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

Learning Objectives

3.1. What Is Culture?

Differentiate between society and societyExplain product versus nonmaterial cultureDiscuss the principle of cultural universalism together it relates to societyCompare and contrast ethnocentrism and xenocentrism

3.2. Aspects of Culture

Understand exactly how values and also beliefs differ from normsExplain the significance of symbols and also language to a cultureExplain the Sapir-Whorf hypothesisDiscuss the role of social control within culture

3.3. Pop Culture, Subculture, and cultural Change

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

3.4. Theoretical Perspectives ~ above Culture

Discuss the major theoretical viewpoints to cultural interpretation

Introduction come Culture

Are over there rules for eating at McDonald’s? Generally, we do not think about rules in a quick food restaurant, but if girlfriend look roughly one ~ above a typical weekday, you will certainly see people acting as if they to be trained for the duty of rapid food customer. They was standing in line, pick items native the colourful menus, swipe debit cards to pay, and wait to collect trays that food. After ~ a rapid meal, customers wad increase their document wrappers and toss them into garbage cans. Customers’ movement through this quick food routine is orderly and predictable, even if no rules room posted and also no officials straight the process.

You are watching: There is nothing natural about material or nonmaterial culture

If girlfriend want an ext insight right into these unwritten rules, think about what would happen if you behaved according to some various other standards. (You would certainly be act what sociologists speak to ethnomethodology: deliberately disrupting social norms in order to learn about them.) for example, speak to ahead for reservations, ask the cashier in-depth questions about the food’s ingredient or just how it is prepared. Ask to have actually your meal offered to friend at your table. Or throw your trash on the ground as you leave. Opportunities are, you will certainly elicit enemy responses indigenous the restaurant employees and your fellow customers.

People have actually written entire books analyzing the definition of quick food customs. They examine the extensive, detailed physicality of rapid food: the food itself, wrappers, bags, trays, those small ketchup packets, the tables and chairs, and even the restaurant building. Everything about a chain restaurant shows culture, the beliefs and also behaviours that a social group shares. Sociological evaluation can be used to every expression that culture, native sporting events to holidays, from education to transportation, indigenous fashion come etiquette.

In everyday conversation, world rarely distinguish between the terms “culture” and also “society,” however the terms have actually slightly various meanings, and the difference is vital to a sociologist. A society explains a team of civilization who re-publishing a common territory and a culture. Through “territory,” sociologists refer to a definable region—as little as a neighbourhood (e.g., east Vancouver or “the west next of town”), as large as a country (e.g., Ethiopia, Canada, or Nepal), or somewhere in in between (in Canada, this can include someone who identifies v the West Coast, the Prairies, or Atlantic Canada). To clarify, a culture represents the beliefs, practices and also artifacts of a group, while society represents the society structures and also organization the the civilization who re-superstructure those beliefs and practices. Neither society nor culture could exist without the other. In this chapter, we study the relationship between society and society in higher detail, paying special attention come the elements and also forces that shape culture, consisting of diversity and social changes. A final conversation touches on the different theoretical perspectives from which sociologists research study culture.

3.1. What Is Culture?

Humans are social creatures. Because the dawn that Homo sapiens virtually 250,000 years ago, civilization have grouped together into areas in order to survive. Living together, people kind common habits and also behaviours—from certain methods the childrearing to desired techniques for obtaining food. In modern Paris, many people shop day-to-day at outdoor markets to choose up what they require for their evening meal, purchase cheese, meat, and vegetables from various specialty stalls. In the Canada, the majority of people shop as soon as a week in ~ supermarkets, filling huge carts come the brim. The Parisian Roland Barthes disdainfully described this as “the hasty fall up” that a “more mechanically civilization” (Barthes 1977).

