Review the Sociology Matters prompt at the end of Ch. 2.
37Chapter 2Culture and Socialization What Is Culture?Development of Culture around the WorldCultural VariationLanguage and CultureNorms and ValuesGlobal Culture WarCulture and the Dominant IdeologyCulture and SocializationThe Self and SocializationAgents of SocializationSocialization Throughout the Life CourseIn May 2012, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg flew to Manhattan to promote his company’s initial stock offering. A celebrity before he turned 30, Zuckerberg had already been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. Instead of dressing to impress Wall Street bankers, however, Zuckerberg wore his familiar hooded sweatshirt and a dark T-shirt. To the casual observer, he looked more like a computer hacker than the owner of a multibillion-dollar company. When questioned, Zuckerberg responded, “I feel like I’m not doing my job if I spend my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life” (Stone 2016).Just three months earlier, wearing a dark hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles and an Arizona iced tea, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin headed back to the townhouse where his father was staying in a gated community in Central Florida. A neighborhood watch coordinator,38the same age as Zuckerberg, spotted the boy and thought he looked “suspicious,” “up to no good.” A few moments later, George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin dead. Clearly there was nothing frivolous about Trayvon’s choice of attire. Within a few days of his death, the social movement of #BlackLivesMatter emerged.A national debate ensued. Had being Black and wearing a hoodie contributed to Martin’s death? Had being White allowed Zimmerman to avoid a homicide charge? A lot of people, both Black and White, thought so. In cities across the United States, demonstrators wearing hoodies protested the handling of the case. For many people, the story hit close to home. As President Barack Obama observed, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” (White House 2012). Many parents of teenagers, especially African American teens, cautioned their children to leave their hoodies in the closet.What cultural meaning do we attach to a hoodie? Like many other symbols, the hoodie has multiple meanings. Depending on the context and the person, it can represent defiance or youthful indifference, casual comfort or sinister intentions. Through nationwide publicity, it can even become a symbol of protest against racism. Ultimately, the particular meanings that we attach to the clothing we and others wear reflect our culture and our upbringing.Although most of us go about our daily lives unaware of culture and its importance to us, it is fundamental to any society. Culture includes the meanings we attach not just to clothes, but to all aspects of the world around us. Culture also affects the basic attitudes, values, and behaviors that we learn as children through a process called socialization. It can even affect a child’s personality—the individual characteristics, attitudes, needs, and behaviors that set one person apart from another. Throughout the life course, culture prescribes the roles people take and the ceremonies they participate in as they pass from one life stage to another. It molds the most fundamental institutions of society, from the family, schools, and peer groups to the mass media, the workplace, and the state. Culture, in other words, is ­all-encompassing (Burch 2012; Contee 2012).What Is Culture?Culture is the totality of learned, socially transmitted customs, knowledge, material objects, and behavior. It includes the ideas, values, customs, and artifacts (for example, iPods, comic books, and birth control devices) of groups of people. Patriotic attachment to the flag of the United States is an aspect of culture, as is a national passion for the tango in Argentina.Sometimes people refer to a particular person as “very cultured” or to a city as having “lots of culture.” That use of the term culture is different from our use in this textbook. In sociological terms, culture does not39refer solely to the fine arts and refined intellectual taste. It consists of all objects and ideas within a society, including ice cream cones, rock music, and slang words. Sociologists consider both a portrait by Rembrandt and a portrait by a billboard painter to be aspects of a culture. A tribe that cultivates soil by hand has just as much culture as a people that relies on computer-operated machinery. Each people has a distinctive culture with its own characteristic ways of gathering and preparing food, constructing homes, structuring the family, and promoting standards of right and wrong.The fact that you share a similar culture with others helps to define the group or society to which you belong. A fairly large number of people are said to constitute a society when they live in the same territory, are relatively independent of people outside it, and participate in a common culture. The city of Los Angeles is more populous than many nations of the world, yet sociologists do not consider it a society in its own right. Rather, it is part of—and dependent on—the larger society of the United States.A society is the largest form of human group. It consists of people who share a common heritage and culture. Members of the society learn this culture and transmit it from one generation to the next. They even preserve their distinctive culture through literature, art, video recordings, and other means of expression.Sociologists have long recognized the many ways in which culture influences human behavior. Through what has been termed a toolkit of habits, skills, and styles, people of a common culture construct their acquisition of knowledge, their interactions with kinfolk, their entrance into the job market—in short, the way in which they live. If not for the social transmission of culture, each generation would have to reinvent television, not to mention the wheel (Swidler 1986).Having a common culture also simplifies many day-to-day interactions. For example, when you buy an airline ticket, you know you don’t need to bring along hundreds of dollars in cash. You can pay with a credit card or