Recognizing Culture Discussion

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Within the written assignment, respond to the following questions with your thoughts, ideas, and comments. 


Culture means many things. It includes all of the elements discussed in chapter 4, such as people, language, and places, as well as customs and beliefs, social habits, foods, music, and art. All these elements express the way a group of people sees the world and how they live in the world.

In chapter 4, we discuss how sociologists identify culture and subcultures, and how both have unique components—language, values, norms (behaviors), and symbols.

For this written assignment, you will dive deeper into the culture by completing the following: 

1.         Using the textbook, define each of the four components of culture: language, values, norms (behaviors), and symbols. Be sure to paraphrase and cite your sources if applicable. 

2.         Next, choose a popular movie of your choice, or your favorite movie that you have enjoyed (There is a list of movie suggestions located on Black Board). My Movie Choices I would like you to choose from are: The Green Mile, Freedom Writers, or The Blind Side (I am attaching a list of other movies that are acceptable just in case you haven't seen any of the 3 that I listed, but please communicate with me first about which movie you are choosing.)

3.         For your chosen movie, provide specific examples and describe each component of culture:  (language, values, norms, and symbols) found within your chosen movie.

4.         Each movie could be said to represent a subculture of mainstream society. From your chosen movie example: demonstrate in your explanation how each of the four components of culture:  (language, values, norms, and symbols) are considered a subculture compared to mainstream American culture.

5.         Your cultural identity and cross-cultural perspective: Write a conclusion paragraph, compare and contrast (in other words, discuss similarities and differences), between the components of culture from your chosen movie and your own cultural identity. For example, discuss some of the norms, values, language, and symbols that are similar to your lifestyle and culture and those that are different from your own culture in the movie. How can you effectively interact with those of a different culture or subculture different from your own?



