PowerPoint Presentation
prepared by
Terri Petkau, Mohawk College
CHAPTER TWO
Culture
Robert J. Brym
INTRODUCTION
• Will examine:
Origins of culture
Culture and social control
Copyright © 2011 by Nelson Education Ltd
Culture as freedom
Culture as constraint*
2-3
CULTURE AND SOCIETY
• Culture: Sum of socially transmitted
practices, languages, symbols, beliefs,
values, ideologies and material objects
that people create to deal with real-life
problems
 Enables people to adapt to, and thrive in,
Copyright © 2011 by Nelson Education Ltd
their environments
• Society: People interacting socially and
sharing culture, usually in a defined
geographical area*
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ORIGINS OF CULTURE
•
Three tools in human cultural survival kit:
1. Abstraction: Capacity to create ideas or
ways of thinking that allow us to classify
experience and generalize from it
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 Ideas or ways of thinking find expression
in symbols: Anything that carries a
particular meaning, including the
components of language, mathematical
notions, and signs…*
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ORIGINS OF CULTURE
(Three tools in human cultural survival kit)
2. Co-operation: Human capacity to create
complex social life by establishing norms,
which are standards of behaviour or
generally accepted ways of doing things
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3. Production: Human capacity to make and
use tools, and thereby improve our ability
to take what we want from nature
 Tools and techniques known as material
culture*
2-6
THE BUILDING BLOCKS
OF CULTURE
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2-7
CULTURE AND
SOCIAL CONTROL
• To ensure conformity to cultural
guidelines, society develops sanctions
• Are two types of sanctions:
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 Positive sanctions: Rewards for following
cultural guidelines (e.g., praise, money)
 Negative sanctions: Punishments for
violating cultural guidelines (e.g.,
avoidance, arrest)*
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UNDERSTANDING
CULTURE
•
Sociological understanding of culture
can be impaired by:
 Invisibility of own culture: Taking own
culture for granted
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 Ethnocentrism: Judging other cultures
exclusively by standards of own culture*
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TWO FACES OF CULTURE
• Are two faces of culture:
1. Culture as freedom
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2. Culture as constraining and/or
endangering…*
2-10
1. CULTURE AS
FREEDOM
•
Culture as freedom implicated in the
following:
i. Cultural diversification and
globalization
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ii. Postmodernism…*
2-11
1. CULTURE AS
FREEDOM
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i.
Cultural diversification and
globalization:
•
As societies become more complex,
cultures become more heterogeneous
(e.g., through immigration)
•
Is characterized by increase in freedom
to choose elements of cultural
consumption and identification*
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IMMIGRANTS BY SOURCE
AREA, CANADA, PRE-1961 AND
2005 (IN PERCENTAGE)
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2-13
1. CULTURE AS
FREEDOM
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•
The Rights Revolution:

Process by which socially excluded groups
(e.g., women, aboriginal peoples,
homosexuals) have struggled to win equal
rights in law and practice
•
Issues raised by the rights revolution:

Obligation to compensate for past injustices

How to maintain acceptable balance between
right to be equal and right to be different*
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1. CULTURE AS
FREEDOM
•
Globalization: Characterized by 
 Expansion of international trade and
investment
 International travel and communication
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 Prevalence of mass media
 Routine contact between people of
diverse cultures
 Migration by members of different racial
and ethnic groups*
2-15
GLOBALIZATION:
EFFECTS
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•
Contributes to cultural fragmentation
•
Destroys political, economic and
cultural isolation; i.e., McLuhan’s notion
of “global village”
•
Individuals less obliged to accept native
culture and freer to combine elements
from wide variety of historical periods
and geographical settings*
2-16
1. CULTURE AS FREEDOM
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ii.
Postmodernism: Three main features 
a.
Eclectic mixing of elements from different times and
places
b.
Erosion of authority
c.
Decline of consensus around core values

Reflected in fate of “Big Historical Projects”: For
past 200 years, was global consensus about
inevitability of progress arising from human
ingenuity, but negative side of progress recognized
in postmodern era*
2-17
CONFIDENCE IN POLITICAL
INSTITUTIONS: CANADA AND
USA
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2-18
PERCENTAGE OF ADULTS VOTING IN
FEDERAL ELECTIONS AND PARTICIPATING
IN NONCONVENTIONAL POLITICAL ACTION,
SELECTED YEARS
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2-19
CONFIDENCE IN
SCIENTIFIC ADVANCES
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2-20
POSTMODERNISM:
CHALLENGES
• How to make binding decisions
• How to govern
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• How to teach children and adolescents
difference between right and wrong
• How to transmit literary tastes and artistic
standards from one generation to the
next*
2-21
POSTMODERNISM:
BENEFITS
• Empowers ordinary people and makes them more
responsible for own fate
• Renders individuals more tolerant and appreciative
of ethnic, racial, religious, and sexual groups
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• Frees individuals to choose rather than have
imposed on them religious, ethnic, and other
identities
• Encourages healthy skepticism about political and
scientific claims for creating a better world*
2-22
2. CULTURE AS
CONSTRAINT
•
Are two constraining aspects of
culture:
i. Rationalization:
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ii. Consumerism…*
2-23
2. CULTURE AS
CONSTRAINT
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i.
Rationalization:

Weber’s term for systematic application of
standardized means to predetermined ends

Has given rise to widespread acceptance of
regimentation associated with the Werkglocken
(work clock)

Has also led to “McDonaldization” of the world:

Organizational principles of fast-food restaurant
have come to dominate life and have resulted in
Weber’s concept of the “iron cage”*
2-24
2. CULTURE AS
CONSTRAINT
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ii.
Consumerism:
•
Tendency to define ourselves in terms of goods
we purchase (e.g., we are what we wear, drive,
etc.)
•
Consumers motivated to make purchases
because of bombardment of adverstising in form
of:

North America’s “shop-till-you-drop” lifestyle

Pressure on parents by child-directed
advertising*
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2. CULTURE AS
CONSTRAINT
• Consumerism also consumes dissent
• Countercultures: Subversive subcultures that
oppose dominant values and seek to replace them
(e.g., hippies of 1960s and environmentalists today)
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 Yet rarely pose serious threat to society because
are tamed by consumerism
 Rebels now enticed to engage in commercialization
(e.g., highly profitable heavy metal and hip-hop
music industries)**
2-26
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