CULTURE
IS A SOCIAL FORCE
© Dr. Francis Adu-Febiri, 2015
Contents of the Presentation
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Introduction: The centrality of culture
Culture: Experiencing the “Other”
Explaining FGM/FGC
Major concepts of Culture
Culture web
Core dimensions of Culture
Cultural universals, uniformity & diversity
Theoretical Perspectives of culture: Sociobiology versus
Sociology
Sociological Paradigms of culture: Functionalism, Social
Conflict, Interactionism, and Feminism
Introduction: The centrality of culture
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Does culture adequately account for the
immense similarities and differences in the
ways people feel, think, live and behave?
Introduction: The centrality of culture
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Our private troubles [and our day to day
behaviours, feelings and thinking] are
motivated by the culture characterizing the
social relationships in which we find
ourselves (Russell Westhaver 2013, p. 134).
Introduction: The centrality of culture
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Our very existence and understanding of
ourselves is a product of our culture, we
cannot and do not exist outside of culture.
(Bartle 2004: Page 59).
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Culture is exterior, interior and anterior
to people in social groups (Emile
Durkheim).
CULTURE: Experiencing ‘THE OTHER’
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In Kenya, a group of Canadian students fall in love
with the beauty of Africa and Africans. The young
Canadian women do their hair in a thousand tiny
braids and the men buy rungu fighting clubs and
Samburu spears in a celebration of things African.
Then, their fieldschool professor informs them about
clitoridectomy. Every dignified, graceful woman
walking along the road in spotlessly clean , red khanga
dresses has been sexually mutilated as a teenager,
usually on the evening before joining her husband in
his village…walking many miles across the desert with
fresh wounds (Roberts, Thakur and Tunnell, eds.,
1999: 1).
CULTURE: Experiencing ‘THE OTHER’
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kNMC
65pNsg
WHY DO PEOPLE PRACTISE
FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION/CUTTING?
WHY DO PEOPLE PRACTICE FEMALE
GENITAL MUTILATION/CUTTING?
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Sociological Answer:
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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or
Female Genital Cutting (FGC) is the
product of social interaction in the context
of the patriarchal culture of non-industrial
societies.
WHY DO PEOPLE PRACTISE FGM or FGC?
Sociological Paradigms
Homeostasis:
FGC is a
cultural
practice that
persists
because it
contributes to
homeostasis
of the social
structure
Social Class
Inequality:
Females are
victims of
FGC because
women are
part of lower
social class in
a nonindustrial
political
economy
Patriarchy:
Positive
FGC is a
definitions of weapon to
FGC by
keep girls
people
and women
offering the under the
practice and control or
those
power of
undergoing it males
Human Agency:
CULTURE: Experiencing the “Other”:
RESPONSES TO FGM/FGC
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The following day, the fun is gone for the Canadian
students. The hair styles change and the rungus get
stowed beneath the seats. Faces become strained. A
student complains to the professor, “I’m not having fun
any more.” Several request that the field trip be called
off, “Let’s take our losses and leave this place.” Others
become mysteriously sick. The professor is blamed for
indicating his high respect for the Samburu in lectures
before the trip. Some students are angry and others
will not talk. They are hot, afraid of malaria and cattle
raids, and suffering from stomach upset.
What are these students experiencing?
“Culture shock.”
Why did these Canadian students experience culture
shock?
CULTURE: Experiencing the “Other”:
WHY CULTURE SHOCK?
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Cultural Diversity (Obvious/Superficial answer)
Cultural differences often result in travelers’ feeling a
sense of ‘culture shock’ only because they rank order
these differences, making their own cultures the
standard.
Ethnocentrism (Unobvious/deep
answer)
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Eurocentrism and Westernocentrism: Are particular kinds of
Ethnocentrism
CULTURE: Experiencing the “Other”:
AVOIDING CULTURE SHOCK
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1. Cultural Relativism
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All cultures are equally developed according to their own
priorities and values; none is better, more advanced than any
other.
