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

Learning Objectives

3.1. What Is Culture?

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

3.2. Facets of Culture

Understand how values and beliefs different from normsExplain the significance of symbols and language to a cultureExplain the Sapir-Whorf hypothesisDiscuss the duty of social manage within culture

3.3. Pop Culture, Subculture, and social Change

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

3.4. Theoretical Perspectives top top Culture

Discuss the major theoretical philosophies to cultural interpretation

Introduction come Culture

Are there rules for eating at McDonald’s? Generally, we perform not think around rules in a quick food restaurant, however if friend look around one ~ above a common weekday, you will certainly see world acting together if they to be trained for the duty of fast food customer. They stand in line, choose items from the colourful menus, swipe debit cards to pay, and also wait to collect trays the food. ~ a rapid meal, customers wad up their document wrappers and also toss them into garbage cans. Customers’ activity through this quick food routine is orderly and also predictable, even if no rules space posted and also no officials direct the process.

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If you want much more insight into these did not like rules, think about what would occur if friend behaved according to some various other standards. (You would be law what sociologists call ethnomethodology: on purpose disrupting social standards in order come learn around them.) for example, speak to ahead for reservations, ask the cashier detailed questions around the food’s ingredient or just how it is prepared. Ask to have actually your meal offered to friend at her table. Or throw your trash on the ground together you leave. Opportunities are, you will certainly elicit hostile responses native the restaurant employees and also your fellow customers.

People have written whole books analyzing the definition of fast food customs. They examine the extensive, thorough physicality of quick food: the food itself, wrappers, bags, trays, those tiny ketchup packets, the tables and also chairs, and also even the restaurant building. Everything around a chain restaurant reflects culture, the beliefs and also behaviours that a social team shares. Sociological analysis can be used to every expression of culture, indigenous sporting occasions to holidays, from education and learning to transportation, from fashion come etiquette.

In everyday conversation, human being rarely distinguish in between the terms “culture” and also “society,” but the terms have slightly different meanings, and the distinction is important to a sociologist. A society explains a group of people who share a common territory and also a culture. By “territory,” sociologists describe a definable region—as little as a neighbourhood (e.g., eastern Vancouver or “the west next of town”), as big as a nation (e.g., Ethiopia, Canada, or Nepal), or what in between (in Canada, this can include someone who identifies through the West Coast, the Prairies, or Atlantic Canada). Come clarify, a society represents the beliefs, practices and also artifacts of a group, while society represents the society structures and organization the the human being who re-publishing those beliefs and practices. Neither culture nor society could exist there is no the other. In this chapter, we examine the relationship between society and society in better detail, paying distinct attention come the elements and also forces that shape culture, including diversity and social changes. A final conversation touches on the various theoretical perspectives native which sociologists study culture.

3.1. What Is Culture?

Humans space social creatures. Because the dawn the Homo sapiens almost 250,000 year ago, world have grouped together into areas in order to survive. Living together, people type common habits and behaviours—from particular methods of childrearing to wanted techniques because that obtaining food. In modern-day Paris, many civilization shop everyday at outdoor markets to choose up what they need for their evening meal, buying cheese, meat, and also vegetables from different specialty stalls. In the Canada, the bulk of civilization shop once a week in ~ supermarkets, filling huge carts come the brim. The Parisian Roland Barthes disdainfully described this together “the hasty autumn up” that a “more mechanical civilization” (Barthes 1977).

Almost every human being behaviour, indigenous shopping to marriage to expressions of feelings, is learned. In Canada, human being tend to view marital relationship as a selection between 2 people, based on mutual feeling of love. In various other nations and also in various other times, marriages have actually been arranged v an intricate process of interviews and also negotiations in between entire families, or in other cases, through a straight system such as a “mail order bride.” come someone increased in Winnipeg, the marriage personalizeds of a household from Nigeria may seem strange, or even wrong. Conversely, someone from a timeless Kolkata family could be perplexed with the idea of romantic love together the foundation for the lifelong commitment of marriage. In other words, the way in which people view marital relationship depends greatly on what they have been taught.

