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OER Chapter 3 - Culture

Based on OpenStax
Introduction to Sociology 2e
For Open Educational Resource Project CSCC College Credit Plus

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OER Chapter 3 - Culture

  1. 1. Culture and Society Chapter 3 Based on OpenStax Introduction to Sociology 2e
  2. 2. Introduction to Culture • What is culture? – Culture is not • Biological or genetically programmed behaviors such as breathing, hunger and the need to sleep • Individual or idiosyncratic behaviors – i.e. behaviors that are not shared by other individuals
  3. 3. Culture • Do animals have culture? – Japanese Monkey • Learned to separate rice from sand – Chimpanzees in Tanzania • Learned to gain status by banging empty gas cans – What’s Learning got to do with it? • Learning shares behaviors – What’s adaptation got to do with? • Allows us to learn new things and be flexible in new environments – Culture as one major element in human adaptation
  4. 4. Culture - Definitions Edward Tylor (1871): • Culture ... is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society. (p.1)
  5. 5. Culture - Definitions Franz Boas (The mind of primitive man 1911): • Culture may be defined as the totality of the mental and physical reactions and activities that characterize the behavior of individuals composing a social group collectively and individually in relations to their natural environment, to other groups, to members of the group itself and of each individual to himself. It also includes the products of these activities and their role in the life of the groups. The mere enumerations of these various aspects of life, however, does not constitute culture. It is more, for its elements are not independent, they have a structure (p. 149)
  6. 6. Culture - Definitions Clifford Geertz (1966): • [the culture concept] denotes an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and attitudes toward life... (p.89)
  7. 7. Culture - Definitions Clyde Kluckholm • Culture is like water for fish, we swim in a sea of culture, it would hardly be a fish that discovers water.”
  8. 8. Culture - Definitions • Culture is learned and shared. • Culture is material and non-material. • Culture is symbolic and creates meaning. • Culture is used to generate behavior. • Culture is used to interpret experiences. • Culture is a means of adaptation. • Culture is both internal and external to the individual.
  9. 9. What Does Culture Provide? • Worldviews – How individuals in culture view the world (reincarnation happens) • Values – What is desirable and given precedence or positive attention in a culture • Norms – Statistical Norms: What is most common – Conventions/folkways: What is expected in a culture – Mores: Norms with a moral component attached to them – Laws: Norms with a formal component decided upon by lawmakers that also come with formal consequence if you break them - like going to jail if you commit theft
  10. 10. What Does Culture Provide? • Beliefs: – Idea that are commonly held within a culture – such as the belief if ghosts • Knowledge: – Things that are required for you to survive in a culture –like how to drive a car
  11. 11. What Does Culture Provide? • Status: – Ones social titles – For example Professor or Student • Role: The behaviors associated with a status
  12. 12. What Does Culture Provide? • Social Institutions: – All cultures have institutions which are behaviors shared by the group that help make interaction work between people • Government • Healthcare • Economic institutions • Education • The Family
  13. 13. Culture and Society • Society – People who live within a defined territory and interact to create a culture. – Societies may be composed of several cultures and subcultures. • Subculture – A group with a larger culture that has distinct characteristics, norms and values. • Counterculture – A type of subculture that develops a belief system and norms that strongly oppose the culture of the dominant society.
  14. 14. How Do We React To Cultural Differences? • Xenophobia - fear of someone just because they are different • Culture Shock – often experienced when someone first enters a culture and their expectations do not match the reality • Ethnocentrism – a feeling that one’s culture is superior or literally translated ethnic central
  15. 15. How Do We React To Cultural Differences? • Assimilation or Host Conformity – What happens when a new group moves into a culture and begins to conform to the norms of that culture sometimes by force and sometimes by choice • Melting Pot – Amalgamation/blending – When several cultures come together and blend their ideas and practices • Salad Bowl – Pluralism – When several cultures exist together in the same society but maintain their distinct cultural differences
  16. 16. How Do We React To Cultural Differences? Cultural Relativism • The idea that every culture is valuable and each has their own way of doing things and that no way is better than another – Some cultures drive on the left or right side of the road – it is just a decision made by the culture or a tradition

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