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Soc. 153-Lecture 5. -NO CLASS next Monday (President’s Day) -TODAY’s office hours begin at 4PM (not 3) - sorry! -Section begins this week. -Essay #1 due Friday 2/22 @ 5PM -Current topics: Culture v. Social Structure What is Culture? 7 competing answers… 5 types of cultural criticism

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soc 153 lecture 5
Soc. 153-Lecture 5

-NO CLASS next Monday (President’s Day)

-TODAY’s office hours begin at 4PM (not 3) - sorry!

-Section begins this week.

-Essay #1 due Friday 2/22 @ 5PM

-Current topics:

  • Culture v. Social Structure
  • What is Culture? 7 competing answers…
  • 5 types of cultural criticism
  • Riesman: The Lonely Crowd
what is culture
What is Culture?
  • Key Debate: Which matters more in determining human social events???CULTURE or SOCIAL STRUCTURE???
    • CULTURE = systems of ideas, norms, practices; ‘the way of life of a people’
        • Ideas, norms, beliefs
        • Cultural ‘objects’ (art works, musical compositions, etc.)
        • Cultural ‘practices’ (rituals, routines)
    • SOCIAL STRUCTURE =
        • networks of relationships (e.g. the class system);
        • material (as opposed to ideational) sources of social order (e.g. money and wealth; bargaining power; electoral/political leverage)
autonomy of culture
Autonomy of Culture?

-Key question in social sciences (rephrased): the “(Relative)Autonomy of Culture?”

  • Does culture have independent effects on human action, or is it merely a by-product of the ‘material’ world?
    • E.g. Class consciousness
    • E.g. Religious ideology

-2 Classic debates:

a.) causes of French Revolution (class unrest or new ideas?)

b.) rise of capitalism:

-Karl Marx: new technology plus changing class relations

-Max Weber: the ‘protestant ethic’ (I.e. culture!)

what is culture1
What is Culture?

In addition to ‘Autonomy of Culture’ debate, there is the subsequent question of…

What is Culture?

  • (7 common definitions)
what is culture2
What is Culture?

1.) culture as propaganda

(hypodermic syringe model)

  • -emerges out of Marxist perspective
  • -views culture as tool of ruling classes
    • ”hegemony”: population control thru ideology (“false consciousness”)
      • Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937)
  • -also common in anti-advertising diatribes (…e.g. Adbusters)
  • Critique: …
what is culture3
What is Culture?

1.) culture as propaganda

(hypodermic syringe model)

  • -emerges out of Marxist perspective
  • -views culture as tool of ruling classes
    • ”hegemony”: population control thru ideology
      • Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937)
  • Critique: …
    • People can think for themselves, can’t they?
    • Oppositional culture… (e.g. punk rock; hip-hop)
    • ‘Modest’ success of advertising (e.g. anti-smoking campaign)
what is culture4
What is Culture?

2.) culture as worldview (optics model)

  • -Max Weber’s response to Marx: culture has causal efficiacy
    • E.g. ‘The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”
  • -Culture = unifying ideals, traits, and preferences of a people
      • -e.g. “American national character”
  • Critique: …
what is culture5
What is Culture?

2.) culture as worldview (optics model)

  • -Max Weber’s response to Marx: culture has causal force of its own
    • E.g. ‘The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”
  • -Culture = unifying ideals, traits, and preferences of a people
      • -e.g. “American national character”
  • Critique:
    • Are any ‘people’ this consistent/unitary?
    • Where do worldviews come from? (Social structure?)
    • Examples of this model in contemporary politics?
what is culture6
What is Culture?

3.) Functionalism (Operating System model)

  • culture = sets of behavioral and moral rules which govern social action
    • culture isn’t just worldview but is vital to the maintenance of social order
  • Historically, originated by Harvard’s Talcott Parsons
    • FUNCTIONALISM: schools, churches, laws all define and perpetuate forms of behavior vital to the perpetuation of society
  • Critique…
what is culture7
What is Culture?

3.) Functionalism (Operating System model)

  • culture = sets of behavioral and moral rules which govern social action
    • -culture isn’t just worldview but is vital to the maintenance of social order
  • Talcott Parsons
    • FUNCTIONALISM: schools, churches, laws all define and perpetuate forms of behavior vital to the perpetuation of society
  • Critique: Classic example of poor logic (tautological, or circular reasoning):
    • E.g. “If crime exists, there must be a good reason for it…” What could that reason be?
      • “evolutionary” sociology v. evolutionary biology…
what is culture8
What is Culture?

