CULTURE - PDF - PDF by wulinqing

VIEWS: 197 PAGES: 26


  Each culture has its own forms of individual expression, as this
  billboard for United Airlines illustrates.The young woman from Los Angeles
  shows off her tongue stud, the South Pacific islander displays a ceremonial
  tattooed face.

Culture and Society                                                        Social Policy and Culture: Bilingualism
Development of Culture                                                     Boxes
around the World                                                               SOCIOLOGY IN THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY:             Life in
                                                                               the Global Village
Elements of Culture
                                                                               SOCIOLOGY ON CAMPUS:         A Culture of Cheating?
Culture and the Dominant Ideology
Cultural Variation

     A              sok is a software engineer in
                    one of the showcase companies
                    in Silicon Valley, a gleaming edi-
                    fice of glass and tile. He and his
     wife were born in India. Like many of his net-
     work of friends, he went to Stanford Univer-
     sity to pursue a graduate degree and found
                                                         ture—without having to put up with a decay-
                                                         ing bureaucracy and failing infrastructure.
                                                         They argue gently about whether they really
                                                         live in an Indian world. She points out that
                                                         while many of their friends are Indian, includ-
                                                         ing a recently immigrated cousin, Priyesh still
                                                         has to work with many non-Indians.
     work in a large company. He stayed in that              Sima adds that she has to interact with
     company for three years, coding, learning           very different cultures in their son’s pre-
     American ways, and discovering that political       school—where they celebrate Chinese New
     hierarchies in American work-                                         Year and Cinco de Mayo. She
     places are very different from                                        pauses and then notes that it
     those he had known in India.                                          isn’t really too different from
     Eager and enthusiastic, he put                                        interacting with all the differ-
     his heart and soul into his                                           ent religions and cultures
     first project. His teammates                                           back in India. Priyesh scoffs at
     were like family. They worked                                         the whole problem. All these
     long hours together, eighty to                                        cultural differences don’t
     a hundred hours per week in                                           matter to him. When he is at
     the crunch times. They went                                           work, it is the technology
     to Burgess Park for picnics,                                          that matters. . . .
     and loaned each other                                                     Priyesh goes back into his
     money. It was a heady expe-                                           home office. He makes a
     rience. Suddenly, the product                                         practice of telecommuting
     on which his project was                                              every day from about six to
     based was canceled. His group was broken            nine o’clock in the morning. . . . He can, at the
     up and his teammates were distributed               very least, spend those hours reviewing his e-
     among a number of other projects. . . .             mail. He gets from fifty to one hundred e-
         Priyesh and his wife, Sima, old friends of      mails each day. Many are work-related, but
     Asok’s, are having breakfast. Sima tells Priyesh    others connect him to mailing lists of people
     that her relatives were asking if they will go      who are interested in technology stock in-
     back to India soon. They shake their heads,         vestment, or people who like to play Indian
     wondering why they would want to go back.           music or tennis. They will send each other
     She says, “I do not miss India . . . anything In-   quick messages to set up meeting times or to
     dian I want I have it right here—grocery            announce the arrival of a particular artist. He
     stores, temples, cultural programs, Hindu           also stays in touch with his family in India with
     magazines. There are three movie theaters in        e-mail, since that is the most convenient way
     the Bay Area showing Hindi movies seven             to communicate across time zones. (English-
     days a week. I only miss my family.” Priyesh re-    Lueck 2002:1–3)
     flects that here in Silicon Valley he can have all   Additional information about this excerpt can be found on the
     the good parts of India—the people and cul-         Online Learning Center at
                                                                                                                               Culture    55

      I        this excerpt from the book Cultures@
               Silicon Valley by Jan English-Lueck, an an-
               thropologist describes the daily lives of
               some typical residents of California’s
   world-famous center for cutting-edge technologies.
   English-Lueck is a professor and chair of the Depart-
                                                                            Though the high-tech industry has suffered in the
                                                                         recent economic recession, immigrants are still drawn
                                                                         to Silicon Valley, and the corporations that reside there
                                                                         are still developing new technologies with which to in-
                                                                         tegrate diverse cultures. In the future, the United States
                                                                         will continue to rely on talented people from around
   ment of Anthropology at San Jose State University.                    the world. In our rapidly globalizing culture, then, un-
   Fascinated by the mix of cultures and entrepreneurism                 derstanding other cultures is vital to our national well-
   that powers her region’s high-tech economy, she has                   being. How do cultures differ and how are they the
   spent 10 years doing ethnographic research on the                     same? How does our culture change as we encounter
   software engineers who immigrate from India and Ire-                  cultures very different from our own? What accounts
   land to work in the corporations that invented the In-                for cultural variation between and within societies?
   formation Age. She sees the community as a micro-                     And what are the cultural implications of the trend
   cosm of globalization, where new technologies                         toward globalization?
   intersect with international business interests and a                    In this chapter we will study the development of
   multicultural, transnational workforce.                               culture around the world, including the cultural ef-
       The Silicon Valley culture revealed by English-                   fects of the worldwide trend toward globalization. We
   Lueck’s painstaking research is a many-layered mosaic                 will see just how basic the study of culture is to sociol-
   of ethnic traditions, corporate values, consumerism,                  ogy. We will examine the meaning of culture and soci-
   and global mass media. The well-educated immigrants                   ety, as well as the development of culture from its roots
   who staff Silicon Valley’s software development de-                   in the prehistoric human experience to the technolog-
   partments maintain close-knit ethnic networks, which                  ical advances of today. We will define and explore the
   provide a sense of stability that is lacking in their high-           major aspects of culture, including language, norms,
   risk business. They accept the corporate profit motive,                sanctions, and values. We will see how cultures de-
   which means that their jobs are only as secure as the                 velop a dominant ideology, and how functionalist and
   prospects for the new technologies they develop. They                 conflict theorists view culture. Our discussion will fo-
   consider the demands of learning to live with people                  cus both on general cultural practices found in all so-
   of other nationalities a worthwhile exchange for the                  cieties and on the wide variations that can distinguish
   comfort and efficiency of life in a developed country.                 one society from another. In the social policy section
   And they allow the high-tech gadgets they create to al-               we will look at the conflicts in cultural values that
   ter the way they live their lives, changing the ways they             underlie current debates over bilingualism.
   work and communicate with others.

                                                                               Sometimes people refer to a particular person as “very
       CULTURE AND SOCIETY                                               cultured” or to a city as having “lots of culture.” That use of
                                                                         the term culture is different from our use in this textbook.
Culture is the totality of learned, socially transmitted cus-            In sociological terms, culture does not refer solely to the fine
toms, knowledge, material objects, and behavior. It in-                  arts and refined intellectual taste. It consists of all objects
cludes the ideas, values, and artifacts (for example, DVDs,              and ideas within a society, including ice cream cones, rock
comic books, and birth control devices) of groups of                     music, and slang words. Sociologists consider both a por-
people. Patriotic attachment to the flag of the United                    trait by Rembrandt and the work of graffiti spray painters
States is an aspect of culture, as is a national passion for             to be aspects of culture. A tribe that cultivates soil by
the tango in Argentina.                                                  hand has just as much culture as a people that relies
Classroom Tip See “Stimulating Classroom Discussions about Cul-          Classroom Tip Do we live in a society and a culture? Have students
tures@Silicon Valley” (Class Discussion Topics).                         discuss the difference between these two concepts.
Student Alert Note that the use of the term culture is much broader in
everyday speech than in sociology.
 Are You What You Eat?

