Chapters 2 -3 (Culture & Society)


Lecture Notes:

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CHAPTER 2: Culture

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I. Cognitive Components

  1. Knowledge: collection of ideas and facts about our physical and social worlds, which are relatively objective, reliable, and verifiable.
  2. Beliefs: more subjective, unreliable, or unverifiable

    * As mentioned previously, culture is a combination of subjective and objective beliefs, traditions, etc. It can be subdivided into the values and Norms of a society. By values, we mean socially shared ideas about what is good, desirable, or important. Which brings us to her shared ideas of a society, known as the 'Norms' of a society. Norms are rules that specify how people should behave.

    1. Specific rules dictating how people should act in a particular situation
    2. Values are the general ideas that support the norms

    * Values and norms vary from culture to culture. They {e.g. individualism/socialist collectivism] are subjective in nature, what is good in one society may appear bad in another.

    * Values and norms do change over time.

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II. Norms

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III. Symbolic Component

  1. * Symbol: anything that stands for one or more other things and provide the basis for human communication.
  2. * It is an essential part of culture. It provides the significant gestures and languages of a culture and a sub culture. It is an ongoing means of communication [e.g. slang] and provides the process for becoming fully human.
  1. Human communication is more flexible and open than that of animals, and it is sometimes employs kinesics, body language, and proxemics, the use of space in communication.
  2. Human symbols are arbitrary, that is there is no inherent connection between the word and the thing itself.
  3. Arbitrary means a word that mean whatever a group of humans have agreed it is suppose to mean. [e.g. Policeman/Bobby]
  4. Human Language is an open system, in that we can blend and combine symbols to express our ideas; whereas, animals have a closed system, they can't combine two or more signals at a time and it is limited to a specific set of messages.
  5. In all cultures high-status people tend to invade personal space of a lower-status person more frequently than the other way around.
  6. Edward Sapier: First to hold view that language influence the way we perceive the world around us. Sapier-Whorf hypothesis is the result of Sapier's beliefs which were further developed by his student Benjamin Whorf. It shows how languages structures our perception of the world and demonstrates the power of language in defining reality. [Hope Indians, no verb tense, no distinction between past and present; Eskimos, various words for snow to describe the different types]

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CHAPTER 3: Society


*Is a specific Interactionist theory. It's generally identified with Erving Goffman (THE PRESENTATION OF SELF IN EVERYDAY LIFE,1959).

DEFINITION: refers to the art or technique of composing and presenting self to others.

  1. since one draws one's sense of self in important ways from ways others see self, influencing other's views acts back on one's own sense of self.
  2. if one wants others to act in specific ways managing impressions one gives may encourage that behavior in others .

*NOTE: Idea of impression management is a large contribution to sociological understanding as it provides an alternative to sociological determinism --idea that all human behavior is caused by or determined by social forces that lie outside of individual.

IMPRESSMENT  MANAGEMENT: Concept that allows for the recognition of the ways individuals can manipulate social environment by using social rules and expectations (e.g. rules of etiquette to be polite or impolite, dependent on how we use rules)

  1. giving impression without intention
  2. idea of manipulation (incorrect interpretation of Goffman's focus on manipulation)

Groups and Social Networks:  The two smallest group formations that can occur are

  1. Of the two, triads much more complicated social arrangement
  1. Groups: technical meaning--focuses on important features of social life.

II. Primary/Secondary Groups

  1. Primary Group- developed by Cooley (1909).
    1. characterized by face-to-face, intimate associations and cooperation's.
    2. usually small and close-knit.
    3. relationships among persons very personal
    4. strongly identify with each other as well as with group as a whole.
  2. Secondary Groups
    1. typically large and impersonal
    2. not as intimate nor know each other as completely
    3. ties to the group is weaker
    4. has no profound effect
    5. usually formed for specific purpose
    6. members rarely interact with each other outside of activities oriented toward group goal [p.t.a.,labor unions]

III. In/Out Groups

  1. In-group-one that members are involved in and which they identify.
  2. Out-group-one which outsiders belong.

Reference Group

  1. The Sherif exp.(1935) by Muzafer Sherif Perception-- autokinetic effect-single pin point of right, darkened room.
  2. Asch exp. (1952) Solomon Asch: cards with vertical lines.
  3. Milgram exp. (1974) Stanly Milgram: influence of authority figure, makes one conform; shock low.

Patterns of Social Interaction: Developed by Robert Nisbet(1970)

    Nisbet referred to these patterns as "molecular cement" as they are the basic foundations linking individuals in groups from the smallest to the largest:

1. Exchange: the most basic form and is primarily based upon the concept of reciprocity. Meaning that this "norm of reciprocity" is based upon the idea of exchange as it relates to 'cost' and 'rewards', i.e., give and take, in any level of relationship among individuals, groups, organizations and nations.

2.  Cooperation: Occurs when two or more persons work together to achieve a common goal (need's another's help); can be spontaneous, traditional, directed, or contractual.

3.  Competition: has both positive/negative consequences; two or more individuals or groups aim for the same goal; one trying to achieve before the other.

4.   Conflict: Competition that does not abide by a set of rules; can result in both discord/promotion of needed change.

5. Coercion: Groups or individuals who have social power, referred to as the subordinates, use some form of threat or punishment, via violence or deprivation, to control the actions of those with lesser power, who are referred to as subordinates.

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I. Organizations and Bureaucracies

II. Coercive: force used to control those at bottom of Social Structure. [ prisons /mental hospitals ]

TOTAL INSTITUTION: cut-off from rest of society

III. Normative Organizations: (voluntary)



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 Chapter 5 -  

I.  Socialization

Three Stages of Socialization

  1. Primary socialization - individuals have mastered the basic information and skill required of member of a society.
    1. learned a language and can think logically to some degree
    2. accepted the basic norms and values of the culture
    3. developed the ability to pattern their behavior in terms of these norms and values.
    4. assumed a culturally appropriate social identity
  2. Anticipatory (Adult) socialization - process by which adults learn from primary socialization.
    1. adults are much more aware of the processes through which they are being socialized. ( e.g. engage in training or educational programs in which socialization is the primary goal).
    2. adults often have more control over how they wish to be socialized and therefore can mobilize more enthusiasm for the process.
  3. Resocialization - involves exposure to ideas or values that in one way or another conflict with what was learned in childhood. (college students leaving home for first time,etc.)


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