4.) tool-kit (software model)

  • culture = repertoire of means and ends that can be combined at the discretion of users
    • -arises in opposition to hegemony of functionalist thinking in American social science
      • (also a response to Civil Rights; Vietnam; counter-culture)
    • Ann Swidler (UC Berkeley)/Michele Lamont (Harvard!)
    • key observations:
        • -people know much more culture than they actually use
        • -2 people can use the same rationale to justify different actions
        • -societies aren’t actually that cohesive when it comes to goals (contra Functionalism)
what is culture9
What is Culture?

4.) tool-kit (software model)

  • Critiques:
    • If people deploy cultural repertoires at will, how do we know they exist? (I.e. what repertoires might be ‘unseen’ by researchers?)
    • Are these repertoires, or only rationalizations?
    • Where do repertoires come from? (back to ‘culture as worldview’ problem, only more complicated!)
what is culture10
What is Culture?

5.) civilization (rose-colored glasses model)

  • -culture = those best and brightest ideas by which we’ve come to define our civilization…
        • preferred unifying ideal of a people
        • a cross bet. Marx and Weber (cultural elitism)
      • Mathew Arnold: “Culture, the acquainting ourselves with the best that has been known and said in the world.” Literature and Dogma (1873)
    • -PROBLEMS w/ Culture as Civilization view?
what is culture11
What is Culture?

5.) civilization (rose-colored glasses model)

    • -culture = those best and brightest ideas by which we’ve come to define our civilization…
      • -preferred unifying ideal of a people
      • -a cross bet. Marx and Weber (cultural elitism)
  • -PROBLEMS w/ Culture as Civilization view?
    • How Do You Determine what’s ‘good’ culture?
    • Who determines what ‘good’ culture is?
      • Is culture good b/c it’s ‘the best’ or simply b/c it has been canonized as such?
what is culture12
What is Culture?

6.) identity (Ray-Ban model)

-culture = identity, a self-conscious appendage to one’s personality, social background…

    • -E.g. working class culture; ethnic/racial cultures
  • -created in opposition to civilization model: argues that many groups, not just the rich, have unique and valuable cultures
    • Very prominent appr. in contemporary sociology/anthropology
  • PROBLEMS?
what is culture13
What is Culture?

6.) identity (Ray-Ban model)

    • -created in opposition to civilization model: argues that many groups, not just the rich, have unique and valuable cultures
    • -culture = identity, a self-conscious appendage to one’s personality, social background…
      • -E.g. working class culture; ethnic/racial cultures
  • -PROBLEMS?
    • Who belongs to an identity group?
      • How does one deal with internal variance?
    • Indigenous product or self-conscious put-on?
    • Inside/outside problem: what does it mean to members, as opposed to the rest of us?
what is culture14
What is Culture?

7.) culture as discourse (3-d glasses model)

  • culture is nothing but discourse about society (I.e. stories we tell each other about the world)
    • -Cultural Studies (e.g. Clifford Geertz)
      • -also arises in opposition to Functionalism
        • -this time in oppos. to notion that culture must ‘do’ something for people.
what is culture15
What is Culture?

7.) culture as discourse (3-d glasses model)