smartphone. When you are part of a society, you can take many small (as well as more important) cultural patterns for granted. You assume that theaters will provide seats for the audience, that physicians will not disclose confidential information, and that parents will be careful when crossing the street with young children. All these assumptions reflect basic values, beliefs, and customs of the culture of the United States.Today, when text, sound, and video can be transmitted around the world instantaneously, some aspects of culture transcend national borders. The German philosopher Theodor Adorno and others have spoken of the worldwide culture industry that standardizes the goods and services demanded by consumers. Adorno contends that globally, the primary effect of popular culture is to limit people’s choices. Yet others have shown that the culture industry’s influence does not always permeate international borders. Sometimes it is embraced; at other times, soundly rejected (Adorno [1971] 1991:98–106; Horkheimer and Adorno [1944] 2002).40CULTURAL UNIVERSALSAll societies, despite their differences, have developed certain general practices known as cultural universals. Many cultural universals are, in fact, adaptations to meet essential human needs, such as people’s need for food, shelter, and clothing. Anthropologist George Murdock (1945:124) compiled a list of cultural universals that includes athletic sports, cooking, dancing, visiting, personal names, marriage, medicine, religious ritual, funeral ceremonies, sexual restrictions, and trade.The cultural practices listed by Murdock may be universal, but the manner in which they are expressed varies from culture to culture. For example, one society may let its members choose their own marriage partners. Another may encourage marriages arranged by the parents.Not only does the expression of cultural universals vary from one society to another; it may also change dramatically over time within a society. Each generation, and each year for that matter, most human cultures change and expand through the processes of innovation and diffusion.ETHNOCENTRISMMany everyday statements reflect our attitude that our culture is best. We use terms such as underdeveloped, backward, and primitive to refer to other societies. What “we” believe is a religion; what “they” believe is superstition and mythology.It is tempting to evaluate the practices of other cultures on the basis of our perspectives. Sociologist William Graham Sumner (1906) coined the term ethnocentrism to refer to the tendency to assume that one’s own culture and way of life represent the norm or are superior to all others. The ethnocentric person sees his or her group as the center or defining point of culture and views all other cultures as deviations from what is “normal.” Westerners who think cattle are to be used for food might look down on India’s Hindu religion and culture, which view the cow as sacred. Or people in one culture may dismiss as unthinkable the mate selection or child-rearing practices of another culture. In sum, our view of the world is dramatically influenced by the society in which we were raised.Ethnocentrism is hardly limited to citizens of the United States. Visitors from many African cultures are surprised at the disrespect that children in the United States show their parents. People from India may be repelled by our practice of living in the same household with dogs and cats. Many Islamic fundamentalists in the Arab world and Asia view the United States as corrupt, decadent, and doomed to destruction. All these people may feel comforted by membership in cultures that in their view are superior to ours.41CULTURAL RELATIVISMWhile ethnocentrism is the evaluation of foreign cultures using the familiar culture of the observer as a standard of correct behavior, cultural relativism is the evaluation of a people’s behavior from the perspective of their own culture. Medical practitioners who seek to adapt to their patients’ cultural expectations are exhibiting this approach. Cultural relativism places a priority on understanding other cultures rather than dismissing them as “strange” or “exotic.” Unlike ethnocentrism, cultural relativism employs a kind of value neutrality in scientific study, which Max Weber saw as being extremely important.Cultural relativism stresses that different social contexts give rise to different norms and values. Thus, we must examine practices such as polygamy, bullfighting, and monarchy within the particular contexts of the cultures in which they are found. While cultural relativism does not suggest that we must unquestionably accept every cultural variation, it does require a serious and unbiased effort to evaluate norms, values, and customs in light of their distinctive culture.How one views a culture—whether from an ethnocentric point of view or through the lens of cultural relativism—has important consequences for social policy. Consider the practice of children marrying adults. Most people in North America cannot fathom the idea of a 12-year-old girl marrying. The custom, which is illegal in the United States, is common in West Africa and South Asia. Should the United States respect such marriages? The apparent answer is no. In 2006 the U.S. government spent $623 million to discourage the practice in many of the countries with the highest child-marriage rates.From the perspective of cultural relativism, we might ask whether one society should spend its resources to dictate the norms of another. However, federal officials have defended the government’s actions. They contend that child marriage deprives girls of education, threatens their health, and weakens public health efforts to combat HIV/AIDS (Jain and Kurz 2007; Slavin 2007).Development of Culture around the WorldWe’ve come a long way from our prehistoric heritage. The human species has produced such achievements as the novels of Leo Tolstoy, the art of Pablo Picasso, and the films of Ang Lee. As we begin a new millennium, we can transmit an entire book around the world via the Internet, clone cells, and prolong lives through organ transplants. We can peer into the outermost reaches of the universe or analyze our innermost feelings. In all these ways, we are remarkably different from other species of