Chapter 3. Culture
Figure 3.1. Graffiti’s mix of colourful drawings, words, and also symbols is a vibrant expression of culture—or, depending upon one’s viewpoint, a mental expression the the creator’s absence of respect because that a community’s shared space. (Photo courtesy of aikijuanma/flickr)

Learning Objectives

3.1. What Is Culture?

Differentiate between society and societyExplain material versus nonmaterial cultureDiscuss the ide of social universalism together it relates to societyCompare and contrast ethnocentrism and also xenocentrism

3.2. Aspects of Culture

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

3.3. Pop Culture, Subculture, and cultural Change

Discuss the roles of both high society and pop culture within societyDifferentiate 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 significant theoretical philosophies to cultural interpretation

Introduction come Culture

Are there rules because that eating in ~ McDonald’s? Generally, we carry out not think around rules in a quick food restaurant, however if friend look approximately one ~ above a common weekday, you will see human being acting as if they were trained for the function of fast 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, customers wad up their paper wrappers and also toss them into garbage cans. Customers’ activity through this quick food regimen is orderly and also predictable, even if no rules room posted and also no officials straight the process.

You are watching: All groups create norms to enforce their cultural values

If you want much more insight right into these did not like rules, think about what would take place if you behaved follow to some various other standards. (You would certainly be law what sociologists contact ethnomethodology: on purpose disrupting social standards in order come learn around them.) because that example, call ahead because that reservations, asking the cashier in-depth questions around the food’s ingredient or exactly how it is prepared. Ask to have actually your meal offered to girlfriend at her table. Or throw your trash top top the ground together you leave. Opportunities are, you will certainly elicit enemy responses from the restaurant employees and also your other customers.

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

In daily conversation, world rarely distinguish between the state “culture” and “society,” but the terms have slightly different meanings, and also the difference is vital to a sociologist. A society describes a team of civilization who re-publishing a typical territory and a culture. By “territory,” sociologists refer to a definable region—as little as a neighbourhood (e.g., east Vancouver or “the west next of town”), as huge as a nation (e.g., Ethiopia, Canada, or Nepal), or what in in between (in Canada, this can include someone who identifies through the West Coast, the Prairies, or Atlantic Canada). To clarify, a culture represents the beliefs, practices and artifacts the a group, while society represents the society structures and also organization the the people who share those beliefs and also practices. Neither culture nor culture could exist there is no the other. In this chapter, we examine the partnership between society and society in better detail, paying special attention to the elements and forces that shape culture, consisting of diversity and social changes. A final discussion touches ~ above the different theoretical perspectives indigenous which sociologists study culture.

3.1. What Is Culture?

Humans space social creatures. Because the dawn the Homo sapiens practically 250,000 year ago, human being have grouped together into areas in order to survive. Living together, people form common habits and behaviours—from details methods of childrearing to desired techniques because that obtaining food. In modern-day Paris, many people shop everyday at outdoor industries to choose up what they need for their evening meal, purchase cheese, meat, and vegetables from different specialty stalls. In the Canada, the majority of world shop once a week at supermarkets, filling large carts come the brim. The Parisian Roland Barthes disdainfully referred to this as “the hasty autumn up” the a “more mechanically civilization” (Barthes 1977).

Almost every person behaviour, native shopping to marriage to expressions of feelings, is learned. In Canada, world tend to view marital relationship as a choice between two people, based on mutual feelings of love. In various other nations and also in various other times, marriages have actually been arranged through an intricate process of interviews and also negotiations between entire families, or in other cases, with a straight system such together a “mail bespeak bride.” come someone raised in Winnipeg, the marriage custom-mades of a family from Nigeria may seem strange, or even wrong. Conversely, who from a classic Kolkata family can be perplexed with the idea the romantic love as the structure for the lifelong meeting of marriage. In various other words, the way in which civilization view marital relationship depends greatly on what they have actually been taught.

Behaviour based on learned custom-mades is not a bad thing. Being acquainted with unwritten rule helps human being feel secure and “normal.” Most world want to live their day-to-day 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 good deal of social propriety.

Figure 3.2. Just how would a visitor from a rural Canadian town act and feel ~ above this crowded Tokyo train? (Photo courtesy the simonglucas/flickr)

Take the case of walk to work-related on publicly transportation. Whether commuting in Dublin, Cairo, Mumbai, or Vancouver, numerous behaviours will be the same in every locations, but significant differences likewise arise in between cultures. Typically, a passenger would find a marked bus avoid 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 to run, due to the fact that buses there frequently do not come to a full stop to take it on patrons. Dublin bus riders would be expected to extend an eight to indicate that they desire the bus to prevent for them. And also when boarding a commuter train in Mumbai, passengers have to squeeze into overstuffed cars amid a the majority of pushing and shoving ~ above the crowded platforms. That type of behaviour would certainly be thought about the height of rudeness in Canada, yet in Mumbai it mirrors the daily challenges of getting about on a train system that is taxed to capacity.

In this instance of commuting, culture consists of thoughts (expectations about an individual space, for example) and also tangible things (bus stops, trains, and seating capacity). Material culture refers to the objects or belongings of a group of people. Subway passes and bus tokens are part of material culture, as room automobiles, stores, and also the physical frameworks where people worship. Nonmaterial culture, in contrast, is composed of the ideas, attitudes, and beliefs the a society. Material and nonmaterial aspects of culture are linked, and physical objects regularly symbolize cultural ideas. A subway pass is a product object, but it represents a type of nonmaterial culture, namely, capitalism, and also the acceptance of paying for transportation. Clothing, hairstyles, and also jewellery are component of product culture, but the appropriateness of wearing details clothing for details events shows nonmaterial culture. A school structure belongs to material culture, yet the to teach methods and also educational requirements are component of education’s nonmaterial culture. These material and also nonmaterial facets of society can differ subtly from an ar to region. As human being travel aside from that afield, moving from different regions come entirely various parts of the world, specific material and also nonmaterial elements of culture become considerably unfamiliar. What happens when we encounter different cultures? as we connect with cultures other than our own, us become more aware that the differences and also commonalities between others’ worlds and our own.

Cultural Universals

Often, a compare of one society to another will reveal apparent differences. Yet all cultures share common elements. Cultural universals room patterns or traits that room globally usual to all societies. One example of a social universal is the family unit: every human society recognizes a family structure the regulates sex-related reproduction and the treatment of children. Also so, just how that household unit is defined and also how it functions vary. In many asian cultures, for example, family members from all generations commonly live together in one household. In this cultures, young adult will continue to live in the expanded household family members structure until they marry and join your spouse’s household, or they may remain and also raise their nuclear household within the expanded family’s homestead. In Canada, by contrast, people are supposed to leave home and also live separately for a period before creating a household unit consist of of parents and their offspring.

See more: Which Statement Describing The History Of The Romans, Egyptians, And Greeks Is True?

Anthropologist George Murdock very first recognized the presence of social universals while examining systems the kinship roughly the world. Murdock uncovered that cultural universals frequently revolve around an easy human survival, such as finding food, clothing, and also shelter, or about shared human being experiences, such together birth and death, or illness and also healing. With his research, Murdock determined other universals including language, the ide of an individual names, and, interestingly, jokes. Humor appears to it is in a universal means to release tensions and also create a feeling of unity among people (Murdock 1949). Sociologists take into consideration humour important to human interaction because it helps people navigate otherwise it s too dirty situations.