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Chapter 3: Culture

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on 1 September 2015

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Transcript of Chapter 3: Culture

Chapter 3: Culture
What is culture?
Culture is:

- A way of life
- Often taken for granted
- Learned, not biological

5 Key elements:
- Symbols, language, values, beliefs, norms
Whose culture is dominant culture?

Dominant culture
prevailing ideas and practices of those with power in a given society

cultural group within a larger dominant group; distinct norms, values and lifestyles

subculture whose values and norms are oppositional to dominant culture
the recognition, valuing, and protection of distinct cultures

unreasonable fear and hatred of people from other cultures

judgment of another culture by the standards of your own, assuming your culture is superior

Cultural relativism-

understanding a culture by its own standards

Anything that stands for something else (sound, gesture, image, object).
Elaborate system of symbols allowing people to communicate.

How many languages are there in the world? How many languages do you speak?

Saipr-Whorf hypothesis
structure of language affects perceptions of reality of speakers and therefore affects thought patterns and world views.

Values and Beliefs
culturally defined standards that people use to decide what is desirable, good, and beautiful and that serve as broad guidelines for social living.

specific statements that people hold to be true.

Values are abstract standards of goodness and beliefs are particular matters that people accept as true or false

Reality Check
Does the Sapir-Wharf thesis imply that people have the power to change reality by changing their symbols?

What happened for example, when people in the US started using words like “Cancer, Abuse, Rape - Survivor?” Instead of VICTIM…

So called Political Correctness responds to power of language to influence a culture.

Key Values in dominant US Culture
- Equal opportunity
- Individual achievement
- Material comfort
- Democracy and free enterprise
- Freedom

Rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members.

- Encourages conformity
Cultural Terms
Do we praise high culture because it's "better" than
popular culture, or because it's supporters have
more money, power, and prestige?
Subculture or counterculture?
Subculture or counterculture?
High culture-

cultural forms of elites ("high brow")

Popular culture-

cultural forms of the masses ("low brow")
High and Popular Culture
What kind of music do you prefer?

Is there any type of music you don't like?

Your turn
Cultural Taste
Musical preferences: why do you like what you like?

Do your friends like similar music?

a persons cultural patterns of choice and preference (Bourdieu)
- Those in power define what is considered "good taste"
- Remember, who tends to be in power?

Taste cannot be separated from social relations and social dynamics--this is why certain groups of people tend to "like" certain similar things


Cultural Capital-
forms of knowledge, taste, preferences used to promote social mobility
beyond economic means


Can earning cultural capital change your (perceived) social class?

Subcultural capital-
cultural knowledge and commodities acquired by members of a subculture to help
themselves from others
- Authenticity is key!


- Attributes?
- Potential problems?

- The Paradox of Choice
Consumer Culture: The United States
Hedonic Treadmill:

tendency of humans to return to relatively stable level of happiness despite major changes, positive or negative with no major gains in happiness.
So does buying stuff make you happy? For a moment...
Culture Jamming-

tactic used by anti-consumption activists to disrupt or subvert mainstream media intentions
Resisting Consumer Culture
Is it effective?

What depletes sub-
cultural capital?
Purchasing Power
Ethical Consumerism:
consumer activism through purchasing; voting with your dollar

intentionally abstaining from purchasing a product or supporting a company

intentionally purchasing a product or supporting a company

Is this effective? Do you do it?

10 questions/ multiple choice, true-false
Chapters 1-3

GradeIT Scantron form
V number

The Story of Stuff
Full transcript