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SIGNIFICANCE OF CULTURE

By Steven Lawson,2014-07-04 08:11
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SIGNIFICANCE OF CULTURE

Culture

1) Significance of culture

    a) Culture refers to the social heritage of a people

    b) Provides a guide for relating to one another

    c) Nonmaterial culture abstract creations like

    beliefs, values, norms, symbols etc.

    d) Material culture physical attributes like clay

    pots, computers, football helmets etc. 2) Importance of culture

    a) Provides a means for solving problems (and

    creating new ones); for example, language

    b) Cultures adapt to meet peoples’ needs

    3) Elements of culture

    a) Symbols

    i) Anything that has come to stand for something

    else

    ii) Allows for communication of ideas to others

    and to ourselves

    iii) Requires agreement among the people as to

    its meaning

    iv) Gestures are a form of symbols (nodding

    head or shaking head)

    b) Language

    i) Most important set of symbols is language ii) Many uses:

    (1) Spiritual needs to hunger

    (2) Allows for the creation and evolution of

    culture from one generation to another

    (3) Allows for the execution of complex

    activities

    iii) Linguistic relativity hypothesis each

    language “slices up the world” according to

    the way they view it

    (1) Inuit have many numerous ways of

    describing snow

    (2) Until recently our language was almost

    exclusively male-dominated (Congressman,

    First Baseman)

    (3) Dutch language reflects their

    perspective on outsiders compare with:

    African-American, Asian-American, Native-

    American

    (a) Autochtonen “us”

    (b) Allochtonen “them”

    c) Norms

    i) Social guidelines that specify appropriate and inappropriate behavior

    ii) Provide a means by which we orient ourselves in society

    iii) Three types vary from society to society (1) Folkways the customary and habitual

    ways by which members of the group do

    things

    (a) Punctuality

    (b) Offering a ride if you’re going in the

    same direction

    (c) People who violate them are “uncouth,

    impolite”

    (2) Mores behavior that is vital to a

    society’s well being

    (a) Attach a moral significance to these

    (b) Marrying outside of the family, etc.

    (c) Violations are called taboo

    (3) Laws rules enforced by a political

    body

    (a) Includes the legitimate use of physical

    coercion

    (b) Are (sometimes) the result of cautious,

    deliberate planning

    iv) Values abstract ideas of what is correct,

    desirable and good for that society

    (1) Very abstract in nature

    (2) In America: hard work, individuality,

    comfort, patriotism

    (3) Functionalists argue that values bind

    people together within a society

    (4) Immigrants often should adopt the

    values if they want to become full members

    of a society

    (5) Change over time: Ann Landers

    opposed divorce in the 50’s but over time

    changed her views

    4) Cultural unity and Variation

    a) Cultural universals patterns and aspects of

    social life that appear in all societies i) These are borne out of the similarities in

    experiences faced by all humans (dwelling,

    livelihood, childrearing)

    ii) Solutions to the problems that arise from these

    activities are common; the specifics vary, but

    not the broad responses

    (1) Cleanliness training

    (2) Food taboos

    (3) Funeral rites

    b) Cultural integration

    i) One characteristic of a society meshes with

    another complimentary aspect

    ii) Football is not going to be a popular sport in a

    society where violence is not prevalent iii) Syncretism the blending of one trait with

    another (Christmas being a blend of a religious

    beliefs combined with the customs of a pagan

    celebration)

    c) Ethnocentrism the judging of other groups by the standards of one’s own culture

    i) Leads people to minimize their “debt” to other

    cultures

    ii) Provides sense of belonging and cohesiveness iii) Also sets groups of people apart

    d) Cultural relativism examining a culture within

    the framework of that particular culture i) Does not consider morality or immorality, but

    rather the role of a trait within the context of

    that society

    ii) Cannibalism in some cultures is viewed as a

    means of renewal

    5) Variations within cultures

    a) Subculture members of some groups

    participate in the mainstream while retaining unique norms, values and traditions

    i) Any “hyphenated-American,” (Indian-

    American)

    ii) Members “check-in” and “check-out” easily

    (hearing impaired)

    iii) Pluralistic societies can experience conflict

    between groups with different characteristics: When Thomas Yoon helped open the Super H Mart store in Fairfax in 2001, he noticed that some older Koreans, raised in the Confucian Korean culture where relationships are dictated by hierarchy and age, were offended that their Hispanic co-workers were tapping them on the shoulder to get their attention. To the Koreans, the gesture was disrespectful. To the Hispanic workers, the shoulder tap was simply a means of communication and signaled familiarity and comfort among the workers.

    b) Counterculture a group’s values that are at

    odds with mainstream society, though they may follow the letter of the law strictly…they:

    i) Typically reject the basic structure of the

    dominant society

    ii) Are not necessarily negative, but can also be

    destructive due to their beliefs

    (1) Survivalists are a classic example

    waiting for Armageddon and rely only on

    themselves and their surroundings

    (2) The Amish (Anabaptists) reject any modernization since the formation of their sect of Christianity

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/18/us/hair-cutting-attacks-stir-fear-in-amish-ohio.html?ref=us

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