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Culture Assignment: You can pick your favorite movie, or any movie you like- Here is also: List of some movie suggestions for the culture assignment: Film: Freedom writers, Year: 2007 Film: Love, Simon, Year: 2018 Film: The Green Mile, Year: 1999 The Help, Year: 2011 The Breakfast Club, 1985 Stand and Deliver, 1988 Pursuit of Happyness, 2006 Mean Girls, 2004 Crash, 2004 Dead Poet’s Society, 1989 Shawshank Redemption, 1994 The Green Mile, 1994 Remember the Titans, 2000 The Hate U Give,2018 The Blind Side,2009 Love, Simon, 2018 The Merchants of Cool, PBS, 2001 Norma Rae, 1999 Wall Street, 1999 Tall Girl, Netflix, 2019 Dumplin, Netflix, 2018 Hotel Rwanda,2004 A League of their Own, 1992 Instructor Resource Korgen, Sociology in Action, 2e SAGE Publishing, 2021 Lecture Notes Chapter 4: Recognizing Culture Learning Objectives 4.1 What is culture? 4.2 What are some ways that the different elements of culture influence everyday life? 4.3 How do societal types relate to variations in culture? 4.4 How do changes to our culture shape our behaviors and ways of viewing the world? 4.5 In what ways can you use cultural capital to help both yourself and society? Chapter Outline I. Defining Culture A. Culture: way of life of a particular group of people, and the distinct characteristics. i. Nonmaterial culture: concepts like norms, values and beliefs, symbols, and language. ii. Material culture: artifacts designed for leisure like flat-screen TVs or Xboxes. a. Material culture reflects the values and beliefs of the people who live in a culture. B. Finding Culture i. Belief that materials are necessary reflect the social construction of reality, the ways that people give meaning to the world around them through interaction with other people. ii. Absolute value versus relative value. Example: a valued baseball is stolen. Importance of the baseball to self. a. Sentimental value causes stress, anxiety. b. People give value to material things. c. Once a value is established, and we believe it is real, we think, feel, and behave based on that understanding not on any “objective” value it has. C. Constructing Culture Instructor Resource Korgen, Sociology in Action, 2e SAGE Publishing, 2021 i. Culture socially constructed, created through interactions among people. ii. Language of a culture changes over time: a. Even languages shared by a whole culture change as we add and drop words over time research is research designed to produce results that are immediately useful in relation to some real-world situation. b. Words as symbols to describe our material goods, beliefs, values, hopes and fears, and every other aspect of our culture. In turn, they become part of our culture and indicate who we are as a people. iii. We don’t notice our culture and its influence on us until we look at it from a different cultural perspective, such as wider travelling. a. If we think all values were relative, then it is difficult to have a coherent sense of the world or to create stable relationships. II. Identifying Elements of Culture A. Patterns of behavior, though mundane, provide a framework to make decisions. i. At job, one must work in tandem with another person to complete a task. B. Difficult to coordinate activities with other people without routines. C. Social Norms i. Norms: expectations about appropriate thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a variety of situations. ii. Violation of norms: Murder is one of the worst norm violations. iii. Generalized other: collective knowledge of people that we bring to each situation. iv. People have agency or the ability to act and think independently of social constraints. v. Mores: widely held beliefs about what is considered moral and just behavior in society. a. Violation of mores threatens society’s stability. b. Governments create laws to enforce many mores: prison for violating some mores. vi. Folkways: rules of behavior for routine interactions. a. If violated, might lead to annoyance but would not threaten society. Instructor Resource Korgen, Sociology in Action, 2e SAGE Publishing, 2021 vii. Whether individuals follow or go against the norms, they are society’s guideposts for our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. viii. Status and Roles a. Each society creates statuses and roles. b. Status: relative position in society. c. Roles: expectations about how people of a given status should think, feel, and behave. d. Status is about relative power and respect. D. Values and Beliefs i. Values and Beliefs: two other basic elements of culture. a. Values are what a society holds to be desirable, good, and important. b. Beliefs are what we deem to be true. ii. All values are beliefs, but not all beliefs are values. iii. People hold on to their values and beliefs and find ways to prove them to be true. iv. Beliefs relate to family upbringing. v. Mechanism for transmitting beliefs is through observation and reinforcement. vi. Other aspects of children’s environment can affect beliefs and attitudes. vii. Society and its institutions (education, economy, and family) impact our culture. viii. Robin Williams developed a list of American values in 1970. E. Symbols and Language i. Symbol refers to anything that has the same meaning for two or more people. a. Convey meaning to large numbers of people and instill both thoughts and emotions. b. Yield intense feelings of pride. ii. Political leaders use symbols all the time. iii. Each culture creates its own set of symbols. iv. Language: a series of symbols used to communicate meaning among people in the form of written letters, words, body language. a. Allows us to create levels of complexity in meaning not coming from pictures or sounds. Instructor Resource Korgen, Sociology in Action, 2e SAGE Publishing, 2021 b. String together thoughts and feelings to create larger ideas with several dimensions. c. Is a framework of meaning that two or more people use to make decisions in everyday life. d. Change over time. v. