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Chapter 3

SOCA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: The Postmodern Condition, Postmodern Culture, English Language In England

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Sheldon Ungar

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Chapter 3 Culture (continued)
A Conflict Analysis of Culture: The Rights Revolution
The central argument of conflict theory: Social life is an ongoing struggle between more and less
advantaged groups
Privileged groups try to maintain their advantages while subordinate groups struggle to increase theirs
Right Revolution: is the process by which socially excluded groups struggled to win equal rights
under the law and in practice beginning in the second half of the 20th century
By no means finished
Many categories of people are still discriminated against socially, politically, and economically
From Diversity to Globalization
Rites of passage: are cultural ceremonies that mark the transition from one stage of life to another (eg
baptisms, confirmations, weddings) or from life to death (funerals)
Involve elaborate procedures
Often conducted in public, and no variation from prescribed practice is allowed
In simple societies, culture is homogeneous
Globalization: is the process by which formerly separate economies, states, and cultures are tied
together and people become aware of their growing interdependence
The international influences characterizing globalization take many forms and are evident in politics,
religion, the mass media and styles of clothing and music
One of the most important roots of globalization is the expansion of international trade and investment
It destroys political, economic, and cultural isolation, bringing people tighter in what is called “global
Because of Globalization, people are less obliged to accept the culture into which they are born and
freer to combine elements of culture from a wide variety of historical periods and geographical settings
The Globalization of English
A good indicator of the influence and extent of globalization is the spread of English
English (with the exception of the many varieties of Chinese) is the most widespread language on Earth
English is dominant because, for more than 200 years, Britain and the US were the world’s most powerful
and influential countries economically, militarily and culturally
Aspects of Postmodernism
Postmodernism: is characterized by an eclectic mix of cultural elements, the erosion of authority, and
the decline of consensus around core values
An Eclectic Mix of Elements from Different Times and Places
In the postmodern era, it is easier to create personalized belief systems and practices by blending facets of
different cultures and historical periods
The mix-and-match approach we see when it comes to religion is evident in virtually all spheres of culture
Although purists may scoff at such blending, it has important social consequences
People who engage in cultural blending are likely to be more tolerant and appreciative of ethnic, racial,
and religious groups other than their own.
The Erosion of Authority
Half a century ago, Canadians were more likely that they are today to defer to authority in the family,
schools, politics, medical …
As the social bases of authority and truth have multiplied, however, we are more likely to challenge
Authorities have helped in lower regard by many people
The rise in fools and the decline of confidence in government both reflect the erosion of traditional authority
The Decline of Consensus around Core Values
Half a century ago, people’s values remained relatively stable over the course of their adult lives, and many
values were widely accepted
Today, value shifts are more rapid, and consensus has broken down on many issues
The postmodern condition empowers ordinary people and make them more responsible for their own fate
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