Chapter 3 Notes SYG1000
Chapter 3 Notes SYG1000 SYG 1000
Popular in Intro to Sociology
verified elite notetaker
Popular in Sociology
This 12 page Class Notes was uploaded by Nicole Lopez on Thursday January 28, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to SYG 1000 at Florida State University taught by Gloria Lessan in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 43 views. For similar materials see Intro to Sociology in Sociology at Florida State University.
Reviews for Chapter 3 Notes SYG1000
Report this Material
What is Karma?
Karma is the currency of StudySoup.
You can buy or earn more Karma at anytime and redeem it for class notes, study guides, flashcards, and more!
Date Created: 01/28/16
Chapter 3: Culture and Society Basic Concepts • The sociological study of culture and society began with Emile Durkheim in the nine- teenth century. • The work of early sociologists strongly reflected the values of highly educated Europeans who often assumed the “primitive” cultures were inferior; the reason their societies were viewed as lagging behind modern European “civilization”. • Sociologists now recognize that there are many different cultures and societies, each with distinctive characteristics, the task of social science is to understand the diversity, which is best done by avoiding value judgments Culture and Society • Culture: the value, norms, and, material culture characteristics of a given group, the norms they follow, the material goods they create, and the languages and symbols they construct their understanding of the world, including both speech and writing. o Some elements of culture, especially people’s beliefs and expectations about one another and about the world they inhabit, are components of all social relations o Culture refers to the ways of life of individual members or groups within a society: how they dress, their marriage customs, and family life, etc. • Cultural universals: values or modes of behavior shared by all human cultures • Marriage: a socially approved sexual relationship between two individuals o Almost always includes members of the opposite sex o It normally forms the basis of family of procreation • The institution of marriage is a cultural universal, as are religious and property rights o All cultures also practice some form of incest prohibition, the banning of sexual relations between close relatives • Other cultural universals include art, dancing, bodily adornment, games, gift giving, joking and rules of hygiene • Among all the cultural characteristics shared by society, two stand out in particular o All cultures incorporate ways of expressing communication, and all depend on material means of production • In all cultures, langue is the primary vehicle of meaning and communication o Material culture itself carries meaning also Values and Norms • Values: ideas held by individuals of groups about what is desirable, proper, good, and bad o Different cultures have different values, such as the difference in modesty between China and The United States ▪ In the US, boasting and self-success is encouraged while in China modesty is a strong held virtue • Even within the same society, values may conflict o Some groups of individuals might value traditional beliefs, whereas others might favor progress and science o Sociological research suggests that such conflicts foster a sense of frustration and isolation • Norms: rules of conduct that specify appropriate behavior in a given range of social situations o A norm either prescribes a given type of behavior or forbids it o All human groups follow definite norms, which are always backed up by sanctions of one kind or another, varying from informal disapproval to physical punishments • Like the values they reflect, norms vary across cultures o They can also change over time, such as the value of smoking • Cultural conflict occurs when norms perceived as culturally incompatible collide Material Culture • Material culture: the physical objects that a society creates that influences the way that people live o These include consumer goods, from clothes to cars to houses o A central aspect of society’s material culture is technology • Today, material culture is rapidly becoming globalized, largely through modern inform technology such as the computer and the internet o An example is the fact that McDonald’s restaurants can be found on nearly every continent Language • Language: the primary vehicle of meaning and communication in a society, language is a system of symbols that represent objects and abstract thoughts o It demonstrates both the utility and the diversity of human culture because there are no other cultures without language, and there are thousands of languages spoken in the world • Language is involved in virtually all our activities o Is is the means by which we organize most of what we do o It is involved in ceremony, religious, poetry, and many other spheres • One of its most distinctive features is that it allows us to extend the scope of our thoughts and experience o By using language, we can convey information about events remote in time or space and can discuss things we have never seen o We can develop abstract concepts, tell stories, and make jokes • Human behavior is oriented towards the symbols we use to represent rather than toward the reality itself, and these symbols are determined within a particular culture • Linguistic relativity hypothesis: a hypothesis based on the theories of Sapir and Whorf, that perceptions are relative to language o Language is influences our perception of the world Symbols • Symbols: items used to stand for or represent another o Examples include a flag, which symbolizes a nation • They are expressed in speech and writing and are the main ways in which cultural meanings are formed and expressed o Symbols are not the only way to express meaning, both material objects and aspects of behavior can generate meaning • Signifier: any vehicle of meaning and communication o The sounds made in speech are signifiers, as are the marks made on paper o other materials in writing o Other examples include dress, pictures or visual signs, modes of eating, architecture and many others • Semiotics: the study of the ways in which nonlinguistic phenomena can generate meaning, as in the example of a traffic light o This opens a fascinating field for sociology because it allows us to contrast the ways in which different cultures are structured Speech and Writing • All societies use speech as a vehicle of language, but there are other ways of expressing language, most notably through writing • The invention of writing marked a major transition in human history because text has the qualities of spoken word o Ideas can be passed down through generations only by word of mouth, but text can endure thousands of years o For this reason, documentation is so important for historians The Sociological Study of Culture • Most sociologists took for granted the importance of culture without seriously considering how it worked in daily life Culture and Change: A Cultural Turn