Sociology Exam #2
Culture is big
It is everywhere
Makes a difference in how people live their lives
Influences what one eats, how they speak, what they believe, how they
behave, and what they value
Clearly an understanding of culture is essential for anyone who wants to
understand people’s behaviors and interactions with others.
Culture has both material and nonmaterial attributes
Includes all those things that humans make or adapt from the raw stuff of
nature: computers, houses, forks, bulldozers, jewelry, telephones, socks,
bologna sandwiches, oil paintings, and so on.
Includes some very sophisticated and complex objects.
To create a piece of material culture, one does not have to bring a thing very
far form its natural state.
Material culture is made up of artifacts
Different first of all because it is made up of intangible things – and these
intangible things also vary from simple to complex.
We can divide up nonmaterial culture into five basic categories: symbols,
language, norms, values, and beliefs
A symbol is anything that represents something else to more than one
Some objects are symbols in that they mean something other than
By definition, symbols are social things – if an object has meaning only to one
individual, it is not a symbol.
Symbols are worthy of study by sociologists because in the interaction
between human beings, symbols are powerful things.
They are powerful because we react to them as if they were the real thing.
Language is an organized set of symbols, but language is such an essential
part of nonmaterial culture that it deserves its own section
Many sociologists argue that without language there can be no culture at all.
To have symbols, we need some means of learning what these objects stand
for – and the best way of conveying such meanings between people is
through the use of language. It would be difficult to sustain nonmaterial culture without language any
activity that requires cooperation between individuals is facilitated by
Language is made up of certain kinds of symbols (spoken or written words
and gestures) and rules (such as grammar and syntax) for using these.
In sociology rules about behavior are called norms
Norms are also part of nonmaterial culture
The way to judge the importance of a norm (and even whether it exists) is to
observe how people respond to behavior.
Types of norms
Folkways – represent casual norms; violations are not taken very seriously.
At worst, the punishment for violating a folkway might be a dirty look, rolled
eyes, or disapproving comment
Mores – Anything but casual. Reflect important rules, such as the norms
against unjustified assaults on other persons.