Chapter 3 Culture Chapter Outline Dimensions of Culture Language and Culture Cultural Diversity Cultural Similarity Ethnocentrism Versus Cultural Relativism Culture, Society, and Heredity Culture and Society Culture consists of material objects, patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving passed from generation to generation. A people’s way of life that is passed on generationally. A society is a group of people living within defined territorial borders who share a culture. Culture provides the blueprints for guiding people in their relationships within a society. Questions for Consideration What are the dimensions of culture discussed in this video? Are they similar or different from what Shepard identifies? How has change impacted our culture? How is material culture different than nonmaterial culture? Three Dimensions of Culture Normative - composed of norms, sanctions, and values. Cognitive - language, beliefs Material - concrete, tangible aspects of a culture Norms Rules defining appropriate and inappropriate ways of behaving. Rules that guide behavior. Change throughout time and from culture to culture. Help explain why people in a society or group behave similarly in similar circumstances. Premarital Sexual Experience Among Teen Women in the U.S. Questions for Consideration The previous slide shows the change in the reported premarital experience among teenage women in the U.S. What questions might you pose as you apply information from the previous chapter to this table? From a cultural context, what might explain the rise and fall of this trend? Types of Norms 1. 2. Folkways – rules that cover customary ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Norms that have little or no moral significance. If they are not followed, the sanctions are very minor (e.g., use of a cell phone in a restaurant, or in class). Mores (MOR-ays) – norms/rules with great moral significance. Seen as vital to the wellbeing of society. Violation will evoke strong disapproval. Types of Norms – Cont. Taboos are a type of more that is extremely serious: incest taboo, canibalism, etc. These are actions where the mere thought of them disgusts people in that society. Laws – norms that are formally defined and enforced by officials. They are consciously created and enforced. Mores are an important source of laws. 3. Enforcement of Norms Sanctions—rewards and punishments used to encourage conformity to norms (informal and formal). Formal sanctions – given only by officially designated persons (e.g., an “A” for academic performance; time in jail/prison for committing fraud) Informal sanctions – can be applied by most members of society (e.g., thanking someone for helping you change a tire) What are Values? Values – broad cultural principles that most people in a society consider desirable. They do not specify precisely what to think, feel, or behave. Rather, they are ideas about what a group of people believe is good/bad, acceptable/unacceptable, etc. They are important because they have a tremendous influence on social behavior. Norms are based on a culture’s values. American Values Achievement and success Activity and work Efficiency and practicality Equality Democracy Group Superiority (racial, ethnic, religious) Cognitive Dimension The cognitive dimension of culture refers to a culture’s construction of ideas and knowledge. Material culture – concrete tangible objects within a culture (e.g., automobiles, basketballs, jewelry). Artifacts that have no meaning or use apart from the meanings people give them. Physical objects do not have the same meanings and uses in all societies. Ideal and Real Culture Ideal culture – cultural guidelines publicly embraced by members of a society (those we claim to accept) Real culture – actual behavior patterns exhibited by members of a society Language and Culture The creation and transmission of culture depends heavily on the capacity to develop symbols. Symbols – signs with meaning; things that stand for, or represent, something else. Can also include gestures (e.g., a hand wave). Language – a system of interrelated symbols through which a group of people are able to communicate and pass down information. Questions for Consideration Why are both columns called symbols? How easy is it to learn these “emoticons”? What thoughts and feelings are elicited when you receive communication with an emoticon and you do not know what it stands for? Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis This hypothesis is known as the hypothesis of linguistic relativity. Our perception of reality is at the mercy of the words and grammatical rules of our language. Language shapes our reality. Studies demonstrate that language significantly shapes thought. Questions for Consideration How does learning a new language shape one’s view of the world? What is meant by the statement that “people are forever prisoners of their language”? What are some ways that you can apply the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? Cultural Diversity Because humans are basically the same biologically, cultural diversity must be explained by nongenetic factors. Cultural diversity within societies is promoted by social categories, subcultures, and countercultures. Subcultures Subcultures – a group that is part of the dominant culture but differs from it in some important respects. By tradition, Americans like to see themselves as part of a large, single culture. Yet there are many subgroups with cultural uniqueness. What are examples of subcultures in the U.S.? Subcultures: Southern Appalachia According to sociologists in the 1960s: Southern Appalachians are fatalistic, present oriented, unambitious, and nonparticipative. This subculture is a cultural adaptation to living a long-standing deprived and frustrating existence. Countercultures A subculture that is deliberately and consciously opposed to aspects of the dominant culture. Openly defies norms, values, and/or beliefs of the dominant culture. Rebelling against the dominant culture is central to their members. Examples: militia movement, skinheads, hippies Ethnocentrism The tendency to judge other individuals or cultures based on one’s own cultural standards. This moves beyond race and ethnicity. Taken to an extreme end, can result in feelings of superiority of one’s group over others. A belief that your group’s way is the best and “normal” way to do things, see the world, etc. Culture Shock Defined as the psychological and social stress we may experience when confronted with a radically different cultural environment. This can be experienced when going to a different country that one has never experienced, but also when moving from one familiar cultural group (grade school) to an unfamiliar group (high school). Questions for Consideration How does culture shock affect individuals? What are some instances where you have experienced culture shock? Cultural Relativism Evaluating another person’s or group’s behaviors, thoughts, etc. based on that culture’s standards, not one’s own. This perspective also states values, norms, beliefs, and attitudes are not in themselves correct or incorrect; they simply exist within the total cultural framework of a people and should be evaluated in relation to their place within the larger cultural context of which they are a part. Application of Cultural Relativism Consider the novel excerpt provided in your text regarding Ruesch’s novel about an Eskimo’s rage that caused him to accidentally kill a guest who refused to have sexual relations with his wife. How does this norm fit with Eskimo culture? By applying cultural relativism in this case, does that require that you accept another culture’s norms and practices? Cultural Similarity Although there are many differences between groups throughout the world, sociologists and anthropologists have identified many behaviors that are shared by all cultures. All cultures have families, schools, houses of worship, economies, governments, and systems of prestige. Questions for Consideration Do you think that the data support the existence of cultural diversity or cultural similarity? Explain. Are you surprised by any of these rankings? Which ones and why? Cultural Universals General cultural traits that exist in all known societies. Although found in all societies, their expression varies among societies. Reasons for cultural universals: Biological similarity of humans Common limitations of the physical environment Common problems of sustaining social life Cultural Universals Culture and Heredity Humans do not have instincts; human behavior is learned. Genetically inherited drives do not determine how humans behave, because people are heavily influenced by culture. If we were controlled by instincts, we would pretty much all behave the same way (e.g., if women had an instinct for mothering, then all women would want children). Sociobiology Sociobiology is the study of the biological basis of human behavior. Sociobiologists argue that physical characteristics, human social behavior is shaped through the evolutionary process. The application of Darwinian natural selection to human social behavior. Questions for Consideration How might functionalists and conflict theorists have different views of countercultures? Which view do you prefer and why? What can be done to minimize our tendencies of ethnocentrism?