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2. Xenocentrism.
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Definitions:
 the
preference for the products, styles, or ideas of
someone else's culture rather than of one's own
(en.wikipedia.org/wiki )
 The tendency to assume that aspects of other cultures
are superior to one's own.
(www.webref.org/sociology).
MAJOR CONCEPTS OF CULTURE:
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Culture Shock
Ethnocentrism
Cultural Relativism
Xenocentrism
Culture: Material and Non-material
Culture Web
Values and Beliefs
Norms: Folkways, Mores, Taboos, Sanctions
Cultural universals and Cultural uniformity
Cultural Diversity and Multiculturalism
Mainstream Culture, Subculture and Counterculture
High Culture and Popular Culture
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis of language
CULTURE WEB
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What qualifies as culture?
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The total package of material culture and non-material
culture:
 Material Culture: the physical aspects of our daily
lives, including food, houses, factories, raw materials
and technology.
 Nonmaterial Culture: Values, beliefs, ideas, customs,
symbols (including language), expressions, knowledge,
philosophies, governments, patterns of communication,
and ways of using material objects.
Cultural Lag: The change gap between material culture and
non-material culture
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CULTURAL WEB: Connections Between
Material Culture & Nonmaterial Culture
CULTURAL WEB: Connections
Between Material Culture & Nonmaterial Culture
Emotions
& Rituals
Decorations
Ideas &
knowledge
VALUES &
BELIEFS
Food
Technology &
Infrastructure
Norms
Customs/
Traditions
Symbols &
Entertainment
IDEALIST (NONMATERIAL) PERSPECTIVE OF
CULTURE (Malinowski’s Theory)
Y
Technology
X
Y
Artifacts & Tools
X
VALUES,
BELIEFS, IDEAS,
NORMS &
RITUALS
X
Food & Clothes
Y
X
Y
Infrastructure
MATERIALIST PERSPECTIVE OF
CULTURE (Harris’ Theory)
Y
Y
Values
Beliefs &
Rituals
x
TECHNOLOGY
INFRASTRUCTURE
FOOD & CLOTHING
ART & CRAFT
x
Ideas &
Norms
Y
x
QUIZ 10a
Mark Tonto, a Camosun Anthropology
Student thinks that the realm of the “ideal, the
spiritual, emotional and the moral” (as
opposed to the “material, technological, and
the social-structural”) is the only way culture
exists in human society. Is Mr. Tonto’s
definition of culture sociologically correct?
a)
b)
c)
d)
YES
NO
Both Yes and No
None of the above
CORE DIMENSIONS OF CULTURE
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VALUES:--Ideologies used to
judge.
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This is a structure of ideas that people have about
good and bad, about beautiful and ugly, and about
right and wrong, which are the justifications that
people cite to explain their actions (Bartle 2004:56).
“What makes a Woman Beautiful?” (See page 135
of the required textbook).
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CANADIAN CULTURAL VALUES
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See pages 128-131 of Textbook.
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According to functionalism, a society’s
cultural values determine the NORMS the
society constructs to produce stability and
cohesion through social control.
HIERARCHY OF NORMS
Most Important Norms
TABOOS
MORES
FOLKWAYS
Very Important Norms
Least Important
Norms
CORE DIMENSIONS OF CULTURE
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NORMS: Socially defined rules of
behavior:
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A) Taboos:
 Most
important rules of behavior—even the thought
of violating them upsets people. E.G.?
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B) Mores:
 Very
important rules of behavior—violations invoke
punishment. E.G.?
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C) Folkways:
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Less important rules of behavior—violations are not taken
seriously. E.g. a) belching in front of others?; b) Eating cereal
for dinner and hot pizza for breakfast?.
A Video Clip on Norms
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JJFBt
HcBnM
CULTURAL UNIVERSALS
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Elements of culture that all societies have in
common:
 Values
 Beliefs
 Symbols
 Norms
 Institutions
 Technology
CULTURAL UNIVERSALS
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Specifics examples of cultural universals:
 Sports,
cooking, marriage
ceremonies, funeral ceremonies,
sexual restrictions, medicine,
and language (verbal and nonverbal).