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis or linguistic relativism: language influences our understanding of reality above and beyond the meaning of its symbols. vi. Words give ability to understand an object, person, or phenomenon in a much deeper way. vii. Symbols and language are a vital part of the social construction of reality. viii. Technological inventions prompt the creation of new words. III. Typology of Societies A. Affiliation with people who share aspects of common lifestyle. B. Technology is the driving force in the development of society. C. Population growth leads to cultural complexity and the development of subcultures. D. Hunter-Gatherers i. Groups in which people who use simple tools to gather available plants and to hunt animals. ii. Few groups of hunter-gatherers still exist today: These people are nomadic, and their food supply is limited to what is available to them at a given location. iii. They lack the stability of place and time. iv. Each group develops its own culture mostly related to food production. v. These societies tend to be more egalitarian than modern societies. E. Horticultural/Pastoral Societies i. Hand tools, domestication of animals, basic sustenance of people in one location. ii. Changes allow populations to grow and people begin to specialize. a. People split up the work of community life. iii. Focus on the community and survival rather than personal development or technology. F. Agrarian Societies Instructor Resource Korgen, Sociology in Action, 2e SAGE Publishing, 2021 i. Extensions of horticultural and pastoral societies except in size and scope of farming. ii. More advanced tools for much higher levels of production and a larger population. iii. Many agrarian-type societies still exist. iv. When societies gain more education and technology, people can expand their businesses, education, or even leisure activities. v. Types of culture: a. High Culture: culture of elites; use their excess money on traveling and to pay skilled artisans to make things for them. b. Popular Culture: culture that exists among common people. c. Lenski’s typology of society demonstrates the ways that technological changes can affect the type of society that we live in. G. Industrial and Postindustrial Societies i. Development of consumer culture. ii. Wealthy people invest in art and culture. a. Growth of more obscure art. b. Musicians and other artists become wealthy. c. Middle-class people participate through education and enjoyment through films, visiting libraries and museums. IV. Considering Cultural Variations A. Culture changes over time; historical events impact cultural heritage. B. Changes in law reflect changing norms. C. Subcultures and Multiculturalism i. Subcultures: cultural groups that exist within another, larger culture. a. Subcultures reflect immigration patterns, creating neighborhoods, material culture. b. Take on elements of two different cultures, creating a new subculture. ii. Multiculturalism: people respect differing cultures and honor their unique contributions to a larger, “umbrella” culture with multiple subcultures. Instructor Resource Korgen, Sociology in Action, 2e SAGE Publishing, 2021 iii. One group espouses values or beliefs that conflict with the mainstream culture, they become a counterculture. a. People live in group homes; give up personal possessions for the good of the group. b. Some countercultural groups threaten a society in the form of domestic terrorism. D. Cultural Relativism and Global Culture i. Cultural Relativism: cultures cannot be ranked as better or worse than others (Franz Boas). ii. Cannot judge people or their culture; each culture is unique. iii. Cultural universals: cultural practices that exist in most or all societies. iv. Cultural attributes spread when some societies spread out and dominate others. a. Culture introduced through colonization and the growth of capitalism. b. Western countries can affect other parts of the world without consciously trying to do so. c. Conscious attempts to spread Western values especially democracy and freedom. V. The Power of Culture A. Cultural tools help us interact with others effectively. B. Appropriate “netiquette” for interacting with people in different forums. C. Cultural knowledge can help to advance in both personal and professional arenas D. People get into trouble for saying offensive things or posting images that conflict with the values of the general public. E. Cultural Capital and Social Intelligence i. Cultural capital: A type of capital related to education, style, appearance that promotes social mobility. ii. Cultural capital helps to gain employment; provides the information people use when deciding if others are part of their group. iii. Social Intelligence a. Refers to our ability to understand social relationships and get along with others using cultural capital. Instructor Resource Korgen, Sociology in Action, 2e SAGE Publishing, 2021 b. People with social intelligence have great social skills and work well with others. c. Psychologist Daniel Goleman popularized the expression “social intelligence” in the 1990s. d. People with social intelligence know the appropriate cultural cues in their society (a sign of cultural capital) and can accurately read the cues given off by others. F. Culture and Identity i. Cultural capital and social intelligence are housed in us through our social identities. ii. Social identities are unique set of statuses, roles, and traits that each of us has. a. We develop our identities based on statuses and roles available to us. b. We rarely accept all the cultural expectations associated with a given role in a culture. c. We incorporate elements of culture with our own, individual way of doing things. iii. Synergy between our culture and individual traits makes our identity unique. iv. Social identity gives us the power to change ourselves and society. a. Visiting a new neighborhood or shelter for homeless people gives us exposures. v. People work together to change the larger culture under the right circumstances.
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In the components of culture, language refers to...

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