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Chapter 3

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SOC 10000
Steven Hillis

Culture Friday, February 21, 2014 10:38 AM I. Culture: The totality of Socially learned and transmitted customs, behaviors, values, knowledge, and artifacts. a. Cultural universals - All societies have certain common practices and beliefs. b. Ethnocentrism - Refer to the tendency to assume that one's own culture and way of life represent the norm or are superior to all others. c. Cultural relativism - Viewing people's behavior from the perspective of their own culture. i. Stresses that different social contexts give rise to different norms and values. d. Sociobiology - Systematic study of how biology affects human social behavior. i. Sociobiologists apply Darwin's principle of natural selection to the study of social behavior. II. Some Elements of Culture a. Social Norms i. Norms are the established standards of behavior maintained by a society. ii. For a norm to become significant, it must be widely shared and understood. iii. Types of norms: 1) Formal norms - Written down and specify strict punishments for violators. Ex. Law "governmental social control". 2) Informal norms iv. Norms are also classified by their relative importance to society. 1) Mores - Norms deemed highly necessary to the welfare of a society. 2) Folkways - Norms governing everyday behavior. Play an important role in shaping the daily behavior of members of a culture. v. Acceptance of norms is subject to change as the political, economic, and social conditions of a culture are transformed. vi. Sanctions - Penalties and rewards for conduct concerning a social norm. 1) Associated with formal norms. a) Positive sanctions b) Negative sanctions b. Social Values i. Collective conceptions of what is considered good, desirable, and proper - or bad, undesirable, and improper - in a culture. ii. Indicate what people in a given culture prefer as well as what they find important and morally right/wrong. c. Social Roles d. Language and Shared Symbols i. Language is an abstract system of work meanings and symbols for all aspect of culture. ii. Sapir-Whorf hypothesis - Describes the role of language in shaping our interpretation of reality. 1) Because people can conceptualize the word only through language, language precedes thought. III. Culture as Rooted in Shared Experience and Social Interaction a. Global Cultural War - Polarization of society over controversial cultural elements. b. Dominant Ideology - Describes the set of cultural beliefs and practices that helps to maintain powerful social, economic, and political interests. 1) In Karl Max's view, a capitalist society has a dominant ideology that serves the interests of the ruling class. 2) Sociological perspectives on culture: Functionali Conflict Feminist Interactionist st Perspective Perspective Perspective Perspective Cultural Subcultures Countercultures Cultural Customs and Vision serve the question the relativism respects traditions are interests of dominant social variations in the transmitted subgroups. order; way men and through ethnocentrism women are intergroup devalues groups. viewed in contact and different societies. through the media. Norms Reinforce Reinforce Reinforce roles of Are maintained societal patterns of men and women. through face-to- standards. dominance.
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