Sociology: Culture /* Needs Spell Check /* Essay, Research Paper

SOCIOLOGY 1301CULTURE Remember back to when I defined & # 8220 ; society & # 8221 ; for you. A society consists of people who live in a specific geographic country and who interact with one another more than they do with other persons. They have interacted and lived together long plenty that they have created a manner of life that is alone to that group. What do I intend by & # 8220 ; manner of life & # 8221 ; ? & # 8220 ; manner of life & # 8221 ; : they have interacted together over long adequate period of clip to hold agreed upon sound symbols to label everything in their universe. In other words they have developed their really ain linguistic communication so that they can pass on with each other. They have come up with a shared set of beliefs and values. They have reach general understandings about what is good and bad. What is desirable and non desirable, what is right and incorrect. They have come up with their ain alone manner of making things and acquiring things done that need to be done for these people to last. They have come up with their ain methods and engineerings. For case, how to acquire nutrient, how to fix nutrient, how to shelter themselves. They have come up with regulations about how to act ; regulations that guide their interaction. Basically everyone in a society knows what is expected of him or her in any given state of affairs they encounter in their day-to-day lives. And they know what to anticipate from others as they go about their day-to-day lives. And because they know what is expected of them and what to anticipate from others in the class of their day-to-day lives, there is order and non chaos. A group of people who have interacted long plenty together to hold developed and passed on imposts, wonts, traditions. A manner of life that is passed on from one coevals to the following. A manner of life that is comfy and natural to them. It is the lone manner of life they know. And this sense of naturalness leads to a sense of integrity, a feeling of integrity, of belonging to the group. These are my people. We see ourselves as separate and distinguishable from people who make up other societies. This whole & # 8220 ; manner of life & # 8221 ; that people create when they live and interact together over a period of clip is their civilization. We use the term civilization in a different manner than it is normally used. In popular use we tend to speak of people as being & # 8220 ; cultured & # 8221 ; or & # 8220 ; uncultured & # 8221 ; . For case & # 8220 ; cultured & # 8221 ; people are good read and knowing and enjoy literature, the humanistic disciplines, all right vino, and classical music. In a societal scientific sense there are no & # 8220 ; uncultured & # 8221 ; people. The book defines civilization as the values, beliefs, behaviour and material objects that constitutes a peoples manner of life. Another good definition of civilization & # 8211 ; a manner of life that is learned and shared by groups of human existences and that is taught by one coevals to the following. Society refers to people who live in a specific geographic country and who interact in patterned, recurrent and digesting ways. Culture is the merchandise of that interaction. There are four major features of civilization: 1. Culture is a cosmopolitan characteristic of human societal life. 2. Culture is learned.3. Culture is shared.4. Culture is cumulative. Culture is a cosmopolitan characteristic of human life. It is cosmopolitan because it is indispensable to human being ; to state that civilization is a cosmopolitan characteristic of human societal life is kind of like stating that a caput is a cosmopolitan characteristic of the human organic structure. Well of class it is, without a caput it wouldn & # 8217 ; t be human. We depend on our civilizations to last. Human existences are alone among all the animals of the carnal land in their capacity to make and prolong civilization. Each society of work forces possesses its ain typical civilization so that members of one society behave otherwise in some important respects from the members of every other society. There are thousand of illustrations of different ways folks from different civilizations do things. One illustration of a simple behaviour form that differs from civilization to civilization: The state of affairs where one meets up with a friend or relative that he/she hasn & # 8217 ; t seen for a long clip. An Andaman Islander from the Indian Ocean, would, in a truly dramatic, ceremonial manner, start shouting and sobbing. A Frenchman would snog his friend on both cheeks. Americans are satisfied with taking each others right manus and pumping it up and down. Another manner to see the fluctuations civilizations cause in human behaviour throughout the universe: comparison to the manner animate beings in different parts of the universe do things. A Canis familiaris in Texas merely ain & # 8217 ; t gon na move much different than a Canis familiaris in China. Animal societies are patterned. Worlds are non the lone societal animate