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SOC101Y1 (470)

Culture & Global Culture SOC101.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Christian O.Caron

Culture Culture and Society Importance of Culture  Learn through interaction, observation, imitation in order to participate as members of a group. Sharing common culture with others simplifies day-to-day interactions  Culture - "Common denominator that makes actions of individuals intelligible to the group"  Humans do not have instincts(unlearned biologically determined behaviour pattern common to all members of a species that predictably occurs whenever certain environmental conditions exist) - we have reflexes(unlearned biologically determined involuntary response to a physical stimulus) and drives (unlearned, biologically determined impulses common to all members of a species that satisfy needs)  Culture/social learning account for virtually all our behaviour patterns, not nature Material and Nonmaterial Culture  Material Culture: consists of physical/tangible creations members of society make/use/share (eg. Clothing, shelter, art)  Nonmaterial Culture: consists of abstract/intangible human creations of society that influence people's behaviour (eg. Attitudes, beliefs, values) Cultural Universals  Cultural universals: customs/practises that occur across all societies, forms may vary o Ensure smooth/continual operation of society o Also may be indication of conquering nation using power to enforce certain types of behaviour Components of Culture Symbols  Anything that meaningfully represents something else; produces loyalty and animosity, love and hate, helps communicate ideas - varies by culture. Gestures Language  System of symbols that expresses ideas and enables people to think/communicate with each other; verbal(spoken) and nonverbal (written/gestured)  Language and Social Reality o Whether language creates or communicates reality o Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: proposition that language shapes its speakers' view of reality. Not having language to describe certain things prevents you from describing them o Language influences our behaviour and interpretation of social reality but doesn’t determine it  Language and Gender o English ignores women - mankind, chairman. Refers to women sexually/men dominantly, women weak  Language, Race and Ethnicity o May create/reinforce perceptions about race/ethnicity by transmitting preconceived ideas  Language Diversity in Canada  Language is source of power and social control Values  Collective ideas about what is right/wrong, good/bad, desirable/undesirable in certain culture; don't dictate which behaviours are appropriate/not, but provide us with criteria by which we evaluate people/objects/events.  Value Contradictions o Values that conflict with one another or are mutually exclusive; eg. Core values of morality/humanitarianism conflict with values of individual achievement and success.  Ideal Versus Real Culture o Ideal Culture: values + standards of behaviour that people in a society profess to hold o Real Culture: values + standards of behaviour that people actually follow  We may claim to be law-abiding but smoke marijuana  Large discrepancies provide foothold for demonstrating hypocrisy, source of social problems Norms  Established rules of behaviour or standards of conduct  Prescriptive Norm: state what behaviour is appropriate  Proscriptive Norm: state what behaviour is not approporate  Formal and Informal Norms o Formal: written down, involve specific punishments for violators  Sanctions: rewards for appropriate behaviour or penalties for inappropriate behaviour. Positive: praise, honours, metals for conformity to specific norms. Negative: mild disapproval to life imprisonment o Informal: unwritten standards of behaviour understood by people who share a common identity  Informal sanctions: eg frowning, making negative comment  Folkways o Informal forms or everyday customs that may be violated without serious consequences within a particular culture o Eg. Wearing deodorant, brushing teeth. Not often enforced, when the are, sanctions very mild/informal o Culture-specific; learned patterns of behaviour that can vary markedly from one society to another  Mores o Strongly held norms with moral + ethical connotations that may not be violated w/o serious consequences in a particular culture o Based on cultural values, crucial for well-being of group, violators subject to ridicule, loss of employment, imprisonment o Taboos: mores so strong that their violation is considered extremely offensive and even unmentionable - punishable by group or supernatural force. Universal taboo eg. = prohibition of incest  Provide structure and security in society, making everyday life more predictable, provide guidelines for appearance/behaviour  Laws o Formal, standardized norms that have been enacted by legislatures and are enforced by formal sanctions o Civil: disputes among persons/groups or Criminal: deals with public safety/well-being Technology, Cultural Change, and Diversity Cultures don't generally remain static many forces work toward change/diversity. Some societies/individuals adapt, others suffer culture shock + succumb to ethnocentrism Cultural Change  Experienced at both material/nonmaterial levels. Changes in technology shape material culture.  Cultural lag: William Ogburn's term for gap between the technical development of a society (material) and its moral + legal institutions (nonmaterial)  Social conflict may arise between nonmaterial culture + capabilities of material culture, set in motion by discover, invention, + diffusion o Discovery: process of learning about something previously unknown/unrecognized o Invention: process of reshaping existing cultural items into a new form o Diffusion: transmission of cultural items/social practises from one group/society to another Cultural Diversity  Wide range of cultural differences found b/w + within nations - result of natural circumstances (climate/geography) or social circumstances (level of technology/composition of population) o Homogenous society: includes people who share common culture + are typically from similar social, religious, political, economic backgrounds o Heterogeneous society: includes people who are dissimilar in regard to social characteristics, such as nationality, race, ethnicity, class, occup
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