What is Culture?
 Culture - the
language, beliefs,
values, norms,
behaviors, and
material objects that
are passed from one
generation to the next.
 Material culture - the
material objects that
distinguish a group of
people.
 Non-material culture
- a group’s way of
thinking and doing.
DO NOT CONFUSE
CULTURE WITH
SOCIETY.
SOCIETY REFERS TO
A GROUP OF PEOPLE,
INTERACTING WITHIN
A GIVEN TERRITORY,
WHO ARE GUIDED
IN THEIR DAILY LIVES
BY THEIR CULTURES.
CULTURE SURE HAS A
WAY OF CHANGING
WHAT IS MEANT BY
“GOING TO THE
BEACH!”
MOST CULTURES SHARE COMMON
COMPONENTS. WE WILL NOW EXAMINE EACH
IN TURN.
ANYTHING THAT CARRIES A PARTICULAR MEANING
RECOGNIZED BY PEOPLE WHO SHARE CULTURE
 REALITY FOR HUMANS IS FOUND IN THE
MEANING THINGS CARRY WITH THEM

THE BASIS OF CULTURE; MAKES LIFE POSSIBLE
 PEOPLE MUST BE MINDFUL THAT MEANINGS
VARY FROM CULTURE TO CULTURE
 MEANINGS CAN EVEN VARY GREATLY
WITHIN THE SAME GROUPS OF PEOPLE

FUR COATS, CONFEDERATE FLAGS, ETC.
A SYSTEM OF SYMBOLS THAT ALLOWS PEOPLE
TO COMMUNICATE WITH ONE ANOTHER
 CULTURAL TRANSMISSION

PASSING ON CULTURE
 SAPIR-WHORF HYPOTHESIS

WE KNOW THE WORLD ONLY
IN TERMS OF OUR LANGUAGE
 NON-VERBAL LANGUAGE

BEWARE OF USING GESTURES
Components of
Symbolic Culture
 Symbolic culture nonmaterial culture
whose central
components are
symbols.

A symbol - something
to which people attach
meaning and which
they use to
communicate.
 Gestures - involve
using one’s body to
communicate.
 Language - a system
of symbols that can be
strung together in an
infinite number of
ways for the purpose
of communicating.
What Language Does
 All human groups have a language.
 Language allows for experiences to be
passed from one generation to the next.
 Language allows culture to develop by
freeing people to move beyond their
immediate experiences.
 Language provides us a past and a
future, as well as shared understandings.
How Culture Affects
Our Lives
 The effects of our own culture generally
remain imperceptible to us.
 These learned and shared ways penetrate
our being.
 Culture becomes the lens through which we
perceive and evaluate what is going on
around us.
Cultural Orientations
 Culture Shock - the
disorientation that
people experience
when they come into
contact with a
different culture.
 Ethnocentrism - the
tendency to use one’s
own culture as a
yardstick for judging the
ways of other societies.
 It can create in group
loyalties or lead to
harmful discrimination.
Practicing Cultural Relativism
 To counter our tendency to use our own
culture as a tool for judgment, we can
practice cultural relativism.
 Practicing cultural relativism allows us to
understand another culture on its own terms.
(remember Weber’s verstehen page 37)
 We can analyze how the elements of culture
fit together without judgment.
Words don’t mean; people mean!
Values, Norms,
& Sanctions
 Values - ideas of what is desirable in life.
 Values are the standards by which people
define good and bad.
 Norms - describe rules of behavior that
develop out of a group’s values.
 Sanctions - positive or negative reactions to
the ways in which people follow norms,
including laws and punishments.
.CULTURALLY DEFINED STANDARDS OF DESIRABILITY,
GOODNESS, AND BEAUTY, WHICH SERVE AS BROAD
GUIDELINES FOR SOCIAL LIVING
 VALUES SUPPORT BELIEFS

SPECIFIC STATEMENTS THAT PEOPLE HOLD
TO BE TRUE
• CAPITALISM AND ACHIEVEMENT= SUCCESS
 CORE AMERICAN VALUES

VALUE INCONSISTENCY AND SOCIAL
CHANGE Page 66 EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND
COMPETITION
• HUMANITARIANISM AND “ME FIRST”
Values in U.S. Society
(not necessarily ranked)
 (1) Achievement and
Success
 (2) Individualism
 (3) Activity and Work
 (4) Efficiency and
Practicality
 (5) Science and
Technology
 (6) Progress