in Sociology? • Cultural turn: sociology’s recent emphasis on the importance of understanding the role of culture in daily life o One result has been to challenge the assumption that culture rigidly determines our values and behaviors • Ann Swidler has characterized culture as a “tool kit” from which people select different understandings and behaviors o Because people participate in many different, and often conflicting) cultures, the tool kit can be quite large and its content can vary • Our cultural tool kits include a variety of “scripts” that we can draw on to shape out beliefs, values and actions o The more appropriate the script is to a particular set of circumstances, the more likely we are to follow it • The cultural turn in sociology reveals that there is no single “reality” to social encounters and that multiple cultural scripts can play out in any situation o The challenge of sociology is to understand people’s differing realities Early Human Culture: Greater Adaptation to Physical Environment • Human culture and human biology are intertwined o Understanding how culture is related to the physical evolution of the human species can help us understand the central role of culture in shaping out lives • Culture enabled early humans to compensate for their physical limitations, such as lack of claws, sharp teeth, and running speed relative to that of other animals • Culture varied widely according to geographic and climatic conditions, from deserts to rain forest, to Arctic temperature areas The Earliest Societies: Hunters and Gatherers • For all but a tiny bit of our existence, human beings have lived in small hunting and gathering societies o Hunting and gathering societies: societies whose mode of subsistence is gained from hunting animals, fishing and gathering edible plants o They gained their livelihood from hunting, fishing, gathering wild plants ▪ Such cultures still exists in some parts of Africa, Brazil and New Guinea but most have been destroyed or absorbed by the spread of Western culture o In thee types of societies, there was no difference between rich and poor and difference in rank were held based on age and gender ▪ They had little interest in developing material wealth Pastoral and Agrarian Societies • Pastoral societies: societies whose subsistence derives from the rearing of domesticated animals • Agrarian societies: societies whose means of subsistence are based on agricultural production Industrial Societies • Industrialization: the process of the machine production of goods o The industrialized, or modern, societies differ fro any previous type of social order in several key respects, and their development has had consequences stretching so far beyond their european origins th • Industrialization originated in 18 century Britain as a result of the industrial revolution • Industrial societies: strongly developed nation-states in which the majority of the population works in factories or offices rather than in agriculture, most people live in urban areas o The political system of these societies is more developed than the political system of traditional societies • Industrialized societies were the first nation-states political communities with clearly delimited borders and shared culture rather than vague frontier areas that separated traditional states o Nation-states: particular types of states, characteristic of the modern world, in which government have sovereign power within defined territorial areas, and populations are citizens who know themselves to be part of single nations o They have extensive powers over many aspects of citizen’s lives, framing laws that apply to all those living within their borders ▪ The US is a nation-state, as are virtually all other societies in the world today • Sociology first emerged as a discipline as industrial societies developed in Europe and North America, and was strongly influenced by the changes taking place Research Today: Understanding The Modern World • Colonialism: the process whereby Western nations established their rule in parts of the world from their home territories o This process helped shape the social map of the globe as we know it today • Societies created through settler colonialism have become industrialized • There is no agreed-upon way of classifying countries in terms of their degree of industrialization o While it was once common to distinguish between “developed” and “developing” countries, it is not surprising that members of the latter category objected to being characterized as “developing” o Among sociologists, a commonly used distinction is between the “global north” and the “global south” since most of what was once referred to as the industrialized world is found in the northern hemisphere, while most of what as called the developing world lies in the southern hemisphere The Global South • The majority of countries in the global south are in areas that underwent colonial rule in South Asia, Africa, and South America o A few of these countries gained independence, such as Haiti which became the first autonomous black republic in 1804 • Some countries that were never ruled from Europe were nonetheless strongly influenced by colonial relationships o Most countries in the global south have become independent states only since World War II, often followed by bloody struggles § Examples include: India, Pakistan and other Asian countries • Although these countries may include people living in traditional fashion, these countries differ from earlier forms of traditional society o Their political systems, following Western models, make them nation-states o Although most of their population still lives in rural areas, a rapid of city development is still occurring • Global poverty shouldn’t be seen as remote from the concerns of Americans o Recent years have seen waves of Hispanics immigrants, nearly all from Latin America § Cities like LA and Miami have become international gateways to Latin American and are bursting with new immigrants and also maintain trading connections with their home countries • In most societies, poverty is worst in rural areas o Malnutrition, lack of education, low life expectancy, and substandard housing are more severe in the countryside o The poor in the global south live in conditions almost unimaginable to North Americans § Many have no permanent dwellings apart form shelters made of cartons or loose pieces of wood § Most have no running water, sewage systems, or electricity o Almost half of the impoverished people in the US emigrated from poor countries • Emerging economies: formerly impoverished countries that over the past two or three decades have begun to develop a strong industrial base, such as India or Singapore • It is worth noting that a country’s economic growth does not necessarily mean that its citizens are happier of feel more secure Contemporary Industrial Societies: Cultural Conformity or Diversity? • The study of cultural differences highlight’s the influences of cultural learning on behavior, which can vary widely from culture to culture Cultural