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UB SOC 101 - Components of Culture, Continued

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Components of Culture, ContinuedNorms are the expectations, or rules of behavior, that develop out of a group’svalues.Norms exert considerable force, as actors consult them in order to anticipate how they are expected and not expected to act in a given situation. Norms also, therefore, guide the distribution of sanctions, both positive (rewards) and negative (punishments). Sanctions are the positive or negative reactions to subscribing or violating norms.Norms vary in terms of their importance to a culture.Folkways are norms that regulate superficial and largely inconsequential behaviorMores are norms that are believed to be essential to core values and we insist onconformity. A person who steals, rapes, and kills has violated some of society’smost important mores.Taboos are norms so strongly ingrained that even the thought of them is greetedwith revulsion. Eating human flesh and having sex with one’s parents areexamples of such behavior.Ethnomethodology Cultural FormsDominant Culture The culture of the most powerful group in a given society that sets the cultural expectations that constitute the culture’s or society’s major belief system. 1The dominant culture often sets the standards by which other cultures in a society are judged.Outmoded concept?Subcultures Subcultures are groups whose values and related behaviors are so distinct that they settheir members off from the dominant culture.There are two types of subculture groups: the Aesthetic Subculture one that simply differs from the wider culture. U.S. society contains tens of thousands of subcultures. Some are quite broad(teenagers), while others are narrow (body builders). Some ethnic groups formsubcultures, as do certain occupational groups.Oppositional Subcultures resist particular social institutions or practices (may also be labeled counterculture). Countercultures are often perceived as a threat by the dominant culture becausethey challenge the culture’s valuesFor example, the Mormons in the 1800s challenged the dominant culture’s corevalue of monogamy.Subcultures can live within dominant society or outside of it:Subculture as Total Institution - Subculture in Operation in Society – 2The purposes of subcultures and countercultures:Gives people a place where they are empoweredConnects likeminded peopleMakes invisible people visibleAllows people to escape the identity they are born intoGives people a place to construct identityCULTURAL CAPITALSymbols and Meanings: SemioticsThe study of how a society produces meanings and values in a communication system is called semiotics, from the Greek term semion, "sign". (Here "sign" has a specialized meaning, referring to our social and cultural vehicles for signification or meaning.) For instance, in the human mind, the word (image) "tree" is connected to a concept of a tree. Communication through signs is two-part:1. The level of expression, like the bare acoustic impression of speech sounds, a gesture or the visual impression of written marks and images, is called the signifier.2. The level of content or value, what is associated with the signifier in a language is called the signified What allows both parts to function as a whole unit of social meaning is a code.3The code is the rule for combining a sensory impression with a mental content, and the basic signifiers in a language into a system of meanings.< Another example is the visual language of universal signage, such as road signs, signs at airports, or signs on car dashboards. These can all be understood by people who do not share a common language but who do share an agreed understanding (code) of what these visual signs and signifiers mean. So the meaning of signs is not directly 'transmitted' to us. We must learn the codes in order to convey meaning and to understand meaning. A symbolic message . An indexical message 4An iconic message Signs can have polysemic (interpreted in many different ways) meanings.Signs can be recoded by their context . .


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