 T           he foods people eat, along with the customs
             they observe in preparing and consuming
             their meals, say a great deal about their cul-
ture. In some cultures, such as that of Papua New
                                                              lovingly prepared, consumed slowly along with good
                                                              conversation and a bottle of wine.To the French and to
                                                              gourmets around the world, great chefs are celebrities.
                                                                 Given their reverence for food, the French would be
Guinea, roast pork is a delicacy reserved for feasts; in      most unlikely to participate in a contest designed to see
others it is forbidden food. In U.S. culture, genetically     who can gobble down the most hot dogs. In the United
modified food is accepted without much question, but           States and Japan, these public events are quite popular.
in Europe it is banned. Because Swedish people put            But though the Japanese admire American culture, they
great value on natural, organic foods, 99 percent of          stop short at copying the American habit of eating fast
mothers in Sweden breast-feed their infants—a rate            food on the street while rushing from one place to an-
much higher than that in the United States.                   other. The Japanese will purchase food from a street
   In some cultures, such as France, fine cuisine is a cul-    vendor, but they will not walk around while eating it, be-
tural institution. The French prefer fresh local produce      cause doing so would show disrespect for the preparer.

                                                               Hong Kong

Coney Island, New York

58 Chapter 3

on computer-operated machinery. Each people has a                       ragtime compositions of Scott Joplin, the poetry of V. S.
distinctive culture with its own characteristic ways of gath-           Naipaul, the paintings of Johannes Vermeer, the novels of
ering and preparing food, constructing homes, structuring               Jane Austen, and the films of Akira Kurosawa. As we be-
the family, and promoting standards of right and wrong.                 gin a new millennium, we can transmit an entire book
      The fact that you share a similar culture with others             around the world via the Internet, clone cells, and pro-
helps to define the group or society to which you belong.                long lives through organ transplants. We can peer into the
A fairly large number of people are said to constitute a                outermost reaches of the universe or analyze our inner-
society when they live in the same territory, are relatively            most feelings. In all these ways, we are remarkably differ-
independent of people outside their area, and participate               ent from other species of the animal kingdom.
in a common culture. Metropolitan Los Angeles is more
populous than at least 150 nations, yet sociologists do not             Cultural Universals
consider it a society in its own right. Rather, they see it as
part of—and dependent on—the larger society of the                      All societies have developed certain common practices
United States.                                                          and beliefs, known as cultural universals. Many cultural
      A society is the largest form of human group. It con-             universals are, in fact, adaptations to meet essential hu-
sists of people who share a common heritage and culture.                man needs, such as people’s need for food, shelter, and
Members of the society learn this culture and transmit it               clothing. Anthropologist George Murdock (1945:124)
from one generation to the next. They even preserve their               compiled a list of cultural universals, including athletic
distinctive culture through literature, art, video record-              sports, cooking, funeral ceremonies, medicine, marriage,
ings, and other means of expression. If it were not for the             and sexual restrictions.
social transmission of culture, each generation would                        The cultural practices Murdock listed may be univer-
have to reinvent television, not to mention the wheel.                  sal, but the manner in which they are expressed varies
      Having a common culture also simplifies many day-                  from culture to culture. For example, one society may let
to-day interactions. For example, when you buy an airline               its members choose their own marriage partners. An-
ticket, you know you don’t have to bring along hundreds                 other may encourage marriages arranged by the parents.
of dollars in cash. You can pay with a credit card. When                     Not only does the expression of cultural universals
you are part of a society, you take for granted many small              vary from one society to another; it also may change
(as well as more important) cultural patterns. You assume               dramatically over time within a society. Each generation,
that theaters will provide seats for the audience, that                 and each year for that matter, most human cultures
physicians will not disclose confidential information, and               change and expand through the processes of innovation
that parents will be careful when crossing the street with              and diffusion.
young children. All these assumptions reflect basic values,
beliefs, and customs of the culture of the United States.               Innovation
      Language is a critical element of culture that sets hu-
                                                                        The process of introducing a new idea or object to a cul-
mans apart from other species. Members of a society gen-
                                                                        ture is known as innovation. Innovation interests sociol-
erally share a common language, which facilitates day-to-
                                                                        ogists because of the social consequences of introducing
day exchanges with others. When you ask a hardware
                                                                        something new. There are two forms of innovation: dis-
store clerk for a flashlight, you don’t need to draw a pic-
                                                                        covery and invention. Discovery involves making known
ture of the instrument. You share the same cultural term
                                                                        or sharing the existence of an aspect of reality. The find-
for a small, portable battery-operated light. However, if               ing of the DNA molecule and the identification of a new
you were in England and needed this item, you would                     moon of Saturn are both acts of discovery. A significant
have to ask for an “electric torch.” Of course, even within             factor in the process of discovery is the sharing of new-
the same society, a term can have a number of different                 found knowledge with others. By contrast, an invention
meanings. In the United States, grass signifies both a plant             results when existing cultural items are combined into a
eaten by grazing animals and an intoxicating drug.                      form that did not exist before. The bow and arrow, the
                                                                        automobile, and the television are all examples of inven-
       DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURE                                           tions, as are Protestantism and democracy.
                                                                        Globalization, Diffusion, and Technology
We’ve come a long way from our prehistoric heritage. The                The Christmas season is in full swing, and the city is
human species has produced such achievements as the                     aglow with evergreen wreaths, snowmen, and silvery
Let’s Discuss Who teaches a society’s culture? Parents, teachers, the   Key Person George Murdock
media, religious and government leaders, peers, and others?             Classroom Tip Additional examples of Murdock’s cultural universals in-
                                                                        clude bodily adornment, calendars, dancing, games, greetings, incest
                                                                        taboos, hairstyles, language, personal names, religion, and weaning.
                                                                        Let’s Discuss Why are dancing, hairstyles, and religion cultural univer-
                                                                        sals? What functions do these examples serve?
                                                                                                                         Culture   59

                                                                                        not just in the United States, but
                                                                                        throughout the world. One example
                                                                                        of the massive global impact was the
                                                                                        downturn in international tourism,
                                                                                        which lasted for at least two years.
                                                                                        The effects have been felt by people
                                                                                        far removed from the United States,
                                                                                        including African game wardens and
                                                                                        Asian taxi drivers. Some observers
                                                                                        see globalization and its effects as the
                                                                                        natural result of advances in com-
                                                                                        munications technology, particu-
                                                                                        larly the Internet and satellite trans-
                                                                                        mission of the mass media. Others
                                                                                        view it more critically, as a process
                                                                                        that allows multinational corpora-
                                                                                        tions to expand unchecked. We will
                                                                                        examine this issue more fully in
                                                                                        Box 3-1, on page 60 (Chase-Dunn et
                                                                                        al. 2000; Feketekuty 2001; Feuer
   In Vietnam, Santa Claus rides a bicycle loaded with gifts. The observance of         1989; Pearlstein 2001; Ritzer 2004b).
   Western holidays in non-Western countries is one sign of globalization.                    As the observance of Western
                                                                                        holidays shows, more and more cul-
                                                                                        tural expressions and practices are
bells. On the street, shoppers hurry past bakery windows        crossing national borders and having an effect on the tra-
stocked with tempting holiday confections. Handel’s Mes-        ditions and customs of the societies exposed to them. So-
siah is being performed tonight at the music hall. No, this     ciologists use the term diffusion to refer to the process by
isn’t New York, London, or Berlin; it’s Beijing. China, the     which a cultural item spreads from group to group or so-
country that exports many of the toys that end up under         ciety to society. Diffusion can occur through a variety of
the Christmas tree in the United States, has caught the         means, among them exploration, military conquest, mis-
holiday spirit. But you won’t find many manger scenes            sionary work, the influence of the mass media, tourism,
here, where some people who take the message of Christ-         and the Internet.
mas seriously are still persecuted. For the Chinese, Christ-          Sociologist George Ritzer coined the term “Mc-
mas is merely a chic Western custom, a welcome chance           Donaldization of society” to describe how the principles of
to relax with family and friends (Marquand 2002).               fast-food restaurants developed in the United States have
      Not just in China, but in Vietnam, South Korea, and       come to dominate more and more sectors of societies
the Philippines, the observance of Western holidays is one      throughout the world. For example, hair salons and med-
more sign of the rapidly escalating globalization of cul-       ical clinics now take walk-in appointments. In Hong Kong,
ture. Globalization is the worldwide integration of gov-        sex selection clinics offer a menu of items, from fertility en-
ernment policies, cultures, social movements, and finan-         hancement to methods of increasing the likelihood of hav-
cial markets through trade and the exchange of ideas.           ing a child of the desired sex. Religious groups—from evan-
While public discussion of globalization is relatively re-      gelical preachers on local stations or websites to priests at
cent, intellectuals have been pondering its social conse-       the Vatican Television Center—use marketing techniques
quences for a long time. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels         similar to those that are used to sell “happy meals.”
warned in The Communist Manifesto (written in 1848) of                McDonaldization is associated with the melding of
a world market that would lead to production in distant         cultures, through which we see more and more similari-
lands, sweeping away existing working relationships.            ties in cultural expression. In Japan, for example, African
      Today, developments outside a country are as likely to    entrepreneurs have found a thriving market for hip-hop
influence people’s lives as changes at home. For example,        fashions popularized by teens in the United States. In
though much of the world was already in recession by            Austria, the McDonald’s organization itself has drawn on
September 2001, the terrorist attacks on New York and           the Austrians’ love of coffee, cake, and conversation to
Washington, D.C., caused an immediate economic decline          create the McCafe, a new part of its fast-food chain. Many
Global View Discussion of diffusion gives instructors and faculty a   Global View/Contemporary Culture Note the impact that the mass
chance to introduce additional cross-cultural examples.               media have had on cultural diffusion.
Global View See “Cultural Diffusion: Baseball in Japan” (Additional   Key Person George Ritzer
Lecture Ideas).                                                       Theory Examine the principles of “McDonaldization” from a
                                                                      functionalist perspective.
             Sociology in the Global Community
                                                     industrial countries, at the expense of the      ture from other countries, especially the