the animal kingdom. Though cultures differ in their customs, artifacts, and languages, they all share certain basic characteristics. In this section we will see how those characteristics change as cultures develop and how cultures influence one another through their technological, commercial, and artistic achievements.42INNOVATIONThe process of introducing a new idea or object to a culture is known as innovation. Innovation interests sociologists because of the potential social consequences of introducing something new. There are two forms of innovation: discovery and invention. A discovery involves making known or sharing the existence of some aspect of reality. The finding of the DNA molecule and the identification of a new moon of Saturn are both acts of discovery. A significant factor in the process of discovery is the sharing of newfound knowledge with others. By contrast, an invention results when existing cultural items are combined into a form that did not exist before. The bow and arrow, the automobile, and the Internet are all examples of inventions, as are Protestantism and democracy.Name one culturally significant discovery and one culturally significant invention that occurred in your lifetime. Explain how these innovations have affected the culture to which you belong.GLOBALIZATION, DIFFUSION, AND TECHNOLOGYThe familiar green Starbucks logo beckons you into a comfortable coffee shop where you can order decaf latte and a cinnamon ring. What’s unusual about that? This Starbucks happens to be located in the heart of Beijing’s Forbidden City, just outside the Palace of Heavenly Purity, ­former residence of Chinese emperors. In 2002 it was one of 25 Starbucks stores in China; eight years later there were more than 375. The success of Starbucks in a country in which coffee drinking is still a novelty (most Chinese are tea drinkers) has been striking (Sanchanta 2010).The emergence of Starbucks in China illustrates a rapidly escalating trend called globalization. Globalization may be defined as the worldwide integration of government policies, cultures, social movements, and financial markets through trade and the exchange of ideas. While public discussion of globalization is relatively recent, intellectuals have been pondering its social consequences for a long time. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels warned in The Communist Manifesto (written in 1848) of a world market that would lead to production in distant lands, sweeping away existing working relationships. Today, more and more cultural expressions and practices are crossing national borders, transforming the traditions and customs of the societies exposed to them. Sociologists use the term diffusion to refer to the process by which a cultural item spreads from group to group or society to society. Diffusion can occur through a variety of means, among them exploration, military conquest, missionary work, the influence of the mass media, tourism, and the Internet.Sociologist George Ritzer (2015) coined the term McDonaldization to describe the process through which the principles of the fast-food restaurant have come to dominate certain sectors of society, both in the United States and throughout the world. For example, hair salons and medical clinics now take walk-in appointments. In Hong Kong, sex selection clinics offer a menu of items, from fertility enhancement to methods of increasing the likelihood of producing a child of the desired sex.43Religious groups—from evangelical preachers on local stations or websites to priests at the Vatican Television Center—use marketing techniques similar to those that are used to sell Happy Meals.McDonaldization is associated with the melding of cultures, through which we see more and more similarities in cultural expression. In Japan, for example, African entrepreneurs have found a thriving market for hip-hop fashions popularized by teens in the United States. Similarly, the familiar Golden Arches of McDonald’s can be seen around the world. Yet corporations like McDonald’s have had to make some adjustments of their own. Until 2001, McDonald’s ran its overseas operations from corporate headquarters in suburban Chicago. After a few false starts, executives recognized the need to develop the restaurant’s menus and marketing strategies overseas, relying on advice from local people. Now in Japan, customers can enjoy the Mega Tamago Burger—beef, bacon, and fried egg with special sauces. In India, patrons who don’t eat beef can order a double chicken-patty sandwich known as the Maharaja Mac. And in Austria, the locals’ love of coffee, cake, and conversation has inspired the McCafe (Hughlett 2008; Ritzer 2002, 2015).Technology in its many forms has increased the speed of cultural diffusion and broadened the distribution of cultural elements. Sociologist Gerhard Lenski has defined technology as “cultural information about the ways in which the material resources of the environment may be used to satisfy human needs and desires” (Nolan and Lenski 2015:357). Today’s technological developments no longer need await publication in journals with limited circulation. Press conferences, often carried simultaneously on the Internet, now trumpet new developments.Sociologist William F. Ogburn (1922) made a useful distinction between the elements of material and nonmaterial culture. Material culture refers to the physical or technological aspects of our daily lives, including food items, houses, factories, and raw materials. Nonmaterial culture refers to ways of using material objects and to customs, beliefs, philosophies, governments, and patterns of communication. Generally, the nonmaterial culture is more resistant to change than the material culture. Ogburn introduced the term culture lag to refer to the period of maladjustment when the nonmaterial culture is still struggling to adapt to new material conditions. For example, the ethics of using the Internet, particularly issues concerning privacy and censorship, have not yet caught up with the explosion in Internet use and technology.Cultural VariationEach culture has a unique character. Inuit tribes in northern Canada—wrapped in furs and dining on whale blubber—have little in common with farmers in Southeast Asia, who dress for the heat and subsist