Chapter 3
Culture
Chapter Outline
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The Concept of Culture
Components of Culture
The Symbolic Nature of Culture
Culture and Adaptation
Subcultures
Universals of Culture
Culture and Individual Choice
Culture
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All that human beings learn to do, to use,
to produce, to know, and to believe as
they grow to maturity and live out their
lives in the social groups to which they
belong.
Culture and Biology
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Human beings acquire the means to meet their
needs through culture.
Example:
 Although human infants cry when hungry, the
responses to the cries vary.
 In some groups, infants are breast-fed; in
others, they are fed prepared milk formulas
from bottles; and in still others, they are fed
according to the mother’s preference.
Question
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Which of the following is not true about
culture?
A. It is shared.
B. It is inborn.
C. It is transmitted from one
generation to the next.
D. All of these choices are true.
Answer: B
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It is not true that culture is inborn.
Culture Shock
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The difficulty people have adjusting to a
new culture that differs markedly from
their own.
Ethnocentrism
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When one makes judgments about other
cultures based on the customs and values
of one's own.
Cultural Relativism
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Recognizing cultures must be understood
on their own terms before valid
comparisons can be made.
Question
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With which cultural background do you
identify with the most? Choose only
one.
A. Anglo (white, non-Hispanic)
B. Hispanic
C. African American, black
D. Native American (American Indian)
E. Asian
F. Other
Components of Culture
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Material culture (objects)
Nonmaterial culture (rules)
Cognitive culture (shared beliefs)
Language
Material Culture
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Everything human beings make and use.
Material culture allows humans to cope
with extreme environments and survive in
all climates.
Material culture has made human beings
the dominant life form on earth.
Nonmaterial Culture
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Knowledge, beliefs, values, and rules for
appropriate behavior.
Elements of nonmaterial culture:
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Norms
Mores
Folkways
Values
Question
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The shelters we live in and the clothes
we wear to protect us from the cold
would be examples of:
A. nonmaterial culture.
B. mores.
C. norms.
D. material culture.
Answer: D
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The shelters we live in and the clothes we
wear to protect us from the cold would be
examples of material culture.
Question
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Do you favor or oppose an amendment
to the U.S. Constitution that would make
English the official language of the
United States?
A. Favor
B. Oppose
C. No opinion
Norms
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The rules of behavior that are agreed
upon and shared within a culture and that
prescribe limits of acceptable behavior.
Norms define “normal” expected behavior
and help people achieve predictability in
their lives.
Mores
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Strongly held norms that usually have a
moral connotation and are based on the
central values of the culture.
Violations produce strong negative
reactions, often supported by the law.
Examples: sexual molestation of a child,
rape, murder, incest, and child beating.
Folkways
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Norms that permit a wide degree of
individual interpretation as long as certain
limits are not overstepped.
People who violate folkways are seen as
peculiar but they rarely elicit a strong
public response.
Ideal and Real Norms
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Ideal norms - expectations of what
people should do under perfect
conditions.
Real norms - Norms that are expressed
with qualifications and allowances for
differences in individual behavior.
Question
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Rate yourself on attractiveness to the
opposite sex compared with the average
person your age and in your culture.
A. Highest 10 percent
B. Above average
C. Average
D. Below Average
E. Bottom 10 percent
Values
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A culture’s general orientations toward
life—its notions of what is good and bad,
what is desirable and undesirable.
Origin of Language
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Language evolved in the last 100,000 years.
FOXP2, the humane gene involved in
language, was discovered in 2001.
FOXP2 switches on other genes during the
development of the brain.
The gene remained unaltered during the
evolution of mammals until humans split from
the chimpanzee line of descent.
Language and Culture
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Language makes it possible for humans
to share culture.
Animals are controlled by their biology,
but human behavior is determined by
culture and language.
Children learn culture through language,
socialization, and role models.
Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
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The language a person uses determines their
perception of reality.
Different languages classify experiences
differently.
Example: The Hopi Indians
 Two words for water—pahe (water in a
natural state) and keyi (water in a container).
 One word to cover every thing or being that
flies, except birds.
Question
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There is a culture which has no word for
"time." Following the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis:
A. this culture is primitive.
B. this culture has a different perception of
reality since time is not an important
concept.
C. this society is not capable of
understanding the concept of time.
Answer: B
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There is a culture which has no word for
"time." Following the Sapir-Whorf
hypothesis this culture has a different
perception of reality since time is not
an important concept.
