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Day Four Notes: Intro to Culture
1. What is culture?
a. All of the shared products of human groups.
b. Material Culture: physical objects created by human groups. (can be
called artifacts)
c. Nonmaterial Culture: abstract human creations such as language, ideas,
beliefs, rules, skills, family patterns, work practices and political and
economic systems.
d. Society: group of mutually interdependent peop who have organized n
such a way as to share common culture and have a feeling of unity.
i. Society: people/ culture: product.
2. Components of Culture
a. Technology: knowledge and tools people use for practical purposes
i. Both material and nonmaterial : knowledge and products
b. Symbols: basis of human culture as long as everyone agrees on attached
i. Language: the organization of written/spoken symbols into a
standard system
ii. Values: Shared beliefs about what is right or wrong, desirable or
1. Helps to determine character of people and type of material
and nonmaterial culture
iii. Norms: Shared rules of conduct that tell people how to act in
certain situations
1. Can be applied selectively (ex. Killing)
2. Can be influenced by geographic features
3. Folkways: Norms that describe socially acceptable behavior
but do not have a great moral significance attached to them
4. Mores: Norms that describe socially acceptable behavior
and have great moral significance attached to them.
a. Societies have developed laws to protect these
b. Laws: written rules of conduct enacted and enforce by
the government.
3. How to Study Culture
a. Sociologists examine culture by breaking it down into levels and studying
each individually.
b. Levels of Culture
i. Culture Trait: Individual tool act or belief that is related to a
particular situation or need
ii. Culture Complexes: a cluster of interrelated traits.
1. Societies have 1000s of culture complexes
iii. Culture Patterns: the combination of a number of culture
complexes into an interrelated whole.
4. Cultural Variation
a. Cultural Universals: common features that are found in all human
i. The specific natures of those things vary.
b. Studying Variation
i. Ethnocentrism: tendency to view one’s culture and group as
superior to all other cultures and groups.
ii. Cultural Relativism: the belief that cultures should eb judged by
their own standards rather than applying the standards of another
c. Variations Within Societies
i. Subculture: group with it’s own unique values, norms, behaviors
that exists within a larger culture
1. Ie. Age, race, gender, social class, etc.
2. Modern society is dependent upon the existence of various
ii. Counterculture: group that rejects the values, norms and practices
of the larger society and replaces them with a new set of cultural