beings. But the behaviour of emmets and Pan troglodytess, for illustration is non patterned by shared values, cognition or other typical characteristics of civilization. In topographic point of civilization animate beings rely on strong inherent aptitudes & # 8211 ; fixed, biologically inherited, complex behaviour forms. Animal behaviour is programmed genetically, and the societal organisation of any individual species is likewise from one topographic point to the following and from one clip period to the following. Depending merely on their inherent aptitudes, all beavers the universe over build dikes and raise their immature in a really similar mode ; all birds of a individual species build the same sort of nests. So, civilization is cosmopolitan. Culture is a cosmopolitan characteristic of all human societies, and without civilization society would be impossible. But to state that civilization is cosmopolitan is non to state that adult male learns a general, world-standard civilization. Man learns the extremely peculiar signifier of civilization that evolves in his society. Each society possesses its ain typical civilization, where people have developed different beliefs, values, and behavioural forms. But maintain in head & # 8211 ; being born into, socialized into, enculturated into, a civilization, a manner of life, does non hardwire you so that you can merely be in that civilization. Members of any peculiar civilization have the ability to larn the indispensable apprehensions of any other civilization. A celebrated anthropologist illustrated this by stating of a immature adult male he met in New York one time. & # 8220 ; This immature adult male did non talk a word of English and was evidently bewildered by American ways. By blood he was every bit American as you and I. His parents had gone from Indiana to China as missionaries. He was orphaned in babyhood and reared by a Chinese household in a distant small town. All who met him found him more Chinese than American. The facts of his bluish eyes and blond hair were less impressive or noticeable than a Chinese manner of pace, Chinese arm and manus motions, Chinese facial look and Chinese manners of idea. The biological heritage was American, but the cultural heritage was Chinese. He returned to China. & # 8221 ; And it goes without stating that even holding been raised in one civilization, we worlds have the ability if demand be to travel into another civilization and learn and adapt to another manner of life. When we foremost encounter that other civilization we may see what is normally called civilization daze & # 8211 ; a feeling of freak out that occurs when one tries to set to another civilization. But we have the capacity to larn, accommodate, to understand. 2. Culture is learned. Because adult male has about no inherent aptitudes we need a civilization to last. You can see this most clearly in the human baby & # 8217 ; s long dependance on grownups. Other freshly born animate beings have inherent aptitudes that enable them to be on their ain in a few hours or few yearss. inherent aptitudes & # 8211 ; fixed, biologically inherited, complex behaviour forms. inherent aptitudes & # 8211 ; biologically fixed traits ( hardwired ) that enable the bearer to execute complex undertakings. Human babies must depend on grownups for many old ages. They spend these old ages detecting, copying, being taught their civilization, a manner of life, how to populate and last in their universe. The book says that worlds are born with the ability to hold on, suction, and call, but even these simple responses disappear after a few hebdomads and must be replaced by erudite responses if an baby is to last. and we do inherit thrusts for sex, nourishment, self-preservation. These thrusts are seemingly unconditioned, we are born with them. But our biological science provides no clear guidelines as to how we are to move in fulfilling those thrusts. To exemplify allow & # 8217 ; s expression at emmets and contrast them to worlds: Understand that worlds are the lone animate being that has the ability to make civilization and depends on civilization for endurance. We are non, nevertheless, the lone animate beings who experience societal life and possess societal organisation. Ants have a complex societal organisation ; emmets have societies. There is a absorbing division of labour among the queen, the workers, combatants, drones. But all that complexness of their societal organisation rests non on civilization but upon replete. Ant life is patterned, but it is non patterned by shared values and learned ways of behaviour. It is patterned by inherent aptitude. In an ant settlement, in an ant society, there is no transmittal ( so far as they have been able to state ) of behaviour through acquisition. If you take a set of ant eggs, incubate them right, without the presence of any grownup emmets, you can bring forth a whole clump of babe emmets. Now there are no grownup emmets around, but these babe emmets, as they mature, will re-create, re-enact in every item precisely, all the behaviour of all the coevalss of the species