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Culture: The Lens Through Which We See Everything

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Natalie Ward

on 8 January 2013

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Transcript of Culture: The Lens Through Which We See Everything

Cell phones - silent or vibrate :) Culture controls behaviour and ways of thinking. Culture from the anthropological perspective is:
symbolic, and
integrated Culture is the learned, shared values, beliefs, and rules that structure people’s thinking and behaviour Learned - culture is not biological and people are not born with it. It is socially hereditary rather than biologically hereditary. Shared: - numerous people share the same set of beliefs, values, etc. Values - Collective ideas about what is right or wrong, good or bad. Ideal culture refers to the values and standards of behaviour that people in a society profess to hold

Real culture refers to the values and standards of behaviour that people actually follow Norms - established rules of behaviour or standards of conduct (pay taxes, don’t talk while you eat, say please and thank you). Formal norms are written down and involve punishment for violators (laws)

Informal norms are unwritten standards of behaviour understood by people who share a common identity. Symbolic - Symbols are anything that meaningfully represents something else (wedding rings, flags, peace signs). By placing meanings on things, culture turns objects, actions, etc. into symbols of other things or ideas Integrated - its many parts fit together in a generally (but not necessarily completely) coherent, logical way Organizational Integration
Culture is a system of interconnected parts each affecting, and affected by, many others like systems of production, exchange, and consumption, systems of social relations, family, marriage, class, systems of religious belief and practices and many others.
Changing one aspect generally creates ripples of change through other aspects.

Cognitive Integration
The different ideas, values, beliefs, etc. of the culture fit together logically, they make sense with each other. They often share common some broad, common themes, underlying logic, and values and beliefs. Culture is practical (often put as "adaptive" in the ecological or evolutionary sense). That is, many aspects of culture are ways of dealing with practical problems Culture Culture is also Arbitrary. This means that it is not established by fixed features of the real world. Arbitrary ideas differ from culture to culture. Remember culture is not a force - it is an abstraction •Culture doesn’t assign meanings; people do
•Culture does not do things; people do Overall, culture is a system of meanings – a web of significance (Geertz) “Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretative in search of meaning” (Geertz 1973f:5). We react to meanings and systems of meaning Response to someone exiting a BMW vs. Corolla School desks are appropriate in classrooms, but not in living rooms. Subcultures Subcultures exit within cultures American culture
Goth culture
Youth culture Gamer culture Subculture within a subculture? Boundaries between cultures are fuzzy, not real cultures influence other cultures in different ways Gamer culture
Geek culture
Car (lover) culture Cultural appropriation
The adoption of specific elements from one culture by different cultural group Look for unconscious assumptions Culture is naturalized: The meanings that culture places on the world seem natural, normal, and inherently human. Naïve realism: the assumption that some arbitrary cultural construct is actually a universal; a feature of the real world rather than socially constructed But wait, aren't culture and society the same thing? Culture and society are two different things.
Society is a group of people who interact.
culture is the distinctive ways of life of such a group of people Ethnocentrism Why do white people have black spots? The very common assumption that our own culture is normal, natural, the most sensible and best while cultures or practices that differ from it are abnormal, unnatural, irrational, and inferior, the result of ignorance or superstition. You won’t learn anything from another culture if you assume everything different about it is misguided and wrong. Encourage questioning Cultural relativism Cultural relativism is the view that cultures and practices are best understood in their own context, in their own terms, from the point of view of the people of that culture and the circumstances they are in. Enculturation: the process by which a person learns the requirements of culture Starts from the assumption that people do things for reasons that make sense to them.

Seeks to understand what those reasons are, and why they make sense. BUT! Cultural relativism can technically be used to usurp any argument. Relativistic fallacy, the idea that it is impossible to make moral judgements about the beliefs and behaviours of others. Culture is also practical (or adaptive)
arbitrary Processes of Change Culture Change Contact between Societies Within Society Cultures do not exist in isolation Culture Cultures change, but most are reluctant to Environment Inventions - may be technological or ideological. Tools
Energy source
Transportation Algebra
Change from ruling monarchy to parliamentary system culture loss - inevitable result of old patterns being replaced by new ones Resistant to change: habit and cultural elements (like institutions) Diffusion is the movement of things and ideas from one culture to another. Acculturation is what happens to an entire culture when alien traits diffuse in on a large scale and substantially replace traditional cultural patterns. Transculturation is what happens to an individual when he or she moves to another society and adopts its culture. Stimulus diffusion --a genuine invention that is sparked by an idea from another culture. Culture: The Lens Through Which We See Everything Culture Moment of Zen Culture II
Cells to silent or vibrate Three types: Positive, negative, extreme negative Next Class: Identity & Gender Readings
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