UNIT III.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE
No society exists without a culture and equally no culture could exist without society in this chapter, you will learn important concepts that will help you better understand society and culture. The chapter also explains how the structural functionalists and conflict theorists view society’s norms and why deviation from these norms occur. Objectives: After the discussions and exercises, the students will be able to: 1. Explain the major concepts related to culture and society; 2. Explain and differentiate the various theoretical views of culture; 3. Identify some issues related to our own and other cultures; 4. Develop a general acceptance of our own tolerance for other cultures. Methods: Lecture discussion, exercises, show and tell, collection of cultural artifacts Major concepts: culture, sociocultural systems, cultural universals and diversity, subculture and counterculture, ethnocentrism, cultural relativism, culture shock, the elements of culture. I. SOCIETY 1. Definitions of society Society is the totality of social organization and the complex network of interconnected, interdependent, and overlapping social relationships. Its members interact and interrelate with each other and share a common culture and territory (Panopio et.al. 1994; Macionis 2003)
2.

Types of Societies (Palispis 1996) Hunting and food gathering societies are the earliest form of human society. They are subsistence societies that forage for vegetation and game on the basis of what is needed for each day’s existence. b. Horticultural societies are those that plant gardens and fields using only human muscle power and hand-held tools. They are two types: c. Pastoral societies rely on herding and the domestication of animals for existence. Animals raised provide milk, dung for fuel, skin, sheared fur, and even blood (which is drunk as a major source of protein in East Africa). Pastoral societies develop in many regions not suitable for plant domestication. Since pastoral groups follow their herds in quest for pasture and water, these groups are relatively small and mobile.
a.

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d.

Agricultural societies cultivate plants with the use of plow. Early agriculture did not yield much more than the food gatherers were able to harvest in naturally rich environments. With the use of irrigation, farming became capable of producing huge surpluses—enough to feed large numbers of people who did not produce food for them. Reliance on agriculture had dramatic and interrelated consequences for society. Ever-growing populations came together into broad river valleys. Agriculture also made land that was suitable for farming into a valuable resource. Those who controlled access to arable land soon became a rich and powerful since they could demand the payment of taxes and political support. Industrial societies arose as a result of the Industrial Revolution, the changes brought about by industrialism which used mechanical means for the production of goods. The Industrial Revolution began in a small way by the mid 18th century and gained momentum by the turn of the 19th century. Industrial societies require an immense, mobile, diversely specialized, highly skilled and well-coordinated labor force. Industrial societies have tremendous shifts in population and have led to the establishment of bureaucracy. Post-industrial societies depend on specialized knowledge to bring about continuing progress in technology, compared to industrial societies that depend on inventions and advances made by craftspeople. In the post-industrial society, there is the spread of computer industries. Advances in this field are made by highly trained specialists who work to increase the capabilities of computers. The computer is the symbol of the post-industrial society, and knowledge and information are society’s hallmarks.

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3. Societies as Sociocultural Systems (Lenski and Lenski) • • • Societies are social and cultural units The social and cultural aspects of human life is inextricably intertwined Culture is a social product

4. Systems Needs of Human Societies (Lenski and Lenski) Communication among its members—Without communication social behavior is impossible. Every society has at a minimum a spoken language 2. Production of goods and services –production for physical and psychic needs is largely a cooperative effort and it needs a vast store of information not only in production but on how members can contribute to wards the satisfaction of one another’s needs 3. Distribution of goods and services that are produced—The solutions to to problems of distribution are essentially cultural solutions.
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Protection of members from the threats posed by the environment (physical hazards, other organisms, and other human societies—society must protect its members individually and collectively through culture in terms of techniques for protection, healing and warfare. Members must also live long enough to carry out their functions to raise the next generation to adulthood. 5. Replacement of the members (reproduction)—biological reproduction to perpetuate society’s genetic heritage but the cultural heritage must also be preserved for that society to survive through socialization. 6. Regulation and control of behavior of the members—to ensure that the vital of society gets done and to prevent conflicts among members that disrupt societal life.
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5. Basic Components of Sociocultural Systems 1. Population: a. Genetic constants-those that are rooted in our species’ common genetic heritage: the ability to reason and devise cultural solutions to social problems, powerful emotions and appetites every society’s most precious resource and cause of its many problems. b. Genetic variables—they are absent or occur in different forms in other individuals; not distributed equally among societies; color of skin, texture of hair, eye shape, blood type, etc. c. Demographic variables—size, density, distribution, migration, age, sex, deaths and births, etc. 2. Culture a. Symbol systems (Language; spoken and written, body gestures, etc) b. Information-every culture has a substantial store of information about the: 1. biophysical world: plant and animal life, minerals, soil, water, climate, etc 2. society itself; origins, history its people, its heroes 3. ultimate causes of events in this world 4. coping with recurring problems from food to social conflict 5. guiding individuals in making judgments about what is good and beautiful and right 6. satisfying culturally activated and intensified needs such as the desire for artistic expression or for ritual 3. Social Structure—the network of relationships among members of a society c. Individual—the building block in every social structure d. Role e. Groups