mainly on the rice they grow in their paddies. Cultures adapt to meet specific sets of44circumstances, such as climate, level of technology, population, and geography. Thus, despite the presence of cultural universals such as courtship and religion, great diversity exists among the world’s many cultures. Moreover, even within a single nation, certain segments of the populace develop cultural patterns that differ from the patterns of the dominant society.SUBCULTURESRodeo riders, residents of a retirement community, workers on an offshore oil rig—all are examples of what sociologists refer to as subcultures. A subculture is a segment of society that shares a distinctive pattern of customs, rules, and traditions that differs from the pattern of the larger society. In a sense, a subculture can be thought of as a culture existing within a larger, dominant culture. The existence of many subcultures is characteristic of complex societies such as the United States.Members of a subculture participate in the dominant culture while at the same time engaging in unique and distinctive forms of behavior. Frequently, a subculture will develop an argot, or specialized language, that distinguishes it from the wider society. Athletes who play parkour, an extreme sport that combines forward running with fence leaping and the vaulting of walls, water barriers, and even moving cars, speak an argot they devised especially to describe their feats. Parkour runners talk about doing King Kong vaults—diving arms first over a wall or grocery cart and landing in a standing position. They may follow this maneuver with a tic tac—kicking off a wall to overcome some kind of obstacle (Kidder 2012).Argot allows “insiders,” the members of the subculture, to understand words with special meanings. It also establishes patterns of communication that “outsiders” can’t understand. Sociologists associated with the interactionist perspective emphasize that language and symbols offer a powerful way for a subculture to feel cohesive and maintain its identity.In India, a new subculture has developed among employees at the international call centers established by multinational corporations. To serve customers in the United States and Europe, the young men and women who work there must be fluent speakers of English. But the corporations that employ them demand more than proficiency in a foreign language; they expect their Indian employees to adopt Western values and work habits, including the grueling pace U.S. workers take for granted.In effect, workers at these call centers live in a state of virtual migration—not quite in India, but not in the United States, either. Significantly, call centers allow employees to take the day off only on U.S. holidays, like Labor Day and Thanksgiving—not on Indian holidays like Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. While most Indian families are home celebrating, call center employees see only each other; when they have the day off, no one else is free to socialize with them. As a result, these employees have formed a tight-knit subculture based on hard work and a taste for Western luxury goods and leisure-time pursuits (Rowe et al. 2013).45Another shared characteristic among some employees at Indian call centers is their contempt for the callers they serve. In performing their monotonous, repetitive job day after day, hundreds of thousands of these workers have come to see the faceless Americans they deal with as slow, often rude customers. Such shared understandings underpin this emerging subculture (Bhagat 2007; Gentleman 2006; Patel 2010).COUNTERCULTURESBy the end of the 1960s, an extensive subculture had emerged in the United States, composed of young people turned off by a society they believed was too materialistic and technological. This group included primarily political radicals and “hippies” who had “dropped out” of mainstream social institutions. These young men and women rejected the pressure to accumulate more and more cars, larger and larger homes, and an endless array of material goods. Instead, they expressed a desire to live in a culture based on more humanistic values, such as sharing, love, and coexistence with the environment. As a political force, this subculture opposed the United States’ involvement in the war in Vietnam and encouraged draft resistance (Flacks 1971; Roszak 1969).When a subculture conspicuously and deliberately opposes certain aspects of the larger culture, it is known as a counterculture. Countercultures typically thrive among the young, who have the least investment in the existing culture. In most cases, a 20-year-old can adjust to new cultural standards more easily than someone who has spent 60 years following the patterns of the dominant culture (Zellner 1995).In the last decade, counterterrorism experts have become concerned about the growth of ultraconservative militia groups in the United States. Secretive and well armed, members of these countercultural groups tend to be antigovernment, and they often tolerate racism in their midst. Watchdogs estimate that 1,274 antigovernment groups are operating in the United States today (Southern Poverty Law Center 2015).CULTURE SHOCKAnyone who feels disoriented, uncertain, out of place, even fearful when immersed in an unfamiliar culture may be experiencing culture shock. For example, a resident of the United States who visits certain areas in China and wants local meat for dinner may be stunned to learn that the specialty is dog meat. Similarly, someone from a strict Islamic culture may be shocked upon first seeing the comparatively provocative dress styles and open displays of affection common in the United States and Europe.All of us, to some extent, take for granted the cultural practices of our society. As a result, it can be surprising and even disturbing to realize that other cultures do not follow our “way of life.” The fact is, customs that seem strange to us are considered normal and proper in other cultures, which may see our customs as odd.You arrive in a developing African country as a Peace Corps volunteer. What aspects of this very different culture do you think will be the hardest to adjust to? What might the citizens of that country find shocking about your culture?46Language and CultureThe