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Robert Brym

SOC101 – READING – September 21, 2011 – Eve Smithwhite New Society Culture Introduction Culture as Problem Solving Sociologists define culture broadly as all the socially transmitted ideas, practices and material objects that people create to deal with real-life problems. Culture sharing happens through human interaction, communication and learning. A society involves people interacting socially and sharing culture, usually in a defined geographical area. The Origins of Culture Main tools in human cultural survival Abstraction  The capacity to create ideas or ways of thinking  Symbols carry particular meanings and allow us to generalize.  A uniquely human capacity, enables humans to learn and transmit knowledge Cooperation  The capacity to create a complex social life by establishing norms (Standards of behaviour)  Encourages humans to reproduce, advance the human race, specialize skills Production  Devising and using tools and techniques that improve our ability to take what we want from nature  Only humans make tools and use them for production of goods People are either rewarded for following cultural guidelines or punished for not Culture from the Margins People are often oblivious to the guidelines of their own culture until they are challenged by another’s views Ethnocentrism – Judging another culture exclusively by the standards of your own The Two Faces of Culture Rationalization  The application of the most efficient means to achieve given goals and unintended, negative consequences of doing so. Consumerism  A lifestyle that involves defining ourselves in terms of the goods we purchase. Culture as Freedom Culture Diversification and Globalization Cultural uniformity has given way to cultural diversity Significant increase in immigration from outside Europe and the US to Canada Many believe multiculturalism encourages immigrants to cling to their past rather than embrace a Canadian identity International trade and investment allows more communication between cultures Globalization destroys political, economic and cultural isolation The Rights Revolution  The process by which socially excluded groups have struggled to win equal rights under the law and in practice. Universal Declaration of Human rights in 1948, a platform for all human rights Many wronged groups want financial compensation for the past Postmodernism A new name for the culture of our timeMixing of Elements  The blending of different cultures and historical periods  People can now choose their own mix of unconventional and conventional beliefs and practices Erosion of Authority  Canadians have grown sceptical of authority (mostly political) Decline of Consensus around Core Values  Peoples values change frequently throughout their lives unlike in the past The postmodern condition empowers ordinary people and makes them responsible for their own fate People are now more tolerant and appreciative of ethnic, racial, religious and sexual groups Culture as a Constraint and as Danger Rationalization People have accepted and internalized the regime of the work clock, the product of culture Rationalization allows us to do everything more efficiently but at the cost of enjoying life Consumerism People tend to define themselves in terms of the goods they purchase, by doing so they become a part of a subculture which adherents a set of distinctive values, norms and practices within a larger culture ‘Advertising becomes us’ Advertising is now geared to
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