Chapter 3. Culture
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Figure 3.1. Graffiti’s mix the colourful drawings, words, and also symbols is a vivid expression the culture—or, depending on one’s viewpoint, a disturbing expression of the creator’s lack of respect for a community’s common space. (Photo courtesy of aikijuanma/flickr)

Learning Objectives

3.1. What Is Culture?

Differentiate between culture and societyExplain product versus nonmaterial cultureDiscuss the principle of social universalism as it relates to societyCompare and contrast ethnocentrism and xenocentrism

3.2. Facets of Culture

Understand how values and beliefs differ from normsExplain the definition of symbols and language come a cultureExplain the Sapir-Whorf hypothesisDiscuss the duty of social control within culture

3.3. Popular music Culture, Subculture, and social Change

Discuss the roles of both high society and pop culture within societyDifferentiate in between subculture and countercultureExplain the role of innovation, invention, and also discovery in cultureUnderstand the role of cultural lag and also globalization in cultural change

3.4. Theoretical Perspectives ~ above Culture

Discuss the major theoretical approaches to cultural interpretation

Introduction come Culture

Are over there rules because that eating at McDonald’s? Generally, we carry out not think around rules in a fast food restaurant, however if girlfriend look approximately one ~ above a common weekday, you will certainly see human being acting as if they were trained because that the duty of quick food customer. They stand in line, choose items native the colourful menus, swipe debit cards to pay, and wait to collect trays that food. After a quick meal, client wad increase their record wrappers and toss them right into garbage cans. Customers’ movement through this quick food program is orderly and also predictable, even if no rules space posted and also no officials direct the process.

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If girlfriend want an ext insight into these undeded rules, think about what would occur if you behaved according to some various other standards. (You would be act what sociologists call ethnomethodology: on purpose disrupting social norms in order come learn about them.) for example, speak to ahead for reservations, questioning the cashier in-depth questions about the food’s ingredient or just how it is prepared. Ask to have actually your meal served to you at her table. Or throw her trash top top the ground together you leave. Chances are, you will certainly elicit enemy responses indigenous the restaurant employees and your other customers.

People have written whole books assessing the definition of rapid food customs. They study the extensive, comprehensive physicality of rapid food: the food itself, wrappers, bags, trays, those tiny ketchup packets, the tables and chairs, and also even the restaurant building. Everything around a chain restaurant shows culture, the beliefs and also behaviours the a social group shares. Sociological evaluation can be applied to every expression the culture, indigenous sporting events to holidays, from education and learning to transportation, indigenous fashion to etiquette.

In day-to-day conversation, human being rarely distinguish between the terms “culture” and “society,” yet the terms have actually slightly various meanings, and also the difference is essential to a sociologist. A society defines a group of world who share a typical territory and a culture. By “territory,” sociologists refer to a definable region—as small as a neighbourhood (e.g., eastern Vancouver or “the west next of town”), as huge as a country (e.g., Ethiopia, Canada, or Nepal), or what in in between (in Canada, this might include someone who identifies with the West Coast, the Prairies, or Atlantic Canada). To clarify, a society represents the beliefs, practices and artifacts that a group, while society represents the society structures and organization of the people who re-superstructure those beliefs and practices. Neither culture nor culture could exist without the other. In this chapter, we examine the partnership between culture and culture in better detail, paying distinct attention come the elements and also forces that form culture, including diversity and social changes. A final discussion touches ~ above the different theoretical perspectives native which sociologists research culture.

3.1. What Is Culture?

Humans are social creatures. Since the dawn the Homo sapiens nearly 250,000 year ago, civilization have grouped with each other into communities in order to survive. Life together, people kind common habits and also behaviours—from specific methods that childrearing to wanted techniques because that obtaining food. In modern-day Paris, many world shop daily at outdoor sectors to pick up what they need for your evening meal, buying cheese, meat, and vegetables from different specialty stalls. In the Canada, the majority of human being shop when a week at supermarkets, filling huge carts to the brim. The Parisian Roland Barthes disdainfully described this together “the hasty stocking up” the a “more mechanically civilization” (Barthes 1977).

