3. • culture “is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art,
law, morals, custom, and other capabilities and habits acquired by
man as a member of society” (Tylor, 1958).
• “Culture is the complex whole that consists of all the ways we think
and do and everything we have as members of society” (Bierstadt,
• THE CONCEPT OF CULTURE
• all that human beings learn to do, to use, to produce, to know, and
to believe as they grow to maturity and live out their lives in the
social groups to which they belong.
• all human groups have a culture, but it often varies considerably
from one group to the next.
• In every social group, culture is transmitted from one generation to
the next. Unlike other creatures, human beings do not pass on many
behavioral patterns through their genes. Rather, culture is taught
and learned through social interaction.
4. • Culture Vs Biology
Human behaviors are highly
variable and changeable, both
individually and culturally.
It is through culture that human
beings acquire the
means to meet their needs
needs. We must eat, sleep,
protect ourselves from
the environment, reproduce, and
nurture our young,
or we could not survive as a
species. In most other animals,
such basic biological needs are
met in more or less
identical ways by all the
members of a species through
inherited behavior patterns or
5. • Culture Shock
• the difficulty people have adjusting to a new culture that differs
markedly from their own.
• Every social group has its own specific culture, its own way of seeing,
doing, and making things, its own traditions. Some cultures are quite
similar to one another; others are very different
• Culture shock can also be experienced within a person’s own society.
Picture the army recruit having to adapt to a whole new set of
behaviors, rules, and expectations in basic training—a new cultural
• Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism
• Ethnocentrism - People often make judgments about other cultures
according to the customs and values of their own,
Think of current encounter that makes you experience
6. • Can lead to prejudice and discrimination and often
results in the repression or domination of one group by
• Example: an American might call a Guatemalan
peasant’s home filthy because the floor is made of
packed dirt or believe that the family organization of the
Watusi (of East Africa) is immoral because a husband
may have several wives.
• cultural relativism: the recognition that social groups and
cultures must be studied and understood on their own
terms before valid comparisons can be made.
• taken to mean that social scientists never should judge
the relative merits of any group or culture. This is not the
• an approach to performing objective cross-cultural
7. • does not require
researchers to abdicate
standards. In fact, good
social scientists will
take the trouble to spell
out exactly what their
standards are so that
both researchers and
readers will be alert to
possible bias in their
8. THE IMPORTANCE OF CULTURE
• we are not born with the information we need to survive
We do not know how to take care of ourselves, how to
behave, how to dress, what to eat, which gods to worship,
or how to make or spend money. We must learn about
culture through interaction, observation, and imitation in
order to participate as members of the group.
• culture is essential for individuals, it is also fundamental
for the survival of societies. Culture has been described as
“the common denominator that makes the actions of
individuals intelligible to the group” (Haviland, 1993: 30).
• societies need rules about civility and tolerance toward
others. We are not born knowing how to express kindness
or hatred toward others.
10. • Material Culture: Material culture consists of human
technology—all the things human beings make and use,
from small, handheld tools to skyscrapers.
• material culture provides a buffer between humans and
their environment. Using it, human beings can protect
themselves from environmental stresses, as when they
build shelters and wear clothing to protect themselves from
the cold or from strong sunlight.
• humans use material culture to modify and exploit the
• Using material culture, our species has learned to cope
with the most extreme environments and to survive and
even to thrive on all continents and in all climates.
11. • Nonmaterial Culture: which consists of the totality of
knowledge, beliefs, values, and rules for appropriate
• structured by such institutions as the family, religion,
education, economy, and government.
• Whereas material culture is made up of things that have a
physical existence (they can be seen, touched, and so on),
the elements of nonmaterial culture are the ideas
associated with their use.
• Norms are central elements of nonmaterial culture. Norms
are the rules of behavior that are agreed upon and shared
within a culture and that prescribe limits of acceptable
12. KISSING Norm around the globes
Rusia Actually kiss the cheek
Italy, France, Latin America Kiss the air. Cheek touch and lips make the sound of kissing
but cheek does not
Latin America only one cheek is kissed
France each cheek is kissed.
