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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)

a. 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.
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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.

e. 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.

f. 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.

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)

1. 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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4. 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.

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.

b. 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.

ii. 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.

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.

e. 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.

7. Related Concepts

a.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.

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.

c. 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 ingroup-
outgroup 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.

e. 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).

f. 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.

g. 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.

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.