Almost every person behaviour, from shopping to marital relationship to expressions of feelings, is learned. In Canada, people tend come view marriage as a an option between 2 people, based upon mutual feelings of love. In other nations and in other times, marriages have been arranged with an intricate process of interviews and also negotiations in between entire families, or in various other cases, v a direct system such as a “mail bespeak bride.” to someone raised in Winnipeg, the marriage customs of a household from Nigeria may seem strange, or also wrong. Conversely, who from a classic Kolkata family could be perplexed through the idea the romantic love as the structure for the lifelong commitment of marriage. In other words, the method in which human being view marriage depends largely on what they have actually been taught.

Behaviour based on learned custom-mades is not a negative thing. Being familiar with unwritten rule helps civilization feel secure and also “normal.” Most world want to live their daily lives confident that their behaviours will certainly not be challenged or disrupted. But even an activity as seemingly basic as commuting to work-related evidences a great deal of cultural propriety.

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Figure 3.2. Just how would a visitor indigenous a landscape Canadian city act and feel ~ above this overfilled Tokyo train? (Photo courtesy that simonglucas/flickr)

Take the situation of walking to occupational on windy transportation. Even if it is commuting in Dublin, Cairo, Mumbai, or Vancouver, plenty of behaviours will be the same in all locations, but significant differences additionally arise in between cultures. Typically, a passenger would discover a significant bus prevent or station, wait because that the bus or train, pay an agent before or ~ boarding, and quietly take it a chair if one is available. However when boarding a bus in Cairo, passengers might have come run, due to the fact that buses there often do not concerned a full stop to take on patrons. Dublin bus riders would be supposed to expand an eight to indicate that they want the bus to avoid for them. And when boarding a commuter train in Mumbai, passengers need to squeeze into overstuffed cars amid a the majority of pushing and shoving on the crowded platforms. That sort of behaviour would certainly be taken into consideration the height of rudeness in Canada, however in Mumbai it shows the daily difficulties of getting roughly on a train device that is taxed to capacity.

In this example of commuting, society consists of think (expectations about personal space, because that example) and tangible points (bus stops, trains, and also seating capacity). Material culture describes the objects or thing of a group of people. Subway passes and also bus tokens are part of product culture, as are automobiles, stores, and also the physical structures where civilization worship. Nonmaterial culture, in contrast, consists of the ideas, attitudes, and beliefs that a society. Material and nonmaterial facets of culture are linked, and also physical objects frequently symbolize social ideas. A metro pass is a material object, however it to represent a form of nonmaterial culture, namely, capitalism, and the accept of paying for transportation. Clothing, hairstyles, and also jewellery are part of product culture, yet the appropriateness of wearing certain clothing for certain events reflects nonmaterial culture. A school building belongs to product culture, however the teaching methods and educational standards are component of education’s nonmaterial culture. This material and nonmaterial elements of society can differ subtly from an ar to region. As people travel furthermore afield, moving from various regions to entirely different parts that the world, specific material and also nonmaterial facets of culture become considerably unfamiliar. What happens when we encounter different cultures? together we communicate with societies other than our own, we become more aware that the differences and commonalities between others’ worlds and our own.

Cultural Universals

Often, a compare of one culture to another will reveal obvious differences. But all cultures share typical elements. Cultural universals are patterns or characteristics that are globally common to all societies. One example of a cultural universal is the household unit: every human culture recognizes a household structure the regulates sex-related reproduction and also the treatment of children. Even so, just how that family members unit is defined and also how it features vary. In many eastern cultures, for example, household members from all generations generally live with each other in one household. In this cultures, young adults will proceed to live in the extended household family members structure till they marry and also join your spouse’s household, or they may remain and raise their nuclear family within the expanded family’s homestead. In Canada, through contrast, individuals are intended to leaving home and also live separately for a duration before forming a family members unit consist of of parents and their offspring.

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Anthropologist George Murdock an initial recognized the visibility of cultural universals while examining systems the kinship approximately the world. Murdock found that cultural universals frequently revolve around basic human survival, such together finding food, clothing, and also shelter, or roughly shared human experiences, such as birth and also death, or illness and also healing. With his research, Murdock identified other universals including language, the ide of personal names, and, interestingly, jokes. Humor seems to it is in a universal way to release tensions and create a sense of unity amongst people (Murdock 1949). Sociologists consider humour vital to human being interaction due to the fact that it helps individuals navigate otherwise tense situations.