SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Consumerism, Endangerment, Ethnocentrism

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11 Nov 2012
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New Society Chapter 2-The Origins of Culture
The sophisticated brains of humans 100 000 years ago allowed them to prosper
and dominate
o Enabled them to make cultural survival kits
o Contained 3 main tools
Abstraction, cooperation, production
o Gave rise to a different element of culture
1. Abstraction
o Capacity to create ideas/ways of thinking
2. Cooperation
o Capacity to create a complex social life by establishing norms
3. Production
o Devising and using tools and techniques that improve our ability to take
what we want from nature
Material culture
Symbols: things that carry particular meaning
o Languages, mathematical notations, signs allow us to classify experience
and generalize from it
People usually rewarded when they follow cultural guidelines and punished when
they don‟t
o Sanctions or social control
Culture from the Margins
Despite its importance in human life, it is often invisible to people who are
immersed in it
o Take own culture for granted
People often startled when confronted by different cultures
o Seem odd, irrational, inferior
o Judging a culture by the standards of our own is ethnocentrism
Two Faces of Culture
Some aspects of culture make us freer, while others endanger us
By developing new ideas, practices and artifacts, we give ourselves more choices
and often come closer to realizing our full human potential
Freer than ever to draw on all cultures
o Allows us to fashion our identity to suit our taste
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Document Summary

The sophisticated brains of humans 100 000 years ago allowed them to prosper and dominate: enabled them to make cultural survival kits, contained 3 main tools. Abstraction, cooperation, production: gave rise to a different element of culture. Abstraction: capacity to create ideas/ways of thinking. Cooperation: capacity to create a complex social life by establishing norms. Production: devising and using tools and techniques that improve our ability to take what we want from nature. Symbols: things that carry particular meaning: languages, mathematical notations, signs allow us to classify experience and generalize from it. People usually rewarded when they follow cultural guidelines and punished when they don t: sanctions or social control. Despite its importance in human life, it is often invisible to people who are immersed in it: take own culture for granted. People often startled when confronted by different cultures: seem odd, irrational, inferior, judging a culture by the standards of our own is ethnocentrism.

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