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Chapter 3

chapter 3 for soca01

6 pages92 viewsWinter 2011

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Malcolm Mac Kinnon

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Sociology Chapter 3; Culture
Culture as Problem Solving
Culture sum of practices, languages, symbols, beliefs, values, ideologies, and
material objects that people create to deal with real-life problems
oEnables people to adapt to, and thrive in, their environments
High Culture culture consumed mainly by upper classes
Mass Culture Popular culture; culture consumed by all classes
Origins of Culture
Abstraction ability to create general ideas or ways of thinking that are not linked
to particular instances
Symbols ideas that carry meaning
oIncludes components of language, mathematical notations, and signs
oAllow us to classify experience and generalize from it
Cooperation capacity to create a complex social life by establishing generally
accepted ways of doing things and ideas about what is right and wrong
oEstablishing norms and values
Norms generally accepted ways of doing things
Values ideas about what is right and wrong
Production involves making and using tools and techniques that improve our
ability to take what we want from nature
Material culture comprises the tools and techniques that enable people to get tasks
Non-material culture composed of symbols, norms, and other intangible elements
Three Types of Norms
Folkway the least important norms and they evoke the least severe punishment
Mores (pronounced morays) core norms that most people believe are essential for
the survival of their group or their society
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Taboos among the strongest norms, when someone violates a taboo, it causes a
revulsion in the community and punishment is severe
Culture and Biology
Evolution of Human Behavior
Sociobiology evolutionary psychology; claims that genes account not just for
physical characteristics, but also for specific behaviors and social practices
Darwin species characteristics that endure are those that increase the survival
chances of the species
Male Promiscuity, Female Fidelity, and Other Myths
Contemporary evolutionary psychologists
oFirst identify a supposedly universal human behavioral trait
oOffer an explanation as to why this behavior increases survival chances
oThe behavior in question cannot be easily changed
Certain social arrangements account in substantial measure for variation
variations among individuals within a species are a unique consequence of both
genes and environment in a constant interaction [and] random variation In growth
and division of cells during development
The Problem of Language
A language is a system of symbols strung together to communicate thought
Pinker believed that language is an instinct
Sapir-Whorf theory we experience certain things in our environment and form
concepts about those things (experience -> conceptualization) and then we develop
language to express our concepts (conceptualization -> verbalization). Then language
itself influences how we see the world (verbalization -> experience)
Biology can help us see more clearly the broad limits and potentials of human
Culture and Ethnocentrism: A Functionalist Analysis of Culture
Culture is often invisible because people take their culture for granted
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