before them. In amount worlds have to larn how to last, we are non born cognizing how ; we do non inherit it. 3. Culture is shared. Every society requires some grade of common apprehension of world and common regulations for behaviour in order to map. Without this, people could non collaborate or even interact in a meaningful manner, and cipher would cognize how to act. What & # 8217 ; s a good manner to see this thought that & # 8220 ; civilization is shared & # 8221 ; ? By understanding a people & # 8217 ; s civilization, a group & # 8217 ; s civilization, you can travel along manner in understanding and foretelling behaviour of persons. A good trade of human behaviour can be understood, and predicted, if we know a peoples design for life. Many of our single Acts of the Apostless are neither inadvertent nor due to personal distinctive features, nor caused by supernatural forces, nor merely cryptic. Even most of us who pride ourselves on our individuality follow most of the clip a form in our lives non of our ain devising. & # 8211 ; we brush our dentitions on originating & # 8211 ; we put on bloomerss, non a breechcloth or grass skirt. & # 8211 ; we eat 3 repasts a twenty-four hours, non four or five or two. & # 8211 ; we sleep in a bed, non a knoll or on a sheep fur You do non hold to cognize the person to foretell these and countless other regularities of all members of the American civilization, for illustration. Culture regulates our lives at every bend. From the minute we are born until we die there is, whether we are witting of it or non, changeless force per unit area on us to follow certain types of behaviour that other work forces have created for us. Those of us who have been involved in raising little kids know how unnaturally most of this comes to the infant person: Until we are & # 8220 ; enculturalized & # 8221 ; & # 8220 ; socialized & # 8221 ; most of us as babies and small kids didn & # 8217 ; Ts have much respect for the & # 8220 ; proper & # 8221 ; topographic point, clip and mode for certain Acts of the Apostless such as feeding, egesting, sleeping, acquiring dirty, and doing loud noises. But by more or less adhering to a system of shared ways of transporting out all the Acts of the Apostless of life, a group of work forces and adult females feel themselves linked together by a powerful concatenation of sentiments, an emotional thing. So you could state that your civilization is that which binds us together. Couple of other things about civilization being shared. Culture & # 8220 ; channels & # 8221 ; biological procedures, the biological thrusts mentioned above. Take hungriness and day-to-day wonts of nutrient consumption. When a adult male eats, he is responding to an & # 8220 ; internal & # 8221 ; thrust ( hunger contractions caused by the lowering of blood sugar ) , But his precise reaction to these internal stimulations can non be predicted by physiological cognition entirely. Whether an grownup feels hungry twice, three times or four times a twenty-four hours and the hours at which this feeling occurs is a affair of civilization. What he eats is of class influenced by handiness, but it is to a big extent influenced by civilization. It is a biological fact that some types of berries are toxicant ; it is a cultural fact that a few coevalss ago, most Americans considered tomatoes to be toxicant and refused to eat them. 4. Culture is cumulative. We know that humans genetically indistinguishable to us hold existed for 10s of 1000s of old ages. Humans merely as wise, every spot as intelligent, merely as capable, who worked, played, laughed, cried, felt the same emotions as we did. { There is a inclination of those populating in the current epoch to look upon, or think of those who went earlier us as non being as intelligent or wise, that we are so much more advanced } That is merely non true. The indispensable difference between those people and us today is that huge organic structure of cognition that societies have built up over the centuries. Knowledge that is transmitted from one coevals to the following. Another good definition of civilization would be: civilization & # 8211 ; the groups cognition stored up in the memories of work forces, in books, and other objects for future usage Mostly knowledge about the physical universe and technological cognition ( technological cognition & # 8211 ; knowledge applied to practical intents ) Over the old ages and from coevals to coevals one find has led to another find, one innovation leads to another innovation, innovations and finds grow out of old innovations and finds. A edifice procedure that started manner back their. We worlds do non hold to get down over each coevals larning how to last, how to populate on this planet. What one coevals learns is recorded in memory, in authorship, in books ( and now there are legion other engineerings to continue our cognition ) This accretion of this huge organic structure of cognition truly took off when human civilizations invented the written linguistic communication. After that the shop of cognition no longer depended on memory entirely.