English language makes extensive use of words dealing with war. We speak of “conquering” space, “fighting the battle” of the budget, “waging war” on drugs, making a “killing” on the stock market, and “bombing” an examination; something monumental or great is “the bomb.” An observer from an entirely different and warless culture could gauge the importance of war and the military in our lives simply by recognizing the prominence that militaristic terms have in our language. Similarly, cattle are so important to the Nuer of southern Sudan that they have more than 400 words to describe the animals (Haviland et al. 2008).Language is, in fact, the foundation of every culture. Language is an abstract system of word meanings and symbols for all aspects of culture. It includes speech, written characters, numerals, symbols, and gestures and expressions of nonverbal communication.Because of the long history of immigration to North America, the United States has a rich diversity of languages. Indeed, each of 29 other languages is spoken by at least 200,000 U.S. residents. According to the Bureau of the Census, in 2015 over one in five U.S. residents over the age of five spoke a language other than English at home, as their primary language (Figure 2–1; American Community Survey 2016r; C. Ryan 2013).Though language is a cultural universal, striking differences are evident in its use. For decades, the Navajo have referred to cancer as lood doo na’dziihii. Now, through a project funded by the National Cancer Figure 2–1Percentage of People Who Speak a Language Other Than English at Home, by StateNOTE: Data drawn from the 2015 American Community Survey of people five years and over. National average was 21.5 percent.SOURCE: American Community Survey 2016b: Table R1601.47Institute, the tribal college is seeking to change the phrase. Why? Literally, the word means “the sore that does not heal,” and health educators are concerned that tribal members who have been diagnosed with cancer view it as a death sentence. Their effort to change the Navajo language, not easy in itself, is complicated by the Navajo belief that to talk about the disease is to bring it on one’s people (Fonseca 2008).The thumbs-up gesture is an example of nonverbal communication, or the use of gestures, facial expressions, and other visual images to communicate. If you are in the midst of a friendly meeting and one member suddenly sits back, folds his arms, and turns down the corners of his mouth, you know at once that trouble has arrived. When you see a friend in tears, you may give her a quick hug. After winning a big game, you probably high-five your teammates. These are all examples of nonverbal communication.We are not born with these expressions. We learn them, just as we learn other forms of language, from people who share our culture. That is as true for the basic expressions of happiness and sadness as it is for more complex emotions, such as shame or distress (Fridlund et al. 1987).Like other forms of language, nonverbal communication is not the same in all cultures. For example, sociological research done at the micro level documents that people from various cultures differ in the degree to which they touch others during the course of normal social interactions. Even experienced travelers are sometimes caught off guard by these differences. In Saudi Arabia, a middle-aged man may want to hold hands with a partner after closing a business deal. The gesture, which would shock an American businessman, is considered a compliment in that culture. The meaning of hand signals is another form of nonverbal communication that can differ from one culture to the next. In Australia, the thumbs-up sign is considered rude (Passero 2002; Vaughan 2007).Norms and Values“Wash your hands before dinner.” “Thou shalt not kill.” “Respect your elders.” All societies have ways of encouraging and enforcing what they view as appropriate behavior while discouraging and punishing what they consider to be improper behavior. They also have a collective idea of what is good and desirable in life—or not. In this section we will learn to distinguish between the closely related concepts of norms and values.NORMSNorms are the established standards of behavior maintained by a society. For a norm to become significant, it must be widely shared and understood. For example, in movie theaters in the United States, we typically expect that people will be quiet while the film is shown. Of course, the application of this norm can vary, depending on the particular film and type of audience. People who are viewing a serious artistic film will be48more likely to insist on the norm of silence than those who are watching a slapstick comedy or horror movie.One persistent social norm in contemporary society is that of heterosexuality. Children are socialized to accept this norm from a very young age. Overwhelmingly, parents describe adult romantic relationships to their children exclusively as heterosexual relationships. That is not necessarily because they consider same-sex relationships unacceptable, but more likely because they see heterosexuality as the norm in marital partnerships. According to a national survey of mothers of three- to six-year-olds, one in five mothers teaches her young children that homosexuality is wrong. The same survey showed that parenting reflects the dominant ideology, in which homosexuality is treated as a rare exception. Most parents assume that their children are heterosexual; only one in four had even considered whether his or her child might grow up to be gay or lesbian (K. Martin 2009).Types of Norms Sociologists distinguish between norms in two ways. First, norms are classified as either formal or informal. Formal norms generally have been written down and specify strict punishment of violators. In the United States, we often formalize norms into laws, which must be very precise in defining proper and improper behavior. Sociologist Donald Black (1995) has termed law “governmental social control,” meaning formal norms that are enforced by the state. Laws are just one example of formal norms. The requirements for a college major and the rules of a card game are also considered formal norms.By contrast, informal norms are generally understood but are not precisely