Conformity • American culture involves a range of values shared by man, if not all, Americans o These values are connected to norms o These norms also involve the use of material goods created mostly through modern technology, such as cars, mass produced food and clothing • All cultures serve as an important source of conformity o One of the challenges for all cultures is to instill in people a willingness to conform o This is accomplished in two ways: § First, members learn the norms of their culture starting from childhood § Second, social control comes into play when a person fails to conform adequately to a culture’s norms • Social controls often include punishments, such as rebuking friends for minor breaches of etiquette, gossiping or ostracizing them from the group • Cultures differ, however, in how much they value conformity Cultural Diversity • Small societies tend to be culturally uniform, but industrialized societies involving numerous subcultures are themselves culturally diverse, or multicultural o Subcultures: values and norms distinct from those of the majority, help by a group, within a wider society • Subcultures not only imply different cultural backgrounds or different languages within a larger society, but also include segments of the population that have different cultural patterns o Subcultures might include, Goths, hippies, computer hackers • Culture helps perpetuate the values and norms of a society, yet it also offers opportunities for creativity and change • U.S schoolchildren are usually taught the the US is a vast melting pot that assimilates cultures o Assimilation: the acceptance of a minority group by a majority population in which the new group takes on the values and norms of the dominant culture • Multiculturalism: a condition in which ethnic groups exists separately and share equally in economic and political life o As we have seen, in many modern industrial nations, young people have their own subcultures • Subcultures also develop around types of work associated with unique cultural features Cultural Identity and Ethnocentrism • Every culture displays unique patterns of behavior o Even in countries that share the same language, you might find customs to be quite different, this can be referred to as culture shock • Almost every familiar activity will seem strange is described out of context o We cannot understand these practices and beliefs separately from the wider cultures of which they are a part o A culture must be studied in terms of its own meaning and values, a key presumption in sociology • Sociologists seek to avoid ethnocentrisms o Ethnocentrism: the tendency to look at other cultures through the eyes of one’s own culture, and thereby misrepresent them o We must remove our own cultural blinders to see the ways of life of different people in an unbiased light o Cultural relativism: the practice of judging a society by its own standards § Applying cultural relativism can be fraught with uncertainty and challenge Unanswered Questions • There are many unanswered questions in the sociological study of culture and society Nature or Nurture? • Because humans evolved as part of the world of nature, one would assume that human thinking and behavior are the result of biology and evolution • Biologists and some psychologists emphasize biological factors, sociologists stress the role of learning and culture. o They also argue that because human beings can make conscious choices, neither biology nor culture wholly determines human behavior • The nature/nurture has raged for more than a century o Some social phycologists argued that even severe mental illness was the result of society labeling some behaviors as unusual, rather than resulting from biochemical processes • Sociobiology: an approach that attempts to explain behavior of both animals and human beings in terms of biological principles o Sociobiologists do not argue that genes determine 100 percent of our behavior § Different biological factors interact with and respond to environmental inputs • Instincts: fixed patterns of behavior that have genetic origins and that appear in all normal animals within a given species o Sociologists now ask how nature and nurture interact to produce human behavior • Because humans think and act in many different ways, sociologists do not believe that “biology is destiny” o Sociologists’ main concern therefore, is with hoe behavior is learned through interactions with family, friends, and every other facet of the social environment Does the Internet Promote a Global Culture? • Many believe that the rapid worldwide growth of the internet is hastening the spread of a global culture resembling the cultures of Europe and north America o Evidence shows that the internet is in many ways compatible with traditional cultural values, perhaps even a means of strengthening them • The internet has sometimes been described as an echo chamber, in which people seek out like-minded other whose postings reinforce their own beliefs • The internet can also be used to build a community around ideas that directly threaten the dominant culture Does Globalization Weaken or Strengthen Local Cultures? • The world has become a single social system as a result of growing ties of interdependence, both social and economic, that affect everyone o It would be a mistake to think of increasing globalization simply as the growth of world unity o Rather, it is primarily the reordering of time and distance in social life as our lives are increasingly influenced by events far removed from our everyday activities • Globalizing processes have brought many benefits to Americans, such as much greater variety of goods and foodstuffs • The growing global culture has provoked numerous reactions at the local level o Many cultures remain strong or are experiencing rejuvenation, partly out of the concern that a global culture, dominated by North American and European cultural values, will corrupt the local culture • Nationalism: a set of beliefs and symbols expressing identification with a national community o Nationalism can be highly political, involving attempts to assert the power of a nation based on a shared ethnic or racial identity over people of a different ethnicity or race • New nationalisms, cultural identities, and religious practices are constantly being forged through the world o Although sociologists do not fully understand these processes, they often conclude that despite the powerful forces of globalization, local cultures remain strong § It is too soon to tell whether and how globalization will result in the homogenization of the world’s cultures, the flourishing of many individual cultures, or both How Easily Do Cultures Change? • Cultural beliefs and practices that have been in existence for nearly 1,500 years do not change easily
Are you sure you want to buy this material for
You're already Subscribed!
Looks like you've already subscribed to StudySoup, you won't need to purchase another subscription to get this material. To access this material simply click 'View Full Document'