creative and very active as opposed to passive - even with mass production; popular culture is active and something is created - what is at stake is whether popular culture is active or passive - focus is on the reaction of people to popular culture; focuses on reaction to information and not the source of information - people are able to resist mass produced products and be critical of them - popular culture can’t be understood as imposed because reactions are an authentic and genuine production and the audience is active 2) What are the roots of the BCSS? - the roots of BSCC relates to: - the revival of capitalism post WWII (communism vs. capitalism) - the advent of the Cold War; understand socialism and communism
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