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Culture. Chapter 3 Mr. Schoffstall. What is Culture ?. The beliefs, values, behavior, and material objects that constitute a people’s way of life. Culture is everything around us and it is most likely the biggest influence on us as humans. . The Components of Culture. A. Symbols

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Chapter 3

Mr. Schoffstall

What is culture

What is Culture ?

  • The beliefs, values, behavior, and material objects that constitute a people’s way of life. Culture is everything around us and it is most likely the biggest influence on us as humans.

The components of culture

The Components of Culture

A. Symbols

  • a symbol is anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share culture

  • serves as a basis for everyday reality

  • Symbols can vary within cultures

American symbols

American Symbols



B. Language

  • a system of symbols that allows members of a society to communicate with each other

  • ex. Helen Keller … she acquired language and symbolic understanding of the world with the help of her teacher

  • cultural transmission is the process by which one generation passes culture on to the next, oral cultural tradition has been critical to the passing of cultural expectations

American language

American Language

  • Common popular American Phrases/words:

    • Sick, killer, whacked, sweet, like, beast, butter

    • “Kiss the baby!”

    • “About time!”

    • “That’s key!”

    • “The funniest thing ever!”

    • Text messages/language/social norms


Language symbols

Language Symbols

  • Language is our key to communication

  • However what’s lost in translation?

  • Some ideas cannot be translated

  • Consider tone, pitch, context, email

  • Why is language so important?

  • How is our language changing?


  • communication is based on signals that are primarily instructional

  • language shapes reality –

    Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf argued language is more than attaching labels to the “real world.” The Sapir-Whorf thesis holds that people perceive the world through the cultural lens of language



  • Culturally defined standards by which people assess desirability, goodness, and beauty and that serve as broad guidelines for social living.

  • Money could be considered a major value for the majority of Americans



  • The practice of judging another culture by standards of one’s own culture

  • This could be seen by someone from New York judging life of people in Africa


  • Inconsistency and conflict –

    values that people hold vary to some degree by age, sex, race, ethnicity, social class and religion. Individuals will experience inconsistency and conflict with personal values

  • Games people play such as tag, or king of the mountain provide experiences for children that stress basic U.S. values. Lessons are learned about what our culture finds important, like competition


D. Norms

  • rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members

  • they may change over time. Ex. Norms regarding sexual behavior

  • Mores are a society’s standards of proper moral conduct. Folkways are a society’s customs for routine, casual interaction.

  • Social control – norms are reinforced through sanctions, which take form of either rewards or punishments. We often experience guilt and shame

Normative components of culture

Normative Components of Culture

  • Includes rules for behavior

  • NORMS: rules, standards that depicts what human beings should or should not THINK - SAY - ACT under given situations

  • Formal Norms: written down or codified and carry specific punishments for violators

  • Informal Norms: NOT written, but widely accepted

Normative components cont

Normative Components Cont…



    • Negative Sanctions: Consist of punishment OR the threat of punishment to enforce conformity. Examples: towing a vehicle, frowns, public ridicule, “grounding”, removal of a privilege. (CAN BE INFORMAL or FORMAL)

    • Informal Sanctions: Spontaneous expressions of approval or disapproval given by an individual or a group.

Normative components cont1

Normative Components Cont…

  • LAWS: formal codes for behavior

  • INSTITUTIONS: regulate codes for behavior - socially reinforced by each individual institution.


    • Positive Sanctions: Used to reward the individual for desirable behavior ex: a cheer, smile of approval, head nod, thumbs up, handshake, etc.

    • Formal Sanctions: Consists of rewards or punishment given by some FORMAL organization or regulatory body ex: government, police, school or organization

Breakdown of normative components

Breakdown of Normative Components

  • Folkways: Norms that SPECIFY expected behavior in everyday situations (weakly held norms)

  • Mores: Latin word - plural of “mos” meaning CUSTOM (strongly held norms - strict enforcement)

  • Taboos: Acts considered extremely repellent to the social group.

Nonmaterial culture

Nonmaterial Culture

  • The intangible world of ideas created by members of society

  • Freedom is an example of nonmaterial culture that we highly value in the U.S.A.


E. “Ideal” and “Real” Culture

  • values and norms reflect how we believe members of a culture should behave

  • ideal culture - social patterns mandated by cultural values and norms

  • real culture – actual social patterns that only approximate cultural expectations

Culture society

Culture & Society

Sanctions-Considerations, influences, or principles

that dictate ethical choices.

Ex: If you cheat you will fail a class; the chance of failing is a sanction. It shapes your ethical choice on if cheating is ok or not.

Mores- The accepted traditional customs and

usages of a particular social group.

Ex: Manners


F. Material Culture and Technology

  • artifacts are material objects that society creates that express the values of culture

  • material culture also reflects a cultures technology, which is knowledge that a society applies to the task of living in a physical environment

Material culture

Material Culture

  • The tangible things created by members of a society

  • An example could be an iPod because they are becoming a very important material in today’s culture.


