Chapter 3 - Power Point summary

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CHAPTER 3: CULTURE & NORMS
WHAT IS CULTURE?

The knowledge, values, customs,
and material objects passed from
one group to another group or society


(Culture is) “A toolkit for the survival of mankind”
Society and Culture are independent, neither could exist
without the other

In order for a society to survive there must be laws, rules, and
guidelines, all of which are culture driven


Functionalists might call it a “symbiotic” relationship
Some cultures vary widely from others


For instance the “Horns” sign commonly used at sports events in the
U.S. implies that your spouse is unfaithful in Italy
Even more diametric; the symbol for “ok,” in Tunisia means “I’ll kill
you!”

I hope at least the “peace” sign is universal…
THE IMPORTANCE OF CULTURE

We (humans) are not born with the information
necessary to survive, i.e. we have no instincts

Nurture and not Nature


An instinct is an unlearned biological behavior common to
members of the same species (Spiders do not need to learn
how to build webs, they just know instinctually)
Reflexes and Drives
A reflex is an involuntary response to physical stimuli
 Sneezing and blinking when faced with an irritant
 A drive is an unlearned impulse that satisfy basic needs
 Sleep, food, water, and (ahem) “procreation”


Culture however can channel these reflexes and
drives

For sneezing, the appropriate way to respond to a sneeze
SUB-TYPES OF CULTURE

Material and Non-Material culture

Material culture consists of the physical or tangible
creations that can be made, used, or shared

Food, Books, … anything “touchable”
Technology is the knowledge, techniques, and tools to
transform resources into usable forms
 Non-Material culture consists of the abstract or
intangible creations that influence people’s behavior



Language, Beliefs, Values, … anything of a mental
construct
Cultural Universals

Customs and practices common to all societies

Sports, bodily adornment, social institutions, (and many
more!)
COMPONENTS OF CULTURE

All cultures have four common components

Symbols, language, values, and norms



Ultimately, these four things cause either harmony or strife
across societies
Symbols
 Anything that meaningfully represents something else
 (A Valentine’s heart : Love) (Swastika : Hate) (Siren : Warning)
 Everything, arguably, could be considered symbolic of something
Language
 A set of symbols that express ideas, and enables people to think and
communicate with one another
 Verbal, gestural, written, even smell (subconsciously)!
 Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
 Language shapes the view(s) of reality of its speakers
 Language precedes thought, i.e. no language, no thought

Certain words carry connotations, either
negative or positive


Connotations are implied definitions, dictated by a
persons opinion often
Denotations are the accepted, dictionary definition of
the word
Male Term
Female Term
Neutral Term
Teacher
Steward
Chairman
Janitor
Bachelor
Policeman
Doctor
Teacher
Stewardess
Chairwoman
Maid
Spinster
Policewoman
Doctor
Teacher
Flight attendant
Chairperson
Custodian
Single
Police officer
Doctor
LANGUAGE AND GENDER

The English language ignores women!
 It uses masculine forms of words to refer to
human beings in general
 Chairman, mankind
Quite often in the
English language people
often inadvertently
connote predispositions
to men and women when
asked to describe them.
For example:
Women are often
described by their sexual
objectivity as foxes,
broads, babes, chicks, or
miss/ mrs.
•
Men tend to be
described by their sexual
prowess as dudes, studs,
or hunks
•
(Keep in mind
connotations vary greatly
from generation to
generation)

Values are collective ideas about right and wrong,
good or bad, and desirable or undesirable in a
particular culture
Value
contradictions:
•
Mutually exclusive
values
Do we have Core Values in the United States?
 Ten Core Values identified by Robin M. Williams, Jr.
in the 1970’s


(We may want to help
but it might be
impossible to do so)
Not THE Robin Williams, this guy is much less funny…
•
Individualism (ability, work ethic, responsibility)
2)
Achievement and Success (do better in life)
3)
Activity and Work (“work in play,” active lifestyle)
4)
Science and Technology (expectations from…)
5)
Progress and Comfort (goods, services, and
necessities)
6)
Efficiency and Practicality (bigger, better, faster
things)
7)
Equality (class equality and opportunity)
8)
Morality and Humanitarianism (aiding others in
need)
VALUES
1)
Ideal Culture
Values and standards
in society profess to hold
•
Realistic Culture
Values and standards
people actually follow
For example:
People claim to be very
law abiding, yet smoke
marijuana (hmm…)
People think themselves
to be good drivers, yet
constantly drive over
the speed limit
NORMS

Established rules of behavior or standards of conduct



Prescriptive Norms
 What behavior is appropriate or acceptable
Proscriptive Norms
 What behavior is inappropriate or unacceptable
Formal and Informal Norms
Formal norms are written down, and often carry specific
punishments for violators
 Positive or negative; praise and honors; versus, disapproval to
the death penalty!
 Informal norms are unwritten, often carry informal sanctions
and are often not clearly defined (they often vary among subgroups)
 Informal sanctions may include but are not limited to: frowns,
gestures, scoffs, remarks, etc.