The transmittal of cognition no longer depended on face to confront unwritten communicating or observation. Now societies could hive away and enter a mass of cognition in books, and through the written word one individual could pass on to 1000s and 1000s of people ( which in itself greatly speeded up the growing of the organic structure of cognition. Now have 1000s and 1000s of people alternatively of 10s of people who can read that book, 1000s who can get down utilizing that cognition to construct other cognition. With the written word worlds could get down hive awaying cognition. So at that place you have the four major features of civilization: Culture is cosmopolitan, civilization is learned, civilization is cumulative, and civilization is s

hared. Culture is a universal attribute of human societies. Every society by necessity has to create, develop a culture, a way of life. Remember – create – we are not born knowing how to get by, we are not hardwired like the ant. Since every group of people has to “create” a culture, well, naturally, there are going to be a lot of variation in the cultures that develop over the world. To repeat: we should all be aware of the great diversity of cultures that have developed. Some examples of cultural differences that we find interesting: In Hawaii, there were once fattening houses to make young brides more beautiful; in America, there are thousands of spas to help people lose weight and thereby become “more attractive” Americans make a “fetish” out of breasts and that skin magazines make a fortune revealing them, but on some Pacific Islands, women go bare-breasted and men hardly notice. On the same islands, though, a woman’s legs must be covered at all times because women’s calves are considered highly erotic and should never be exposed in public. Some other cultural differences I gathered from other sources on culture, differences we probably find interesting: Among the Hopi Indians of the American Southwest and among the Alorese people of Indonesia, mothers often masturbate infants to pacify them. There are a group of people in Africa, called Ila, as well as the Trukese people on the Caroline Islands in the West Pacific, where boys and girls are encouraged to have sex once they reach age ten. Group of Eskimos, called Copper Eskimos, where the men occasionally have intercourse with live or dead animals. Among the the Keraki people of New Guinea the males customarily engages in homosexual activity during adolescence and in bisexual behavior after marriage. In the Banaro tribe of New Guinea woman are expected to conceive their first child by one of her husband’s friends rather than by her husband. These are some of many, many differences in customs, beliefs, foods, housing, dress, sexual practices, religions that different peoples all over the world have developed. And we find them interesting, these differences, interesting to compare cultural practices. But most of us probably find a lot of these things to be more than just a little interesting. We probably think of a lot of these cultural ways as backward, inferior, degenerate, perverted, disgusting. Sociologists call this kind of thinking ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is the tendency to evaluate and judge the customs and traditions of others according to one’s own cultural tastes, beliefs, morals, standards. People everywhere exhibit ethnocentrism – the practice of judging another culture by the standards of one’s own culture. Almost from the time we are born, we are taught that our way of life, the life in this culture is good, moral, civilized, natural. We take for granted, we feel it in our bones, that the way we live is right, is good. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. This is our element. We have internalized this culture, our values, our beliefs, our sense of self, we get from the culture that raises us. You bet it is our natural element, like the water is to a fish. The thought of having to live outside of our “water” is uncomfortable and unnatural. Ethnocentrism functions to enhance morale and solidarity among members of a society So there is nothing wrong with feeling that your culture is good and right. What probably is wrong is to believe, that because yours is good and right, therefore that other peoples way of life is wrong and inferior. I believe that is what ethnocentrism is – considering ones own values “natural” and right and those of others inferior and wrong. This kind of attitude can dangerous and wrong because it so often has led in the world to discrimination by one group against another, ethnic conflict and war, and even genocide. (Tasmanians) One important way that we can guard against ethnocentric biases is by adopting a position that is called cultural relativism. Cultural relativism – the practice of judging a culture by its own standards. Trying to imagine unfamiliar cultural traits from the point of view of others rather than ourselves. Cultural relativism is a difficult attitude to assume because it requires not only understanding the values and norms of another