Chapter 3: Culture

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2. What is culture?. Culture refers to the way of life of a people.Specifically, culture consists of the material and nonmaterial things that people create and share with each other.Material cultureThe tangible products humans create, like houses, roads, clothes, technologies, etc.Nonmaterial cu

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Chapter 3: Culture

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1. 1 Chapter 3: Culture

2. 2 What is culture? Culture refers to the way of life of a people. Specifically, culture consists of the material and nonmaterial things that people create and share with each other. Material culture The tangible products humans create, like houses, roads, clothes, technologies, etc. Nonmaterial culture The intangible products that humans create, like beliefs, values, ideas and norms.

3. 3 Importance of culture 1. adaptation to the environment Our cultures reflect our efforts to adapt to the environment. 2. blueprint for living Culture provides a ready-made blueprint for living. 3. symbiotic relationship We create culture, and it creates us. 4. it is learned Culture is learned, not biologically transmitted.

4. 4 Significance of learned culture Most species rely on biologically transmitted instincts to survive. Humans have few complex instincts and rely instead on learned information. Is there such a thing as “human nature” – with fixed characteristics? While there are biological influences and there are a few universal human patterns, humans are whatever they create themselves to be. They are a remarkably flexible, diverse, and adaptive species. There are roughly 7000 cultures across the globe and there is great diversity among them. However, this number is in decline due to globalization forces.

5. 5 Components of culture A. Nonmaterial components 1. symbols 2. language 3. values and beliefs 4. norms 5. statuses and roles B. Material components The importance of technology

6. 6 1. symbols A symbol is anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by members of a culture. Symbols are the basis of culture and provide the foundation of everyday reality. Sharing common symbols builds social integration. Culture shock: the inability to read the meanings of symbols due to being in a foreign culture. The psychological sensation of culture shock is anxiety or fear. Symbolic meanings differ across societies (or even across subcultures in the U.S.) A dog is a pet in the U.S., but could be dinner in other cultures. Symbols and meanings change over time. How do marketers influence the meaning of a pair of jeans?

7. 7 2. language Language: a system of symbols with standard meanings that allows members of a culture to communicate. Language allows cultural transmission. Cultural transmission: the process by which culture is passed on across generations. Is language uniquely human? Some animals have a rudimentary ability to use symbols, but their skills are limited. Does language shape subjective reality? The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: we know the world essentially in terms of our language and what it points out about the world. Research suggests that language helps shape subjective reality, but it does not determine it.

8. 8 3. Values and beliefs Values: standards by which we define what is good or bad, or right or wrong. Values serve as guidelines for social behavior and differ across cultures. Beliefs are specific statements that people hold to be true. When members of a culture share common values and beliefs, social integration is promoted. Example: what does Rambo (the Hollywood movie) say about what Americans value and believe? While small, homogeneous cultures have a lot of value consensus, large heterogeneous cultures have a lot of value diversity and value conflicts.

9. 9 American core values Individualism: a sense of personal autonomy Myth of the rugged individual The masculine mystique (male gender identity reflects high levels of individualism) Affective individualism: passionate bonding of two individuals at the expense of the influence of extended kinfolk and the larger community in which they are embedded. Romantic love emphasizes affective individualism.

10. 10 American core values Liberty and freedom Personal freedom (individualism) Collective freedom (sovereignty) Free market capitalism Equality of opportunity, not outcome Competition Meritocracy Hard work and achievement Materialism or material success

11. 11 American core values Capitalism Competition Private profit or self-interest Free market Rationality, efficiency, practicality, pragmatism Faith in science, technology, and progress Education

12. 12 American core values Democracy Tolerance and compromise Pluralism and humanitarianism Rule of law (no person, King, or President is above the law) Due process of law (fair procedures in court in which the government respects a person’s legal rights) Example: habeas corpus, or the requirement that the prosecution must present evidence of guilt.

13. 13 American core values Christian conservative moralism Promotion of conformity to the Bible as the last word Law and order emphasis, strict punishment Myth of polarity: good v. evil worldview Promotion of hierarchical social order God (above all else) King/President/Country Father Mother Child Other

14. 14 American core values Group superiority values (emphasis on hierarchical social order such that one category is defined as “superior” to another category) Racism (both racial and ethnic) Sexism Classism Homophobia Regionalism (geographic regions) Religious bigotry Ageism (its form has shifted to anti-elderly) Species’ism (humans above other life forms)

15. 15 American core values Militarism Imperialism and manifest destiny Nationalism/patriotism Conservative version has emphasis on conformity and blind faith in leadership (who are our shepherds) Liberal version emphasizes patriotism to principles, not necessarily the leaders themselves (who are fallible)

16. 16 American core values The shift from early industrial capitalist values to 20th century post-industrial capitalist values brought a rising emphasis on Consumerism and credit purchases Hedonism and instant gratification Status consciousness and keep up with the Jones’ Youth orientation – to stay young “at all costs”

17. 17 American Values vs. Traditional Cultures U.S. Values Control over environment Change oriented Time and its control prioritized Equality Individualism Self help Competition Future orientation Action orientation Informality Directness, openness Pragmatism Materialism Traditional cultures Fate Tradition oriented Human interaction prioritized Hierarchy/rank/status Group’s welfare (collectivism) Birthright inheritance Cooperation Past orientation Being orientation Formality Indirectness, ritual, “face” Idealism - philosophically oriented Spiritualism

18. 18 Values in Action Some core values are incompatible with others. This partly reflects our diversity, as well as the rapid rate of change in American values. Example: equality and racism are contradictory or incompatible values. Whereas most white Americans were racist 100 years ago, today most are not racist and lean toward racial equality. American games and sports socialize members into specific values: competition, winning, fair play, meritocracy, hard work, achievement, etc.