recorded. Standards of proper dress are a common example of informal norms. Our society has no specific punishment or sanction for a person who comes to school, say, wearing a monkey suit. Making fun of the nonconforming student is usually the most likely response.Norms are also classified by their relative importance to society. When classified in this way, they are known as mores and folkways. Mores (pronounced mor-ays) are norms deemed highly necessary to the welfare of a society, often because they embody the most cherished principles of a people. Each society demands obedience to its mores; violations can lead to severe penalties. Thus, the United States has strong mores against murder, treason, and child abuse, which have been institutionalized into formal norms.Folkways are norms governing everyday behavior. Folkways play an important role in shaping the daily behavior of members of a culture. Still, society is less likely to formalize folkways than mores, and their violation raises comparatively little concern. For example, walking up a “down” escalator in a department store challenges our standards of appropriate behavior, but it will not result in a fine or a jail sentence.You are a high school principal. What norms would you want to govern students’ behavior? How might those norms differ from those typical of college students?Acceptance of Norms People do not follow norms, whether mores or folkways, in all situations. In some cases, they can evade a norm because they know it is weakly enforced. It is illegal for U.S. teenagers to drink49alcoholic beverages, yet drinking by minors is common throughout the nation. In fact, teenage alcoholism is a serious social problem.Norms are violated in some instances because one norm conflicts with another. For example, suppose one night you hear the screams of the woman next door, who is being beaten by her husband. If you decide to intervene by ringing their doorbell or calling the police, you are violating the norm of “minding your own business,” while at the same time following the norm of assisting a victim of violence.Acceptance of norms is subject to change as the political, economic, and social conditions of a culture are transformed. Until the 1960s, for example, formal norms throughout much of the United States prohibited the marriage of people from different racial groups. Over the last half century, however, such legal prohibitions were cast aside. The process of change can be seen today in the increasing acceptance of single parents and growing support for the legalization of marriage between same-sex couples (see Chapter 8).SANCTIONSSuppose a football coach sends a 12th player onto the field. Or imagine a college graduate showing up in shorts for a job interview at an accounting firm. Consider a driver who neglects to put any money into a parking meter. These people have violated widely shared and understood norms. So what happens? In each of these situations, the person will receive sanctions if his or her behavior is detected.Sanctions are penalties and rewards for conduct concerning a social norm. Note that the concept of reward is included in this definition. Conformity to a norm can lead to positive sanctions such as a pay raise, a medal, a word of gratitude, or a pat on the back. Negative sanctions include fines, threats, imprisonment, and stares of contempt.Table 2–1 summarizes the relationship between norms and sanctions. As you can see, the sanctions associated with formal norms (those that are written down and codified) tend to be formal as well. If a coach sendssumming UPTable 2–1 Norms and SanctionsSanctions              NormsPositiveNegativeFormalSalary bonusDemotionTestimonial dinnerFiring from a jobMedalJail sentenceDiplomaExpulsionInformalSmileFrownComplimentHumiliationCheersBullying50too many players onto the field, the team will be penalized 15 yards. The driver who fails to put money in the parking meter will be ticketed and expected to pay a fine. But sanctions for violations of informal norms can vary. The college graduate who comes to the job interview in shorts will probably lose any chance of getting the job; on the other hand, he or she might be so brilliant, the interviewer will overlook the unconventional attire. Obviously only the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world can get away wearing a hoodie to formal business occasions.The entire fabric of norms and sanctions in a culture reflects that culture’s values and priorities. The most cherished values will be most heavily sanctioned; matters regarded as less critical will carry light and informal sanctions.VALUESThough we all have our own personal sets of standards—which may include caring, fitness, or success in business—we also share a general set of objectives as members of a society. Cultural values are collective conceptions of what is considered good, desirable, and proper—or bad, undesirable, and improper. They indicate what people in a given culture prefer, as well as what they find important and morally right or wrong. Values may be specific, such as honoring one’s parents and owning a home, or they may be more general, such as health, love, and democracy. Of course, the members of a society do not uniformly share its values. Angry political debates and billboards promoting conflicting causes tell us that much.Values influence people’s behavior and serve as criteria for evaluating the actions of others. There is often a direct relationship among a culture’s values, norms, and sanctions. For example, if a culture highly values the institution of marriage, it may have norms (and strict sanctions) that prohibit the act of adultery. If a culture views private property as a basic value, it will probably have stiff laws against theft and vandalism.Socially shared, intensely felt values are a fundamental part of life in the United States. Even so, our values can and do change.Each year nearly 142,000 full-time, newly entering students at nearly 200 of the nation’s four-year colleges fill out a questionnaire about their values. Because this survey focuses on an array of issues, beliefs, and life goals, it is commonly cited as a barometer of the nation’s values. The respondents are asked what values are personally important to them. Over the past