Belgium and Russia, kiss one cheek, then the
other, and back to the first.
US Public kissing is common. Presidential candidates have even
given extended mouth-to-mouth kisses to their spouses
during prime-time broadcasts.
Asian countries such
kissing is considered an intimate sexual act
and not permissible in public, even as a social greeting
Think of an examples of Malaysian norms (Asian) as compared to the
Western Norm that you know have different connotations / practices
13. • MORES (pronounced as more-ays: strongly held norms
that usually have a moral connotation and are based on
the central values of the culture.
• Violation of mores produce strong negative reactions,
which are often supported by law.
• Desecration of a church or temple, sexual molestation of a
child, rape, murder, incest, and child beating are all
violations of American mores.
• Not all norms command such absolute conformity. Much of
day-to-day life is governed by traditions, or folkways
• Folkways: norms that permit a wide degree of individual
interpretation as long as certain limits are not overstepped
• People who violate folkways are seen as peculiar or
possibly eccentric, but rarely do they elicit strong public
14. • For example, a wide range of dress is now acceptable in
most theaters and restaurants. Men and women may wear
clothes ranging from business attire to jeans, an open-
necked shirt, or a sweater. However, extremes in either
direction will cause a reaction. Many establishments limit
the extent of informal dress; signs might specify that no
one with bare feet or without a shirt may enter. On the
other hand, a person in extremely formal attire might well
attract attention and elicit amused comments in a fast-food
• 1- Ideal Norms - Ideal norms are expectations of what people
should do under perfect conditions.
• 2- Real Norms - norms that are expressed with qualifications and
allowances for differences in individual behavior.
• Values are a culture’s general orientations toward life—its
notions of what is good and bad, what is desirable and
15. • Importance of Language:
• enables humans to organize the world around them into
labeled cognitive categories and use these labels to
communicate with one another.
• makes possible teaching and sharing the values, norms,
and nonmaterial culture
• allows humans to transcend the limitations imposed by
their environment and biological evolution.
• human behavior is determined by culture and language:
Human infants are born with nothing more than a few
reflexes and an ability to learn. Children learn their culture
through their culture’s language, socialization, and role
16. • Language and culture:
• All people are shaped by the selectivity of their culture: a process by
which some aspects of the world are viewed as important while
others are virtually neglected
• Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, argues that the language a person uses
determines his or her perception of reality.
• people from different cultures never quite experience the same reality.
• remains true that different languages classify experiences differently—
that language is the lens through which we experience the world.
• For example, we have only one word for water, but the Hopi Indians
have two words—pahe ( for water in a natural state) and keyi ( for
water in a container). Yet the Hopi have only one word to cover
everything or being that fl ies except birds. Strange as it might seem to
us, they call a flying insect, an airplane, and a pilot by the same word.
Verbs also are treated differently in different cultures. In English, we
have one verb, to go . In New Guinea, however, the Manus language
has three verbs, depending on direction, distance, and whether the
going is up or down.
17. • THE SYMBOLIC NATURE OF CULTURE
• human beings respond to the world around them. They might
decorate their bodies, make drawings on cave walls or canvases, or
mold likenesses in clay. These all act as symbolic representations
of their society.
• Symbols and Culture
• A symbol is anything that represents something else and carries a
particular meaning recognized by members of a culture.
• when two or more individuals agree about the things a particular
object represents, that object becomes a symbol by virtue of its
shared meaning for those individuals
• Each culture attaches its own meanings to things. Th us, in the
United States, mourners wear black to symbolize their sadness at a
funeral. In the Far East, people wear white.
18. • CULTURE AND ADAPTATION
• Adaptation is the process by which human beings adjust to changes in
• We are culture producing, culture transmitting, and culture dependent
• This unique specialization is rooted in the size and structure of the human
brain and in our physical ability both to speak and to use tools
• primary means by which human beings adapt to the challenges of their
• Mechanisms of Cultural Change
• Cultural change takes place at many levels within a society.
