Introduction to Sociology – Culture

Introduction to Sociology – Culture


>>All right, in this unit we’re going to talk
about culture. First, what is culture? Where does it come from? And how do we know what
it is; how do we learn it? Culture is the learned and shared behaviors, beliefs, attitudes,
and values that characterize a particular society. People who have studied culture for
a long time have basically discussed it in the following ways: culture is shared, we
learn it from other people, it’s transmitted from one generation to the next, and it’s
always changing. We tend to look at our current society and say, “This is the way things have
always been.” But, historically we can look back and see the evolution of culture over
time. Think about how T.V. has changed over time. The kinds of things that we see on T.V.
are tremendously different from what people watched on T.V. in the 1950s and 1960s. Culture
is composed of two main parts. There is the material culture, the things that are created
by the people who live in a society. When we look at ancient societies, we see the artifacts
that are left behind. That’s part of their culture. We learn about how they interact
with each other because of the things they left behind. And there is also the non-material
culture. It’s the attitudes, and the beliefs, and the symbols that represent something that
is only understood by people in that culture. For example, when I do this in America, it
means peace. In some societies, it means victory. In other societies, it’s actually a vulgar
gesture. Each society has a different interpretation of what this gesture means. And that’s what
culture is. It’s the shared interpretation of things that are created or things that
symbolize the culture. Culture is also about those set of rules that
explain how people in that culture should act. There are three types of rules. These
rules are called norms, the way we should act. The first is the folkway. It’s the it’s
the minor violations that if you violate these these rules, people are maybe disappointed
but not very angry about it. The second level of norm is called the mores. It’s the thing
that is much more serious, that people would be much more upset about, but you won’t get
arrested for doing these things. The last type of norm is called the law. Violating
these rules will result in the government, the police arresting you, trying you in a
court, and sending you to prison or punishing you somehow. All of these norms describe how
people should behave in a culture. And if you violate these norms, even the minors ones,
people will react to them somehow. They will sanction you, either by congratulating you
for doing a good job, a positive sanction. Or if someone is disappointed in your behavior,
they can treat you with a negative sanction, some kind of punishment. The goal there would
be to have you not commit that violation again. So culture defines the things that we do in
the society. It also defines the rules that we have to follow to live in the society.
If we don’t follow the rules, we’ll get sanctioned or punished for violating the rules. All right,
go ahead and read the material in this in this unit and make sure that you use the resources
I provided for you as well. All right, good luck.

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