CULTURAL UNIFORMITY OR
MONOCULTURALISM
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Similarity in the expression of cultural
universals.
CLOBAL CULTURE?
Example:
 Similar forms of clothing, pop music, consumer
goods and services, language
(English/Spanish/French) and consumer values
found in Seoul, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur,
Madras, Paris, New York, Cairo, Lagos, Accra,
Nairobi, Toronto, Moscow, Tokyo, Singapore,
Camberra, Bonies Aires, Mexico City,
Kingston, London, etc.
CULTURAL DIVERSITY
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Variations in the expression of cultural universals
across space and time: E.G.?
VARIATIONS IN LANGUAGE:
Did You Know….that 1) there are approximately
7000 languages spoken in the world today? 2)
Lakota is a gendered language in which women
and men speak slightly different dialects? 3)
According to the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis (see
p.123-125), the language a person uses shapes his
or her perception of reality and therefore his or her
thoughts and actions?
CULTURAL DIVERSITY
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VARIATIONS IN CULTURES: (Pages 131134 of Textbook)
1. Value Orientations:
 High
Secular-Rational and High Self-Expressive
Values (INDIVIDUALISM)
 Low Secular-Rational and Low Self-Expressive
Values (COLLECTIVISM)
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2. Emphasis on Human Development:
 Human Choice (INDIVIDUALISM)
 Human Constraint (COLLECTIVISM)
INDIVIDUALISM
COLLECTIVISM
Source: Pacific Resources Education Programs, Inc.
Independence
Dependence
•I’m
an individual, unique and special in my own right
•My heroes are those who can claim to be “self-made”.
•My
Competition
Cooperation
•Competition brings
out the best in me.
•Competition acts as a motivator to stimulate me to
excel.
•We
Directness
Indirectness or Saving Face
•To
be assertive and sometimes even aggressive is
positive.
•Don’t beat around the bush.
•One
Time and Task as Priority
Interaction as Priority
•Agendas,
•Courtesy,
timetables, and promptness help me to
diligently utilize time
•Time
is an invaluable resource not to be wasted
identity, well-being, survival and self-esteem are
derived from being a member of the group.
•I avoid individual recognition or attention.
are only as strong as our weakest link.
•Achievement and success are dependent on how well we
are able to cooperate
is careful not to embarrass or cause dishonor to
another.
•Loss of face has deep meaning and impact on self-esteem
respect, and sensitivity are key to my
interactions with others.
•Getting to know one another has a certain formality to it
and can take time
IDEAL CULTURE: DIVERSITY AS
EQUAL CULTURES: “Horizontal Mosaic”
SOCIETY
“High” Culture
Ideal culture
MAINSTREAN CULTURE
Popular Culture
Real
culture
Ideal
“High”
SUBCULTURE
Real
“High”
Ideal
SUB-CULTURES
COUNTER-CULTURES
Popular
Real
Popular
REAL CULTURE: CULTURAL DIVERSITY AS
INEQUALITY OF CULTURES: “Vertical Mosaic”
High
MAINSTREAM CULTURE
The Dominant Culture
SUBCULTURE
Accepts the dominant culture
Low
COUNTERCULTURE
Lower
Special subculture that rejects
the dominant culture
POLITICS OR IDEOLOGY OF CULTURAL
DIVERSITY: MULTICULTURALISM
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Ideal Culture = cultural aspirations
Real Culture = cultural practices
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Illustration:
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The IDEAL CULTURE of societies such as Canada, Australia and
Singapore.
seeks to promote the maintenance of the cultures of immigrants
and indigenous people as horizontal mosaic or cultural equality to
mainstream culture.
The REAL CULTURE of Canada:
Consists of cultural practices that constitute a vertical mosaic or
cultural inequality : Discrimination against people that practice or
perceived to be members of non-mainstream cultures.
