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Intro 3.2: Glob 4.1 Culture
Transcript of Intro 3.2: Glob 4.1 Culture
Turner (2006:47) defines culture as "systems of SYMBOLS that humans create and use to guide BEHAVIOR, INTERACTION and patterns of SOCIAL ORGANIZATION."
A symbol is something that represents an idea, a process, or a physical entity. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning.
Many symbols convey meaning such as status.
Consider brand names - what's the difference?
Of course there are other definitions...
...but this one will do for now.
What kind of symbols can we think of?
A short and simple definiton of culture is "a sum total of systems of symbols among a population of humans." (Turner 2006:72)
Symbols do not have to be MATERIAL (physical).
They can also be NOMMATERIAL (lacking physical form).
An example of a nonmaterial culture is what kind of utensils we use to eat.
Also, Turner notes (2006:73) that "there is no agreed upon definition of culture in the social sciences."
(the nomaterial culture here is not the physical utensils, but of the choice of what, if any, utensils to use; that choice is a symbol. Consider -
what tool utensil will you use in your next meal? Why will you chose it, and would it matter if you chose a different one, or none at all?)
Is one "cooler" to drink?
Is owning this "better" than owning an average car?
VALUES, BELIEFS, and NORMS
are major elements of culture.
VALUES represent overarching moral principles.
BELIEFS represent people’s contextual ideas about appropriate outcomes in particular situations
NORMS represent people’s actual behaviors in social situations
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Most world cultures share a core human value set.
All cultures value the sanctity of human life.
All major world religions value peace, neighborliness, and charity toward the poor.
A recent article in Science magazine (Oct. 2005) demonstrated that values were near-identical among college students in 49 countries.
VALUE SETS DO DIFFER ACROSS COUNTRIES THOUGH
The two dimensions graphed explain over 70% of all measured cultural variation across ten major indicators of culture.
The vertical y-axis represents tradition versus modernity.
The horizontal x-axis represents desire for individual expression.
Since the 1950s, GLOBALIZATION - in many different forms - has been a major force in world culture.
AN IMPORTANT AREA OF BELIEF THAT DIFFERS ACROSS COUNTRIES IS THE APPROPRIATE ROLE OF WOMEN IN SOCIETY
All cultural systems make individuals believe that their values, beliefs and norms are better than those of others.
Members of a culture or country believe they are better than others. Many believe they can interfere in the affairs of others.
English is not the world's most widely spoken language by the number of native speakers...
...but it is the dominant language of global business, diplomacy and the Internet.
Religion is important
Religon is not important
Societies near the traditional pole emphasize the importance of parent-child ties and deference to authority, along with absolute standards and traditional family values, and reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia, and suicide. These societies have high levels of national pride, and a nationalistic outlook. --Human Values and Social Change: Findings from the Values Surveys, Ronald Inglehart, Brill, 2003, p.100
Industrial society values: economic and physical security through hard work is most important .--Inglehart, op. cit., p.103
Post-industrial society values: subjective well-being, self-expression, imagination and quality of life are most important. --Inglehart, op. cit., p.103
Related terms for this phenomana include
The theory behind this process is CULTURAL ASSIMILIATION.
the process by which a smaller group's native language and culture are lost under pressure to assimilate to those of a dominant cultural group
People using the Internet by language:
Wikipedia articles available by language (January 2012):
1: English: 4,300,000 articles
8: Polish 950,000 articles
21: Korean: 215,00 articles
23: Arabic 200,000 articles
World Value Survey confirms: family comes first, work second and leisure, last.
Subcultures and deviance
There are many regional, ethnic, race-based, age-based, education-based, and even gender-based SUBCULTURES.
There are even subcultures specific to universities. University subcultures are very different from mainstream culture and they are even different from each other.
DEVIANT SUBCULTURES are those that embrace values, beliefs, and norms that differ from the majority culture.
SUBCULTURE is a group of people within a culture (whether distinct or hidden) which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong
DEVIANCE means actions or behaviors that violate social norms, including formally-enacted rule as well as informal violations of social norms
LABELING THEORY states that it is the tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from standard cultural norms.
In other words, being deviant is not good or bad from the ethical perspective. But being different from majority automatically labels one as deviant.
David Brin in his Dogma of Otherness theory argues that the modern world is seeing a major cultural change: the growth of tolerance - the acceptance that cultural values may not be universal, and that we should accept that values of other cultures may be as good as ours.
Can we think of examples of cultures that were not tolerated in Korea in the past but became accepted in recent years?
How are members of a subculture seen by members of the dominant culture?
Can we think of some examples of subcultires present in Korea?
ETHNOCENTRISM - judging other cultures solely by the values and standards of one's own culture.
Beliefs are more specific then values.
Is family important? The answer to this quesiton concerns the value of the family.
Norms tells us what is appopriate in a given situation.
According to the functionalist school, the function of norms is to dictate the interactions of people in all social encounters.
According to the conflict school, norms are used to promote the creation of roles in society which allows for people of different levels of social class structure to be able to function properly.
Language and technology
Language and technology are key systems of symbols.
Whether a society has a written language affects how much information the members can store and how.
Members of preliterate societies had much better memory than we do.
Mathematic and logic can also
be seen as languages.
Technology has affected all elements of our lives.
For example, without technology, most people in the world would die: we would not have the technology to grow that much food, transport it and store it.
Without technology, our societies would be much smaller.
How well you can speak the global English language determines whether you are part of the global culture.
Symbols are created by humans but rarely intentionally.
Culture, technology, media, capitalism and free culture.
Three basic subcultures at the university include: students, faculty and administration.
In modern society, many symbols can be lifted from their original context.
One classic way in which this has been happening is commercalization.
Analysis of this problem dates to Marx, who wrote about commodification of values: the transformation of goods, ideas, or other entities that may not normally be regarded as goods into a commodity.
