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Chapter

SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes -Rationality, Ozzy Osbourne, Making Money


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC101Y1
Professor
Robert Brym

Page:
of 6
Culture as Problem Solving
- Culture all the socially transmitted ideas, practices, and material objects that
people create to deal with real-life problems
- People use tools like religion because they also help solve real-life problems
- Religion, technology, and many other elements of culture are different from
superstitions
- Culture is widely-shared, even passed on from one generation to the next
- Culture is shared through human interaction , communication, and learning
- Society involves people interacting socially and sharing culture, usually in a
defined geographical area
Origins of Culture
- Humans survived in the early years of the world, in harsh conditions, by creating
cultural survival kits of enormous complexity and flexibility
Abstraction- the capacity to create ideas or ways of thinking
Symbols are things that carry particular value, like languages,
mathematical notations, and signs
They allow us to classify experience and generalize from it (ex. We
recognize we can sit on many objects, but only few have four legs, a back, and
space for one person we give it a name: “chair”
It is a uniquely human capacity
Cooperation- capacity to create a complex social life by establishing norms
Norms are standards of behaviour or generally accepted ways of doing
things
An enormous variety of social arrangements and institutions, ranging
from health-care systems to forms of religious worship to political parties,
demonstrate the human capacity to cooperate and adhere to norms
Production devising and using tools and techniques that improve our ability
to take what we want from nature
These tools and techniques are known as material culture
Only humans are intelligent and dexterous enough to make tools and
use them to produce everything from food to computers
- Sanctions - rewards or punishments, aimed at ensuring conformity (social
control)
- However, people often reject elements of existing culture and create new ones
- Social control is needed to ensure stable patterns of interaction, while resistance
to social control is needed to ensure cultural innovation and social renewal
Culture From the Margins
- Culture is often invisible to people who are immersed in it People tend to their
their own culture for granted
- This causes people to become startled when confronted with different cultures
- Judging another culture exclusively by the standards of one’s own is called
ethnocentrism
- Ethnocentrism impairs the sociological understanding of culture
- Westerners think the worship of cows in India is very strange, yes it is very
rational in India
- Culture is most clearly visibly “from the margins” we only see it’s contours if
we’re not too deeply immersed in it
Two Faces of Culture
- Although some aspects of culture make us freer, others constrain and even
endanger us
- When we develop new ideas, practices and artifacts, we give ourselves more
choices and often come closer to realizing our full human potential
- Cultural freedom develops within definite limits
Rationalization the application of the most efficient means to achieve given
goals and the unintended, negative consequences of doing so
Consumerism - a lifestyle that involves defining ourselves in terms of the
goods we purchase
The Rationalization of Science
- In the last quarter of the 19th century, it was clear that turning specific principles
into technological innovations was going to require genius and substantial
resources (organization and money)
- The first “invention factory” was established by Thomas Edison
- Edison had assembled a staff of 30 scientists, metalworkers, glass blowers,
draftsmen, and others working under his close direction and supervision
- The phonograph and the electric lightbulb were two big things inspired by Edison,
but they were also expensive team efforts
- In the mid-20th century, the great bulk of technological innovation was organized
along industrial lines
- Only governments and, increasingly, giant multinational corporations could afford
to sustain these research efforts
- Between 1960 2000, spending for research and development tripled
- Military and profit-making considerations now govern the direction of most
research and development
- The direction of inquiry was not only motivated by money, but was strongly
influenced by personal interests, individual creativity, and the state of a field’s
intellectual development
- But scientists are also practical Isaac Newton studied astronomy partly because
astronomers of the day needed better navigational cues
- The connection between practicality and research is even more evident today,
when many researchers are pulled in particular directions by large research giants,
well paying jobs, access to expensive state-of-the-art equipment, and the
possibility of winning patents and achieving commercial success
- Economic lures, increasingly provided by military and big corporations, have
generated moral and political qualms
- They wonder whether some research will really benefit mankind
- However, they must still any residual misgivings, hop on the bandwagon, and
adhere to military and industrial requirements and priorities
Culture as Freedom
Cultural Diversification and Globalization
- Some Christians traditions, like Christmas pageants and celebrations, used to be
celebrated in all public schools
- These traditions have been abolished in many schools now, because many people
don’t identify with Christianity anymore
- Christians recognize that the use public institutions to promote their religion is an
imposition that creates discomfort for many minority students and denies the
value of non-Christians cultures
- Canada is a very multicultural and diverse society, but some critics argue that our
immigration and multicultural policies weaken Canada’s social fabric we
encourage immigrants to cling to their past instead of creating a distinctive
Canadian society
There are two problems with this point of view:
This doesn’t mean we don’t lack a distinctive Canadian identity (our identity
is our strong respect for diversity)
- Survey research shows that support for multiculturalism is NOT correlated with
traditional attitudes that keep people rooted in the past it IS correlated with
various modern trends, such as support for equality between women and men
- Canada’s multiculturalist policies are simply the latest stage of cultural evolution
- Cultures tend to become more diverse or heterogeneous as societies become more
complex, with important consequences for everyday life
- In preliterate or tribal societies, there is very little change, while in preindustrial
Europe and North America, there were many artistic, religious, scientific, and
political forces that fragmented culture
- Reformations and Revolutions involved people questioning old ways of seeing
and doing things
- Cultural fragmentation picked up steam during industrialization
- As a result 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 Rights Revolution
- The process by which socially excluded groups have struggled to win equal rights
under the law and in practice
- Today, rights are a key part of political discourse
- Because of this, democracy has been widened and deepened
- The rights revolution raises some difficult issues :
Groups that have suffered extraordinarily high levels of abuse have demanded
reparations in forms of money, symbolic gestures, land, etc. -> There is much
controversy to whether citizens now should pay for past people’s mistakes
How we can achieve a balance between the right to be equal and the right to
be different In Quebec, they believe everyone should be equal standing for