Symbol
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Anything representing something else,
carrying a particular meaning recognized
by members of a culture.
Symbols in Cyberspace
:-) smile
|^o Snoring
:-( sad
:-@ Screaming
:-0 wow
%-) Dazed or silly
:-X my lips are sealed
%*} Drunk
LOL laughing out loud
%-( Confused
:-|| I am angry
:-C Astonished
Culture and Adaptation
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Culture is the primary means by which
humans adapt to the challenges of their
environment.
We are culture producing, culture
transmitting, and culture dependent.
Take away culture and the human species
would perish.
Mechanisms of Cultural
Change
Two mechanisms are responsible for
cultural change:
 Innovation – new concepts, ideas, and
material objects.
 Diffusion - the movement of cultural traits
from one culture to another.
Innovation
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Invention - recombining elements already
available to a society.
Discovering new concepts.
Finding new solutions to old problems.
Devising and making new material
objects.
Diffusion
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Results when people from one group or
society come into contact with another.
Diffusion is marked by reformulation, in
which a trait is modified in some way so
that it fits better in its new context.
Cultural Lag
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The phenomena through which new
patterns of behavior emerge even though
they conflict with traditional values.
Animals and Culture
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Many animals produce and use tools:
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Chimps use twigs to catch
termites.
Sea otters use flat rocks to crack
shellfish open.
Experiments have shown that apes are
able to master fundamental aspects of
language.
Subcultures
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Distinctive lifestyles, values, norms, and
beliefs of certain segments of the
population within a society.
Types of subcultures include: ethnic,
occupational, religious, political,
geographic, social class and deviant.
Cultural Universals
Developed to solve common societal
problems:
 Division of labor
 Incest taboo
 Marriage
 Family organization
 Rites of passage
Families
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Families differ between cultures depending on
who is allowed to marry and how many spouses
are allowed.
The basic family unit of husband, wife, and
children is recognized in almost every culture.
Sexual relations among a family (other than
between husband and wife) are almost
universally taboo.
Functions of the Incest Taboo
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Helps keep sexual jealousy under control.
Prevents the confusion of authority
relationships in the family.
Ensures family offspring will marry into
other families, creating a network of social
bonds.
Rites of Passage
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Standardized rituals marking life transitions.
Examples of rites of passage:
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Baptisms
Bar and bat mitzvahs
Graduation
Wedding ceremonies
Funerals and wakes
Functions of Rites of
Passage
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Help the individual achieve a social
identity.
Map out the individual’s life course.
Aid the individual in making life plans.
Provide people with a context to share
emotions.
Ideologies
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Beliefs and values that help groups maintain
identity as a social unit.
Examples of deeds performed in the name of
an ideology:
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Thirteenth-century crusaders
Abolitionists, prohibitionists, trade
unionists,
Civil rights activists, feminists,
environmentalists
Culture and Individual Choice
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Culture tells humans what to do, how to
do it, and when it should be done.
Humans have more individual freedom of
action than any other creature.
Society and culture limit choices and
make it difficult to act in ways that deviate
from cultural norms.
Quick Quiz
1. The term ethnocentrism refers to the
tendency to:
A. judge others on their terms.
B. judge others on a independent
basis.
C. judge others on their ability to
adapt to our own culture.
D. judge others according to your own
customs and values.
Answer : D
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The term ethnocentrism refers to the
tendency to judge others according to
your own customs and values.
2. Studying cultures on their own terms in
order to make valid comparisons is:
A. cultural relativism.
B. ethnocentrism.
C. selectivity.
D. culture shock.
Answer: A
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Studying cultures on their own terms in
order to make valid comparisons is
cultural relativism.
3. Murder, incest and child beating would all
be examples of violations of:
A. mores.
B. folkways.
C. values.
D. beliefs.
Answer : A
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Murder, incest and child beating would all
be examples of violations of mores.
4. A set of distinctive values, norms, and
beliefs that belong to a certain segment
of the population is:
A. a cultural universal.
B. a subculture.
C. a social class.
D. an innovation.
Answer : B
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A set of distinctive values, norms, and
beliefs that belong to a certain segment of
the population is a subculture.
5. An immigrant group that has maintained
their identity and traditions is a/an:
A. political subculture.
B. geographic culture.
C. ethnic subculture.
D. religious subculture.
Answer: C
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An immigrant group that has maintained
their identity and traditions is an ethnic
subculture.
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Chapter 3