Sociology Chapters 4-5: Culture and Society

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Culture

A blueprint according to which the members of a society or a group go about their daily lives. Consists of the common social heritage of beliefs, customs, skills, traditions, and knowledge that members pass on to one another. Also includes the tools we use, the rules we live by, the ideals to which we are committed, and the ideas we express.

Material culture

Things that people attach meaning to and use. Examples: cars, clothing, books, and burial sites.

Nonmaterial culture

The abstract terms that human beings create for the purpose of defining, describing, explaining, clarifying, ordering, organizing, and communicating what they do and how they live. Examples: Languages, ideas, belief systems, rules, customs, and political systems.

Symbol

Something to which a certain meaning or vaule is attached by the person or persons who use it.

Norms

The rules or expectations that govern or to which people orient their behavior. Binding rules whose violation results in some form of punishment.

Values

Things that give meaning and human beings feel certain about. Also represents the ideas that make such things so important that humans are willing to fight, to work, or to give up something of their own in exchange (or as payment) for them.

Folkways

The usual customs and conventions of everyday life. Members of a society or group generally expect one another to conform, but such conformity is not insisted upon. Differs from values in that they lack a moral component.

Mores

Norms of such moral and ethical significance that violation is regarded as a serious matter worthy of strong criticism, anger, punishment, or institutionalization.

Cultural universals

Basic elements essential to individual and collective survival that are found to exist in all cultures.

Cultural variability

The variety of things human beings have devised to meet their needs.

Ethnocentrism

Refers to the attitude that one's culture or ethnic values are the only good and true values and the tendency to judge other cultures by one's own standards.

Cultural relativism

Social scientists' efforts to be objective in their observations by either not imposing their own meaning on the events being observed, or by focusing solely on the reason why the element exists.

Subcultures

Unique cultures and cultural organizations within a larger culture. Not quite completely separate from the large culture.

Countercultures

Cultures whose values, beliefs, and ways of life do not conform to the norm of another culture. They pose a threat to the existence and survival of another culture. Ex: The Ku Klux Klan

Society

Defined in its broadest sense, refers to human association. Any number of people interacting in ways that form a pattern or any social relationship on the basis of common meanings. Defined in a narrow sense, it is a relatively permanent grouping of people living in the same geographic area who are economically self-sufficient, politically independent, and who share a common culture.

Sociocultural evolution

The tendency for society to become more complex over time.

Hunting and gathering societies

Type of society whose economies are based on hunting animals and gathering vegetation.

Horticultural and pastoral societies

Type of society that is characterized by the domestication of animals and the use of hand tools to cultivate plants. Material surplus can develop.

Agricultural societies

Type of society that uses technology to support crops and livestock. Farmers can produce a large surplus.

Industrial societies

Type of society in which complex machinery and energy sources (rather than humans and other animals) are used for production.

Postindustrial societies

Type of society where information is created, processed, and stored.

Social facts

Facts about a society in general, not about any individual person within that society.

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