G. New Information Technology and Culture

  • The U.S. along with other societies, have entered a postindustrial phase of economic development .

  • information the economy created changes the skills that dominate our way of life

Cultural diversity

Cultural Diversity

  • High culture and Popular culture

  • High culture refers to cultural patterns that distinguish a society’s elite

  • Popular culture designates cultural patterns widespread among a society’s people


B. Subculture

  • cultural patterns that set apart some segment of a society’s population

  • based on age, ethnicity, residence, sexual preference, occupation, and many other factors

  • U.S. is considered the melting pot, but great diversity still exists and possibly increasing


C. Multiculturalism

  • an educational program recognizing the cultural diversity of the United States and promoting equality of all cultural traditions.

  • ‘singular pattern’ of our culture is Eurocentrism, which is English culture patterns

  • alternative would be Afrocentrism, which is African culture patterns


D. Counterculture

  • cultural patterns that strongly oppose conventional culture

  • members are likely to question the morality of the majority group and engage in protest activities


E. Cultural Change

1. Cultural Lag

-cultural elements change at different rates, which may disrupt a cultural system

2. Causes of Cultural Change

- invention, discovery, and diffusion

F. Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativity

  • the practice of judging another culture by the standards of one’s own culture

  • cultural relativity refers to the practice of evaluating any culture by it’s own standards


Cultural Lag

When certain cultures change faster than others causing a disruption to the cultural system.

Ex: New music and clothes


Human creation to help society’s way of life.

Ex: Cell Phones.


G. A Global Culture ?

  • Global connections involve the flow of goods, information, and people

  • BUT … they are all uneven, it can’t be assumed that people everywhere want and afford various goods and services

Popular culture

Popular Culture

  • Cultural patterns that are widespread among a society’s population.

  • Elvis could be an example of popular culture because back in the 50’s he brought about new cultural patterns in music, dancing, and clothes

Theoretical analysis of culture

Theoretical Analysis of Culture

  • Structural-Functional Analysis

  • idealism holds the ideas are the basis of human reality

  • Cultural universals are traits found in every culture of the world – they should be understood in terms of how they function to maintain overall cultural system

    Critical evaluation: underestimates the extent to which societies change


B. Social-Conflict Analysis

  • social conflict is generated by inequality among different categories of people in a culture

  • Karl Marx using materialism argued that the way we deal with the material world powerfully effects other dimensions of our culture

    Critical evaluation: minimizes a sense about the integrative properties found within these same systems


C. Sociobiology

  • explores ways in which human biology affects how we create culture

  • Sociologists argue that the theory of natural selection applies to human evolution as it does to all other species

  • 4 stages include reproduction within the natural environment, random variability in genes, different survival odds, and changes in frequencies of particular genes within a species

    Critical evaluation: there is lack of scientific proof of their assertions

Culture and human freedom

Culture and Human Freedom

  • Culture As Constraint

  • capacity for creating change, and reshaping our existence appears limitless

  • culture is a liberating force to the extent we develop an understanding of its complexity and the opportunities available


B. Culture as Freedom

  • burden of our culture is freedom

  • culture has become our means of survival

  • diversity is significant, and ever-changing

  • cultural conflict – political opposition, often accompanied by social hostility, rooted in different cultural values



An educational program recognizing the cultural diversity of the US and promoting the equality of all cultural traditions

Human Rights

Humans way of expressing what they feel is fair to them.

Ex: Protesting



Culture patterns that separate parts of society’s population.

Ex: Different beliefs - Hippies


Cultural patterns that disagree with the accepted society.

Ex: smoking



Humans realizing or finding new information about the world and society.

Ex: Finding Gold

Cultural Universals

Traits that are seen in every culture

Ex: Music

Culture and society


  • FOLKWAYS-Norms of the everyday life, like HI, BYE, and THANK YOU.

  • MULTICULTURALISM-A program recognizing the diversity of culture in the United States promoting equality of all cultural traditions.

Culture shock

Culture Shock

  • Personal disorientation when experiencing another way of life, such as when a person moves from a rural community to a large metropolitan area.

Culture and society1


NONMATERIAL CULTURE- Culture that involve rules, regulations, behaviors, feelings and manners.

POPULAR CULTURE- Cultural patterns that are widespread among a society’s population.

Nonverbal communications

Nonverbal Communications

  • Communication using body movements, gestures, and facial expressions rather than speech. A good example is a mime, who only uses body language to express himself.



Subculture is a part of a culture that (i.e. a different ethnic background) that functions as a part of a greater culture, while still keeping their own.



  • The manifestation of joy or mirth of scorn, such as a persons reaction to something funny.



An educational program recognizing the cultural diversity of the United States and promoting the equality of all cultural traditions.

Human rights

Human Rights

Human rights are rights that are natural, everyone should have the opportunities and equalities that everyone else has.

Gender differences

Gender Differences

Separation of roles and manners of two genders in a social system



Set of symbols that serve as a medium for communication.



Counterculture is a part or a group of society that does not follow the norm or structure of society.

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