   magine a “borderless world” in which
   culture, trade, commerce, money, and              poor in less developed nations. They con-        economically dominant United States. In
   even people move freely from one                  sider globalization to be a successor to the     Brazil, for example, a toy manufacturer
place to another. Popular culture is                 imperialism and colonialism that op-             has challenged Barbie’s popularity by de-
widely shared, whether it be Japanese                pressed Third World nations for centuries.       signing a doll named Susi that looks
sushi or U.S. running shoes, and the Eng-                Another criticism of globalization           more like Brazilian girls. Susi has a
lish speaker who answers questions on                comes from people who feel over-                 slightly smaller chest, much wider thighs,
the telephone about your credit card ac-             whelmed by global culture. The trend set-        and darker skin than Barbie. Her
count is as likely to be in India or Ireland         ters are likely to be far removed culturally     wardrobe includes the skimpy bikinis fa-
as in the United States. In this world, even         and spatially from the daily lives of indi-      vored on Brazilian beaches as well as a
the sovereignty of nations is at risk, chal-         viduals. And when cultural change can            soccer shirt honoring the national team.
lenged by political movements and ideol-             come from any part of the global village,        Brazilians have responded: In Brazil, five
ogies that span nations.                             no single style can dominate a local com-        Susi dolls are sold for every two Barbies.
    There is no need to imagine this                 munity for long. Embedded in the con-                Of course, globalization has its posi-
world, for we are already living in the age          cept of globalization is the notion of the       tive side too. Many developing nations
of globalization. African tribal youngsters          cultural domination of developing na-            are taking their place in the world of
wear Michael Jordan T-shirts; Thai teens             tions by more affluent nations. Simply            commerce and bringing in much needed
dance to techno music; American chil-                                                                 income. The communications revolution
dren collect Pokémon cards. Ethnic ac-                                                                helps people to stay connected and gives
cessories have become a fashion state-                    Even James Bond movies and                  them access to knowledge that can im-
ment in the United States, and Asian                     Britney Spears may be seen as                prove living standards and even save
martial arts have swept the world.                      threats to native cultures, if they           lives. For example, people suffering from
    How did we get to this point? First,                                                              illnesses are now accessing treatment
sociologists take note of advances in                      dominate the media at the                  programs that were developed outside
communications technology. Satellite TV,                   expense of local art forms.                their own nation’s medical establish-
cell phones, the Internet, and the like al-                                                           ment. The key seems to be finding a bal-
low information to flow freely across the                                                              ance between the old ways and the new—
world and serve to link global markets.              put, people lose their traditional values        becoming modernized without leaving
Second, corporations in the industrial               and begin to identify with the culture of        meaningful cultural traditions behind.
nations have become multinational, with              dominant nations. They may discard or
both factories and markets in developing             neglect their native language and dress as       Let’s Discuss
countries. Business leaders welcome the              they attempt to copy the icons of mass-            1. How are you affected by globaliza-
opportunity to sell consumer goods in                market entertainment and fashion. Even                tion? What items of popular culture
populous countries such as China and                 James Bond movies and Britney Spears                  do you enjoy that come from other
India. Finally, these multinational firms             may be seen as threats to native cultures,            nations? Which aspects of global-
have cooperated with global financial in-             if they dominate the media at the expense             ization do you find advantageous
stitutions, organizations, and govern-               of local art forms. As Sembene Ousmane,               and which do you find objection-
ments to promote free trade—unre-                    one of Africa’s most prominent writers                able?
stricted or lightly restricted commerce              and filmmakers, noted, “[Today] we are              2. How would you feel if the customs
across national borders.                             more familiar with European fairy tales               and traditions you grew up with
    Globalization is not universally wel-            than with our own traditional stories”                were replaced by the culture or val-
comed. Many critics see the dominance of             (World Development Forum 1990:4).                     ues of another country? How might
“businesses without borders” as benefiting                Some societies try to protect them-               you try to protect your culture?
the rich, particularly the very wealthy in           selves from the invasion of too much cul-

Sources: Dodds 2000; Downie 2000; Giddens 1991; Hansen 2001; Hirst and Thompson 1996; Legrain 2003; Ritzer 2004b; Sernau 2001.

Let’s Discuss Is the United States resistant to the “invasion” of             Global View/Theory The Internet and television enter homes through-
cultural characteristics from other societies?                                out the world, and both are dominated by the English language. Exam-
                                                                              ine from a conflict perspective.