Almost every human being behaviour, native shopping to marriage to expressions of feelings, is learned. In Canada, people tend to view marital relationship as a an option between 2 people, based upon mutual feel of love. In other nations and in other times, marriages have been arranged with an intricate procedure of interviews and negotiations between entire families, or in other cases, with a direct system such together a “mail order bride.” come someone elevated in Winnipeg, the marriage customizeds of a family members from Nigeria might seem strange, or also wrong. Conversely, who from a timeless Kolkata family can be perplexed v the idea that romantic love as the structure for the lifelong meeting of marriage. In other words, the method in which human being view marital relationship depends mostly on what they have actually been taught.

Behaviour based on learned customizeds is not a bad thing. Being familiar with unwritten rule helps civilization feel secure and also “normal.” Most people want come live their daily lives confident that their behaviours will not be tested or disrupted. But even an action as seemingly simple as commuting to job-related evidences a great deal of social propriety.

Figure 3.2. Exactly how would a visitor native a countryside Canadian town act and also feel top top this overfilled Tokyo train? (Photo courtesy of simonglucas/flickr)

Take the instance of walking to work-related on public transportation. Even if it is commuting in Dublin, Cairo, Mumbai, or Vancouver, plenty of behaviours will certainly be the same in all locations, but significant differences also arise between cultures. Typically, a passenger would find a significant bus stop or station, wait because that the bus or train, salary an agent before or after boarding, and quietly take a chair if one is available. But when boarding a bus in Cairo, passengers might have come run, because buses there regularly do not involved a full stop to take on patrons. Dublin bus riders would be meant to prolong an eight to indicate that they want the bus to stop for them. And also when boarding a commuter train in Mumbai, passengers should squeeze into overstuffed cars between a lot of pushing and shoving top top the crowded platforms. That sort of behaviour would be thought about the height of rudeness in Canada, however in Mumbai it mirrors the daily obstacles of getting about on a train device that is taxation to capacity.

In this example of commuting, culture consists of think (expectations about an individual space, because that example) and tangible points (bus stops, trains, and seating capacity). Material culture describes the objects or belongings of a group of people. Metro passes and bus tokens are component of material culture, as space automobiles, stores, and the physical structures where human being worship. Nonmaterial culture, in contrast, consists of the ideas, attitudes, and beliefs the a society. Material and nonmaterial elements of culture are linked, and also physical objects regularly symbolize cultural ideas. A metro pass is a material object, but it to represent a type of nonmaterial culture, namely, capitalism, and also the accept of paying for transportation. Clothing, hairstyles, and jewellery are part of material culture, yet the appropriateness that wearing specific clothing for details events reflects nonmaterial culture. A school building belongs to product culture, yet the to teach methods and educational standards are component of education’s nonmaterial culture. These material and also nonmaterial elements of society can vary subtly from an ar to region. As human being travel aside from that afield, moving from different regions come entirely different parts of the world, particular material and nonmaterial facets of society become considerably unfamiliar. What happens as soon as we encounter various cultures? as we communicate with societies other 보다 our own, we become more aware that the differences and commonalities in between others’ worlds and our own.

Cultural Universals

Often, a comparison of one society to an additional will reveal noticeable differences. Yet all cultures share usual elements. Cultural universals space patterns or properties that space globally common to every societies. One example of a cultural universal is the family members unit: every human society recognizes a family members structure that regulates sex-related reproduction and also the care of children. Also so, just how that family members unit is defined and how it features vary. In many asian cultures, because that example, family members members from all generations typically live with each other in one household. In this cultures, young adult will proceed to live in the expanded household family members structure until they marry and also join your spouse’s household, or they may remain and raise your nuclear family members within the prolonged family’s homestead. In Canada, by contrast, people are intended to leave home and live separately for a period before forming a family members unit consisting of parents and their offspring.

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Anthropologist George Murdock first recognized the existence of social universals while examining systems that kinship approximately the world. Murdock found that social universals often revolve around simple human survival, such as finding food, clothing, and shelter, or around shared person experiences, such together birth and death, or illness and healing. Through his research, Murdock identified other universals consisting of language, the concept 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 amongst people (Murdock 1949). Sociologists take into consideration humour vital to human interaction due to the fact that it helps people navigate otherwise it is too dirty situations.