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SOCI 100
Debra Pentecost

Culture 10-14-2012 Pre-reading Chapter 2 of text This amazing human capacity for so many different ways of life is a matter of human culture. What is Culture?  Culture – values, beliefs, behavior and material objects that together form a people’s way of life; shared way of life, social heritage o Society – people who interact in a defined territory and share a culture o “Human nature” – culture shapes how we think and feel  Non-material culture – symbolic human creations (art, Zen)  Material culture – physical creations of a society  Culture shock – personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life  Every other form of life behave in a fixed and specific manner o Animals are guided by instincts (biological programming)  Only humans rely on culture rather than instinct to ensure their survival  Culture and Human Intelligence o Common traits with apes – sociability, affectionate, long lasting bonds, child rearing and mutual protection, walking upright, manipulate objects with our hands, develop shared meanings and understandings o Stone Age – fire, tools, weapons, shelters, basic food and clothing  Made culture their primary strategy fir survival o Humans  only species that names itself and deals with the world through symbols and meaning  Human beings developed the mental power to fashion the natural environment for themselves. The Components of Culture Symbols o Create a reality of meaning o Symbols – anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share a culture o Entering an unfamiliar culture reminds us of the power of symbols o Culture shock – inability to read meaning in new surroundings, not understanding the symbols of a new culture; two-way process 1. Traveller experiences culture shock when meeting people whose way of life is different 2. Traveller can inflict culture shock on others by acting in ways that offend them o Symbolic meanings can vary within a single society o Society creates new symbols all the time  Ex. Cyber-symbols – smiley faces, emoticons Language o Heart of a symbolic system o System of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another o Allows communication o Ensures continuity of culture – spoken or written; key that unlocks centuries of accumulated wisdom o Cultural heritage in coded form o Cultural transmission – process by which one generation passes culture to the next o Sparks human imagination to connect symbols in new ways  limitless range of future possibilities Sapir-Whorf Thesis (Benjamin Lee Whorf, Edward Sapir)  Each language has its own distinct symbols that serve as the building blocks of reality  Languages are not just different sets of labels for the same reality  Some words and phrases have no precise counterpart in another language  The idea that people perceive the world through the cultural lens of language; language determines the way we view and think about the world around us Values and Beliefs o Values – culturally defined standards that people use to assess desirability, goodness and beauty and that serve as broad guidelines for social living  Statements of what ought to be o Beliefs – specific statements that people hold to be true  Particular matters people hold to be true or false Canadian Values 1. Equality and fairness in a democratic society - including Aboriginal peoples, Quebec citizens, and other minorities 2. Consultation and dialogue - settle differences peacefully 3. Importance of accommodation and tolerance - accommodating and tolerating traditions and customs of other ethnic groups 4. Support for diversity – regional, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural 5. Compassion and generosity – safety net provided by the welfare state (healthcare, pension plans, refugee safety) 6. Attachment to Canada’s natural beauty – protect natural environment 7. Our world image: commitment to freedom, peace, and non-violent change Values: Sometimes in Conflict  Gay marriage conflict  Conflicts in values cause strain  awkward balancing acts in our beliefs  We can decide that one value is more important than another  Recommendations that support diversity  strengthen the value of “one” nation of diverse cultures: Norms: Mores and Folkways  Rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members  Mores – norms that are widely observed and have great moral significance  Mores/taboos – societies inconsistence with adult engaging in sex with a child  Folkways – norms for routine or casual interaction  Acceptable greetings  Proper dress code  Doing wrong  shame – sense that others disprove of our actions  guilt – negative judgment we make of ourselves Ideal and Real Culture  Values and norms – suggest how we should behave rather than describe the actual behavior  Ideal culture ≠ real culture  Ex. Faithfulness in marriage Technology and Culture  Artifacts – physical human creations o Chopsticks vs. knives and forks o Reflect underlying cultural values  Technology – knowledge that people use to make a way of life in their surroundings o More complex a society’s technology = easier to shape the world for themselves o Determines what cultural ideas and artifacts emerge or is even possible (Nolan & Lenski)  Sociocultural evolution – historical change in culture caused by new technology 1. Hunting and gathering 2. Horticulture and pastoralism 3. Agriculture 4. Industry Hunting and Gathering o Oldest and most basic way of living o Use of simple tools to hunt animals and gather vegetation for food o Small societies, nomadic groups that follow migratory animals o Everyone participates in searching for food – have social parity  Women – gather vegetation  Men – hunting o Few formal leaders – shaman or priest o Limited technology  vulnerable to nature Horticulture and Pastoralism o Horticulture – the use of hand tools to raise crops  Hoe and digging stick  Rocky soil and mountainous land  there was still a need to hunt and gather (Chagnon)  Material surplus – not everyone is needed to produce food, others make crafts, trade or serve as priests o Pastoralism – domestication of animals o Allows societies to feed hundreds of members o Pastoral  permanent settlement Horticulturalists  nomadic o More unequal than Hunters and Gatherers  Ruling elite families  Men increasing their power at the expense of women Agriculture o Large scale cultivation using plows harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources o Started in the Middle East o The Dawn of Civilization – Inventions: animal drawn plow, wheel, writing, numbers, new metals o Permanent settlements o Large food surpluses  fast population growth and expansion o Specialized work o Money – form of common exchange (replaced barter) o Expanded human choices and fueled urb
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