                                                                                                                      Culture   61

critical observers believe that McDonaldization and glob-         ology, stresses the universal aspects of culture. Sociobiol-
alization serve to dilute the distinctive aspects of a soci-      ogy is the systematic study of how biology affects human
ety’s culture (Alfino et al. 1998; Ritzer 2002, 2004a).            social behavior. Sociobiologists assert that many of the
     Technology in its many forms has increased the               cultural traits humans display, such as the almost univer-
speed of cultural diffusion and broadened the distribu-           sal expectation that women will be nurturers and men
tion of cultural elements. Sociologist Gerhard Lenski has         will be providers, are not learned but are rooted in our ge-
defined technology as “cultural information about how to           netic makeup.
use the material resources of the environment to satisfy               Sociobiology is founded on the naturalist Charles
human needs and desires” (Nolan and Lenski 2004:37).              Darwin’s (1859) theory of evolution. In traveling the
Today’s technological developments no longer await pub-           world, Darwin had noted small variations in species—in
lication in journals with limited circulation. Press confer-      the shape of a bird’s beak, for example—from one loca-
ences, often carried simultaneously on the Internet,              tion to another. He theorized that over hundreds of gen-
trumpet the new developments.                                     erations, random variations in genetic makeup had
     Technology not only accelerates the diffusion of sci-        helped certain members of a species to survive in a par-
entific innovations but also transmits culture. Later, in          ticular environment. A bird with a differently shaped
Chapter 16, we will discuss the concern in many parts of          beak might have been better at gathering seeds than other
the world that the English language and North American            birds, for instance. In reproducing, these lucky individu-
culture dominate the Internet and World Wide Web. Such            als had passed on their advantageous genes to succeeding
control, or at least dominance, of technology influences           generations. Eventually, given their advantage in survival,
the direction of diffusion of culture. Websites cover even        individuals with the variation began to outnumber other
the most superficial aspects of U.S. culture but offer little      members of the species. The species was slowly adapting
information about the pressing issues faced by citizens of        to its environment. Darwin called this process of adapta-
other nations. People all over the world find it easier to         tion to the environment through random genetic varia-
visit electronic chat rooms about daytime television              tion natural selection.
shows like All My Children than to learn about their own               Sociobiologists apply Darwin’s principle of natural
governments’ policies on day care or infant nutrition.            selection to the study of social behavior. They assume that
     Sociologist William F. Ogburn (1922) made a useful           particular forms of behavior become genetically linked to
distinction between the elements of material and nonma-           a species if they contribute to its fitness to survive (van
terial culture. Material culture refers to the physical or        den Berghe 1978). In its extreme form, sociobiology sug-
      pp. 4–5     technological aspects of our daily lives, in-
                                                                  gests that all behavior is the result of genetic or biological
cluding food, houses, factories, and raw materials. Nonma-
                                                                  factors and that social interactions play no role in shaping
terial culture refers to ways of using material objects and
                                                                  people’s conduct.
to customs, beliefs, philosophies, governments, and pat-
                                                                       Sociobiologists do not seek to describe individual be-
terns of communication. Generally, the nonmaterial cul-
                                                                  havior on the level of “Why is Fred more aggressive than
ture is more resistant to change than the material culture.
                                                                  Jim?” Rather, they focus on how human nature is affected
Consequently, Ogburn introduced the term culture lag to
                                                                  by the genetic composition of a group of people who
refer to the period of maladjustment when the nonmater-
                                                                  share certain characteristics (such as men or women, or
ial culture is still struggling to adapt to new material con-
                                                                  members of isolated tribal bands). In general, sociobiolo-
ditions. For example, the ethics of using the Internet, par-
ticularly issues concerning privacy and censorship, have          gists have stressed the basic genetic heritage that all hu-
not yet caught up with the explosion in Internet use and          mans share, and have shown little interest in speculating
technology (see the social policy section in Chapter 16).         about alleged differences between racial groups or
                                                                  nationalities (E. Wilson 1975, 1978).
                                                   www.                Some researchers insist that intellectual interest in so-
     Use Your Sociological Imagination   
                                                   /schaefer6     ciobiology will only deflect serious study of the more sig-
 If you grew up in your parents’ generation—without               nificant influence on human behavior, the social environ-
 computers, e-mail, the Internet, pagers, and cell phones—        ment. Yet Lois Wladis Hoffman (1985), in her presidential
 how would your daily life differ from the one you lead today?    address to the Society for the Psychological Study of Social
                                                                  Issues, argued that sociobiology poses a valuable challenge
                                                                  to social scientists to better document their own research.
                                                                  Interactionists, for example, could show how social behav-
While sociology emphasizes diversity and change in the            ior is not programmed by human biology, but instead ad-
expression of culture, another school of thought, sociobi-        justs continually to the attitudes and responses of others.
Key Persons Gerhard Lenski, William Ogburn                        Classroom Tip See “Biological Influences on Human Behavior” (Addi-
                                                                  tional Lecture Ideas).
                                                                  Theory Note the conflict theorists’ concerns about sociobiology.
62 Chapter 3

     Certainly most social scientists would agree that                  symbols for all aspects of culture. It includes speech, writ-
there is a biological basis for social behavior. But there is           ten characters, numerals, symbols, and nonverbal ges-
less support for the extreme positions taken by certain                 tures and expressions. Figure 3-1 shows where the major
advocates of sociobiology. Like interactionists, conflict                languages of the world are spoken.
theorists and functionalists believe that people’s behavior                  Because language is the foundation of every culture,
rather than their genetic structure defines social reality.              the ability to speak other languages is crucial to intercul-
Conflict theorists fear that the sociobiological approach                tural relations. Throughout the Cold War era, beginning
could be used as an argument against efforts to assist dis-             in the 1950s and continuing well into the 1970s, the U.S.
advantaged people, such as schoolchildren who are not                   government encouraged the study of Russian by develop-
competing successfully (Guterman 2000; Segerstråle                      ing special language schools for diplomats and military
2000; E. Wilson 2000).                                                  advisors who dealt with the Soviet Union. And following
                                                                        September 11, 2001, the nation recognized how few
                                                                        skilled translators it had for Arabic and other languages
       ELEMENTS OF CULTURE                                              spoken in Muslim countries. Language quickly became a
                                                                        key not only to tracking potential terrorists, but to build-
Each culture considers its own distinctive ways of han-                 ing diplomatic bridges with Muslim countries willing to
dling basic societal tasks to be “natural.” But in fact, meth-          help in the war against terrorism.
ods of education, marital ceremonies, religious doctrines,                   While language is a cultural universal, striking differ-
and other aspects of culture are learned and transmitted                ences in the use of language are evident around the world.
through human interaction within specific societies.                    Such is the case even when two countries use the same
Parents in India are accustomed to arranging marriages                  spoken language. For example, an English-speaking
for their children; parents in the United States leave mar-             person from the United States who is visiting London
ital decisions up to their offspring. Lifelong residents of             might be puzzled the first time an English friend says “I’ll
Naples consider it natural to speak Italian; lifelong resi-             ring you up.” The friend means “I’ll call you on the tele-
dents of Buenos Aires feel the same way about Spanish.                  phone.”
Let’s take a look at the major aspects of culture that shape
the way the members of a society live: language, norms,                 Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
sanctions, and values.                                                  Language does more than simply describe reality; it also
                                                                        serves to shape the reality of a culture. For example, most
                                                                        people in the United States cannot easily make the verbal
                                                                        distinctions concerning ice that are possible in the Slave
The English language makes extensive use of words deal-                 Indian culture. As a result, they are less likely to notice
ing with war. We speak of “conquering” space, “fighting”                 such differences.
the “battle” of the budget, “waging war” on drugs, making                    The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, named for two
a “killing” on the stock market, and “bombing” an exam-                 linguists, describes the role of language in shaping our in-
ination; something monumental or great is “the bomb.”                   terpretation of reality. According to Sapir and Whorf,
An observer from an entirely different and warless culture              since people can conceptualize the world only through
could gauge the importance that war and the military                    language, language precedes thought. Thus, the word
have had in our lives simply by recognizing the promi-                  symbols and grammar of a language organize the world
nence that militaristic terms have in our language. On the              for us. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis also holds that lan-
other hand, in the Old West, words such as gelding, stal-               guage is not a given. Rather, it is culturally determined
lion, mare, piebald, and sorrel were all used to describe               and encourages a distinctive interpretation of reality by
one animal—the horse. Even if we knew little of that pe-                focusing our attention on certain phenomena.
riod in history, we could conclude from the list of terms                    In a literal sense, language may color how we see the
that horses were important to the culture. Similarly, the               world. Berlin and Kay (1991) have noted that humans
Slave Indians of northern Canada, who live in a frigid cli-             possess the physical ability to make millions of color dis-
mate, have 14 terms to describe ice, including 8 for dif-               tinctions, yet languages differ in the number of colors
ferent kinds of “solid ice” and others for “seamed ice,”                they recognize. The English language distinguishes be-
“cracked ice,” and “floating ice.” Clearly, language reflects             tween yellow and orange, but some other languages do
the priorities of a culture (Basso 1972; Haviland 2002).                not. In the Dugum Dani language of New Guinea’s West
     Language is, in fact, the foundation of every culture.             Highlands, there are only two basic color terms—modla
Language is an abstract system of word meanings and                     for “white” and mili for “black.” By contrast, there are 11
Theory Discuss the importance of language to functionalists, interac-   Classroom Tip The Old West had many terms for horses, and Arabic
tionists, and conflict theorists.                                        has many terms for types of camels—reflecting the importance of the
Let’s Discuss What does the extensive use of words dealing with war     horse in the Old West and the camel in Arabic culture.
say about U.S. culture?                                                 Theory The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis draws on the functionalist view.
                                                                        Global View The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis underscores how language
                                                                        shapes reality differently in each culture.
     FIGURE 3-1

