- Slides: 29
What is culture?
Definition of Culture • Culture – all the features of a society’s way of life. • Our culture becomes a lens through which we interpret the world around us.
Culture is Learned not innate o Systems of meaning (Language) o Ways of organizing society o Distinctive practices
Culture • If culture is learned, then someone must teach or share it • Culture is in a constant state of change and evolution
• Culture is naturalized- It feels natural to its practitioners. . . But is it? • Is this person “living naturally”? • What would that mean? Is it possible?
Culture is integrated How does changing one aspect of culture affect another?
Material Culture • Material culture of a group of people includes objects they create, such as art, houses, clothing, and tools. This is material culture left behind by Neanderthals!
Non-material Culture • Non-material culture includes beliefs, practices, and values. What in this picture is material culture? What is non-material? Is there a good reason to make the distinction?
Culture Traits • Definition: activities and behaviors that people repeatedly practice, distinctive techniques • Encompasses all aspects of culture, material and nonmaterial • Social organization- class, gender, race, ethnicity, government structure… • Food: U. S. - fork & knife, China – chopsticks, India– which hand? • Reference the ABCs of Culture for a list of culture traits
Local Culture and Popular Culture • A local culture is a group of people in a particular place who see themselves as a collective or a community, who share experiences, customs, and traits, and who work to preserve those traits and customs in order to claim uniqueness and to distinguish themselves from others. • Popular culture is large, incorporates heterogeneous populations, is typically urban, and experiences quickly changing cultural traits. • Think of local and popular culture being on the same plane
Change Within a Culture - Cultures and their cultural traits may change through time. - 2 concepts to understand cultural change: Innovation and Diffusion
Innovation • New way of doing something • New ideas that are useful and valuable will last.
Diffusion • Definition – The process of knowledge, skills, and technology being spread from one culture to another. • Culture Hearth – central location where ideas, inventions, and/or culture traits originate Diffusion can occur in different ways: examples – contagious diffusion, hierarchical diffusion, relocation diffusion Ex: Harlem Shake, Dave Matthews Band, Zen Buddhism
Acculturation • Definition – the process of one culture changing a great deal through its meeting with another culture yet remaining distinct. Adopting cultural innovations or culture traits into its own culture • Two-Way Street • Convergence and divergence, ex. pidgin language; dialects
Cultural assimilation is when an individual or individuals adopts some or all aspects of a dominant culture (such as its religion, language, norms, values etc. ). - Could be forced or voluntary - Resistance to assimilation
Culture Regions/Ethnic Groups • Definition: Culture region – an area that has many shared culture traits • One country could be a single culture region, or a political boundary may cut across a culture region- North vs. South • A culture region may also be made up of several countries such as in Latin America • Definition: Ethnic Group – a population that shares a common cultural background
Ethnicity • Who in this room belongs to an ethnic group? • We all do! • Why do we think of some people as pertaining to ethnic groups and not others? • White, protestant, middle-class is the normalized standard against which all others are judged “different” and therefore “ethnic” (stores may have “ethnic food” section; people wearing “ethnic” jewelry)
Politics of recognition What are the “markers” of ethnic identity? language? dress? what else? phenotype? (hair, etc. ) These men are readily identifiable as Sikhs. But what about Mexican Americans?
Who imagines you as part of this group? • Identification: • Internal (yours) • Internal (to group) • External (nongroup members) • External (state)
Problematizing ethnic identification • All of these forms of identification are structured by, and structure, cultural understandings of ethnicity • Cultures imagine and create ethnicities • Let’s look at this through the lens of one group:
Indigenous people • In Mexico, to be indigenous you must speak an indigenous language (at a minimum) • Even if you spoke it as a child and no longer do, you are not now indigenous • What is problematic about this criteria?
Ethnic group identification • What is US criteria for indigenous group identification? o o Descent Self recognition Tribal recognition Federal recognition o Language or dress, not “looking Indian” • Not: • However, external members may question your identification – why?
Ethnicities and States approach ethnic diversity with different strategies. . . • • Segregationism Assimilationism Multiculturalism Colorblind society?
What happens when states don’t/can’t manage ethnic diversity? • Can result in “ethnic conflict”: outbreaks of violence between groups • Majority of conflict in the world post-WWII has been defined as “ethnic conflict” • However, be aware that this does not mean people just fighting amongst themselves • States and state power are often heavily involved
Example: post-colonial states • Europeans divided states according to administrative needs and desires. • Resulting states often ungrounded in local political realities. • States created with superimposed boundaries; lumped together unrelated groups; divided communities. • Changed networks with informal boundaries into Western idea of nationstates.
Is Race Real? • YES - it can determine how one is treated - what kind of job one has - what kind of school one attends - where one lives
Is Race Real? • NO - it has no biological basis - it was created along with racism as a way to separate groups and discriminate