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Chapter 3

SOCA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Making Money, Survival Kit, George Ritzer


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCA01H3
Professor
Mc Kinon
Chapter
3

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Chapter 3 Culture
Culture as Problem Solving
-sociologists define culture as the ideas, practices, and material objects that people create to deal w/ real-life
problems
-popular and mass culture is consumed by all classes, but high culture tends to be consumed by mainly upper class
-tools and religion are also elements of culture
-widely shared and passed from one generation to the next
-shared culture is socially transmitted
-thus, culture comprises the socially transmitted ideas, practices, and material objects that enable people to adapt
to, and thrive in, their environments
The Origins of Culture:
-the human cultural survival kit consists of:
-abstractionability to create general ideas or ways of thinking
-ex. symbolsideas that carry meaning
-cooperationcapacity to create a complex social life by establishing norms and values
-by analyzing how people cooperate and produce norms and values we can learn much about
what distinguishes one culture from another
-productioninvolves making and using tools and techniques that improve our ability to take what we
want from nature
-uniquely human activity
-material culture b/c it is tangible
-symbols, norms, and values are non-material culture b/c they are intangible
3 types of norms:
1. Folkways: norms that specify social preferences. Punishment is minor.
2. Mores: norms that specify social requirements Punishment is modestly harsh.
3. Taboos: strongest and most central norm. When violated, it causes revulsion in the community and severe
punishment
Culture and Biology
The Evolution of Human Behaviour:
-biology sets broad human limits and potentials, including the potential to create culture
-evolutionary psychology claims that genes account not just for physical characteristics but also for specific
behaviours and social practices
-based on Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest
-most sociologists disagree
Male promiscuity, Female fidelity, and other myths:
-contemporary evolutionary psychologists use Darwin’s method to make similar arguments about human
behaviour and social arrangements
-they first identify and supposedly universal human behaviour trait
-next offer explanation as to why this behaviour increases survival chances
-final part is that the behaviour in question cannot easily be changed

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-the characteristics that maximize the survival chances of a species supposedly are encoded or
“hardwired” in our genes
Problems w/ their theory:
-first, some behaviours discussed by evolutionary psychologists are not universal and some are not even
that common
-second, nobody have ever verified that specific behaviours and social arrangements are associated w/
specific genes
-third, even if researchers eventually discover an association b/w particular genes and particular
behaviours, it would be wrong to conclude that variations among people are due to their genes
The Problem of Language
Is Language Innate or Learned?
-language is a system of symbols strung together to communicate thought
-can share understanding; pass experience and knowledge from one generation to the next
-allows culture to develop
Steven Pinkercognitive scientist who says culture has little to do w/ our acquisition of language
-based on observation that most people can easily create and understand sentences that have never been
uttered before
-develops this quickly w/o formal instruction at an early age
-can also point seats of language in the brain
-SLI=specific language impairmentthe gene FOXP2 has been found to be associated w/ this
The social roots of language:
-young children go through periods of rapid development and if they do not interact symbolically w/ others during
their critical periods, their language skills remain permanently impaired
-thus, language must be learned
-the environment is a powerful influence on language acquisition
The Sapir-Whorf Thesis:
Experience
1
3 2
Verbalization Conceptualization (though)
Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf:
-proposed that experience, thought, and language interact
-Sapir-Whorf theory holds that we experience certain things in our environment and form concepts about
those things (12)
-we then develop language to express our concepts (23)
-language itself influences how we see the world (31)
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