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Chapter 2

Textbook Notes - Chapter 2: Culture

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC100H5
Professor
Nathan Innocente
Semester
Winter

Description
SOC100 Reading – Ch 2 Ch 2: Culture Culture: ideas, practices, and material objects that people create to deal with real-life problems Religion helps people give meaning to life and come to terms with death. Tools and religion are elements of culture. High culture: activities consumed mainly by upper classes (opera, ballet, art) Popular/mass culture: activities consumed by all classes Culture is socially transmitted and it requires a society to persist. Society: a number of people who interact, usually in a defined territory, and share a culture. The Origins and Components of Culture Brains enabled them to create cultural survival kits of enormous complexity and flexibility. 3 main tools: 1) Abstraction: the capacity to create general ideas or ways of thinking not linked to particular instances  1 important type of idea: Symbols: things that carry particular meanings and allow us to classify experience and generalize from it. 2) Cooperation: capacity to create a complex social life by sharing resources and working together  this is accomplishing by establishing norms: generally accepted ways of doing things, and values about what’s right/wrong, good/bad  By analyzing how people cooperate and produce norms and values, we can learn much about what distinguishes one culture from another. 3) Production: the human capacity to make and use tools. It improves our ability to take what we want from nature.  material culture: tangible tools/techniques  non-material culture: intangible (symbols, norms, value) 3 Types of Norms folkway: norms that evoke the least severe punishment when violated (least important) mores: core norms most people believe are essential for the survival of their group/society taboos: when someone violates a taboo, it causes a revulsion in the community and punishment is severe (strongest norm) Language and the Sapir-Whorf Thesis Language: a system of symbols strung together to communicate thought and allows culture to develop, In the 1930s, Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf proposed an influential argument about the connection between experience, thought and language, known as the Sapir-Whorf Thesis.  We form concepts about things that we experience (path 1-2) and develop language to express our concepts (2- 3) Language then influences how we see the world (3-1)  The controversial part is path 3-1 SOC100 Reading – Ch 2 In the 1908s & 1990s, researchers found that language itself can affect perception. Eg. German word for key is masculine (hard, heavy, jagged). In Spanish it’s feminine.  Gender of noun influences how people see the thing to which the noun refers Culture as Freedom and Constraint Culture is often invisible  people tend to take their own culture for granted. Ethnocentrism: judging another culture exclusively by the standards of your own Manifest functions: Visible & intended effects of social structures Latent functions: invisible & unintended effects of social structures Culture provides us with an opportunity to exercise our freedom. The raw materials for the culture we create consist of cultural elements that either existed before we were born or that other people have created since our birth. We may put these elements together in ways that produce something genuinely new. Symbolic Interactionism and Cultural Production Until 1960s, many sociologists argued that culture is a “reflection” of society. Symbolic interactionists regard culture as an independent variable.  people don’t just accept culture passively, we produce and interpret culture; fashioning it to suit our diverse an
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