     Languages of the World
                          Mapping Life WORLDWIDE                                                                                                       

                                                                                     7                                   4                 3
                                                                                            1       1
                                                                     2                                               3
                                                                                                2                   2        9

               1   Germanic   6   Indo-Aryan
               2   Romance    7   Celtic
               3   Slavic     8   Greek                                      2
               4   Baltic     9   Armenian
               5   Iranian                                                                                  1
               Eskimo-Aleut                Caucasian
               Native American             Sino-Tibetan                                                         1
               Hamito-Semitic              Paleo-Siberian
               Niger-Congo                 Korean
               Nilo-Saharan                Japanese
               Austronesian                Burushaski
               Australian                  Austro-Asiatic
               Samoyed                     Vietnamese
               Finno-Ugric                 Thai-Kadai
               Basque                      Papuan
               Khosian                     Dravidian                                                                         0      1000       2000 Miles
               Ural-Altaic                 Unpopulated Regions                           Scale: 1 to 180,000,000
                                                                                                                             0   1000 2000 3000 Kilometers

     Source: J. Allen 2003.

       Think About It
       Why do you think people in the United States are much less likely to master more than one language than people in other parts of the world?
64 Chapter 3

                                                                          blacklist, while a lie that we think of as somewhat accept-
                                                                          able is called a white lie?
                                                                               Language can shape how we see, taste, smell, feel,
                                                                          and hear. It also influences the way we think about the
                                                                          people, ideas, and objects around us. Language commu-
                                                                          nicates a culture’s most important norms, values, and
                                                                          sanctions to people. That’s why the introduction of a
                                                                          new language into a society is such a sensitive issue in
                                                                          many parts of the world (see the social policy section at
                                                                          the end of this chapter).

                                                                          Nonverbal Communication
                                                                          If you don’t like the way a meeting is going, you might
                                                                          suddenly sit back, fold your arms, and turn down the
                                                                          corners of your mouth. When you see a friend in tears,
                                                                          you may give a quick hug. After winning a big game you
                                                                          probably high-five your teammates. These are all exam-
                                                                          ples of nonverbal communication, the use of gestures, fa-
                                                                          cial expressions, and other visual images to communicate.
                                                                                We are not born with these expressions. We learn
  Hand signals have different meanings in different                       them, just as we learn other forms of language, from peo-
  cultures. U.S. film critic Roger Ebert uses the                          ple who share our same culture. This is as true for the ba-
  thumbs-up sign to recommend a new movie, but in                         sic expressions of happiness and sadness as it is for more
  Australia his gesture would be seen as offensive                        complex emotions such as shame or distress (Fridlund
  rather than complimentary.                                              et al. 1987).
                                                                                Like other forms of language, nonverbal communi-
                                                                          cation is not the same in all cultures. For example,
basic terms in English. Russian and Hungarian, though,                    sociological research at the micro level documents that
have 12 color terms. Russians have terms for light blue                   people from various cultures differ in the degree to which
and dark blue, while Hungarians have terms for two dif-                   they touch others during the course of normal social
ferent shades of red (Roberson et al. 2000).                              interactions. Even experienced travelers are sometimes
     Feminists have noted that gender-related language                    caught off guard by these differences. In Saudi Arabia, a
can reflect—although in itself it does not determine—the                   middle-aged man may want to hold hands with a partner
traditional acceptance of men and women in certain oc-                    after closing a business deal. The gesture, which would
cupations. Each time we use a term such as mailman,                       shock an American businessman, is considered a compli-
policeman, or fireman, we are implying (especially to                      ment in that culture. The meaning of hand signals is
young children) that these occupations can be filled only                  another form of nonverbal communication that can
by males. Yet many women work as letter carriers, police                  differ from one culture to the next. In Australia, the
officers, and firefighters—a fact that is being increasingly                 thumbs-up sign is considered rude (Passero 2002).
recognized and legitimized through the use of such non-
sexist language.
     Language can also transmit stereotypes related to
race. Look up the meanings of the adjective black in dic-                 “Wash your hands before dinner.” “Thou shalt not kill.”
tionaries published in the United States. You will find dis-               “Respect your elders.” All societies have ways of encourag-
mal, gloomy or forbidding, destitute of moral light or good-              ing and enforcing what they view as appropriate behavior
ness, atrocious, evil, threatening, clouded with anger. By                while discouraging and punishing what they consider to
contrast, dictionaries list pure and innocent among the                   be improper behavior. Norms are the established stan-
meanings of the adjective white. Through such patterns                    dards of behavior maintained by a society.
of language, our culture reinforces positive associations                      For a norm to become significant, it must be widely
with the term (and skin color) white and negative associ-                 shared and understood. For example, in movie theaters in
ations with black. Is it surprising, then, that a list meant              the United States, we typically expect that people will be
to prevent people from working in a profession is called a                quiet while the film is shown. Of course, the application
Race/Ethnicity/Gender Explain how language shapes our thoughts and        Global View Cross-cultural variations in nonverbal communication
actions about various ethnic and racial groups and about men and women.   Classroom Tip See “Graffiti” (Class Discussion Topics).
Classroom Tip See “Sexism in Language—English and Japanese”               Classroom Tip Anthropologist Edward Hall has described “distances”
(Additional Lecture Ideas).                                               for various social interactions. See “Conversational Distance” (Additional
Classroom Tip See “Desexing English” (Class Discussion Topics).           Lecture Ideas).
Theory Microsociological analysis of communication                        Let’s Discuss Why is “distance” at an ATM important?
                                                                                                                                Culture    65

of this norm can vary, depending on the particular film                                                                            www.
and type of audience. People who are viewing a serious                         Use Your Sociological Imagination        
artistic film will be more likely to insist on the norm of si-              You are a high school principal.What norms would you
lence than those who are watching a slapstick comedy or                    want to govern the students’ behavior? How might these
horror movie.                                                              norms differ from those appropriate for college students?