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QUIZ 10b
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Research findings suggest that Canadian society claims to
cherish/value multiculturalism as a horizontal mosaic.
However, cultural exclusion is widespread in Canadian
institutions and communities. Multiculturalism is
therefore………culture in the social structure of Canada.
A) a real
B) an ideal
C) a counter
D) a popular
E) a cultural lag
MAINSTREAM CULTURE
Dominant expressions of cultural universals
--values, beliefs, attitudes, symbols,
artifacts, norms, expectations, technology,
infrastructure, etc.
 Examples:
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 The
WASP culture of Canada.
 Popular cultures of every society.
SUB-CULTURE
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A world within the mainstream culture, with
distinctive expression pattern of traditions,
customs, beliefs, rituals, folkways, language,
but remains compatible with the dominant
values, expectations, norms, etc.
Examples:
 The
cultures of minority ethnic groups in Canada,
cabdrivers, the police, the army, prostitutes, thieves,
etc.,
 High culture of every society –E.G., Polo, Golf, Ball
Room Dance, Classical Music, etc.
COUNTER-CULTURE
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A Special form of subculture
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Cultures of groups whose values set their
members apart and in opposition to certain
aspects of the mainstream culture. They
challenge some core values of the mainstream
culture. Often the members of the mainstream
culture feel threatened by counter culture.
Example: Cultures of
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 Hell’s
Angels, the Mafia, Gangs, terrorist groups.
DIVERSITY: CULTURAL CONFLICT &
CULTURAL HEGEMONY
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The existence of mainstream culture, subcultures,
and countercultures on the same territory or space
is the basis of culture conflict and cultural
hegemony.
1. Cultural Hegemony:
 domination of a cultural group by another
2. Culture Conflict:
 Incompatible
values, beliefs and practices:
CULTURAL STATIC & CHANGE
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Cultural Static: Persistence of cultural systems and/or
practices: E,g.: Traditions and customs
Culture Change: Transformation of cultural elements
and/or practices through discovery,
invention/innovation, and diffusion: E,g.: Changes in
the economy, beliefs, and technology.
Cultural lag: represents uneven change in the
cultural elements—changes in the elements of
the cultural system at different times and
speeds—material culture changing faster than
non-material culture. In other words, a change
gap between material culture and non-material
culture.
THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES OF
CULTURE: Sociobiology vs. Sociology
SOCIOBIOLOGY: Biological factors
determine human social behavior
 Cultural patterns are a product of
biological factors to a significant degree.
This is evident in the existence of
CULTURAL UNIVERSALS such as
marriage and language
 SOCIOLOGY:
 Culture is socially constructed and
transmitted, not DNA based.

Sociological CRITICISMS of
Sociobiology:
 1. Lack of scientific proof of DNA
producing culture, but there is empirical
evidence showing that culture is not a
product of DNA: The Victor Story.
 2. Culture is the product of human
interaction with each other, the
environment, the social structure.
 3.
supports racism, ethnocentrism,
classicism, xenocentrism, and sexism
QUIZ 11
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When a wife and husband argue about who’ll
clean the bathroom, for example, or who’ll take
care of a sick child when they both work outside
the home, the issue is simply about a cultural
universal reflective of biological reproductive
factors. What theoretical perspective would agree
with this view about gender relations?

A) Sociobiology
B) Social Conflict
C) Feminism
D) Symbolic Interactionism
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Does culture adequately account for the immense
similarities and differences in the ways people feel,
think, live and behave?
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SOCIOLOGICAL PARADIGMS OF CULTURE
 Functionalism—YES: HOMEOSTASIS: CULTURAL
CONSENSUS & ADAPTATIONS
 Social Conflict—NO: POLITICAL ECONOMY:
SOCIAL CLASS & SOCIAL CLOSURE
 Interactionism—NO: HUMAN AGENCY:
DEFINITION OF CULTURAL SYMBOLS
 Feminism—NO: PATRIACHAL STRUCTURE &
IDEOLOGY
SOCIOLOGICAL PARADIGMS OF CULTURE
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FUNCTIONALIST PARADIGM: HOMEOSTASIS
Culture is produced by the social structure to meet the
homeostasis (social stability) needs of society.