One example of values that have been commodified is education: when you have to pay for your education, you are no longer learning just for the sake of acquiring knowledge - you are buying a certin product.
Another way that symbols can change are through remixing.
Disney took classic European fairy tales and made them into movies.
Studio Ghibli did it for Asian fairy tales and made them into anime movies.
Today many people use the internet to remix culture, consider sites such as YouTube.
Technology in the context of society and culture can be defined as "systems of symbols organized into knowlege about how to manipulate the environment." (Turner 2006:87)
Language in the context of society and culture can be defuned as "systems of symbols used in communication." (Turner 2006:87)
Benefits of speaking English are clear. But can we think of any drawbacks?
Would the world be a better or worse place if we all spoke a single language?
How has globalization changed our society?
Can we think of other examples?
Can we think of any other examples of remixed culture? How have the symbols used in them been changed?
In the past, people remixed culture though folkclore.
Graffiti remixes many symbols and architecture itself.
Computer language is an example briding language and technology. Computer programs have changed our culture in many ways, for example by bringing us video games, now a major industry and cultural force.
Korean Wave, popularizing Korean culture worldwide, relies on TV but even more so on the Internet.
Our cuisine has been changed due to modern technology. Thanks to modern agriculture and transportation, our diet has changed drastically over the last century - for example we eat much more meat than our ancestors.
Can we think of any examples how technology has changed our culture?
Why do different cultures view women differently?
Just what is deviant behavior depends on the setting. Same behavior can be normal in one place and deviant in another.
Deviance is also culture-specific.
What is deviant in one society or subculture is normative in another (for example, dreadlocks or tattoos).
AMERICAN SOCIOLOGIST ROBERT K. MERTON FORMALIZED DURKHEIM’S CONCEPT OF ANOMIE INTO A FUNCTIONALIST THEORY OF DEVIANCE
Deviant behavior is most common when people do not have the means to achieve the goals they believe in - which results in STRUCTURAL STRAIN
Goals may be based on either cultural (conformist, innovator) or counter-cultural (ritualist, retreatist) beliefs
Merton places special emphasis on rebels, who he thought were responsible for moving societies forward
LABELING and CONFLICT theories suggest that societies create deviance
People at the bottom of the social hierarchy are LABELED deviant
The behaviors they engage in are thus defined as deviant behaviors
behaviors associated with almost every low-SES (SocioEconomic Status) group in society are labeled deviant
Internet users by language
Website content languages
Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:InternetUsersByLanguagePieChart.svg
COGNITIVE SURPLUS is a term coined by Clay Shirky. Shirky argues is that people are now learning how to use more constructively the free time afforded to them since the 1940s for creative acts rather than consumptive ones, particularly with the advent of online tools that allow new forms of collaboration.
Listen to Shirky talk about his idea: http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html
Do you agree with his idea that our society is now having a cognitive surplus, and with it, the unprecedented ability to express ourselves and change the world?
Shirky notes that Wikipedia represents the investment of
100 million hours
(up to 2009), compared to
2 billion hours
we spend watching TV every year.
We waste most of our free time on activities that are not very constructive - watching TV, playing games, etc.
Yet with only a fraction of our free time we are able to create great projects such as Wikipedia.
Some documentaries on remixes:
RIP: A Remix Manifesto
Sample remix: Star Trek parody of Gangam style
South Korean parody of Les Miserables
Nothing is original, says Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix. From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, he says our most celebrated creators borrow, steal and transform.
We're at a unique moment in history, says UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown: we can use today's interconnectedness to develop our shared global ethic -- and work together to confront the challenges of poverty, security, climate change and the economy.
Britain's former prime minister Gordon Brown played a key role in shaping the G20 nations' response to the world's financial crisis, and was a powerful advocate for a coordinated global response to problems such as climate change, poverty and social justice
Are our values becoming homogenized?
Is this a problem?
- are not very religious
- value hard work
- value material, physical well being over more spiritual well being
Would you agree?
Compared to world average
You can watch this video for
and blog about this questions
You can watch and blog about some of the documentaries here for
In some places, hijab is a normal headwear for women
Who is the deviant here?
One person stands out in a crowd
Who is the deviant here?
Trekkies (or fans of Star Trek) are a subculture; they share specific understandings and meanings that those outside their subculture may not understand.
The punk subculture, which centres on punk rock music, includes a diverse array of ideologies, fashions and forms of expression, including visual art, dance, literature and film.
Subcultures are not only about clothing. Consider the hacker subculture: a team competing in the CTF competition at DEF CON 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Picking one's nose is an example of informal deviance
What may be the most popular Korean symbols?
The following link shows most popular Korean topics (read in English Wikipedia) as of last month:
What else can we learn from the World Values Survey?
The World Values Survey (WVS) is a global research project that explores people’s values and beliefs, how they change over time and what social and political impact they have. It is carried out by a worldwide network of social scientists who, since 1981, have conducted representative national surveys in almost 100 countries. The WVS is the only source of empirical data on attitudes covering a majority of the world’s population (nearly 90%)
World Values Survey
Let's compare Korea to several other countries: each group should chose one country.
Then we will look at the variables. Each group should select one question (variable) of interest. Then you'll try to guess the answers. We will then compare your guesses with the WVS responces.
Max Weber defined belief as committed seriousness and practical commitment to a set of values, even at the expense of personal interests.
If family is important (value), then our beliefs about family will stress that we have to dedicate much of our lives to it. They may state for example that if there is death in family, people have to sacrifice less important values (skip work, school, leisure) to attend a funeral.
CUSTOMS are norms with long history (tradition) - at least 3 or more generations.
MORES are norms which are more important than others.
Read more about this graph at:
You dress differently work work/school or a disco.