Types of Norms                                                            Acceptance of Norms
Sociologists distinguish between norms in two ways.                       People do not follow norms, whether mores or folkways,
First, norms are classified as either formal or informal.                  in all situations. In some cases, they can evade a norm be-
Formal norms generally have been written down and                         cause they know it is weakly enforced. It is illegal for U.S.
specify strict punishments for violators. In the United                   teenagers to drink alcoholic beverages, yet drinking by
States, we often formalize norms into laws, which are very                minors is common throughout the nation. (In fact,
precise in defining proper and improper behavior. Sociol-                  teenage alcoholism is a serious social problem.)
ogist Donald Black (1995) has termed law “governmental                          In some instances, behavior that appears to violate
social control,” meaning that laws are formal norms en-                   society’s norms may actually represent adherence to the
forced by the state. Laws are just one example of formal                  norms of a particular group. Teenage drinkers are con-
norms. The requirements for a college major and the                       forming to the standards of their peer group when they
rules of a card game are also considered formal norms.                    violate norms that condemn underage drinking. Simi-
     By contrast, informal norms are generally under-                     larly, business executives who use shady accounting
stood but not precisely recorded. Standards of proper                     techniques may be responding to a corporate culture
dress are a common example of informal norms. Our so-                     that demands the maximization of profits at any cost,
ciety has no specific punishment or sanction for a person                  including the deception of investors and government
who comes to school, say, wearing a monkey suit. Making                   regulatory agencies.
fun of the nonconforming student is usually the most                            Norms are violated in some instances because one
likely response.                                                          norm conflicts with another. For example, suppose that
     Norms are also classified by their relative importance                you live in an apartment building and one night hear the
to society. When classified in this way, they are known as                 screams of the woman next door, who is being beaten by
mores and folkways. Mores (pronounced “MOR-ays”) are                      her husband. If you decide to intervene by ringing their
norms deemed highly necessary to the welfare of a soci-                   doorbell or calling the police, you are violating the norm
ety, often because they embody the most cherished                         of “minding your own business,” while at the same time
principles of a people. Each society demands obedience                    following the norm of assisting a victim of violence.
to its mores; violation can lead to severe penalties. Thus,                     Even if norms do not conflict, there are always
the United States has strong mores against murder, trea-                  exceptions to any norm. The same action, under different
son, and child abuse, which have been institutionalized                   circumstances, can cause one to be viewed as either a hero
into formal norms.                                                        or a villain. Secretly taping telephone conversations is
     Folkways are norms governing everyday behavior.                      normally considered illegal and abhorrent. However, it
Folkways play an important role in shaping the daily                      can be done with a court order to obtain valid evidence
behavior of members of a culture. Society is less likely to               for a criminal trial. We would heap praise on a govern-
formalize folkways than mores, and their violation raises                 ment agent who used such methods to convict an organ-
comparatively little concern. For example, walking up a                   ized crime figure. In our culture, we tolerate killing an-
“down” escalator in a department store challenges our                     other human being in self-defense, and we actually
standards of appropriate behavior, but it will not result in              reward killing in warfare.
a fine or a jail sentence.                                                       Acceptance of norms is subject to change as the po-
     In many societies around the world, folkways exist to                litical, economic, and social conditions of a culture are
reinforce patterns of male dominance. Various folkways re-                transformed. Until the 1960s, for example, formal norms
veal men’s hierarchical position above women within the                   throughout much of the United States prohibited the
traditional Buddhist areas of southeast Asia. In the sleeping             marriage of people from different racial groups. Over the
cars of trains, women do not sleep in upper berths above                  last half century, however, such legal prohibitions were
men. Hospitals that house men on the first floor do not                     cast aside. The process of change can be seen today in the
place women patients on the second floor. Even on clothes-                 increasing acceptance of single parents and growing sup-
lines, folkways dictate male dominance: women’s attire is                 port for the legalization of marriage between same-sex
hung lower than that of men (Bulle 1987).                                 couples (see Chapter 12).
Classroom Tip Have students describe norms in classroom interac-          Classroom Tip For a dramatic example of norm violation, see “Socially
tions between students and professors.                                    Approved Cannibalism” (Additional Lecture Ideas).
Reel Society See Norms in the Topic Index.                                Classroom Tip See “Smoking” (Class Discussion Topics).
Contemporary Culture Ask students about the norms governing Inter-        Classroom Tip See “Conflicting Cultures” (Additional Lecture Ideas).
net dating.                                                               Gender Impact of the gay and lesbian movement in changing social
Gender Differential treatment of males and females in Buddhist cultures   norms
66 Chapter 3

                                                                                             Sanctions are penalties and re-
                                                                                       wards for conduct concerning a so-
                                                                                       cial 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 sanc-
                                                                                       tions include fines, threats, impris-
                                                                                       onment, and stares of contempt.
                                                                                             Table 3-1 (opposite) summa-
                                                                                       rizes the relationship between
                                                                                       norms and sanctions. As you can
                                                                                       see, the sanctions that are associated
                                                                                       with formal norms (those that are
                                                                                       written down and codified) tend to
                                                                                       be formal as well. If a coach sends
                                                                                       too many players onto the field, the
                                                                                       team will be penalized 15 yards. The
  Cockfighting, anyone? It’s legal only in New Mexico, Louisiana, and
                                                                                       driver who fails to put money in the
  Oklahoma (shown here), but practiced behind closed doors elsewhere in
  the nation. What does this situation tell us about social norms?
                                                                                       parking meter will receive a ticket
                                                                                       and have to pay a fine. But sanctions
                                                                                       for violations of informal norms
                                                                                       can vary. The college graduate who
                                                                                       goes to the bank interview in shorts
     When circumstances require the sudden violation of         will probably lose any chance of getting the job; on the
long-standing cultural norms, the change can upset an           other hand, he or she might be so brilliant that bank offi-
entire population. In Iraq, where Muslim custom strictly        cials will overlook the unconventional attire.
forbids touching by strangers for men and especially for             The entire fabric of norms and sanctions in a culture
women, the war that began in 2003 has brought numer-            reflects that culture’s values and priorities. The most
ous daily violations of the norm. Outside important             cherished values will be most heavily sanctioned; matters
mosques, government offices, and other facilities likely to      regarded as less critical will carry light and informal
be targeted by terrorists, visitors must now be patted          sanctions.
down and have their bags searched by Iraqi security
guards. To reduce the discomfort caused by the proce-           Values
dure, women are searched by female guards and men by
male guards. Despite that concession, and the fact that         Though we each have our own personal set of stan-
many Iraqis admit or even insist on the need for such           dards—which may include caring or fitness or success in
measures, people still wince at the invasion of their per-      business—we also share a general set of objectives as
sonal privacy. In reaction to the searches, Iraqi women         members of a society. Cultural values are these collective
have begun to limit the contents of the bags they carry or      conceptions of what is considered good, desirable, and
simply to leave them at home (Rubin 2003).                      proper—or bad, undesirable, and improper—in a cul-
                                                                ture. 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
Suppose a football coach sends a 12th player onto the field.     parents and owning a home, or they may be more gen-
Imagine a college graduate showing up in shorts for a job       eral, such as health, love, and democracy. Of course, the
interview at a large bank. Or consider a driver who neglects    members of a society do not uniformly share its values.
to put any money into a parking meter. These people have        Angry political debates and billboards promoting con-
violated widely shared and understood norms. So what            flicting causes tell us that much.
happens? In each of these situations, the person will receive        Values influence people’s behavior and serve as crite-
sanctions if his or her behavior is detected.                   ria for evaluating the actions of others. The values,
Student Alert Emphasize that sanctions can be positive (e.g., a pay       Classroom Tip See “Youthful Values” (Class Discussion Topics).
raise, a bigger office, a medal, a pat on the back) as well as negative.   Theory Functionalist analysis of the values of a culture
Reel Society See Sanctions in the Topic Index.
                                                                                                                                                 Culture     67

                                                                     2003 (see Figure 3-2). In contrast, the value that has
  Table 3-1                  Norms and Sanctions                     shown the most striking decline in endorsement by stu-
                                                                     dents is “developing a meaningful philosophy of life.”
   Norms                            Sanctions                        While this value was the most popular in the 1967 survey,
                     Positive                  Negative              endorsed by more than 80 percent of the respondents,
                                                                     it had fallen to ninth place on the list by 2003, when it
   Formal            Salary bonus              Demotion              was endorsed by less than 40 percent of students entering
                     Testimonial dinner        Firing from a job
                                                                          During the 1980s and 1990s, support for values hav-
                     Medal                     Jail sentence         ing to do with money, power, and status grew. At the same
                                                                     time, support for certain values having to do with social
                     Diploma                   Expulsion
                                                                     awareness and altruism, such as “helping others,” de-
   Informal          Smile                     Frown                 clined. According to the 2003 nationwide survey, only 39
                                                                     percent of first-year college students stated that “influ-
                     Compliment                Humiliation
                                                                     encing social values” was an “essential” or “very impor-
                     Cheers                    Belittling            tant” goal. The proportion of students for whom “helping
                                                                     to promote racial understanding” was an essential or very
                                                                     important goal reached a record high of 42 percent in
                                                                     1992, but fell to 31 percent in 2003. Like other aspects of
norms, and sanctions of a culture are often directly re-             culture, such as language and norms, a nation’s values are
lated. For example, if a culture highly values the institu-          not necessarily fixed.
tion of marriage, it may have norms (and strict sanctions)                Recently, cheating has become a hot issue on
that prohibit the act of adultery or make divorce difficult.          college campuses. Professors who take advantage of
If a culture views private property as a basic value, it will
probably have stiff laws against theft and vandalism.
     The values of a culture may change, but most remain             FIGURE 3-2
relatively stable during any one person’s lifetime. Socially
                                                                     Life Goals of First-Year College Students                   -
shared, intensely felt values are a fundamental part of our                                                                ity re
                                                                     in the United States, 1966–2003                 secur
lives in the United States. Sociologist Robin Williams                                                       a ncial         r goal           Fin           ula
                                                                                                                                                      a pop ege
(1970) has offered a list of basic values. It includes                                                 100                                     mains        coll
achievement, efficiency, material comfort, nationalism,                                                                                          of en
                                                                                                        90            Develop a meaningful             nts.
                                                                     Percentage who identify goal as