Norms are often classified by their
relative social importance

Folkways
Informal, everyday customs that if violated
carry little consequences, and are not
enforced
 Lack of: deodorant, brushing teeth, or
appropriate clothing
Mores
(“Mor-ays”) A particular cultures strongly
held norms with moral and ethical
connotations that may not be violated
without serious consequences
 May result in loss of employment,
ridicule, or imprisonment
 “Taboos,” strong mores that their violation is
extremely offensive, and unmentionable
 Incest is a widely accepted taboo


Laws

Formal, standardized norms enacted by
legislatures and enforced throughout
DEGREES OF NORMS


The following are
considered to be of
increasing degree as one
progresses downward
CULTURAL CHANGE

Cultures are not static, they often change over time


Typically, cultures change with the onset of major
technology (and understanding), or a radical regime
change
Cultural Lag

Cultural Lag (coined by William Ogburn) is the gap
between technical development and its moral and legal
institutions


Occurs when material culture changes faster than non-material
culture
 Onset of computers and personal privacy for instance
Changes that can alter culture:

Discovery, invention, and diffusion

Learning and recognizing, new technology, transmission of other
culture
CULTURAL DIVERSITY

The range of cultural differences within a nation
 Nations can be homogenous or heterogeneous


Subcultures
 Category of people who share distinguishing attributes,
beliefs, values, and/or norms that set them apart from
the primary culture in some way.


Essentially same or different (Sweden compared to the U.S.A.)
Significant age differences, the Amish, Native Americans,
Ethnic groups in nation (like Chinatown or Little Havana)
Countercultures
 Group that rejects dominant societal values and norms
Beatniks (‘50’s), Flower Children (‘60’s), Drug Enthusiasts
(‘70’s)**, members of cults and sects
 **How old is Professor Thomas?...

CULTURE SHOCK, ETHNOCENTRISM, AND
RELATIVISM

Culture Shock refers to disorientation upon
experiencing radically different cultures


See Napoleon Chagnon and the Yanomamö tribe (pg.
92)
Ethnocentrism

The practice of judging all other cultures by one’s own
culture


Positive or negative; anthems and flags, to superiority and
stereotypes
Cultural Relativism

The belief that the behaviors and customs of any
culture must be analyzed by the culture’s own
standards

See Hinduism and sacred cattle (pg. 93)

High Culture versus Popular Culture
High Culture consists of classical music, opera,
ballet, live theater, heavy European influence


Popular Culture consists of activities, products,
and services that are assumed to appeal to the
middle and working class



Typically found among Upper and Upper-middle
class persons
Rock concerts, sports events, sit-coms, etc.
U.S. pop-culture is considered “homegrown”
Forms of Pop-Culture

Fad



Fashion


A temporary but widely copied activity, followed
enthusiastically by a large number of people
Four sub-categories: object, activity, idea,
personality
Currently valued style of behavior, thinking, or
appearance, usually more widespread than a fad
Leisure Activity

Culturally accepted form of activity
GLOBAL POPULAR CULTURE

Cultural
Imperialism:
•
The extensive infusion
of one nation’s culture
into other nations
For Example
The widespread
infusion of the English
language
•
The second most
exported item in the
U.S. is its culture in
the form of films,
clothing, and popculture
•
A SOCIOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF CULTURE
Macro-level

Functionalist


Micro-level

Culture helps people meet
their biological,
instrumental, and expressive
needs
Symbolic-Interactionist

Conflict

Ideas are a cultural creation
of society’s most powerful
members and can be used by
the ruling class to affect the
thoughts and actions of
members of other classes
 Control via cultural
occupation of lower class

People create, maintain, and
modify culture during their
everyday activities; however,
cultural creations can take
on a life of their own and end
up controlling people
Postmodern

Much of culture today is
based on simulation of
reality rather than reality
itself
 How television and
internet depict reality
REFERENCES AND
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
o
o
o
Sociology In Our Times (Seventh Edition)
o By: Diana Kendall
Notes incorporated
o By: James V. Thomas, NIU Professor (Emeritus)
o Formatted By: Jacob R. Kalnins, NIU student
Pictures Incorporated
o Clip Art (PowerPoint: 2007)
o Google Images: Sociology In Our Times
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