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Chapter 3

Textbook Notes - Chapter 3

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University of Guelph
SOC 1100
Linda Gerber

Chapter 3 Culture – Culture refers to a way of life, which includes what people do (such as forms of dance) and what people have (such as clothing). But culture is not only about what we see on the outside; it also includes what’s inside – our thoughts and feelings. Culture refers to a society’s entire way of life. (Notice that the root of the word ‘culture’ is the same as that of the word ‘cultivate’, suggesting that people who live together actually ‘grow’ the own way of life over time.) - Different cultures may have different lifestyles o Kissing, wearing white/black, bowing, clothing - We have different ideas about what is pleasant and repulsive, polite and rude, beautiful and ugly, right and wrong What is culture? Culture refers to the ways of thinking, the ways of acing, and the material objects that together shape a people’s way of life. *Includes our thoughts, actions and our possessions *shapes our goals, sense of justice and innermost personal feelings *humans have culture, but also depend on culture to survive Nonmaterial culture: ideas created by members of a society (from art to Canadian constitution) Material culture: physical things created by members of a society (doughnuts to satellites) Culture shock: personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life. Homo sapiens (Latin meaning ‘thinking person’) Culture, nation, state and society Culture: ideas, values and artefacts that make up a shared way of life Nation: political entity (state or country, people who share a culture) State: political entity in a territory with designated borders Society: organized interaction of people within a state, nation or boundary who share a culture What are the elements of culture? Symbols – anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share culture (graffiti, red light, whistle, flag) - *box – language and culture are an umbilical cord to the Creator - symbols allow people to make sense of their lives, and without the human existence would be meaningless - anything can serve as a symbol; what makes something a symbol is simply that humans attach meaning to it Language – a system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another - the key to the world of culture - rules of writing differ (left to right/right to left) - Cultural Transmission: process by which one generation passes culture to the next (most was oral cultural tradition) - Bill 101, which regulates the use of English in Quebec and made French the only official language of the province, was an attempt to preserve the distinctive Quebecois culture. - Literacy key in language and recognizing how many people do or do not have it, oral traditions still important - Does language shape reality? Yes – building blocks of reality - Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf, anthropologists o Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that people perceive the world through the cultural lens of language. o Using different symbolic systems, people actually experience distinct’ worlds, not merely the same world with different labels attached - Although we do fashion reality from our symbols, evidence does not support the notion that language determines reality the way that Sapir and Whorf claimed (i.e. children understand the idea of family long before they learn the word) Values- culturally defined standards that people use to decide what is desirable, good, and beautiful, and that serve as broad guidelines for social living. - Values are broad principles that support beliefs (specific statements that people hold to be true) *values are abstract standards of goodness, and beliefs are particular matters that individuals consider to be true or false - Cultural values and beliefs not only colour how we perceive our surroundings but also form the core of our personalities - Canada has become a cultural mosaic - Values: Inconsistency and Conflict ~ value inconsistency reflects the cultural diversity of Canadian society and the process of cultural change by which new trends supplant older traditions. - Values: A Global Perspective ~ societies in lower-income nations have cultures that value survival, tend to be traditional, mostly dominated by men; higher-income countries take survival for granted, value individualism and self-expression, focus on quality of life Norms – rules and expectations by which a society guides the behaviour of its members *mores and folkways are two different types of norms. Neither term is used very often these days, but the point is that some norms involve serious moral issues (mores) and some involve less serious standards for everyday interactions (folkways). - Proscriptive norms – state what we should not do - Prescriptive norms – state what we should do - Mores (or taboos) are widely observed and have great moral significance - Folkways are norms for routine or casual interaction. - Social Control ~ attempts by others to regulate people’s thoughts and behaviour (raised eyebrow, approving smile) - Ideal Culture ~ social patterns mandated by cultural values and norms - Real Culture ~ actual social patterns that only approximate cultural experiences Material Culture and Technology *Technology is a very important element of culture. Some sociologists claim that a society’s level of technology determines its overall way of life. (Ref: Gerhard and Jean Lenski who argue that new technology is the trigger for societal evolution. Marshall McLuhan makes a similar claim for the technology of electronic or instantaneous communication. - Artifacts; a society’s artifacts partly reflect underlying cultural values - In addition to reflecting values, material culture also reflects a society’s technology (knowledge that people use to make a way of life in their surroundings) - Society’s technology can get so complex that it can be at odds with our environmental values - Do not judge simpler societies (Canada’s lifespan 80 yrs, Brazil about 40 years) – we may live longer but we are stressed out longer/more - Canadian technology varies – Mennonites, users of techno gadgets New Information Technology and Culture Canada and other nations, have entered a post-industrial phase based on computers and new information technology. Symbolic skills are necessary to speak, write, compute, design and create images in fields as art, advertising, entertainment and education Cultural Diversity in Canada *Canada is arguably the most diverse country on Earth because of its high levels of immigration High Culture and Popular Culture *In general, ‘high culture’ refers to cultural patterns favoured by people of high social position and ‘popular culture’ refers to cultural patterns displayed by ordinary people. Of course, many rich people enjoy rock concerts just as many low-income people enjoy going to the symphony. - High Culture ~ cultural patterns that distinguish a society’s elite - Popular Culture ~ cultural patterns that are widespread throughout society Subculture – cultural patterns that set apart some segment of a society’s population (teenagers, First Nations members, homeless people, police officers, jazz musicians, hockey fans) Multiculturalism ~ social policy designed to encourage ethic or cultural heterogeneity *Multiculturalism is a term coined in Canada to signify formal recognition and the celebration of diversity Other countries (like Australia and the United States) now apply the term to themselves, but Canada is alone in enshrining the concept into law, public policy, and the structure of government. The question still stands:
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