• It is generally assumed that the number of cultural items in a society
(including everything from toothpicks to structures as complex as
government agencies) has a direct relation to the rate of social change
As a new students in FTKW, what are the changes that took place as
compare to the life when you were in Form 5 / 6. Explain the cultural
change you experienced and how do you adapt to the changes that
19. • A society that has few such items will tend to have few
innovations , any new practice or tool that becomes widely
accepted in a society.
• Two simple mechanisms are responsible for cultural evolution:
• 1- innovation - any new practice or tool that becomes widely
accepted in a society.
• 2- diffusion - Diffusion is the movement of cultural traits from
one culture to another
• Cultural lag
• Although the diverse elements of a culture are interrelated,
some can change rapidly while others lag behind.
• cultural lag - the phenomenon through which new patterns of
behavior may emerge, even though they conflict with traditional
20. • technological change (material culture) is typically faster
than change in nonmaterial culture—a culture’s norms and
values— and technological change often results in cultural
• Consequently, stresses and strains among elements of a
culture are more or less inevitable. For example, even
though the Internet in general and the World Wide Web in
particular offer vast educational opportunities, teachers
have been slow to incorporate these technologies into the
• Other instances of cultural lag have considerably greater
and more widespread negative effects.
• Ex: Advances in medicine have led to lower infant
mortality and greater life expectancy, but there has been
no corresponding rapid worldwide acceptance of methods
of birth control. The result is a potentially disastrous
population explosion in certain parts of the world.
22. • To function, every social group must have a culture of its
own—its own goals, norms, values, and ways of doing
• Every family, clique, shop, community, ethnic group, and
society has its own culture.
• every individual participates in a number of different
cultures in the course of a day.
• Many college students, for example, find that the culture of
the campus varies significantly from the culture of their
family or neighborhood.
• subculture - the distinctive lifestyles, values, norms, and
beliefs of certain segments of the population within a
Think about new cultural elements you experience the first time
you entered FTKW
23. • The concept of subculture originated in studies of juvenile
delinquency and criminality (Sutherland, 1924), and in
some contexts, the sub in subculture still has the meaning
• sociologists increasingly use subculture to refer to the
cultures of discrete population segments within a society
• applied to the culture of ethnic groups (Italian Americans,
Jews, Native Americans, and so on) as well as to social
classes (lower or working, middle, upper, and so on).
• Certain sociologists reserve the term subculture for
marginal groups—that is, for groups that differ significantly
from the so-called dominant culture.
24. • TYPES OF SUBCULTURES:
• 1- Ethnic Subcultures
• Many immigrant groups have maintained their group identities and
sustained their traditions even while adjusting to the demands of the
• Although originally distinct and separate cultures, they
simultaneously encouraging their children to achieve success by the
• 2- Occupational Subcultures
• Certain occupations seem to involve people in a distinctive lifestyle
even beyond their work
• For example, New York’s Wall Street is not only the financial capital
of the world; it is identified with certain values such as materialism,
greed, or power. Construction workers, police, entertainers, and
many other occupational groups involve people in distinctive
QUESTION: give example of ethnic subculture in Kelantan /
Malaysia – how they are living and coping..
25. • 3- Religious Subcultures
• although continuing to participate in the wider society,
nevertheless practice lifestyles that set them apart.
• Sometimes the lifestyle might separate the group from the
culture as a whole as well as from the subculture of its
• Example: In a drug ridden area of Brooklyn, New York, for
example, a group of Muslims follows an antidrug creed in a
community filled with addicts, and dealers. Their religious
beliefs set them apart from the general society, and their
attitude toward drugs separates them from many other
26. • 4- Political Subcultures
• Small, marginal political groups can so involve their members that
their entire way of life is an expression of their political convictions.
• Often, these so-called leftwing and right-wing groups reject much of
what they see in American society but remain engaged in society
through their constant efforts to change it to their liking.