Cultural universals, uniformities and diversities
develop and persist because they are functional -contribute to cultural consensus and adaptations that
help maintain homeostasis that is of collective benefit.
Any cultural practices that are dysfunctional--don’t
contribute to collective benefit--are eliminated.
Values, beliefs and ideas components of culture
dictate/control the material elements of culture and the
behavior of all individual members and groups of
society
FUNCTIONALIST CLAIMS
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1. Culture is a symbolic-material system as well as practices that
determine peoples’ reality and define their personalities and ways
of life.
2. Culture is the key to what humans become. It is our culture that
superimposes the specifics of what we become on our biological
inheritance. It is culture that distinguishes humans from animals
3. Babies do not ‘naturally’ develop into human adults. Human
interaction is necessary to acquire the normal human traits.
4. The individual ‘self’ (‘I’/’Me’) is culturally constructed. That is,
our active creative parts, thoughts, dreams, and attitudes are the
products of our interaction with culture.
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5. Culture inhabits every aspects of our lives. Culture is the vehicle for our
lives, but is not a prison, for there is no outside: culture is anterior,
interior and exterior to us.

6. Culture is hegemonic (dominating): It has a limiting effect on
thoughts, speech, behavior, action, inquiry and morality; it
exercises power over individuals and groups.
CRITUQUES OF FUCTIONALIST
PERSPECTIVE OF CULTURE
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See page 137 paragraph of Textbook.
SOCIOLOGICAL PARADIGMS OF CULTURE
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SOCIAL CONFLICT PARADIGM:
POLITICAL ECONOMY AND SOCIAL
CLOSURE (Pages 137-139)
 The powerful, wealthy, and prestigious
members of society, the central players of the
dominant culture of existing political economy
use culture to justify or rationalize or legitimize
assimilation, inequality, exploitation and
oppression that are the manifestations of class
conflict.
 Culture works against lower classes more
than upper classes.
CRITIQUES OF SOCIAL CONFLICT
PERSPECTIVE OF CULTURE
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See page 139 paragraphs 2-4 of Textbook.
SOCIOLOGICAL PARADIGMS OF CULTURE
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INTERACTIONIST PARADIGM: HUMAN
AGENCY: Definitions of symbolic situations:

“Culture is actively created and recreated
through social interaction as people go
about their everyday lives engaged in
negotiations of reality based on shared
meanings grounded in cultural symbols.”

Culture is liberating for those who define it as
opportunities, but constrains those who define it as
dominating.
CRITIQUES OF INTERACTIONIST
PERSPECTIVE OF CULTURE
See the last paragraph of page 139 of
Textbook.
SOCIOLOGICAL PARADIGMS OF CULTURE
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FEMINISM: PATRIARCHY
“Culture is made by those in power—men. Males make
the rules and laws and women transmit them”
(Anzaldua 1999: 38).

Patriarchal culture rationalizes and supports
patriarchal structure (inequality and oppression of
females/women) and the ideology of sexism that
drives it.
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Culture works against the lives and behavior of
females/women more than males/men.
Women’s resistance of patriarchal culture causes
gender conflict that initiates egalitarian changes in
culture
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CRITIQUES OF FEMINIST
PERSPECTIVE OF CULTURE
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Underestimates the power of
women in the construction of the
core values of a culture.
CONCLUSION

Because our very existence and understanding
of ourselves is a product of our culture, and our
socialization into it, we are not aware of the
nature of that culture. Like a fish that has
never been out of water, and able to compare it
with its absence, we cannot and do not exist
outside of culture. Conversely, social scientists
who know more about the nature of society and
culture are not normal—we’re weird (Bartle
2004: Page 59).
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