THE BASIC ELEMENTS OF CULTURE

  1. Language.
    1. Language is a set of symbols used to assign and communicate meaning. It enables us to name or label the things in our world so we can think and communicate about them.
    2. Language as a social product.
    3. Language, communication and interaction.
    4. Language, cognition, and reality.
    5. Language and culture.

  2. Norms.
    1. Norms as humanly created rules for behavior.
      1. The production of norms.
        1. The need for orderly, stable, predictable interactions.
        2. The role of power in the production of norms.
      2. The reification of norms.
      3. Renegotiating and changing norms.
    2. Types of norms.
      1. Folkways.
      2. Mores.
      3. Taboos.
      4. Rituals.
    3. Social Control.
      1. Internal social control.
        1. Socialization and the internalization of norms.
        2. Ideologies, beliefs, and values.
      2. External social control.
        1. Informal sanctions.
          1. Physical and verbal reactions.
          2. Embarrassment and stigma.
          3. Avoidance and ostracization.
          4. The importance of informal sanctions in small groups and organizations.
        2. Formal sanctions.
          1. Formal sanctions in large organizations.
          2. Governments, laws, and police.
          3. Courts, hearings, trials, and punishments.
    4. Theories of deviance.
      1. Deviance as functional.
      2. Social disorganization and anomie.
      3. Control theory.
      4. Structural strain theory.
      5. Marxist theories.
      6. Value conflict theory.
      7. The social construction of deviance.
      8. Labeling theory.
      9. Cultural transmission and differential association.
         
  3. Values.
    1. Values are anything members of a culture aspire to or hold in high esteem. Values are things to be achieved, things considered of great worth or value.
      1. Values are human creations. They are social products.
      2. Values can and do become reified.
      3. Values can be renegotiated and changed. 
    2. While people and groups may disagree as to which are most important, Americans generally value the following. 
      1. Democracy, liberty, freedom, independence, autonomy, and individual rights.
      2. Capitalism, competition, hard work, self-discipline, and success.
      3. Wealth, prosperity, materialism, and consumerism.
      4. Equity, fairness, and justice.
      5. Equality of opportunity.
      6. Love, compassion, humanitarianism, charity, service, and respect for others.
      7. Tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance.
      8. Faith, religion, family, conformity, and tradition.
      9. Nationalism, patriotism, civic responsibility, and loyalty.
      10. Health, happiness, and life.
      11. Education, knowledge, science, technology, and innovation.
    3. Complimentary and conflicting values.
      1. A groups values tend to compliment and support one another. They tend to be in agreement and make sense when considered together. A careful look at the values above reveals “sets” of values that seem to go together.
      2. However, it is also possible for values to contradict and conflict with each other, especially in complex modern industrial societies.  For example, competition and success can be seen as contradictory to humanitarianism, compassion, service and self-sacrafice; while equity and justice contradict forgiveness and conformity and tradition contradict tolerance and acceptance. 
      3. In fact, many social and political problems can be seen as conflicts between groups emphasizing different values.
    4. The relationship between norms and values.

  4. Beliefs and ideologies.
    1. Beliefs are the things members of a culture hold to be true. They are the "facts" accepted by all or most members. Beliefs are not limited to religious statements, but include all the things a people know and accept as true, including common sense everyday knowledge.
      1. Like all other cultural elements, beliefs are humanly created and produced. They are collective social agreements produced during interaction and reified over time. What is "true" or "factual" for a given people is what they collectively agree to be true at that point in time.
      2. Beliefs can and do change, especially in modern industrial societies. Today we laugh at things our grandparents used to believe and chances are that our grandchildren will laugh at many of our beliefs as well.
      3. This suggests that their is no absolute knowledge or absolute truth. All knowledge and truth is relative.
    2. Ideologies are integrated and connected systems of beliefs. Sets of beliefs and assumptions connected by a common theme or focus. They are often are associated with specific social institutions or systems and serve to legitimize those systems.
      1. Some prominent American ideologies.
        1. Capitalism.
        2. Christianity (Protestantism).
        3. Individualism
        4. Scientism
        5. Sexism.
        6. Racism.
      2. Ideologies are, themselves, often related and connected to each other in complex ideological systems, such that one ideology "makes sense" when considered with another. They also often serve to legitimize each other. Religious ideologies often encompass or subsume many of a culture's ideologies, giving them added legitimacy.
      3. However, it is also possible for a culture to hold ideologies that are conflicting and contradictory.
    3. The relationship between beliefs and values.

  5. Social Collectives.
    1. Social collectives such as groups, organizations, communities, institutions, classes, and societies are also collectively produced symbolic social constructions.
      1. Social collectives are symbolic entities. They are defined into existence when people define themselves as a group or are defined as a group by others. They can and do become reified over time, such that they are seen and treated as real objective entities. However, they remain fundamentally symbolic entities and as such can be renegotiated and redefined.
      2. The symbolic nature of social collectives means that they are typically justified and maintained by ideological systems and ritualistic behavior.
    2. Although symbolic entities, social collectives have a real impact on our lives.
      1. Collectives as contexts for interaction.
      2. Collectives and local cultures.
      3. Collectives, status, roles, identity, and the self.
         
  6. Statuses and Roles.
    1. Status, although related, is not a measure of a persons wealth, power, and prestige. To speak of "high" or "low" status is somewhat misleading. A status is a slot or position within a group or society. They tell us who people are and how they "fit" into the group.
      1. Status and group membership.
      2. Statuses as collective social agreements that become reified over time, but which can and do change.
      3. Society as a network of inter-related statuses.
      4. The multiplicity of statuses filled by individuals in modern societies.
      5. Ascribed and achieved statuses.
      6. Master statuses--age, sex, race, class.
      7. Status, prestige, wealth, and power.
      8. Status inconsistency.
    2. Roles are norms specifying the rights and responsibilities associated with a particular status. The term role is often used to mean both a position in society and role expectations associated with it.
      1. Roles define what a person in a given status can and should do, as well as what they can and should expect from others. Roles provide a degree of stability and predictability, telling how we should respond to others and giving us an idea of how others should respond to us.
      2. Roles are negotiated and produced during interaction, and often become reified over time. However, roles can be renegotiated and changed.
      3. Role set, role strain, role conflict, and role transition.
      4. Roles, identity, and the self.
         
  7. Cultural Integration.
    1. Cultural integration refers to how interconnected, complimentary, and mutually supportive the various elements of culture are.
    2. Diversity, complexity, and integration.
    3. Variation within modern mass cultures.
      1. Diversity in historical and cultural traditions.
      2. Subcultures.
      3. Counter-cultures.
      4. Local cultures.
    4. The mass media and cultural integration.
    5. The relationship between beliefs, values, norms, and behavior.
      1. The traditional deterministic view.
      2. The culture as resource view.