half century, the value of “being very well-off financially” has shown the strongest gain in popularity; the proportion of first-year college students who endorse this value as “essential” or “very important” rose from 42 percent in 1966 to 82 percent in 2015 (Figure 2–2).During the 1980s and 1990s, support for values having to do with money, power, and status grew. At the same time, support for certain values having to do with social awareness and altruism, such as “helping others,” declined. According to the 2015 nationwide survey, only 44 percent51 Figure 2–2Life Goals of First-Year College Students in the United States, 1966–2015SOURCES: Eagan et al. 2016; Pryor et al. 2007.Think About ItWhy do you think values have shifted among college students in the past few decades? Which of these values is important to you?of first-year college students stated that “influencing social values” was an “essential” or “very important” goal. The proportion of students for whom “helping to promote racial understanding” was an essential or very important goal reached a record high of 46 percent in 1992, then leveled off at 41.2 percent in 2015. Like other aspects of culture, such as language and norms, a nation’s values are not necessarily fixed.Whether the slogan is “Think Green” or “Reduce Your Carbon Footprint,” students have been exposed to values associated with environmentalism. How many of them accept those values? Poll results over the past 50 years show fluctuations, with a high of nearly 46 percent of students in the early 1970s indicating a desire to become involved in cleaning up the environment. By the 1980s, however, student support for embracing this objective had dropped to around 20 percent or even lower (see Figure 2–2). Even with recent attention to climate change, the proportion remains level at only 28.8 percent of first-year students in 2015.Global Culture WarWhen people’s cultural values clash, social conflict may follow. For almost a generation, public attention in the United States has focused on culture war, or the polarization of society over controversial elements52of culture. Originally, in the 1990s, the term referred to political debates over heated issues such as abortion, religious expression, gun control, and sexual orientation. Soon, however, it took on a global meaning—especially after 9/11, as Americans wondered, “Why do they hate us?” Through 2000, global studies of public opinion had reported favorable views of the United States in countries as diverse as Morocco and Germany. But by 2003, in the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, foreign opinion of the United States had become quite negative (J. Hunter 1991; Kohut et al. 2005, 2007).In the last 30 years, extensive efforts have been made to compare values in different nations, recognizing the challenges in interpreting value concepts in a similar manner across cultures. Psychologist Shalom Schwartz has measured values in more than 60 countries. Around the world, certain values are widely shared, including benevolence, which is defined as “forgiveness and loyalty.” In contrast, power, defined as “control or dominance over people and resources,” is a value that is endorsed much less often (Hitlin and Piliavin 2004; S. Schwartz and Bardi 2001).Despite this evidence of shared values, some scholars have interpreted the terrorism, genocide, wars, and military occupations of the early 21st century as a “clash of civilizations.” According to this thesis, cultural and religious identities, rather than national or political loyalties, are becoming the prime source of international conflict. Critics of this thesis point out that conflict over values is nothing new; only our ability to create havoc and violence has grown. Furthermore, speaking of a clash of “civilizations” disguises the sharp divisions that exist within large groups. Christianity, for example, runs the gamut from Quaker-style pacifism to certain elements of the Ku Klux Klan’s ideology (Berman 2003; Huntington 1993; Said 2001; Schrad 2014).Culture and the Dominant IdeologyFunctionalist and conflict theorists agree that culture and society are mutually supportive, but for different reasons. Functionalists maintain that social stability requires a consensus and the support of society’s members; strong central values and common norms provide that support. This view of culture became popular in sociology beginning in the 1950s. It was borrowed from British anthropologists who saw cultural traits as a stabilizing element in a culture. From a functionalist perspective, a cultural trait or practice will persist if it performs functions that society seems to need or contributes to overall social stability and consensus.Look around your campus. Do the people you see suggest that the United States has a core culture with a dominant ideology, or a diverse culture with differing values and ideologies? What about the city or town where your college or university is located—does it suggest the same conclusion?Conflict theorists agree that a common culture may exist, but they argue that it serves to maintain the privileges of certain groups. Moreover, in protecting their own self-interest, powerful groups may keep others in a subservient position. The term dominant ideology describes the set of53cultural beliefs and practices that help to maintain powerful social, economic, and political interests. This concept was first used by Hungarian Marxist Georg Lukacs (1923) and Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (1929); it did not gain an audience in the United States until the early 1970s. In Karl Marx’s view, a capitalist society has a dominant ideology that serves the interests of the ruling class.From a conflict perspective, the dominant ideology has major social significance. Not only do a society’s most powerful groups and institutions control wealth and property; even more important, they control the means of producing beliefs about reality through religion, education, and the media. From a feminist perspective, if all the most important social institutions tell women they should be subservient to men, that dominant ideology will help to control women and keep them in a subordinate position.A growing number of social scientists believe it is not easy to