• 5- Geographic Subcultures
• Large societies often show regional variations in culture. The United States
has several geographical areas known for their distinctive subcultures
• Example: For instance, the South is known for its leisurely approach to life,
its broad dialect, and its hospitality. The North is noted for Yankee ingenuity,
commercial cunning, and a crusty standoffishness. California is known for its
trendy and ultra-relaxed, or laidback, lifestyle. And New York City stands as
much for an driven, elitist, arts and literature–oriented subculture as for a
Think of Geographical subcultures in states within Malaysia
and how it differs based on the example above
27. • Social Class Subcultures
• linguistic styles, family and household forms, and values and
norms applied to child rearing are patterned in terms of social
• Deviant Subcultures
• sociologists first began to study subcultures as a way of
explaining juvenile delinquency and criminality.
• This interest expanded to include the study of a wide variety
of groups that are marginal to society in one way or another
and whose lifestyles clash with that of the wider society in
• Some of the deviant subcultural groups studied by
sociologists include prostitutes, strippers, pool hustlers,
pickpockets, drug users, and a variety of criminal groups.
28. • UNIVERSALS OF CULTURE
• Cultural universals are certain models or patterns that have
developed in all cultures to resolve common problems.
• Among those universals that fulfill basic human needs are the
division of labor, the incest taboo, marriage, family organization,
rites of passage, and ideology.
• It is important to keep in mind that although these forms are
universal, their specific contents are particular to each culture.
• 1- The Division of Labor
• In all societies— from the simplest bands to the most complex
industrial nations—groups divide the responsibility for
completing necessary tasks among their members.
• This means that humans constantly must rely on one another;
hence, they are the most cooperative of all primates.
29. • 2- Marriage, the Family, and the Incest Taboo
• All human societies regulate sexual behavior
• Sexual mores vary enormously from one culture to
another, but all cultures apparently share one basic value:
sexual relations between parents and their children are to
• In most societies, it is also wrong for brothers and sisters
to have sexual contact (notable exceptions being the
brother–sister marriages among royal families in ancient
Egypt and Hawaii and among the Incas of Peru).
• Sexual relations between family members is called incest,
and because in most cultures very strong feelings of horror
and revulsion are attached to incest, it is said to be
forbidden by taboo. A taboo is the prohibition of a specific
30. • 3- Rites of Passage
• All cultures recognize stages through which individuals
pass in the course of their lifetimes
• every culture has established rites of passage or
standardized rituals marking major life transitions.
• The most widespread—if not universal—rites of passage
are those marking the arrival of puberty (often resulting in
the individual’s taking on adult status), marriage, and
Think an example of your cultural practices in
establishing the rite of passage in relation to
puberty, marriage and death.
31. • 4- Ideology
• A central challenge that every group faces is how to
maintain its identity as a social unit
• One of the most important ways groups accomplish this is
by promoting beliefs and values to which group members
are firmly committed.
• Ideologies - strongly held beliefs and values , are the
cement of social structure.
• Every culture contains ideologies. Some are religious,
referring to things and events beyond the perception of the
human senses. Others are more secular—that is,
nonreligious and concerned with the everyday world. In the
end, all ideologies rest on untestable ideas rooted in the
basic values and assumptions of each culture.
32. • High Culture and Popular Culture
• 1- High culture consists of classical music, opera, ballet,
live theater, and other activities usually patronized by elite
audiences, composed primarily of members of the upper-
middle and upper classes, who have the time, money, and
knowledge assumed to be necessary for its appreciation.
• 2- Popular culture consists of activities, products, and
services that are assumed to appeal primarily to members
of the middle and working classes.
• Example: include rock concerts, spectator sports, movies,
and television soap operas and situation comedies.
33. • FORMS OF POPULAR CULTURE
• Three prevalent forms of popular culture:
• 1- fads,
• 2- fashions
• 3- leisure activities.
• A fad is a temporary but widely copied activity followed
enthusiastically by large numbers of people.
