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What are the basic characteristics of culture?
Culture is patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that create meaning among them, including: artifacts, rituals, language, national customs, elitist activities, processes. Norms (the way people behave in a given society), values (what people in a given society hold dear), beliefs (how people in a given society think the world operates), and symbols (representations linked to norms, values and beliefs) are all characteristics of culture. For culture to exist society must select, prioritize, and create hierarchical arrangements of meaning- culture wards off chaos.
In what ways is culture shaped through physical artifacts?
Artifacts help us pass down traditons and culture and help people learn about past/other cultures. For example, if most artifacts in a certain society are weapon-related (bows and arrows, guns, bombs) we can deduce that it is a society that values agressiveness and war, but if most artifacts in another society are artistic (pottery, paintings, instruments) we might deduce that they value the arts and peace. No society values only one thing, and the combination of all artifacts tell us what types of things (in general) societies value.
In what ways is culture shaped through values and beliefs?
- 1. Values are culturally defined standards that people use to assess desirability, goodness, and beauty and that serve as broad guidelines for social living-what ought to be. They are more abstract than beliefs. Our values shape the choices we make and hence the culture around us. Prominent culture in the U.S. tells us that we should work, make money, and go to college because the U.S. values success, material comfort, progress, and efficiency among other things. Our values are our standards of goodness. Our beliefs are what peopel hold to make that possible.
- 2. Beliefs are specific statements that people hold to be true-underlied by values. The U.S. believes that hard work will lead to efficiency, which-according to our values-is a good thing.
In what ways is culture shaped through symbols and language?
- 1. Symbols are anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share a culture. We attach meaning to things like a flag, or a thumbs up. The meaning of symbols vary from one culture to another.
- 2. Language is a system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another. Languages also vary from one culture to another.
Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development
- There are four stages:
- Sensorimotor stage: the level of human development at which individuals experience the world only through their senses
- Preoperational stage: about age 2, the level of development at which individuals first use language and other symbols
- Concrete operational stage: about age 7-11, the level of development at which individuals first see causal connections in their surroundings
- Formal operational stage: about age 12+, the level of development at which individuals think abstractly and critically
Three causes of cultural change
- Invention: process of creating new cultural elements
- Discovery: recognizing and better understanding something already in existence
- Diffusion: spread of objects or ideas from one society to another
Structural-Functional Analysis of Culture
Cultural values direct our lives, give meaning to what we do, and bind people together. Values are the core of culture. There are some traits of culture that are part of every known culture, called cultural universals. Examples are family, funeral rites and jokes.
Social-Conflict Analysis of Culture
Draws attention to the link between culture and inequality. Cultural traits benefit some members of society at the expense of others. The culture of capitalism serves the elite. Material interests are dominated by relative few.
What is Sociobiology?
A theorectical approach that explores ways in which human biology affects how we create culture. Claims that the large nuber of cultural universals reflects the fact that all humans are members of a single biological species.
What is socialization?
The lifelong social experience by which individuals develop their human potential and learn culture
What is the nature vs. nurture debate?
How might it be applied to better understand gender-based differences within society?
Mead's Theory of the Social Self
- We are who we are as a result of interaction with others. The self- the part of an individual's personality composed of self-awareness and slef-image, develops only as the individual interacts with others. "Self" is birthed out of social contexts. The looking-glass self- what we think of ourselves depends on how we think others view us. The I and the Me- the I is the subject, spontaneous and unpredictable, the Me is the object, we imagine ourselves as others see us. We initiate action and then continue based on how others respond to us.
- The stages of development: imitation, play, the Generalized other- widespread cultural norms and values we use as a reference in evaluating ourselves.
Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development
- Three stages-
- Preconventional level of moral development- rightness is what feels good
- Conventional level of moral development- rightness in terms of what conforms to cultural norms
- Postconventional level- consider abstract ethical principles, such as liberty or justice
Erikson's Eight Stages of Development
- We face challenges throughout the life course-
- Infancy- the challenge of trust
- Toddlerhood- the challenge of autonomy
- Preschool- the challenge of initiative
- Preadolescence- the challenge of industriousness
- Adolescence- the challenge of gaining identity
- Young Adulthood- the challenge of intimacy
- Middle Adulthood- the challenge of making a difference
- Old Age- the challenge of integrity
Agents of Socialization
- The Family- probably most important agent, it is lifelong, influences all areas of life
- The School- the hidden curriculum, encourage competition and success, students learn the importance society attaches to race and gender
- The Peer Group- a social group whose members have interests, social postion and age in common.Escape from parents
- The Mass Media- means of delivering impersonal communications to a vast audience
A setting in which people are isolated from the rest of society and manipulated by an administrative staff (jail and mental institutions)
Nature vs. Nurture
- Biological Aspect (nature): Innate, evolution, biological. If we are born a woman we will innately take on female gender roles such as taking care of children. The fact that women can have few children and men can have many affects this.
- Social Aspect (nurture): Our environment, society, parenting, teaching and values encourage gender roles. Society produces gender.
- Gender is produced both by nature and nurture, but nurture is stronger. Nurture is somewhat based on nature (women have babies so women are supposed to take care of children and raise them/stay at home), but much of it is contrived from society through our expectations.
Freud's term for the human being's basic drives
Freud's term for a person's conscious efforts to balance innate pleasure-seeking drives with the demands of society
Freud's term for the cultural values and norms internalized by an individual
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