society but also suspending cultural standards we have known all our lives. Cultural relativity has problems of its own. One can find virtually any kind of behavior somewhere in the world; does that mean that anything and everything has equal claim to being morally right Yanomamo (Chagnon), one of most technologically primitive societies on earth along the border between Venezuela and brazil. Yanomamo men routinely offer their wives sexually to younger brothers and friends. From the Yanomamo men’s point of view this practice symbolizes friendship and generosity. But by our cultural standards, however, this behavior smacks of moral perversity and gross unfairness to women. Yanomamo men also violently punish a woman who displeases them. Should we pronounce such practices morally O.K. simply because the Yanomamo themselves accept them. Since we are all members of a single species, we might assume there must be universal standards of conduct for everyone? But what are they? In trying to figure out what is really good, how can we avoid imposing our own standards on everyone else? There are no simple answers. The Elements of Culture Generally speaking, talk about culture as a “way of life”, a “learned way of living”. A pretty broad phrase. What is involved in a peoples “way of life”? What are some of the things that make up a way of life? That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, customs and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society. Book breaks it down into: Symbols language being the most important type or use of symbols in any culture beliefs values norms – expectations and rules for proper conduct that guide the behavior of the members of a society all the material “things” we have created, all the material objects a culture has created. Symbols Symbols are the building blocks of culture, make the development of cultures possible Symbols have no intrinsic meaning. They get there meaning, they carry meaning only because a group of people have agreed that that particular symbol, whether it be a type of mark (something we have agreed to call a “letter”), a sound, a gesture, has a particular meaning. There is usually no natural relationship between any symbol and its referent, (the thing it refers to). The most important use of symbols in any culture is to create a language. Language is a complex system of symbols with agreed upon meanings, used by members of a society for communication. Usually when we think of “language” we think of the spoken language, but in its broadest sense, language contains verbal, nonverbal, and written symbols. Whereas complex cultures like ours use all three kinds of symbols in communication, simpler(what we call preliterate societies, those that have not developed a written language) typically lack written symbols. Estimated three thousand to five thousand languages on earth today. Most spoken languages make use of between 15 and 60 distinct sounds to communicate messages. English uses 44 distinct sounds. With these 44 sounds we have come up with a sound symbol, a sound label for every blessed thing in our known universe, for every action, for every kind of feeling or emotion Humans are biologically predisposed to learn language. (Not so the other animals) That is not to say that we are born with language, we have to learn it. Infants are born with the ability to produce many sounds, to hear subtle differences among those sounds, and to process this information in the brain These few sounds together with the rules for combining them into words, sentences and more complex structures is what language is. Like all symbols, the sounds chosen by a culture, and the arrangement of these sounds in a way that produce meaning are decided strictly by agreement (the group of sounds put together to sound out “window” stands for this because we have agreed that it does, not because it is inherent in the sound) Non-verbal symbols – the use of gestures, eyes, posture, space, “body language” to communicate. Beliefs and values. A close relationship between beliefs and values. Beliefs are a society’s truths. Values are shared ideas about what is socially desirable. Read what the book has to say about beliefs and values but don’t spend too much mental energy trying to nail down the distinction between the two concepts. They are so often used interchangeably, used to mean the same thing. It’s o.k. belief – what the people of a culture “know” about the workings of the world. Some of the “core” values and beliefs of American culture that kind of drive our lives: Individualism self-reliance competition – self-interest, that each individual looks out for his ownself, that by nature man competes against others for scarce resources, you look out for number 1. achievement – each individual desires to get ahead. This goal requires that each person compete with others for society’s limited prizes. To seek gain and profit is proper. consequently we expect that there will be “winners” and “losers” Materialism, individual accumulation of wealth and material things, and consumerism are values and goals