• Most fads are short-lived novelties. According to the sociologist John
Lofl and (1993).
• Four categories of fads:
• 1- object fads are items that people purchase despite the fact that they
have little use or intrinsic value. Recent examples include Harry Potter
wands, SpongeBob Square Pants trading cards, and oversized
• 2- activity fads include pursuits such as body piercing, “surfing” the
Internet, and the “free hugs” campaign, wherein individuals offer hugs
to strangers in a public setting as a random act of kindness to make
someone feel better.
34. • 3- idea fads, such as New Age ideologies including “The
Secret,” as advocated by Oprah Winfrey and other
• 4- personality fads, such as those surrounding celebrities
such as Paris Hilton, Tiger Woods, 50 Cent, and the late
• A fashion is a currently valued style of behavior, thinking,
or appearance that is longer lasting and more widespread
than a fad.
• Examples of fashion are found in many areas, including
child rearing, education, arts, clothing, music, and sports.
Soccer is an example of a fashion in sports.
Think of Fads Object you recently bought / personality fads, idea fads
/ activity fads you knew. Share with the rest of the class why do you
think it is a fads category
35. • Sociological Analysis of Culture
• What do these perspectives tell us about culture?
• Functionalist Perspectives
• functionalist perspectives are based on the assumption that society
is a stable, orderly system with interrelated parts that serve specific
• Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (1922) suggested that culture
helps people meet their biological needs (including food and
procreation), instrumental needs (including law and education), and
integrative needs (including religion and art).
• According to many functionalist theorists, popular culture serves a
significant function in society in that it may be the “glue” that holds
• Regardless of race, class, sex, age, or other characteristics, many
people are brought together (at least in spirit) to cheer teams
competing in major sporting events such as the Super Bowl or the
36. • functionalists acknowledge that all societies have
dysfunctions that produce a variety of societal problems.
• When a society contains numerous subcultures, discord
results from a lack of consensus about core values.
• In fact, popular culture may undermine core cultural values
rather than reinforce them.
• For example, movies may glorify crime, rather than hard
work, as the quickest way to get ahead
• According to some analysts, excessive violence in music
videos, films, and television programs may be harmful to
children and young people.
Discuss current local/international music content which has
excessive elements of violence, drug use, sexual content which
affect the mind of the young
37. • A strength of the functionalist perspective on culture is
its focus on the needs of society and the fact that stability
is essential for society’s continued survival.
• A shortcoming is its overemphasis on harmony and
• This approach also fails to fully account for factors
embedded in the structure of society— such as class-
based inequalities, racism, and sexism— that may
contribute to conflict among people
38. • CONFLICT PERSPECTIVES
• Conflict perspectives are based on the assumption that social life is a
continuous struggle in which members of powerful groups seek to
control scarce resources.
• According to this approach, values and norms help create and sustain
the privileged position of the powerful in society while excluding others
• As the early conflict theorist Karl Marx stressed, ideas are cultural
creations of a society’s most powerful members
• Thus, it is possible for political, economic, and social leaders to use
ideology — an integrated system of ideas that is external to, and
coercive of, people— to maintain their positions of dominance in a
• Many contemporary conflict theorists agree with Marx’s assertion that
ideas, a nonmaterial component of culture, are used by agents of the
ruling class to affect the thoughts and actions of members of other
• Some conflict theorists believe that popular culture, which originated
with everyday people, has been largely removed from their domain and
has become nothing more than a part of the capitalist economy in the
39. • From this approach, media conglomerates such as Time
Warner, Disney, and Viacom create popular culture, such
as films, television shows, and amusement parks, in the
same way that they would produce any other product or
• Creating new popular culture also promotes consumption
of commodities — objects outside ourselves that we
purchase to satisfy our human needs or wants
• A strength of the conflict perspective is that it stresses
how cultural values and norms may perpetuate social
• It also highlights the inevitability of change and the
constant tension between those who want to maintain the
status quo and those who desire change.