19. 19 4. Norms Norms: prescriptions for behavior under specific social situations. Norms are behavioral guidelines and typically reflect our core values. Norms have functions. One manifest function is social control – to promote orderly social interaction. Norms, like values, are internalized into our personalities. We learn to “police” ourselves to conform with societal expectations. Guilt and pride are influenced by norms. Social control is also maintained by sanctions. Sanctions may be positive (reward) or negative (punishment) Sanctions may be formal (backed by institutional authority and laws) or informal (backed by everyday social interaction cues)

20. 20 Types of Norms Folkways Everyday guidelines that have little moral significance, like the expectation that one be reasonably well-groomed. Mores Morally significant guidelines, like the expectation that one will play fair in sports competition. Laws Norms that are codified and backed by formal institutional authority. Taboos Powerful restrictive mores. The violation of a taboo produces intense repulsion or disgust by other members of society. Examples: incest, human flesh eating, necrophilia, etc.

21. 21 5. Statuses and Roles Statuses are social identities, like teacher, student, mother, father, athlete, friend, etc. In complex heterogeneous cultures, people have many different statuses. Roles are the behavioral expectations (norms) attached to specific statuses. Once one acquires a status, they acquire a set of role expectations and are socially evaluated for the quality of their role performances.

22. 22 B. Material Culture Generally, the materials we construct reflect our cultural core values. What value(s) does a fast, big car symbolize? Why do Americans prefer suburban homes with lots of privacy? Technology: the application of cultural knowledge to the task of survival and living in a physical environment. The more complex the technology, the more the physical environment may be re-shaped. Western cultures emphasize technological growth and “progress” as a means to happiness.

23. 23 Does technological growth make us happy? While we may live longer, we’re not necessarily happier. Sociology of happiness research reveals numerous factors associated with happiness Personal autonomy and feeling in control of one’s life High self esteem Loving relationships (esp. the quality of family and friends) Feeling socially productive or helpful to others Relaxed leisure time Feeling healthy Wealth and level of technology are only moderately linked – to the extent that they help one get the goals listed above.

24. 24 Terms and issues High culture (the culture of elites) versus popular culture (the culture of the masses) Differences between high and pop culture reveal social class tensions. Ideal culture (societal principles) versus real culture (societal practices) The greater the discrepancy between the ideal and the real culture, the greater the perceived hypocrisy. Subcultures (generally aligned with mainstream core values) versus countercultures (generally against mainstream core values)

25. 25 Analysis of a 1960s counterculture: hippies Material culture: hippies reject materialism, so they like to live with simple technologies and a simple material culture. Dress is very colorful and free. They often prefer tribal living arrangements and share their material possessions to a large degree. Nonmaterial culture 1. Symbols: peace symbols, colorful clothing, long hair 2. Language: hippies developed their own terms for drugs (i.e. acid) and have their own expressions (far out, groovy, etc) 3. Beliefs and values: equality, peace and love, live life to the fullest, be yourself, be happy, the worship of money and power is bad, reject institutional authority and be free

26. 26 Hippie values Mainstream Hippies Conform to rules Materialism Militarism Strict discipline Repress sexuality Obey authority Social hierarchy Property development Future orientation Drugs are bad Freedom Spiritualism Peaceful passivism Go with the flow hedonism Celebrate sexuality Question authority Equality of all people Environmentalism Be in the now Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll

27. 27 4. Hippie norms Distinguishing Folkways: long hair for men; shop at Salvation Army type stores; smoke pot; listen to cool groove music Distinguishing Mores: importance of being authentic, peaceful, and loving Laws: Hippies reject formal institutions and the legal system – they reject laws Taboos: it is taboo among hippies to worship money and the corporate capitalist lifestyle

28. 28 5. Hippie statuses and roles Hippies reject the formal statuses given them by mainstream institutions, preferring to create their own social identities, complete with nicknames that are symbolic of their humanitarian value system. Hippies are egalitarian, so their leaders tend to practice laissez faire leadership. The hippie identity is a direct rejection of “uptight” mainstream statuses. In many ways, their social identities are the opposite of mainstream statuses. The status of being a hippie implies certain role behaviors: respect for all living things, passivism, practicing peace and love, rejecting mainstream culture, rejecting racism, being authentic, etc.

29. 29 Multiculturalism: a new paradigm Education and other programs that recognize cultural diversity as a good thing while promoting the equality of all cultural traditions. The prior paradigm was Eurocentrism (dominance of European cultural patterns and standards as the ideal)

30. 30 The issue of cultural diversity Is the U.S. a “melting pot”? Or is it better seen as a “patchwork quilt”? Melting pot implies integration and blending in. U.S. history reveals a pattern of Eurocentrism and racism, in which racial minority groups were not welcome in any “melting pot”until after 1964. Minority groups experienced internal colonization: segregation with racism in a caste system that made them second class people. White immigrants were generally able to integrate over a few generations; hence the melting pot imagery. But overall, U.S. history appears to reveal a “patchwork quilt” experience.

31. 31 Cultural Change All cultures change. Industrial cultures are in perpetual rapid change. Sometimes one part of the cultural system may change more quickly than another, which lags behind. This is called cultural lag: inconsistencies within a cultural system resulting from unequal rates of change by the elements of the system. Example: Technology has made it possible to keep a brain dead person technically alive, but our legal system has not yet caught up with the rights of the patient.

32. 32 End of Chapter 3

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