Behaviour based upon learned custom-mades is no a poor thing. Being familiar with unwritten rule helps human being feel secure and also “normal.” Most civilization want to live their daily lives confident that their behaviours will not be challenged or disrupted. Yet even an action as seemingly simple as commuting to occupational evidences a an excellent deal of cultural propriety.

Figure 3.2. Just how would a visitor from a countryside Canadian city act and feel top top this overfilled Tokyo train? (Photo courtesy the simonglucas/flickr)

Take the instance of walk to work-related on windy transportation. Whether commuting in Dublin, Cairo, Mumbai, or Vancouver, plenty of behaviours will certainly be the exact same in all locations, but significant differences also arise between cultures. Typically, a passenger would find a significant bus protect against or station, wait for the bus or train, pay an agent prior to or ~ boarding, and quietly take a seat if one is available. Yet when boarding a bus in Cairo, passengers might have come run, because buses there regularly do not pertained to a full stop to take it on patrons. Dublin bus riders would be supposed to prolong an arm to indicate that they desire the bus to avoid for them. And when boarding a commuter train in Mumbai, passengers need to squeeze right into overstuffed cars between a lot of pushing and shoving on the overfilled platforms. That sort of behaviour would certainly be thought about the elevation of rudeness in Canada, however in Mumbai it reflects the daily difficulties of getting roughly on a train system that is taxation to capacity.

In this example of commuting, culture consists of think (expectations about an individual space, because that example) and tangible things (bus stops, trains, and seating capacity). Material culture refers to the objects or thing of a team of people. Metro passes and bus tokens are part of material culture, as room automobiles, stores, and the physical structures where world worship. Nonmaterial culture, in contrast, consists of the ideas, attitudes, and beliefs of a society. Material and also nonmaterial aspects of culture are linked, and physical objects regularly symbolize social ideas. A metro pass is a product object, but it represents a form of nonmaterial culture, namely, capitalism, and also the accept of paying for transportation. Clothing, hairstyles, and also jewellery are component of material culture, but the appropriateness of wearing particular clothing for specific events reflects nonmaterial culture. A school building belongs to material culture, but the teaching methods and educational standards are part of education’s nonmaterial culture. This material and nonmaterial facets of society can vary subtly from region to region. As civilization travel farther afield, relocating from various regions come entirely different parts that the world, particular material and also nonmaterial elements of culture become drastically unfamiliar. What happens once we encounter various cultures? together we interact with societies other 보다 our own, us become more aware of the differences and also commonalities between others’ worlds and our own.

Cultural Universals

Often, a comparison of one society to one more will reveal evident differences. But all cultures share typical elements. Cultural universals room patterns or characteristics that space globally common to every societies. One example of a social universal is the family unit: every human society recognizes a family members structure the regulates sex-related reproduction and also the treatment of children. Also so, exactly how that household unit is defined and also how it functions vary. In many asian cultures, for example, household members from all generations typically live with each other in one household. In this cultures, young adult will proceed to live in the prolonged household family members structure till they marry and also join their spouse’s household, or they might remain and raise their nuclear family members within the prolonged family’s homestead. In Canada, by contrast, people are intended to leave home and also live independently for a duration before forming a household unit consist of of parents and their offspring.

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Anthropologist George Murdock very first recognized the visibility of social universals while researching systems the kinship approximately the world. Murdock found that social universals often revolve around simple human survival, such as finding food, clothing, and shelter, or roughly shared person experiences, such together birth and also death, or illness and also healing. Through his research, Murdock figured out other universals including language, the ide of an individual names, and, interestingly, jokes. Humor appears to it is in a universal way to release tensions and also create a sense of unity among people (Murdock 1949). Sociologists consider humour vital to human being interaction due to the fact that it helps people navigate otherwise tense situations.