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Chapter 65-98

SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 65-98: Cultural Universal, Abortion-Rights Movements, Anti-Abortion Movements


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC101Y1
Professor
Sheldon Ungar
Chapter
65-98

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4. Culture
Culture & Society
The importance of culture
culture: the knowledge, language, values, customs & material objects that are passed
from person to person and from one generation to another in a human group or society
understanding how culture aects our lives helps us develop a sociological imagination
societies need rules about civility and tolerance towards others
we are NOT born knowing how to express kindness or hatred
“that’s just human nature” is a statement building on the assumption that what we do
as human beings is determined by nature (our biological and genetic makeup) rather
than by nurture (our social environment)
instinct: an unlearned, biologically determined behaviour pattern common to all
members of a species that predictably occurs whenever certain environmental
conditions exist
humans DO NOT have instincts
what we think is instincts, can actually be attributed to reflexes & drives
reflex: unlearned, biologically determined involuntary response to a physical stimulus
ex) sneezing when pepper gets in our nose
drive: unlearned, biologically determined impulse common to all members of a species
that satisfies needs
ex) sleep, food, water
expression of these biological characteristics is challenged by culture
sociologists agree that culture, not nature, is accountable for virtually all our behaviour
patterns
Material and non-material culture
material culture: consists of physical or tangible creations that members of a society
make, use, and share
raw materials are transformed through technology
technology: the knowledge, techniques and tools made it possible for people to
transform resources into usable forms, as well as the knowledge & skills required
to use them after they’ve developed
material culture is important because it’s our buer against the environment
nonmaterial culture: a component of culture that consists of the abstract or intangible
human creations of society, such as attributes, beliefs, and values, that influence
people’s behaviour
belief: the mental acceptance or conviction that certain things are true or real.
belief is the central component of nonmaterial culture
we also have beliefs in terms of material culture;

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ex) students believe they need computers for progress & advancement
Cultural Universals
cultural universals: customs and practices that occur across all societies
appearance, social institutions, activities, etc.
these customs and practices may be similar in some cultures, but their specific forms
vary from one group to another
cultural universals are important because they ensure the smooth & continual operation
of society
they aren’t a result of functional necessity; these practices may have been
imposed by members of one society upon members of another
similar practices aren’t necessarily cultural universals
Components of Culture
Symbols
symbols are anything that meaningfully represents something else
without symbols, there would be no shared meaning among people
symbols express abstract concepts with visible objects
we share symbols with some other cultures, but their interpretation may be dierent in
various cultures
symbols can stand for things such as love, peace, or hate
Language
language is a system of symbols that express ideas and enable people to think and
communicate with one another
does language create or communicate reality?
language allows people to distinguish themselves from outsiders and maintain group
boundaries and solidarity
not solely a human characteristic!
Language as a social reality
ways in which things are phrased changes people’s expression of reality
ex) pro life vs. pro choice; life and choice are strong words and they’re used to
lure people into taking their side
Sapir-Who hypothesis: language shapes its speakers’ view of reality
if language shapes the reality we perceive & experience, some aspects of the
world are viewed as important and others are virtually neglected because people
know the world only in herms of vocal. & grammar of their own language
language has an impact on perceptions of the world
many sociologists say that the S-W hypothesis overstates the relationship between
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language and our thoughts and behaviour patterns
language may actually influence our behaviour, but not determine it
Language and gender
english language ignores women by using masculine form to refer to humans in
general (ex: mankind, chairman)
use of pronouns he & she aects our thinking about gender; pronouns show the
gender of the person we expect to be in a particular occupation
words have positive connotation when relating to male power, prestige, and leadership;
when related to women they can carry negative outcomes of weakness,
inferiority, and immaturity
a language-based predisposition to think about women in sexual terms reinforces the
notion that women are sexual objects (babe, fox, bitch, etc.);
men, in contrast, are put through performance pressure (dude, stud, hunk)
a more inclusive language is needed to develop a more inclusive society
Language and race
language may create & reinforce our perceptions about race and ethnicity by
transmitting preconceived ideas about the superiority of one category of people over
another
words may have more than one meaning & create & reinforce negative images (ex:
blackhearted)
overly derogatory terms such as nigger, like, goon, honky, chick, etc., have been
popularized in movies, music, comic routines
words are frequently used to create/reinforce perceptions about a group
ex) aboriginal people have been referred to as savages, primitive, and blacks
have been described as uncivilized)
the “voice” of verbs may minimize/incorrectly identify the activities or achievements of
members of various minority groups
statements like “chinese canadians were given the right to vote” ignores how
CC fought for that right
Language diversity in Canada
language is the chief vehicle for understanding & experiencing one’s culture
1969: federal gov. passed the Ocial Languages Act making French & English both the
country’s ocial languages
canada ocially became bilingual, however this action by no means resolved the
complex issue regarding language in our society
for aboriginal people language isn’t just for communication, but also connecting to the
past & grounds their social, emotional, and spiritual vitality
residential schools: their languages are among the most endangered in the world
from functionalist perspective, a shared language is essential to a common culture;
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