THE BASIC ELEMENTS OF CULTURE
- 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
- Language as a social product.
- Language, communication and interaction.
- Language, cognition, and reality.
- Language and culture.
- Norms as humanly created rules for behavior.
- The production of norms.
- The need for orderly, stable, predictable interactions.
- The role of power in the production of norms.
- The reification of norms.
- Renegotiating and changing norms.
- Types of norms.
- Social Control.
- Internal social control.
- Socialization and the internalization of norms.
- Ideologies, beliefs, and values.
- External social control.
- Informal sanctions.
- Physical and verbal reactions.
- Embarrassment and stigma.
- Avoidance and ostracization.
- The importance of informal sanctions in small groups and organizations.
- Formal sanctions.
- Formal sanctions in large organizations.
- Governments, laws, and police.
- Courts, hearings, trials, and punishments.
- Theories of deviance.
- Deviance as functional.
- Social disorganization and
- Control theory.
- Structural strain theory.
- Marxist theories.
- Value conflict theory.
- The social construction of deviance.
- Labeling theory.
- Cultural transmission and differential association.
- 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.
- Values are human creations. They are social products.
- Values can and do become reified.
- Values can be renegotiated and changed.
- While people and groups may
disagree as to which are most important, Americans generally value the
- Democracy, liberty, freedom,
independence, autonomy, and individual rights.
- Capitalism, competition, hard
work, self-discipline, and success.
- Wealth, prosperity, materialism,
- Equity, fairness, and justice.
- Equality of opportunity.
- Love, compassion, humanitarianism,
charity, service, and respect for others.
- Tolerance, forgiveness, and
- Faith, religion, family,
conformity, and tradition.
- Nationalism, patriotism, civic
responsibility, and loyalty.
- Health, happiness, and life.
- Education, knowledge, science,
technology, and innovation.
- Complimentary and conflicting values.
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.
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.
- In fact,
many social and political problems can be seen as conflicts between groups emphasizing
- The relationship between norms and values.
- Beliefs and ideologies.
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.
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.
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.
- This suggests that their is no absolute knowledge or absolute truth. All knowledge and truth is relative.
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.
- Some prominent American ideologies.
- Christianity (Protestantism).
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.
- However, it is also possible for a culture to hold ideologies that are conflicting and contradictory.
- The relationship between beliefs and values.
- Social Collectives.
- Social collectives such as groups, organizations, communities, institutions,
classes, and societies are also collectively produced symbolic social constructions.
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
- The symbolic nature of social collectives means that they
are typically justified and maintained by ideological systems and ritualistic
- Although symbolic entities, social collectives have a real impact on our lives.
- Collectives as contexts for interaction.
- Collectives and local cultures.
- Collectives, status, roles, identity, and the self.
- Statuses and Roles.
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.
- Status and group membership.
- Statuses as collective social agreements that become reified over time, but which can and do change.
- Society as a network of inter-related statuses.
- The multiplicity of statuses filled by individuals in modern societies.
- Ascribed and achieved statuses.
- Master statuses--age, sex, race, class.
- Status, prestige, wealth, and power.
- Status inconsistency.
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.
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.
are negotiated and produced during interaction, and often become
reified over time. However, roles can be renegotiated and changed.
- Role set, role strain, role conflict, and role transition.
- Roles, identity, and the self.
- Cultural Integration.
- Cultural integration refers to how interconnected, complimentary, and mutually supportive the various elements of culture are.
- Diversity, complexity, and integration.
- Variation within modern mass cultures.
- Diversity in historical and cultural traditions.
- Local cultures.
- The mass media and cultural integration.
- The relationship between beliefs, values, norms, and behavior.
- The traditional deterministic view.
- The culture as resource view.