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f. Statuses g. Classes II. CULTURE b. Definition of Culture Culture – the values, beliefs, behavior, and materials objects that, together, form a peoples way of life. It includes what we think, how we act, and what we own. Culture helps us make sense of ourselves and the surrounding world (Macionis 2003). It is the complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, laws, customs, and other capabilities and habits acquired by individuals as members of society (Taylor 1974 in Panopio et al. 1994). c. Types of Culture Nonmaterial culture is the intangible world of ideas created by members of a society (thoughts) ♦ Material culture is the tangible things created by members of a society

d. Theories of Culture Culture as a mode of adaptation (Schwartz 1968). The culture of any society represents an adaptation or adjustment to the various conditions of life, including their physical, social, and supernatural environment. ♦ Behavior as biologically based (Edward Wilson 1975). Social behavior is determined by inborn genetic traits similar to the influence or genetic traits on lower animals. Social groups adapt to their environment through the evolution of genetic traits or by genetic mutation and natural transmission. This adaptation shapes human behavior. Thus, human behavior like aggression, love, greed or spite can be explained in terms of genetically based transmission. The existence of behavior patterns or culture universals indicate that much of culture is biologically inherited rather than learned.
♦ e.

Characteristics of Culture (Palispis 1996)

♦ ♦ ♦

Culture is a product of human behavior. It is always transmitted through learning. It always gratifies human needs. It always tends toward integrating a society.

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f.

Functions of Culture (Zulueta 1998) ♦ Culture provides behavioral patterns. ♦ Culture maintains the biologic functioning of the group. ♦ Culture gives meaning and direction to one’s existence. ♦ Culture offers ready-made solutions to man’s materials and nonmaterial problems. ♦ Culture develops a person’s attitude and values and gives conscience.

g.

Components of Culture (Panopio et. Al. 1994; Macionis 2003)
a.

Knowledge – total range of what has been learned or perceived as true; body of information accumulated through experience, study, or investigation ♦ Natural knowledge – accumulated facts about the natural world, including the biological and physical aspects ♦ Technological knowledge – knowledge of nature which are useful in dealing with practical problems (e.g. knowledge of the methods of acquiring food, dealing with diseases, means of transportation, tools and implements, weapons of war) ♦ Supernatural knowledge – perceptions about the actions of gods, goddesses, demons, angels or spirits, natural beings like shamans, witches, or prophets who are held possess supernatural powers ♦ Magical knowledge – perceptions about methods of influencing supernatural events by manipulating certain laws of nature in simple sacred societies with a traditional way of life, supernatural and magical knowledge influences social behavior. While modern advanced societies rely more on natural and technological knowledge. Norms – (or social norms) are prescriptions and standards of behavior expected to be followed; ideas in the minds of the members of a group put into statements specifying what members of the group should do, ought to do, or are expected to do under certain circumstances (Homans 1950) ♦ Guides or models of behavior which tell is what is proper and which is not, appropriate or inappropriate, right or wrong ♦ Pertain to society’s standards of propriety, morality, ethics, and legality ♦ Vary from society to society or from group to group within a society, differ according to the age, sex, religion, occupation, or ethnic group Sanctions (punishment and reward from others) promote conformity to norms. They operate a system of social control. When a person fails to conform adequately to a culture’s norm, social control

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comes into play. (Lenski and Lenski) Sanctions used are ridicule, raised eyebrows, critical and sarcastic remarks, disapproval and embarrassment to those who do not conform. The following are forms of social norms: folkways, mores, and laws
i.

