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CHAPTER 2 -- CULTURE. Warm-Up. Taking someone’s life is violation of a social norm. Is there ever a situation where this is not the case?. What is culture? .

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Presentation Transcript
warm up

Taking someone’s life is violation of a social norm.

Is there ever a situation where this is not the case?

what is culture
What is culture?

The total pattern of human behavior and it’s shared products shown in a group’s beliefs, thoughts, art, music, food, customs, religious laws, superstitions, speech, behaviors, valves


Shared products of human groups including physical objects as well as beliefs, values and behaviors

  • Combination of objects and rules that make up a society’s culture
  • Using material culture, like tools, required knowledge of various skills, non-material culture
  • Sociologist not just interested in skills
    • EX: people can use the internet to “hack” into legal systems, is this practice considered acceptable?

EX: In the US there are norms concerning financial responsibility but more than half of the US is in debt

There are norms against taking a life but in the case of police and soldiers these norms differ

two types of norms
  • Folkways
    • Describe socially acceptable behaviors
    • Do not have great moral significance
    • Outline common customs of everyday life
    • EX: you don’t put food in your mouth with a knife, you don’t push people out of the way when you are in a line, when you meet someone – you shake their hand
    • Some degree of nonconformity exists with folkways because it doesn’t endanger the well-being of anyone else.


    • Have great moral significance attached to them
    • Relation exists because the violation of such rules endangers society’s well-being
    • EX: dishonesty, fraud, murder
    • Societies typically punish the violation of social mores in order to protect stability
    • Serious mores are formalized into laws
name some laws
Name some laws…
  • …that enforce SERIOUS mores.
    • Laws against arson, murder, rape and theft.
  • …that enforce less severe folkways.
    • Parking spaces reserved for the handicapped.
government attempts to legislate morality
Government Attempts to Legislate Morality

Prohibition (18th Amendment)

Affirmative Action

Drug use



examining culture
Examining Culture

Culture continually changes – it is dynamicrather than static.

Sociologists study culture by breaking it down into levels and studying each level separately

cultural traits simplest level
Cultural traits : simplest level
  • individual tool, act, or belief that’s related to a particular situation or need
  • ex: using knives, forks, or spoons when eating; greeting when you meet someone
cultural complexes more complex level
Cultural complexes : more complex level
  • cluster of interrelated traits
  • individual culture traits combine to form culture complexes
  • ex: using the fork at dinner, making a turkey, family passing food around the table – makes for a Thanksgiving Dinner
  • football game
cultural patterns most complex level
Cultural patterns : most complex level
  • combination of a number of culture complexes into an interrelated whole
  • culture complexes combine to form larger levels called culture patterns
  • ex: football, basketball, baseball, swimming are complexes that form into the American athletic pattern

Tendency to view one’s own culture and group as superior

Although, this belief can create unity

EX: Nazi Germany

cultural relativism
Cultural Relativism

Belief that cultures should be judged by their own standards rather than by applying the standards of another culture

Think back to the reasons behind 9/11 or Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in Iraq

  • Subcultures that find their beliefs at odd with the predominate culture
  • Countercultures are INTENTIONALLY challenging the culture of the larger society
  • EX: hippies in the 60s
    • Rejected dress styles, hairstyles, and work
1930s anthropologist margaret mead conducted famous study on cultural variation
1930s anthropologist Margaret Mead conducted famous study on cultural variation
  • purpose was to determine whether differences in personal temperament results mainly from inherited characteristics or cultural influences
  • New Guinea – lived among them and participated in their society

Arapesh vs. Mundugumor

These tribes lives 100 miles apart, shared many social traits, but the cultures were vastly different.

  • contented, gentle, non-aggressive, receptive, trusting, warm
  • society based on complete cooperation
  • close-knit villages consisting of clans (families with a common ancestor)
  • women bring firewood and water, prepare daily meals and carry goods from place to place
  • discouraged from showing any aggressive behavior toward others; taught to show aggression in harmless ways (throwing stones, hitting palm tree with stick)
  • aggressive, competitive, jealous, and violent
  • ready to recognize and avenge any insult
  • delight in showing off and fighting
  • were headhunters until the government banned it
  • babies have no physical contact with moms (rigid basket); child has lots of rigid rules; physical punishment for violating rules
comparing the two
Comparing the two…

At the time of Mead’s study, Arapesh lived in mountains and Mundugumor in the valleys. Arapesh planted gardens while Mundugumor primarily food gatherers. Food was scarce for Arapesh and abundant for Mundugumor.

mead s conclusion
Mead’s conclusion

…that the differences in temperament were mainly the result of culture rather than biology. Differences were greater between 2 societies rather than within them (males and females similar within one society, but not between them).

1940s George Murdock (anthropologist) examined hundreds of cultures to determine general traits common to all cultures.
  • came up with 65 cultural universals
    • included:
      • body adornment cooking
      • dancing family
      • feasting forms of greeting
      • funeral ceremonies gift giving
      • housing language
      • medicine music
      • myths/folklore religion
      • sports toolmaking

Read page 28 – Case Study on the Nacirema

Start “Peters Township Culture” tomorrow!