that are accepted and taught in our culture as right. In America success and personal wealth are measured in large part by the quality and quantity of one’s material possessions. For many Americans material possessions, such as autos, homes, clothes and other goods, are important measures of personal identity and self-worth. Recall when we talked about ethnocentrism. Members of each culture feel their values and beliefs are natural and right. We are so immersed in our culture that we think that our way is the natural way the right way the way it has always been the only way it can ever be. Our whole free market capitalist economic system is based on the belief that man is by nature self-interested. By nature he will first, foremost, and inevitably look out for himself. We believe that competing for individual gain and profit is right and good. It is hard for us to imagine it ever being different, or imagining any other system. And that is ethnocentrism at play. Now recall also about cultural differences, the great variation in ways of life, in beliefs and values. There are a whole bunch of different ways of life out there and one of the possible benefits of understanding and learning about other cultures, well, maybe we can learn something from them that would approve upon our culture. Maybe learning about other ways will, in a sense, remove our cultural blinders. Is our way of life the best way? It certainly couldn’t hurt to ask that question. It wouldn’t hurt to question and re-think some of our basic values. We should always be interested in creating a better way of life, a more meaningful, more full, existence. In our attempt to design a better future for ourselves, there is a whole lot to be learned from other cultures. Is individualism and competition natural to the human condition? Is man naturally a self-interested individual? Is individual accumulation universally looked upon as a good thing? Studying different cultures and looking back in history you find the answer to those three questions is no. Examples and illustrations: There are some cultures where individualism and self interest could get you killed. The story of the clash of two value systems. In Papua New Guinea, a center was set up in a small village to get the villagers to use modern technology to start small businesses, in other words, to introduce entrepreneurship and capitalism to these cultures. And some of the villagers did this. Using technologies they had established small businesses and were gaining personal wealth. One was, for example, sending shredded coconut to Port Moresby, one of the larger port cities in Papau New Guinea. One was exporting cane furniture. Another solar dried tropical fruits, another was selling hemp rope. But one day, in 1983, all these “successful” persons in this particular village were found dead. It turned out that they had all been killed by the local witch doctor, or shaman, at the urging of the village elders, or village leaders. Why? The village elders only saw the technological innovations and the encouragement of entrepreneurship as creating individualism. And they believed that “successful” individuals were no longer contributing to the common good. The Papua New Guinea society was based on community and cooperation. The new economic system that they were trying to introduce was based on individualism and competition. Community/cooperation Individualism/competition As a general rule other cultures value “community” and “cooperation” much more than our culture. One village in Fiji was harvesting, drying, exporting sea cucumbers to Japan. But all the proceeds of the coop went to the village elders for community projects. A dance group performing for a tourist hotel in Tonga did the same with all proceeds from an evening entertaining tourists. None of the participants personally received anything for the work done. In Papua New Guinea, roads were maintained by “youth clubs”, all young men who had reached puberty but were not yet married. Payment did not go to workers but to the common house in which they lived together and was spent for the common good. Anthropologist have described the economy of the African !Kung. The !Kung function as guardians , not possessors, of resources and are guided by the motivation of service to others.Rather than assuming that resources are scarce and that individuals must compete for them, they believe that a greater whole is created by working together, by combined, cooperative action. Collaboration, rather than competition makes more available to all. This is an example of a “synergistic economy” an economy wherein combined cooperative action is the rule as opposed to a “scarcity” economy” wherein competition against each other is the rule. The Japanese place more emphasis on good human relationships than they do on money. The Japanese say that the individual must be submerged in society. In traditional Japanese culture the individual should not stand out, and they should neither expect nor demand recognition for their special talents

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