identify a “core culture” in the United States. For support, they point to the lack of consensus on national values, the diffusion of cultural traits, the diversity within our culture, and the changing views of young people. Instead, they suggest that the core culture provides the tools that people of all persuasions need to develop strategies for social change. Yet there is no way of denying that certain expressions of values have greater influence than others, even in so complex a society as the United States (Swidler 1986).Table 2–2 summarizes the major theoretical perspectives on culture.Tracking PerspectivesTable 2–2 Sociological Perspectives on CultureFunctionalist PerspectiveConflict PerspectiveFeminist PerspectiveInteractionist PerspectiveCultural VariationEthnocentrism reinforces group solidarity; subcultures serve the interests of subgroupsEthnocentrism devalues groups; countercultures question the dominant social orderCultural relativism respects variations in the way men and women are viewed in different societiesCustoms and traditions are transmitted through intergroup contact and through the mediaNormsReinforce societal standardsReinforce patterns of dominanceReinforce roles of men and womenAre maintained through face-to-face interactionValuesAre collective conceptions of what is goodMay perpetuate social inequalityMay perpetuate men’s dominanceAre defined and redefined through social interactionCulture and SocietyCulture reflects a society’s strong central valuesCulture reflects a society’s dominant ideologyCulture reflects society’s view of men and womenA society’s core culture is perpetuated through daily social interactions54Culture and SocializationWhat makes us who we are? Is it the genes we are born with, or the environment we grow up in? Researchers have traditionally clashed over the relative importance of biological and environmental factors in human development, a conflict called the nature versus nurture (or heredity versus environment) debate. Today, most social scientists have moved beyond this debate, acknowledging instead the interaction of the two variables in shaping human development. However, we can better appreciate how heredity and environment interact to influence the socialization process if we first examine situations in which one factor operates almost entirely without the other (Homans 1979).SOCIOBIOLOGY: THE IMPACT OF HEREDITYWhile sociology emphasizes diversity and change in the expression of culture, another school of thought, sociobiology, stresses the universal aspects of culture. Sociobiology is the systematic study of how biology affects human social behavior. Sociobiologists assert that many of the cultural traits humans display, such as the almost universal expectation that women will be nurturers and men will be providers, are not learned but are rooted in our genetic makeup.Sociobiology is founded on the naturalist Charles Darwin’s (1859) theory of evolution. In traveling the world, Darwin had noted small variations in species from one location to another. He theorized that over hundreds of generations, random variations in genetic makeup had helped certain members of a species to survive in a particular environment. The species was slowly adapting to its environment. Darwin called this process of adaptation to the environment through random genetic variation natural selection.Sociobiologists apply Darwin’s principle of natural selection to the study of social behavior. They assume that particular forms of behavior become genetically linked to a species if they contribute to its fitness to survive (van den Berghe 1978). In its extreme form, sociobiology suggests that all behavior is the result of genetic or biological factors and that social interactions play no role in shaping people’s conduct.Sociobiologists do not seek to describe individual behavior on the level of “Why is Fred more aggressive than Jim?” Rather, they focus on how human nature is affected by the genetic composition of a group of people who share certain characteristics (such as men or women, or members of isolated tribal bands). In general, sociobiologists have stressed the basic genetic heritage that all humans share and have shown little interest in speculating about alleged differences between racial groups or nationalities. A few researchers have tried to trace specific behaviors, like criminal activity, to certain genetic markers, but those markers are not deterministic. Family cohesiveness, peer group behavior, and other social factors can override genetic influences on behavior (Guo et al. 2008; E. Wilson 1975, 1978).55Certainly most social scientists would agree that there is a biological basis for social behavior. But there is less support for the extreme positions taken by certain advocates of sociobiology. Like interactionists, conflict theorists and functionalists believe that people’s behavior rather than their genetic structure defines social reality. Conflict theorists fear that the sociobiological approach could be used as an argument against efforts to assist disadvantaged people, such as schoolchildren who are not competing successfully (Freese 2008; Machalek and Martin 2010; E. Wilson 2000).SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT: THE IMPACT OF ISOLATIONIn the 1994 movie Nell, Jodie Foster played a young woman hidden from birth by her mother in a backwoods cabin. Raised without normal human contact, Nell crouches like an animal, screams wildly, and speaks or sings in a language all her own. The movie was drawn from the actual a
These are the bullets to choose 1 to write about.Sociology matters because it raises your awareness of cultural patterns you would otherwise take for granted. 
What culture and/or subcultures do you belong to? Have you ever questioned your culture’s norms and values?
How does your culture relate to cultures in other societies? Do you feel comfortable in mainstream society?
 Sociology matters, too, because it shows you how you became who you are. 
How do you view yourself as you interact with others around you? How do you think you formed this view of yourself?
What people, groups, or social institutions have been particularly important in helping you to define who you are?

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