equality, and the supremacy of science and reason over                                                                                           stude
                                                                                                                        philosophy of life
                                                                       very important or essential

faith. Obviously, not all 290 million people in this coun-
try agree on all these values, and we should not look on
such a list as anything more than a starting point in defin-                                             60
ing the national character. Nevertheless, a review of 27                                                50
different attempts to describe the “American value sys-                                                 40
tem,” including the works of anthropologist Margaret                                                    30
Mead and sociologist Talcott Parsons, revealed an overall                                                    Be very well-
                                                                                                        20                             Help to promote
similarity to the values identified by Williams (Devine                                                       off financially
                                                                                                        10                           racial understanding
     Each year more than 276,000 entering college stu-
                                                                                                          1966 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995                2003
dents at 413 of the nation’s four-year colleges fill out a
questionnaire about their attitudes. Because this survey             Sources: UCLA Higher Education Research Institute, as reported in Astin
focuses on an array of issues, beliefs, and life goals, it is        et al. 1994; Sax et al. 2003:27.
commonly cited as a barometer of the nation’s values.
The respondents are asked what values are personally im-                        Think About It
portant to them. Over the last 36 years, the value of “be-                      Why do you think values have shifted among college
ing very well-off financially” has shown the strongest gain                      students in the last few decades? Which of these values is
in popularity; the proportion of first-year college stu-                         important to you? Have your values changed since
dents who endorse this value as “essential” or “very                            September 11, 2001?
important” rose from 44 percent in 1967 to 74 percent in
Web Resource Encourage students to try the crossword puzzle in the   Classroom Tip See “Reading Culture in National Geographic” (Addi-
student center of the Online Learning Center (          tional Lecture Ideas).
Key Person Robin Williams
Key Persons Margaret Mead, Talcott Parsons
68 Chapter 3

computerized services than can identify plagiarism,                         Gramsci (1929), but it did not gain an audience in the
such as the search engine Google, have been shocked to                      United States until the early 1970s. In Karl Marx’s view, a
learn that many of the papers their students hand in                        capitalist society has a dominant ideology that serves the
are plagiarized in whole or in part. Box 3-2 examines                       interests of the ruling class.
the shift in values that underlies this decline in                                From a conflict perspective, the dominant ideology
academic integrity.                                                         has major social significance. Not only do a society’s most
     Another value that has begun to change recently,                       powerful groups and institutions control wealth and
not just among students but among the public in gen-                        property; even more important, they control the means
eral, is the right to privacy. Americans have always                        of producing beliefs about reality through religion, edu-
valued their privacy and resented government intru-                         cation, and the media. Feminists would also argue that if
sions into their personal lives. In the aftermath of the                    all a society’s most important institutions tell women that
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, however, many                      they should be subservient to men, this dominant ideol-
citizens called for greater protection against the threat                   ogy will help to control women and keep them in a sub-
of terrorism. In response, the U.S. government broad-                       ordinate position.
ened its surveillance powers and increased its ability to                         A growing number of social scientists believe it is
monitor people’s behavior without court approval. In                        not easy to identify a “core culture” in the United States.
2001, shortly after the attacks, Congress passed the Pa-                    For support, they point to the lack of consensus on
triot Act, which empowers the Federal Bureau of Inves-                      national values, the diffusion of cultural traits, the
tigation to access individuals’ medical, library, student,                  diversity within our culture, and the changing views of
and phone records without informing them or obtain-                         young people (look again at Figure 3-2). Yet there is no
ing a search warrant. We will discuss the ambivalence                       way of denying that certain expressions of values have
Americans felt about increased government surveillance                      greater influence than others, even in so complex a soci-
and the threat it posed to people’s privacy in the social                   ety as the United States (Abercrombie et al. 1980, 1990;
policy section in Chapter 16.                                               Robertson 1988).

       CULTURE AND THE                                                            CULTURAL VARIATION
                                                                            Each culture has a unique character. Inuit tribes in north-
Both functionalist and conflict theorists agree that cul-                    ern Canada, wrapped in furs and dieting on whale blubber,
ture and society reinforce each other, but for different                    have little in common with farmers in Southeast Asia, who
reasons. Functionalists maintain that stability requires a                  dress for the heat and subsist mainly on the rice they grow
consensus and the support of society’s members; thus the                    in their paddies. Cultures adapt to meet specific sets of cir-
need for strong central values and common norms. This                       cumstances, such as climate, level of technology,
view of culture became popular in sociology beginning in                    population, and geography. This adaptation to different
the 1950s. It was borrowed from British anthropologists                     conditions shows up in differences in all elements of cul-
who thought that the function of all cultural traits was to                 ture, including norms, sanctions, values, and language.
stabilize a culture. From a functionalist perspective, a cul-               Thus, despite the presence of cultural universals such as
tural trait or practice will persist if it fulfills functions that           courtship and religion, great diversity exists among the
society seems to need or contributes to overall social sta-                 world’s many cultures. Moreover, even within a single na-
bility and consensus. This view helps to explain why                        tion, certain segments of the populace develop cultural pat-
widely condemned social practices such as prostitution                      terns that differ from the patterns of the dominant society.
      p. 14    continue to survive.
     Conflict theorists agree that a common culture may                      Aspects of Cultural Variation
exist, but they argue that it serves to maintain the privi-
leges of certain groups. Moreover, while protecting their                   Subcultures
own self-interests, powerful groups may keep others in                      Rodeo cowboys, residents of a retirement community,
a subservient position. The term dominant ideology                          workers on an offshore oil rig—all are examples of what
describes the set of cultural beliefs and practices that                    sociologists refer to as subcultures. A subculture is a seg-
helps to maintain powerful social, economic, and politi-                    ment of society that shares a distinctive pattern of mores,
cal interests. This concept was first used by Hungarian                      folkways, and values that differs from the pattern of the
Marxist Georg Lukacs (1923) and Italian Marxist Antonio                     larger society. In a sense, a subculture can be thought of as
Theory Functionalist view of culture and why certain cultural traits per-   Web Resource Encourage students to listen to the audio clip when
sist over time                                                              they visit the student center in the Online Learning Center at
Theory Conflict view of how a common culture maintains the privileges They can hear Richard Schaefer, the au-
of some groups and keeps others subordinate                                 thor of the text, discuss the concept of dominant ideology.
Theory Contrast feminist view to functionalist view of cultural traits.     Theory Compare functionalist and conflict views concerning cultural
              Sociology on Campus
              3-2 A CULTURE OF CHEATING?
                                                                                                        dent cheating reflects widely publicized