Folkways – norms for routine and casual interaction; everyday matters of politeness; general rules, customary and habitual ways and patterns of expected behavior within the society where it is followed without much thought given to the matter. They are considered the “right” way but are not rigidly enforced by society. Folkways include rules of eating, drinking, smoking, dressing, sleeping, dancing and working, ceremonies and rituals, polite behavior in institutional settings. Mores – norms that are important to the welfare of the people and their cherished values; consists mostly of taboos. They have great moral significance and strong sanctions. They apply to sex behavior, marriage and family relations, physical and moral aggression against members of a group, betrayal of a group, attitudes toward authority, religion and the unfortunates in society, dealings in business and the varied professions, and other vital matters which involve group welfare. Violations of mores result in strong disapproval and even severe punishment. Mores distinguish between right and wrong; folkways draw the line between right and rude.

ii.

iii.

Laws – formalized norms enacted by people who are vested with governmental power and enforced by political and legal authorities designated by the government. Laws regulate or control the people’s behavior and conduct. Enforcement of laws is hard when the laws do not reflect folkways and mores. If laws are to be strong, society must search for their bases in folkways and mores.
c.

Values and Beliefs – Values are culturally defined standards by which people assess desirability, goodness, and beauty, and that serve as broad guidelines for social living. They are abstract concepts of what is important or worthwhile and indicate the social conscience of the group. They motivate and determine the behavior of people to a great extent and become the means of social control. Beliefs are specific statements that people hold to be true. People consider, consult, and depend on their body of beliefs for certain courses of action. The following values were found by Fr. Jaime Bulatao, SJ, to be held highly by the Filipinos: emotional closeness and security in the family; authority

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value (approval by the authority figure), economic and social betterment, and patience, suffering, and endurance.
d.

Language and Symbols – Language is the system of symbols that allows people to communicate with one another and transmits culture from one generation to the next. Human culture cannot exist without language. Language makes us aware of our limitations and ultimate mortality and enables us to dream and hope for a future better than the present. The possession of language is the most distinctive cultural attribute. Symbol is anything that carries a particular meaning recognized by people who share culture (e.g. word, whistle, flashing red light graffiti). Culture relies on symbols. Eye winking has different meanings: it can convey interest, understanding or insult. Artifacts and Technology – Artifacts are tangible human creations. They reflect a society’s technology (knowledge that people use to make a way of life in their surroundings). To understand artifacts fully, know their uses, body of knowledge and skills for their effective use, and beliefs and values attached to them.

e.

7. Related Concepts Culture Shock--Culture shock is personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life. It is inability to read meaning in new surroundings which leaves a person feeling lost and isolated, unsure of how to act, and sometimes frightened.
a. b.

Cultural Universals--Cultural universals are similarities in the broad areas of culture. These are norms, values, beliefs, and conditioned emotional responses shared among members of the society. Examples of cultural universals are: calendar, cleanliness, training, courtship, dancing, gift giving, hospitality, incest taboos, and marriage. Factors that contribute to the existence of cultural universals are biological similarities, necessary prerequisites for social living psychic unit of mankind and geographic environment. Cultural Diversity (Panopio and Rolda 1988)--Cultural diversity is the wide range of differences in the various aspects of culture and social organization. While people all over the world have similar biological drives and needs, the ways of meeting them differ. Each culture adapts to its environment in its distinctive way. Factors that give rise to cultural differences are king of environment with which the society lives; human and natural resources available within this environment; extent and intensity of exposure the society has to other from which they can borrow ideas; and cultural heritage.

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d.