    • -Cultural Studies (Clifford Geertz)
      • -also arises in opposition to Functionalism
        • -this time in oppos. to notion that culture must ‘do’ something for people.
      • -culture is nothing but discourse about society (I.e. stories we tell each other about the world)
  • PROBLEMS w/ Culture as Discourse view?
    • -How do you study this?
      • -Anything goes… (modern cultural studies movement)
        • -Sociologists generally hate this, largely b/c it is empirically unverifiable and unspecific about causes and effects
five types of cultural criticism
Five Types of Cultural Criticism
  • Future Shock
      • (Toffler)
  • Frankfurt School
      • (Adorno and Horkheimer)
  • Mass Society
      • (Leo Strauss; Riesman)
  • Negative Classicism
      • (Matthew Arnold; your grandparents?)
  • Deconstruction/Cultural Studies
      • (Michel Foucault)
five types of cultural criticism1
Five Types of Cultural Criticism
  • Future Shock
      • Term coined by Alvin Toffler (see reading, Week 8)
      • Pace of technological change is outpacing our ability to adapt to it…
        • Consistently refuted by history (via Toffler’s prediction)
five types of cultural criticism2
Five Types of Cultural Criticism
  • Frankfurt School(e.g. Walter Benjamin; Herbert Marcuse; Theodor Adorno)
  • Mass reproduction cheapens art (Benjamin: “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”)
      • The value of art comes to lie in its rarity, not its quality.
        • E.g. visiting the Mona Lisa in Paris: "its first meaning is no longer to be found in what it says, but in what it is."
        • This, according to Benjamin, plays into the illusion of beneficence of the ruling elite. They are somehow kind enough to share art with us.
5 types of cultural criticism
5 Types of Cultural Criticism
  • 3. Negative Classicism:
    • -decline of ‘civilization’ is predicated on the association between the rising popularity of ‘mass culture’ and the corruption of civil society
      • i.e. once elites lose control of culture, society is doomed to degeneracy, decadence, and failure
        • "Rise and Fall of…”
          • -"bread and circuses" (panem et circenses)
          • -term dates back to Juvenal (60-140 AD)
        • key theme here is DECADENCE of popular tastes
5 types of cultural criticism1
5 Types of Cultural Criticism
  • 4. Deconstruction/Cultural Studies (Michel Foucault via C. Geertz)
    • textual criticism which involves discovering, recognizing, and understanding the underlyingand unspoken and implicitassumptions, ideas, and frameworks that form the basis for thought and belief, for example, in complicating the ordinary division made between nature and culture.
      • -E.g. Foucault’s History of Sexuality argues that homosexuality as such didn't exist until heterosexual proselytes labeled same-sex sex bad.
        • everything we say, do, or think is the product of the semiotic categories society provides us to describe them; (unlike Constructionist approach), those categories are seen here as the product of some mysterious hegemon…
          • Ie. It’s never clear who exactly the oppressor is, or what his/her/their motives are…
      • - very powerful in humanities today
        • When asked "What is deconstruction?": Derrida stated, "I have no simple and formalisable response to this question. "
5 types of cultural criticism2
5 Types of Cultural Criticism
  • 5. Mass Society Theory (David Riesman)
      • Very popular in 1940s and 50s: we'll all becoming alike
      • Please read The Lonely Crowd carefully: it is an example of cultural criticism at its best!
        • Why? (admittedly, it is empirically thin)
        • The beauty of this theory is that it does not use culture to explain culture… (my pet peeve)
          • Soc. Struct change Cultural change
        • Takes care to situate ‘mass society’ in time and space: I.e. specific processes brought it about, and will likely continue to change
5 types of cultural criticism3
5 Types of Cultural Criticism
  • 5. Mass Society Theory (David Riesman)
    • Soc. Struct change Cultural change
      • CAUSE (X): S-shaped population curve
        • But also includes technological change in media
      • EFFECT (Y):Changing Social Character of Individuals in different times and places
      • I.e. Riesman attempts to explain how pop/tech change affect social character (via changing“agents of character formation”)
    • The argument in sum…
david riesman the lonely crowd
David Riesman: The Lonely Crowd

3 Societal Stages (in ‘West’)

  • Tradition-directed --> Inner-Directed --> Other-directed
    • Demographic transformation
      • No growth/young --> High growth --> Low growth/young but aging
    • Communications technology
      • Oral --> print --> mass-media/multi-media
    • Agent of Character Formation:
      • Shame --> guilt --> anxiety
david riesman the lonely crowd1
David Riesman: The Lonely Crowd
  • Tradition-directed society
      • -demographics: young population; high mortality
      • -culture: static, tradition-based
      • -cultural transmission: oral ~ song, ritual, storytelling
      • -agent of character formation: shame
david riesman the lonely crowd2
David Riesman: The Lonely Crowd

2. Inner-directed society

  • - demographic: transitional population growth
      • -births exceed deaths
      • -widespread economic growth
  • -culture: innovative, achievement-oriented, individualistic
  • -cultural transmission: print media
      • -promotes private, self-socialization
  • -agent of character formation: guilt
david riesman the lonely crowd3
David Riesman: The Lonely Crowd

3. Other-directed society

  • - demographics: stable or slightly declining population
      • -births = deaths
      • -economic stability or moderate growth
  • -culture: leisure-based, conformist
  • -cultural transmission: mass media
      • -public-private socialization?
  • -agent of char. Formation: anxiety