(7) Material Comfort
(8) Humanitarianism
(9) Freedom
(10) Democracy
(11) Equality
(12) Racism and
Group Superiority
 (13) Education
 (14) Religiosity
 (15) Romantic Love
Values in More Traditional Societies
(not necessarily ranked)
 (1) Embrace fate as a key
value
 (2) Spiritual Comfort
 (3) Greater reflectiveness
 (4) Not overly optimistic
 (5) Religion more important
than science
 (6) Group-oriented
 (7) Collective sentiment
promotes compliance to
authority
 (8) Formal education is
often suspect
 (9) Tolerance for inequality
RULES BY WHICH SOCIETY GUIDES THE
BEHAVIOR OF ITS MEMBERS
 TYPES


PROSCRIPTIVE- acts of commission
PRESCRIPTIVE- acts of omission
 FURTHER BREAKDOWN

FOLKWAYS
• LESS SERIOUS OFFENSES

MORES
• MORALLY SIGNIFICANT

TABOOS
• EXTREMELY SIGNIFICANT
Folkways, Mores,
and Taboos
 Folkways - norms
that are not strictly
enforced.
 If someone does not
follow a folkway, we
may stare or shrug our
shoulders.
 Mores - norms that
are considered
essential to our core
values.
 Taboos - norms so
strongly ingrained that
even the thought of its
violation is greeted
with revulsion.
 SOCIAL CONTROL

MEANS BY WHICH MEMBERS OF SOCIETY
OFTEN ENCOURAGE CONFORMITY
• DIRECT AND INDIRECT PRESSURES
 POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE
SANCTIONS


CONFORMITY OFTEN BRINGS REWARDS
AND PRAISE
NONCONFORMITY CAN BRING ABOUT PAIN
• GUILT: JUDGING OURSELVES
• SHAME: PUBLIC DISAPPROVAL
Subcultures and
Countercultures
 Subculture - a world
within the larger world
of the dominant
culture.
 A subculture has a
distinctive way of
looking at life.
 The values and norms
tend to be compatible
with the larger society.
 Counterculture - a
subculture whose
values place its
members in opposition
to the values of the
broader culture.
 An assault on core
values is always met
with resistance.
Value Clusters and
Contradictions
 Value clusters - a
series of interrelated
values that together
form a larger whole.
 Values are not
independent units.
 Value contradiction
values that contradict
one another
 To follow one means
you will come into
conflict with another.
 It is at the point of value
contradictions that one
can see a force for social
change.
Ideal versus Real Culture
 Ideal culture - the
values, norms, and
goals that a group
considers ideal,
worth aspiring to.
 Success.
 Real culture - the
norms and values that
people actually follow.
 What people do
usually falls short of
the cultural ideal.
Cultural Universals
 Cultural universals - values, norms, or
other cultural traits that are found
everywhere.
 Although there are universal human
activities, there is no universally accepted
way of doing any of them.
 Humans have no biological imperative that
results in one particular form of behavior
throughout the world.
TRAITS COMMON TO EVERY KNOWN CULTURE
 THE FAMILY

ASSIGNMENT OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES FOR YOUNG AND
THE CONTROL OF SEXUAL REPRODUCTION
 FUNERAL RITES

COMMUNITY BONDING WITH CLOSURE, COMFORT, AND
CONTINUITY FOR THE LIVING
 SMILING AND HUMOR

OUTWARD SIGNS OF FRIENDSHIP AND SAFETY VALVE FOR
SOCIAL TENSIONS
 DEVIANCE

A CONSTANT REMINDER OF THE BEHAVIORAL LIMITS FOUND IN
A GIVEN SOCIETY WITH RESPECT TO INDIVIDUALITY AND
NONCOMFORMITY
Technology
 Technology - skills or procedures necessary
to make or use tools.
 New technologies - emerging technologies
that have a significant impact on social life.
 Technology sets a framework for a group’s
nonmaterial culture.
Cultural Lag,
Diffusion, and Leveling
 Cultural lag - not all
parts of a culture
change at the same
pace.
 Material culture
usually changes before
nonmaterial culture.
 Cultural diffusion –
the spread of cultural
characteristics from one
group to another.
 Travel and
communication unite us.

Cultural leveling - a
process in which cultures
become similar to one
another.
CULTURE CHANGES IN ONE OF THREE WAYS:
 DISCOVERY UNDERSTANDING HAS
INCREASED
 INVENTION CREATING NEW
CULTURE
 DIFFUSION ELEMENTS CROSSING
BORDERS
Applying Theory: Culture
Copyright (c) 2003 by Allyn & Bacon
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(continued on next slide)
Copyright (c) 2003 by Allyn & Bacon
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Copyright (c) 2003 by Allyn & Bacon
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Essentials of Sociology Fourth Edition