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Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Course Code
Suzanne Casimiro

of 7
Chapter Three: Culture
What is culture?
Defn: refers to the ways of thinking, ways of acting, and the material objects that
together shape a peoples way of life
Includes our thoughts, actions and possessions
Nonmaterial culture: ideas created by members of society
Material culture: physical things created by society
Culture shock: personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life
oPeople tend to view their way of life as natural
oPeople could experience this when they immigrate to/visit another country
Every animal around the world behaves the same because they are driven by
instinct or biological programming which cant be controlled
Only humans rely on culture rather than on instinct to create a way of life and to
ensure survival
Culture and Human Intelligence
Earth is estimated to be 4.5 billion years old
Primates have the largest brains relative to body size of all living creatures
12 million years ago, humans were set apart from great apes
3 million years ago, humans started to walk upright and created a way of
life(hunting, using fire and weapons, simple clothing)
250 000 years ago, our own species , Homo sapiens, thinking person (latin)
12 000 years ago, birth of civilization- humans no longer lived by biological
instincts but by more efficient survival scheme: changing the natural environment
to benefit themselves
Culture, Nation, State, and Society
culture: refers to the ideas, values and artifacts that make up shared way of
nation: refer to political entity- state or country; also refers to people who
share a culture, ancestry and history
state: political entity in a territory with designated borders
society: organized interaction of people within a nation, state or other
boundary who share a culture
How many cultures?
7000 languages in the world = many distinct cultures
Number of languages spoken in world declining roughly half now each spoken by
fewer than 10 000 people
Causes of declining language use- electronic communication, international
migration, explain global economy
The Elements of Culture
Cultures vary but have common elements like symbols, language, values and norms
Defn: anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share a
oEx: whistle, flashing lights, fist raised in air
Hellen Keller- born blind and deaf
Anne Mansfield Sullivan (teacher)- used sign language to help Keller
Language: system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another;
key to the world of culture
Humans created sounds and alphabets to express different languages
Even writing rules in different languages differ around the world
Not only allows communication, is also key to cultural transmission: process by
which one generation passes culture to the next
Bill 101- regulates use of English in quebec and made French only official language
of the province- was attempt to preserve Quebecois culture
People usually passed on culture through speech
o5000 years ago, writing and reading were invented
Language sets humans apart as the only creatures that are self-conscious, aware of
our limitations and ultimate mortality
Does Language Shape Reality?
Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf (anthropologists)- specialized in linguistic
studies and noted that each language has words/ expressions with no precise
counterparts in other languages
All languages fuse symbols with distinctive emotions
Thus, multilingual people can show a single idea often feels different when spoken
in a different language
oEx. Jokes not the same if they are translated from one language to another
Sapir- Whorf hypothesis: states that people perceive the world through the cultural
lens of language
Using different symbol systems, people experience distinct worlds, not merely the
same world with different labels attached
New theory however argues that language does not determine reality
oEx. Children understand the idea of family before they learn the word
oAdults can imagine new ideas or things before naming them
Values and Beliefs
Values: culturally defined standards that people use to decide what is desirable,
good, and beautiful and that serve as broad guidelines for social living
oStandards that people who share a culture use to make choice about how to
Values are broad principles that support beliefs (specific statements that people hold
to be true)
oValues are abstract standards of goodness / beliefs are particular matters
that individuals consider to be true or false
Particular values and beliefs operate as a form of cultural capital
Canada has become a cultural mosaic due to immigration
Canadians still share certain key values
Values: Inconsistency and Conflict
Value inconsistency reflects the cultural diversity of Canadian society and process of
cultural change by which new trends replace older ones
oEx: culture of hockey in Canada-> transformed with womens hockey
Value inconsistencies can lead to straight or awkward balancing acts
Value: a Global Perspective
Values in higher-income countries differ somewhat from those in lower-income
Societies in lower income countries have culture that value survival- poor give
priority to physical safety and economic security
Lower income countries tend to be more traditional in values and emphasize
importance of family, religious beliefs, obedience to authority and conformity
oTypically discourage/forbid divorce or abortions
Higher income countries (people take survival for granted)have cultures that value
individualism and self-expression and focus on quality of life
Focus on life style and personal happiness
Less emphasis on family and religious beliefs , more emphasis on independence and
tolerance of diversity
Men= women , support practices such as divorce and abortions
Defn: rules and expectations by which society guides the behavior of its members
Proscriptive: states what we should not do (ex. Avoid casual sex)
Prescriptive: states what we should do (ex. Schools promote safe sex)
Most important norms in culture apply everywhere and at all times
Mores and Folkways
William Graham Sumner (sociologist)- recognized some norms are more important
than others
Mores (more-rays): norms that are widely observed and have great moral
o*distinguish between right and wrong
Folkways: norms for routine or casual interaction
Ex: appropriate greetings/ attire
Drawing line between right and rude
Social Control