Ethnocentrism and Xenocentrism--Ethnocentrism is the practice of judging another culture by the standards of one’s own culture. It considers one’s ways as the right, appropriate, and moral way. Ethnocentrism increases one’s appreciation and commitment to one’s own culture thereby strengthening group morale and enhancing group solidarity and individual self esteem. It leads to nationalism and love of country. Extreme ethnocentrism increases resistance to change, encourages the exclusion of outsiders who may have something good to contribute, encourages racism, discourages integration efforts, increases intergroup hostility and conflict resulting to ingroupoutgroup feeling, and prevents change that would be beneficial to all (Salcedo et.al. 2001). Xenocentrism believes that what is foreign is best, and that one’s own lifestyle, products, or ideas are inferior to those of all others. Strong feelings of xenocentrism cause people to reject their own group. Cultural Relativism--The logical alternative to ethnocentrism is cultural relativism the practice of evaluating a culture by its own standards. Culture is relative and no cultural practice is good or bad in itself. It is good if it integrates smoothly with the rest of the culture. There is no single universal standard to evaluate any culture. A cultural pattern or trait must be viewed in terms of its meaning, function or significance in the culture of which it is a part. In such a way, we develop understanding and tolerance for people in other cultures (Panopio and Rolda 1988). Cultural relativism requires understanding unfamiliar values and norms and it is important especially that people of the world are coming into increasing contact with one another (Macionis 2003). Subculture and Counterculture (Panopio and Rolda 1988-Subculture is the way of life of a subgroup with a society that is formed on the basis of age, sex, social class, occupation, religion, or ethnic groupings. The subgroup develops a unique set of norms, attitudes, and values that give them a distinct identity from the dominant culture. The norms and values of subcultures or small cultures may not conform with the dominant or national culture. Counterculture--A subculture that contradicts the norms and values of the dominant culture.- Its members develop folkways and ideas that may come in some conflict with the larger culture. Among these are the groups of juvenile delinquents, drug addicts, criminals, smugglers, or prostitutes.

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8. Cultural Change

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ultural change is change in the distinctive way of life of the people, such as changes in tools; changes in norms, values, and knowledge; addition of new words or alteration in structure of the language; changing norms of morality, ethics, and propriety; new forms of government and political parties; rise of new sects and religions; new discoveries and findings in science; and alterations in the forms of music, dance, poetry, and other arts. These changes are accompanied with changes in social organizations, patterns of social relations, values, and attitudes (Panopio and Rolda 1988). Cultural changes are caused by: 1) invention (creating new cultural elements); 2) discovery (recognizing and better understanding something already in existence, and 3) diffusion (spread of cultural traits from one society to another). 9. A Global Culture? Societies around the world are increasingly coming into contact with one another as shown by global economy (flow of goods), global communication (flow of information) and global migration (flow of people). These global links make cultures of the world similar but the formation of global culture should consider these facts: 1) The global flow of goods, information, and people is uneven. Urban areas have stronger ties with one another while rural areas remain isolated. North America and Western Europe influence the rest of the world. 2) People in many parts of the world cannot afford various new goods and services. 3) People do not attach the same meaning to cultural practices found in many parts of the world (Macionis 2003). 10. Sociology of Culture ♦ The Structural-Functional Model

Under structural-functionalism, norms and roles contribute to the ongoing social processes. Norms spell out social expectations. Roles are appropriate ways to act in various social situations. Norms and roles are structurally produced and contribute to the ongoing functioning of society. They are the result of social agreements and are transmitted through social structures. Attempts to devise new norms and new roles are temporary adjustments of the social system and lead to stronger social understandings that allow society to continue to function. New gender role expectations, for example, may be only temporary deviance or may lead to a new set of acceptable norms and roles. Knowledge of acceptance of norms and roles promotes the smooth functioning of society. Social structures such as agents of socialization ensure continuity by passing on acceptable understandings.

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Merton’s theory of anomie is structural-functional. Deviance occurs when members of society do not have access to or reject acceptable social goals and means. Those who find new ways of doing things or who do new things are deviant because they do not contribute to the existing normative order. Deviance, in the view of structural-functionalists, is either functional or dysfunctional to society. Deviance can help or hurt society. ♦ The Conflict Model

According to the conflict model, norms and roles are regular ways to distribute society’s resources—money, power, and prestige. Most norms and roles operate to the advantage of some and to the disadvantage of others. The acceptance of norms and roles as they exist perpetuates an unequal distribution of society’s resources and therefore inequality. Attempts to devise new understandings that are more equitable. New gender roles would lead to more equality between the genders and would allow men and women to achieve without regard to extraneous limitations due only to labels, not ability. Deviance is one way to achieve a more equitable social order. Those without access to political power, jobs, or education use protest in an attempt to restructure society. Deviance can be a positive force in society, giving groups more input into society’s decision-making structures.

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