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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - Culture and Culture Change.docx

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SOC 101
Barry Mc Clinchey

Chapter 3: Culture and Culture Change Sociology: A Canadian Perspective Why Study Culture? What is culture? Culture includes languages, symbols, discourses, texts, views, art, music, etc.  Involves preferences, ideas, notions regarding beliefs, religion, gender roles, marriage, etc.  Cultural differences can result to a disconnection – cultural similarities can result into a connection  Creates many social groups (different in their ways) in the same society  Distinction between culture and structure – structural aspects of society are the existing social behaviour/relations and institutions that society has organized where individual and collective actions have been carried out o Social institutions include our political system with elections, tax, and law is a structural element  however, social institutions interact and contain culture o Structural segregation v. cultural segregation:  Occupational segregation by gender (structural segregation) experienced at a physical level  Idea that women should be teachers not principles (cultural) experienced at a mental level o The democratic identity of our government is a structural element in society, and political ideologies cultural elements Culture in Place and Time  Cultures are grouped in several different ways: Western/Eastern, national culture, even as specific as municipal culture (Toronto and St. John’s, Newfoundland)  Social boundaries that can differentiate between cultures include age, gender, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion¸ etc. o Social class as an important cultural social implication  Stereotype with ideas on speech, mannerisms, dress, occupations, leisure activities of the working class and the upper class o Cultural boundaries blurred by  physical and social space  subcultures  borrowing from cultures  Culture evolves The Role of Culture in Social Theory Conflict theorists  Marxism o Nature of society is determined by the mode of economic production (from slave ownership to feudalism and then capitalism) - an argument specific to structural elements, which forms the base of society (superstructure including culture) o Culture maintains and supports capitalism  culture works at a mental shape which shapes our thoughts and actions, therefore culture is the cause behind events and social change  Neo-marxism o Agrees with Marxism that culture maintains and supports capitalism and inequality o Our current economic mode of production is accompanied by a dominant ideology, that our mentalities are shaped to minimize criticism of capitalism and to maximize support of capitalism o Culture is shaped by certain people who seek to achieve certain social outcomes, culture can be shaped by dominant groups which maintains hegemony (a common-sense belief that inequality is natural/unavoidable)  i.e. Antonio Gramsci argued that intellectuals provided the knowledge, values, and direction to the general population that promoted the status quo and suppressed thoughts of revolution  cultural studies practitioners agree that culture can function to maintain social divisions, keeping some groups dominant – but disagrees that class conflict is only one of many examples of ideological dominance  dominant groups can be defined as class, race, gender, geography, and sexual orientation  Stuart Hall (1980) states that communication of meaning requires both encoding and decoding – previous existing notions of the creators are encoded into these cultural productions in subtle ways  Meaning exists more than cultural creations but is constructed by individuals through the process of receiving and interpretation of culture Cultural Functionalism  Based on the work of Emile Durkheim  Focuses on the integrative ability of culture - it creates social stability and unification v. Marxist view of culture and segregation  Culture, in terms of norms, values, attitudes, are created according to the needs of society o Rises out of the social structure to produce a general consensus on society’s goals (creates efficiency)  Culture serves a necessary function if there is a common denominator in values and beliefs  Durkheim focused on the role of religion as a motivating force in society, strengthening social bonds Symbolic Interactionist and Dramaturgical Perspe
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