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SOC103H1 (103)
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Chapter 4

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STARTING POINTS- LORNE TEPPERMAN CHAPTER 4: CULTURE Culture: our uniquely human environment including all the objects, institutions, organizations, ideas and beliefs that make up the social environment of human life Organizational Culture: the way an organization has learned to deal with its environment; it includes norms and values that are subculturally distinct to the organization Values: socially shared conceptions of what a group or society considers good, right and desirable Norms: the rules or expectations that serve as common guidelines for behaviour in daily life, telling us what kinds of behaviour are appropriate or inappropriate in specific social situations Folkways: norms based on popular habits and traditions and ordinary usages and conventions of everyday life Mores: norms that carry moral significance. People believe that mores contribute to the general welfare and continuity of the group Taboos: powerful social beliefs that a particular act, food, place etc is totally repulsive and dangerous. Violation of taboo is supposed to result in immediate punishment Material culture: the physical and technological aspects of people's lives, including all the physical objects that members of a culture create and use Non-material culture: people's values, beliefs, philosophies, conventions, and ideologies; in short, all the aspects of a culture that do not have a physical existence Signs: gestures, artifacts, or words that express or meaningfully represent something other than themselves Symbol: a sign whose relationship with something else also expresses a value or evokes an emotion Ideal culture: that aspect of culture that lives only in people's minds. It is the set of values people claim to believe in, profess openly, hold up for worship and adoration, and in day-to-day life pay 'lip service' to Cultural integration: the process whereby parts of a culture (ex. Ideal culture and real culture) come to fit together and complement one another Ethnocentrism: the tendency to use one's own culture as a basis for evaluating other cultures High culture: the set of preferences, tastes and norms that are characteristic of, or supported by, high-status groups, including fine arts, classical music, ballet and other 'highbrow' concerns Popular (or mass) culture: the culture of ordinary people. It includes those objects, preferences, and tastes that are widespread in a society Cultural capital: a body of knowledge and interpersonal skills that helps people to get ahead socially, which often includes learning about and participating in high culture Counterculture: a subculture that rejects conventional norms and values and adopts alternative ones Subculture: a group that shares the cultural elements of the larger society but which also has its own distinctive values, beliefs, norms, style of dress, and behaviour patternsCultural literacy: a solid knowledge of the traditional culture, which contains the building blocks of all communication and learning Real culture: the ways people dress, talk, act, relate, and think in everyday life, as distinct from their idealized or proclaimed culture CHAPTER OUTLINE – culture is a shared and remembered symbolic environment and the people who share a culture are bound to experience the world similarly in certain ways – our human abilities to think, plan, remember and communicate give us a decided edge in creating complex social structures – Geroge Murdock-> cultural universals - athletic sports, cooking, dancing, funeral ceremonies, gift giving, language etc – at macro level, values of culture: the socially shared conceptions of what a group or society considers good, right and desirable are expressed in its social institutions – at micro level, culture works to shape personalities through socialization FUNCTIONALISM – culture as having an integrative role in society – 'civic culture'- a culture of participation in everyday social and political life by ordinary citizens - functional to the survival of democracy – Emile Durkheim – functional perspective identifies ways in which culture creates social solidarity, provides stability and assurance, and unites the members of a social group or society – functionalism see cultural elements like norms, values and beliefs as arising out of social structure and influencing economic life – culture itself serves the essential purposes of ensuring that through shared values and beliefs, society remains coherent, and that each constituent part of the society can carry out its respective functions CRITICALTHEORY – focuses on group differences in power and belief – Karl Marx - mode of production that characterizes a historical period and shapes the ideas that develop in a society of that time - it is not culture and idea that shape society and the beliefs and decisions of its members, but rather it is the material relationships between members of society especially between classes that shape culture - culture and its constituent elements are rooted in the economic relations of industrial, and increasingly global capitalism - capitalism gives rise to a dominant ideology, a system of thoughts and beliefs that justify capitalism and perpetuate it by limiting criticism and encouraging support of a neo-liberal consumer culture – Antonio Gramsci: during the 1920s and 1930s, intellectuals provided knowledge and advice to the general public, which worked to subdue revolutionary movements in an increasingly harsh economic environment – theorists like Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin-> focus on analyzing capitalist ideology, mass consumerism – culture as part of the generally conflictual nature of society, and as helping powerful social groups to maintain their dominance SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM – culture arises out of the individual face-to-face interactions of social actors and the symbols they communicate through the exchange of meaning – culture shows itself in the creative use of values and norms in the course of everyday interaction – culture also shows itself in the decisions we make in choosing to communicate in the first place, or to avoid doing so; in what we say and what we don't say, what we reveal and what we keep as secrets – symbolic interactionists allow more room for social actors in shaping and impacting their culture than either functional or critical theorists CULTURAL STUDIES PERSPECTIVE – cultural studies emerged from theorists at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at U of Birmingham – looks at how subcultural groups at the margins of society lay claim to elements of the dominant culture, redefine them through alternative meanings or ideas, and thus shape their own cultures outside the dominant environment – culture is shaped by dominant economic groups to maintain their advantage – economic relations are only one of the many sites where this domination occurs – culture also maintains divisions of many other kinds like gender, race, ethnicity etc – cultural studies focus on the role of meaning in culture – Stuart Hall-> encoding and decoding - dominant group encode info about a society in cultural products such as television s
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