• A limitation is its focus on societal discord and the
divisiveness of culture.
40. • SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONIST PERSPECTIVES
• symbolic interactionists engage in a micro level analysis that views
society as the sum of all people’s interactions unlike the two above.
• From this perspective, people create, maintain, and modify culture as
they go about their everyday activities
• Symbols make communication with others possible because they
provide us with shared meanings.
• people continually negotiate their social realities. Values and norms
are not independent realities that automatically determine our behavior.
Instead, we reinterpret them in each social situation we encounter
• However, the classical sociologist Georg Simmel warned that the
larger cultural world— including both material culture and nonmaterial
culture— eventually takes on a life of its own apart from the actors who
daily re-create social life.
• As a result, individuals may be more controlled by culture than they
41. • Example: money makes it possible for us to relativize
everything, including our relationships with other people. When
social life can be reduced to money, people become cynical,
believing that anything— including people, objects, beauty, and
truth— can be bought if we can pay the price
• Strength: A symbolic interactionist approach highlights how
people maintain and change culture through their interactions
with others. However, interactionism does not provide a
systematic framework for analyzing how we shape culture and
how it, in turn, shapes us.
• Weaknesses: It also does not provide insight into how shared
meanings are developed among people, and it does not take
into account the many situations in which there is disagreement
on meanings. Whereas the functional and conflict approaches
tend to overemphasize the macro level workings of society, the
interactionist viewpoint often fails to take these larger social
structures into account.
42. • POSTMODERNIST PERSPECTIVES
• Postmodernist theorists believe that much of what has been written
about culture in the Western world is Eurocentric
• based on the uncritical assumption that European culture (including its
dispersed versions in countries such as the United States, Australia,
and South Africa) is the true, universal culture in which all the world’s
people ought to believe (Lemert, 1997).
• By contrast, postmodernists believe that we should speak of cultures,
rather than culture.
• Jean Baudrillard, one of the best-known French social theorists,
believes that the world of culture today is based on simulation, not
• social life is much more a spectacle that simulates reality than reality
itself. People often gain “reality” from the media, where reality is not
always as it might appear.
• Example: Many U.S. children, upon entering school for the fi rst time,
have already watched more hours of television than the total number of
hours of classroom instruction they will encounter in their entire school
Example of diffusion : consider moccasins—the machine-made,
chemically waterproofed, soft-soled cowhide shoes—
which today differ from the Native-American originals
and usually are worn for recreation rather than as part
of basic dress, as they originally were. Sociologists would
say, therefore, that moccasins are an example of a cultural
trait that was reformulated when it diff used from
Native-American culture to industrial America.
Examples: Traditional school values might be in conflict with use of the Web. Schools often assume that education is best carried out in isolation from the rest of society and that the teacher is the main guide for the students along a path to learning. Education has changed little from 100 years ago, and we still expect teachers to talk and groups of students to listen. The Web enables the student to connect to countless sites outside of the classroom and to pursue individual educational goals. The teacher’s role and influence becomes less clear with the introduction of this technology. The teacher, instead of being in charge, must now be ready to collaborate with the student and serve as a partner in the exploration of the resources (Maddux,
1997). Traditional teacher–
At home, they might be criticized for their musical taste, their clothing, their antiestablishment ideas, and for spending too little time with the family. On campus, they might be pressured to open up their minds and experiment a little or to reject old-fashioned values.
Typical rites of passage celebrated in American society include baptisms, bar and bat mitzvahs, confirmations, major birthdays, graduation, wedding showers, bachelor parties, wedding ceremonies, major anniversaries, retirement parties, and funerals and wakes.
money is an example of how people may be controlled by their culture. According to Simmel, people initially create money as a means of exchange,
but then money acquires a social meaning that extends beyond its purely economic function. Money becomes an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. Today, we are aware of the relative “worth” not only of objects but also of individuals. Many people revere wealthy entrepreneurs and highly paid celebrities, entertainers, and sports figures for the amount of money they make, not for their intrinsic qualities.