Chapter 3

Chapter 3
The basis of culture
• Knowledge, language, values customs
and physical objects that are passed from
generation to generation among members
and groups
• Material side: the physical makeup of the
• Nonmaterial side: cultural diversity, beliefs,
rules etc.
Culture and Society
• Both are linked together. One can not exist
without the other but are not the same
• Society- a group of people who live in a
defined territory and participate in a
common culture
• Culture- is that societies way of life
Culture and Heredity
• Instincts- genetically inherited patterns of
– Nonhuman animals have the ability to live on
instinct alone to survive
• If we as humans went on instinct alone we
would all act the same
– All women would want and have children at a
specific time of year, eat the same food, live in
the same place, etc.
Heredity and behavior
• Nature vs. nurture
– Does your genetic make up make you who
you are?
– Does your environment make you who you
• Research show it is 50-50
Reflexes and drives
• Reflex- simple biological automatic
– Pupils contract in bright light, rooting
• Drives- impulses to reduce discomfort
– Eating, sleeping etc
– In some cultures people are taught to ignore
their Drives
• Study of biological basis of human
– Natural selection and modern genetics
• According to Darwin the best suited
survive and adapt while the rest perish
• Human survival
– Parental affection and care, friendship, sexual
reproduction and education
Major criticism of Sociobiology
• Importance placed on genetics alone
could be use to justify inferior or superior
• To much variation of the study world wide
• However some believe that is can be used
along with culture to get a better
understanding of human nature and social
Section 2 language and culture
• Symbols- things that stand or represent
something else
– Confederate flag represents oppression for
African Americans but represents a proud
sense of culture for white southerners
– A strong hand shake in America represents
confidence (positive). In many Asian countries
it represents dominance and is taken as a
Language and culture
• Language can be used to explain and
– a child does not need to be burned to know
that fire is hot and should not be touched.
– This can be explained using language.
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
• Hypothesis of linguistic relativity
– Our idea of reality depends largely upon
• The more important something is the more words
we have to describe it
• The less important there may be only one word or
no words at all to describe it
• This will vary from culture to culture
Reality as we know it
• Ones perception of the world many
change as they learn new language and
experience different culture
– Not common but is possible
Reality as we know it
• Cultural difference also play a huge role
– Japan- very thin walls; therefore they have no
issues with noise
– American businessman staying in Japan often
are bothered by the “noise pollution” because
they are not trained to screen it out.
– A person who grew up in the city and moved
to the country will awake started because they
are not used to the quiet
Section 3-Norms and Values
• Norms- rules defining appropriate and
inappropriate behavior
– In Africa a women might become engaged to
a man she had never met
– Binding a a baby girls foot in China so she
may have tiny feet when she is older
• Norms are learned in a society and are
used to guide their social behavior
• We are often not aware of these norms
until they are broken
– In 1960s TV show a female wore Capri pants
on TV and there was extreme uproar
• This behavior way against the norms for women on
TV to be portrayed
Three types of Norms
• Folkways- rules that cover customary
ways of thinking, feeling and behavior but
lack moral overtones
• Mores- norms that have moral dimension
and that should be followed by all
members of society
• Laws-norms that are formally defined and
enforced by officials
• Examples- expressing your self in a
different manner that may seem odd
– People who are covered in tattoos, have
strange piercings, dye their hair crazy colors
• Folkways may change over time
• Morality related to right and wrong
– Conformity leads to strong social approval
– Violation of this type of norm brings strong
• Ex: not standing for the national anthem would be
breaking with the social norms of society
• Is a norm so strong that its violation
demand punishment
– Incest is the one taboo that crosses all
• Norms that are formally defines and
enforced by officials
– In some instances mores and even folkways
will become laws with pressure from an
evolving society
– Ex: smoking was legal everywhere and
eventually became outlawed in many public
places across America
• Rewards and punishments used to
encourage conformity to norms
– Formal and informal
• Formal Sanctions- positive or negative
– Given to specific people
• Ex: teachers, judges, parents
• Informal sanctions- positive or negative
– Can be applied by most members of a group
• Ex: social etiquette: thanking someone who helped
• Ideas that most people in society consider
to be desirable
– These values can and will vary as society
changes or even with in different groups of the
same society
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