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SOC100H5 (494)
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Chapter 2

SOC100 - Chapter 2 Notes.doc

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Jayne Baker

SOC100-Chapter2 CultureasProblemSolving • culture- the sum of practices, languages, symbols, beliefs, values, ideologies, and material objects that people create to deal with real-life problems • tools and religion are also elements of culture because they, too, help people solve real-life problems • highculture- culture consumed mainly by upper classes • popularculture(ormassculture)- culture consumed by all classes • high culture is consumed by upper classes • religion, technology, and many other elements of culture differ from the superstitions of athletes in an important way: superstitions may be unique to the individuals who create them • culture sharing takes place by the way of communication and learning • society- a number of people who interact, usually in a defined territory, and share a culture • culture is composed of the socially transmitted ideas, practices, and material objects that enable people people to adapt to, and thrive in, their environments TheOriginsandComponentsofCulture Symbols • abstraction- the human capacity to create general ideas or ways of thinking that are not linked to particular instances • symbols- anything that carriers a particular meaning, including the components of language, mathematical notations, and signs. Symbols allow us to classify experience and generalize from it. • allow us to classify experience and generalize from it Norms and Values • cooperation- the human capacity to create a complex social life by sharing resources and working together • norms- generally accepted ways of doing things Production, Material Culture, and Non-Material Culture • production- the human capacity to make and use tools. It improves our ability to take what we want from nature • materialculture- the tools and techniques that enable people to accomplish tasks • non-materialculture- symbols, norms, and other non-tangible elements of culture. Three Types of Norms: Folkways, Mores, and Taboos • folkway- the least important norms - the norms that evoke the least severe punishment when violated • specify social preferences • mores- core norms that most people believe are essential for the survival of their group or their society • specify social requirements • people are punished if they violate norms but punishment is usually minor if the norm is a folkway • taboos- the strongest norms. When someone violates a taboo, it causes revulsion in the community and punishment is severe • ex) incest Language and the Sapir-Whorf Thesis • language is one of the most important parts of any culture, if not the most important • language- a system of symbols strung together to communicate thought • language allows culture to develop • Sapir-WhorfThesis- holds that we experience certain things in our environment and form concepts about those things. We Experience then develop language to express our concepts. Finally, language itself influences how we see the world. • we form concepts 1 about things that we experience (path 1 to 2) • develop language to express our concepts (path 2 to 3) • language itself Verbalization 3 2 the Conceptualization (language) (thought) influences how we see the world (path 3 to 1) • Whorf saw speech patterns as “interpretations of experience” • 1980s and 1990s, researchers found that language itself can affect perception CultureasFreedomandConstraint A Functionalist Analysis of Culture: Culture and Ethnocentrism • ethnocentrism- the tendency to judge other cultures exclusively by the standards of you own • impairs sociological analysis • seen in Marvin Harris’s (1974) functionalist analysis of a practice that seems bizarre to westerners • according to Harris, ethnocentrism misleads many Western observers • manifestfunctions- visible and intended effects of social structures • latentfunctions- the invisible and unintended effects of social structures CultureasaFreedom • culture has two faces: • first, culture provides us with an opportunity to exercise our freedom • culture constrains us Symbolic Interactionism • until the 1960s, sociologists argued that culture is a “reflection” of society • the symbolic interactionist tradition has influenced many sociologists of culture • symbolic interactionists regard culture as an independent variable • people do not just accept culture passively; we are not empty vessels in which society pours a defined assortment of beliefs, symbols, and values • we produce and interpret culture, changing it to suit our needs • we are at liberty to choose ho
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