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SOCA01H3 (480)
Chapter 3

chapter 3

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Malcolm Mac Kinnon

SOCA01Chapter 3CultureCulture as problem solvingMany athletes perform little rituals before each gameCanadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky never got his hair cut while playing on the road because the last time he did his team lostTo a degree it helped relieve him anxiety and relax himSociologists define culture broadly as all the ideas practices and material objects that people create to deal with reallife problemsCulture enable people to adapt to and thrive in their environmentsEg when the university student invent the ritual of preparing for exams by eating sausage and eggs arranged just so she was creating culture in the sociological senseThis practice helped the student deal with the reallife problem of high anxietySociologists call opera ballet art and similar activities high cultureHigh culture is culture consumed mainly by upper classThey distinguish high culture from popular culturemass culturePopular culture or mass culture is culture consumed by all classesTools and religion are elements of culture because they too help people solve reallife problemsTools help people solve the problem of how to plant crops and build housesReligion helps people face problem of death and how to give meaning to lifeHowever religion and technology differ from the superstitious practices of athletesSuperstitions are often unique to the individuals who create themIn contrast religion and technology are widely sharedThey are passed from one generation to the next by means of communication and learningShared culture is socially transmittedCulture comprises the socially transmitted ideas practices and material objects that enable people to adapt to their environmentThe origin of cultureCulture is important for human survivalEarly human has sophisticated brains that enable them to create cultural survival kits of enormous complexity and flexibilityThese survival kits contained 3 main tools1 abstractionThe ability to create general ideas or ways of thinking that are not linked to particular instanceEg symbolsideas that carry meaningIncluding the components of language mathematical notations and signsThey allow us to classify experience and generalize from them2 cooperationIt is the second tool in the human cultural survival kitIt is the capacity to create a complex social life by establishing generally accepted ways of doing things norms and ideas about what is right and wrong valueEg family members cooperate to raise children and in the process they develop and apply norms and values about which childrearing practices are appropriate and desirable3 productionIt involves using tools and techniques that improve our ability to take what we want from natureSuch tools and techniques are known as material cultureSymbols norms values are nonmaterial cultureProduction is uniquely human activityOnly humans are intelligent enough to manufacture tools and use them to produce everything3 types of norms folkways mores and taboosFolkwaysThe least important norms and they evoke the least severe punishmentEg if a man walks down a busy street wearing nothing on the top half of his body he is violating a folkwayMoresCore norms that most people believe are essential for the survival of their group or their societyEg if the man walks down the street wearing nothing on the bottom half of his body he is violating a moreFolkways are norms that specify social preferencesMores are norms that specify social requirementsPeople are usually punished when they violate norms but the punishment is usually minor if the norm is a folkwayEg people will shake their head in disapprovalPunishment for walking down the street without pants will be harshEg people will call the policeTaboosThey are among the strongest normsWhen someone violates a taboo it causes revulsion in the community and punishment is severeCulture and biologyThe evolution of human behaviourBiology sets broad human limits and potentials including potential to create cultureGenes account not just for physical characteristics but also for specific behaviours and social practicesCharles Darwins theory of evolutionThe species members that are best adapted to their environment or fittest are most likely to live long enough to have offspring
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