Chapter 3. Culture
Figure 3.1. Graffiti’s mix the colourful drawings, words, and symbols is a colorful expression the culture—or, depending on one’s viewpoint, a mental expression of 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 culture and societyExplain material versus nonmaterial cultureDiscuss the concept of cultural universalism as it relates come societyCompare and also contrast ethnocentrism and also xenocentrism

3.2. Aspects of Culture

Understand just how values and beliefs different from normsExplain the definition of symbols and language to a cultureExplain the Sapir-Whorf hypothesisDiscuss the function of social control within culture

3.3. Popular music Culture, Subculture, and social Change

Discuss the duties of both high culture and pop culture within societyDifferentiate between subculture and also countercultureExplain the function of innovation, invention, and discovery in cultureUnderstand the role of social lag and also globalization in social change

3.4. Theoretical Perspectives on Culture

Discuss the significant theoretical philosophies to cultural interpretation

Introduction come Culture

Are over there rules for eating at McDonald’s? Generally, we do not think around rules in a fast food restaurant, yet if you look roughly one top top a typical weekday, you will certainly see people acting as if they to be trained because that the role of quick food customer. They was standing in line, pick items native the colourful menus, swipe debit cards to pay, and wait to collection trays the food. ~ a rapid meal, customers wad up their document wrappers and toss them into garbage cans. Customers’ activity through this rapid food routine is orderly and predictable, also if no rules are posted and also no officials direct the process.

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

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

In everyday conversation, civilization rarely distinguish between the state “culture” and “society,” yet the terms have actually slightly different meanings, and also the distinction is vital to a sociologist. A society describes a group of people who re-superstructure a typical territory and a culture. By “territory,” sociologists describe a definable region—as small as a neighbourhood (e.g., east Vancouver or “the west side of town”), as huge as a country (e.g., Ethiopia, Canada, or Nepal), or somewhere in in between (in Canada, this might include someone that identifies through the West Coast, the Prairies, or Atlantic Canada). Come clarify, a culture represents the beliefs, practices and also artifacts the a group, while society represents the society structures and organization the the people who re-superstructure those beliefs and also practices. Neither society nor culture could exist there is no the other. In this chapter, we study the relationship between society and society in higher detail, paying special attention to the elements and forces that shape culture, consisting of diversity and cultural changes. A final discussion touches on the various theoretical perspectives from which sociologists research culture.

3.1. What Is Culture?

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

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

Behaviour based on learned personalizeds is no a bad thing. Being acquainted with unwritten rules helps people feel secure and “normal.” Most people want come live their day-to-day lives confident that their behaviours will not be tested or disrupted. But even an activity as seemingly an easy as commuting to work evidences a an excellent deal of social propriety.

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

Take the case of going to occupational on public transportation. Whether commuting in Dublin, Cairo, Mumbai, or Vancouver, many behaviours will be the very same in all locations, but significant differences likewise arise in between cultures. Typically, a passenger would uncover a marked bus prevent or station, wait because that the bus or train, pay an agent before or ~ boarding, and quietly take it a chair if one is available. Yet when boarding a bus in Cairo, passengers can have to run, due to the fact that buses there often do not concerned a complete stop to take it on patrons. Dublin bus riders would be supposed to prolong an eight to suggest that they want the bus to prevent for them. And also when boarding a commuter train in Mumbai, passengers must squeeze into overstuffed cars amid a lot of pushing and shoving top top the crowded platforms. That kind of behaviour would be taken into consideration the elevation of rudeness in Canada, however in Mumbai it mirrors the daily difficulties of getting around on a train device that is taxation to capacity.

In this example of commuting, culture consists of thoughts (expectations about an individual space, for example) and also tangible things (bus stops, trains, and also seating capacity). Material culture refers to the objects or belongings of a team of people. Subway passes and bus tokens are part of material culture, as are automobiles, stores, and the physical frameworks where civilization worship. Nonmaterial culture, in contrast, consists of the ideas, attitudes, and also beliefs of a society. Material and also nonmaterial facets of culture are linked, and also physical objects regularly symbolize social ideas. A metro pass is a material object, but it represents a kind of nonmaterial culture, namely, capitalism, and the acceptance of paying for transportation. Clothing, hairstyles, and also jewellery are component of product culture, yet the appropriateness of wearing details clothing for details events mirrors nonmaterial culture. A school building belongs to product culture, yet the teaching methods and also educational standards are part of education’s nonmaterial culture. This material and nonmaterial elements of culture can vary subtly from region to region. As world travel farther afield, relocating from various regions come entirely various parts that the world, certain material and nonmaterial elements of culture become significantly unfamiliar. What happens once we encounter different cultures? as we connect with cultures other than our own, us become much more aware of the differences and commonalities in between others’ worlds and also our own.

Cultural Universals

Often, a to compare of one society to one more will reveal evident differences. Yet all societies share typical elements. Cultural universals are patterns or properties that space globally usual to every societies. One example of a cultural universal is the household unit: every human society recognizes a family structure that regulates sexual reproduction and the treatment of children. Even so, how that family members unit is defined and how it functions vary. In many asian cultures, because that example, household members from every generations typically live together in one household. In these cultures, young adults will continue to live in the extended household family members structure until they marry and join your spouse’s household, or they might remain and also raise their nuclear family within the extended family’s homestead. In Canada, through contrast, individuals are meant to leaving home and live individually for a duration before forming a household unit consisting of parents and their offspring.

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Anthropologist George Murdock an initial recognized the visibility of social universals while examining systems that kinship roughly the world. Murdock found that social universals regularly revolve around basic human survival, such together finding food, clothing, and shelter, or about shared human being experiences, such as birth and also death, or illness and also healing. Through his research, Murdock determined other universals consisting of language, the concept of personal names, and, interestingly, jokes. Humor seems to it is in a universal method to release tensions and also create a sense of unity among people (Murdock 1949). Sociologists take into consideration humour vital to human interaction due to the fact that it helps people navigate otherwise it s too dirty situations.