     n November 21, 2002, after issuing                Integrity estimates that at most schools,
     several warnings, officials at the U.S.            more than three quarters of the students         instances of cheating in public life, which
     Naval Academy seized the computers                engage in some form of cheating. Students        have served to create an alternative set of
of almost 100 midshipmen suspected of                  not only cut passages from the Internet          values in which the means justify the end.
downloading movies and music illegally                 and paste them into their papers without         When young people see sports heroes,
from the Internet. Officers at the school               citing the source; they share questions and      authors, entertainers, and corporate ex-
may have taken the unusually strong ac-                answers on exams, collaborate on assign-         ecutives exposed for cheating in one form
tion to avoid liability on the part of the             ments they are supposed to do independ-          or another, the message seems to be
U.S. government, which owns the com-                   ently, and even falsify the results of their     “Cheating is OK, as long as you don’t get
puters students were using. But across the             laboratory experiments. Worse, many pro-         caught.” More than proctoring of exams
nation, college administrators have been               fessors have become inured to the prob-          or reliance on search engines to identify
trying to restrain students from down-                 lem and have ceased to report it.                plagiarism, then, educating students
loading pirated entertainment for free.                    To address what they consider an             about the need for academic honesty
The practice is so widespread, it has been             alarming trend, many schools are rewrit-         seems to reduce the incidence of cheat-
slowing down the high-powered com-                                                                      ing. “The feeling of being treated as an
puter networks colleges and universities                    Cheating is considerably less               adult and responding in kind,” says Pro-
depend on for research and admissions.                                                                  fessor Donald McCabe of Rutgers Uni-
    Illegal downloading is just one aspect                    common at schools with                    versity, “it’s clearly there for many stu-
of the growing problem of copyright vio-                    honor codes than at schools                 dents. They don’t want to violate that
lation, both on campus and off. Now that                                                                trust.”
                                                                without honor codes.
college students can use personal com-
puters to surf the Internet, most do their                                                              Let’s Discuss
research online. Apparently, the tempta-               ing or adopting new academic honor                1. Do you know anyone who has en-
tion to cut and paste passages from web-               codes. According to the Center for Aca-              gaged in Internet plagiarism? What
site postings and pass them off as one’s               demic Integrity, cheating on tests and pa-           about cheating on tests or falsifying
own is irresistible to many. Surveys done              pers is considerably less common at                  laboratory results? If so, how did
by the Center for Academic Integrity                   schools with honor codes than at schools             the person justify these forms of
show that from 1999 to 2001, the percent-              without honor codes. Cornell, Duke, and              dishonesty?
age of students who approved of this type              Kansas State University are just three of a       2. Even if cheaters aren’t caught, what
of plagiarism rose from 10 percent to 41               growing number of schools that are insti-            negative effects does their academic
percent. At the same time, the percentage              tuting or strengthening their honor codes            dishonesty have on them? What ef-
who considered cutting and pasting from                in an attempt to curb student cheating.              fects does it have on students who
the Internet to be a serious form of cheat-                This renewed emphasis on honor and               are honest? Could an entire college
ing fell from 68 percent to 27 percent.                integrity underscores the influence of               or university suffer from students’
    Other forms of cheating are becoming               cultural values on social behavior. Ob-              dishonesty?
rampant, as well. The Center for Academic              servers contend that the increase in stu-

Sources: Argetsinger and Krim 2002; Center for Academic Integrity 2004; R. Murray Thomas 2003; Zernike 2002.

a culture existing within a larger, dominant culture. The                       what the dip, dish, and tailpipe are expected to do (see
existence of many subcultures is characteristic of complex                      Figure 3-3, page 70).
societies such as the United States.                                                 Argot allows insiders—the members of the subcul-
     Members of a subculture participate in the dominant                        ture—to understand words with special meanings. It also
culture while at the same time engaging in unique and                           establishes patterns of communication that outsiders
distinctive forms of behavior. Frequently, a subculture                         can’t understand. Sociologists associated with the interac-
will develop an argot, or specialized language, that distin-                    tionist perspective emphasize that language and symbols
guishes it from the wider society. For example, if you were                     offer a powerful way for a subculture to feel cohesive and
to join a band of pickpockets you would need to learn                           maintain its identity.
Let’s Discuss Have students note cultural variations they have experi-          Classroom Tip See “Professional Football Players as a Subculture”
enced in their travels or upon first visiting the United States, if they are     (Additional Lecture Ideas).
from abroad.

70 Chapter 3

                                                                                          movement as a reflection of in-
                                                                                          equity based on race, gender, and
                                                                                          disability status. Conflict theorists
                                                                                          also argue that subcultures some-
                                                                                          times emerge when the dominant
                                                                                          society unsuccessfully tries to sup-
                                                                                          press a practice, such as the use of
                                                                                          illegal drugs.

                                                                                      By the end of the 1960s, an exten-
                                                                                      sive 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.
   Cultures vary in their taste for films. Europeans and North Americans               These young men and women re-
   enjoyed the exotic aspects of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (shown                jected the pressure to accumulate
   here), but it was not well received in China. Audiences there found it slow-
                                                                                      more and more cars, larger and
   paced, and they were especially annoyed by the clumsy Mandarin spoken
                                                                                      larger homes, and an endless array
   by actors more used to Cantonese roles.
                                                                                      of material goods. Instead, they
                                                                                      expressed a desire to live in a cul-
                                                                                      ture based on more humanistic val-
     Music fans often form subcultures dedicated to a            ues, such as sharing, love, and coexistence with the
particular type of music or musician. Recently a subcul-         environment. As a political force, this subculture op-
ture called Phishheads, after the Vermont jam rock band          posed the United States’ involvement in the war in Viet-
Phish, has emerged. The group is reminiscent of the              nam and encouraged draft resistance (Flacks 1971;
Deadheads who devote themselves to the Grateful Dead.            Roszak 1969).
     Subcultures develop in a number of ways. Often a
subculture emerges because a segment of society faces
problems or even privileges unique to its position. Sub-         FIGURE 3-3
cultures may be based on common age (teenagers or old
people), region (Appalachians), ethnic heritage (Cuban           The Argot of Pickpockets
Americans), occupation (firefighters), or beliefs (deaf ac-
tivists working to preserve deaf culture). Certain subcul-
tures, such as computer hackers, develop because of a
shared interest or hobby. In still other subcultures, such as
that of prison inmates, members have been excluded
from conventional society and are forced to develop
alternative ways of living.
     Functionalist and conflict theorists agree that varia-
tion exists within a culture. Functionalists view subcul-
tures as variations of particular social environments and
as evidence that differences can exist within a common
culture. However, conflict theorists suggest that varia-
tions often reflect the inequality of social arrangements
within a society. A conflict perspective would view the
challenge to dominant social norms by African American
activists, the feminist movement, and the disability rights      Source: Gearty 1996.

                                                                Classroom Tip See “The Skinhead Counterculture” (Additional Lecture
                                                                Classroom Tip Another example of a counterculture is the “survival-
                                                                ists,” who see nuclear war as inevitable and have, in some cases, cre-
                                                                ated armed camps to defend themselves from city dwellers after a nu-
                                                                clear attack.
                                                                                                                                   Culture     71

     When a subculture conspicuously and deliberately                      backward, and primitive to refer to other societies. What
opposes certain aspects of the larger culture, it is known                 “we” believe is a religion; what “they” believe is supersti-
as a counterculture. Countercultures typically thrive                      tion and mythology.
among the young, who have the least investment in the                           It is tempting to evaluate the practices of other cul-
existing culture. In most cases, a 20-year-old can adjust to               tures on the basis of our own perspectives. Sociologist
new cultural standards more easily than someone who                        William Graham Sumner (1906) coined the term ethno-
has spent 60 years following the patterns of the dominant                  centrism to refer to the tendency to assume that one’s
culture (Zellner 1995).                                                    own culture and way of life represent the norm or are su-
     In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11,                 perior to all others. The ethnocentric person sees his or
2001, people around the United States learned of the ex-                   her own group as the center or defining point of culture
istence of terrorist groups operating as a countercul-                     and views all other cultures as deviations from what is
ture within their country. This was a situation that gen-                  “normal.” Westerners who think cattle are to be used for
erations have lived with in Northern Ireland, Israel and                   food might look down on India’s Hindu religion and cul-
the Palestinian territory, and many other parts of the                     ture, which views the cow as sacred. Or people in one cul-
world. But terrorist cells are not necessarily fueled only                 ture may dismiss as unthinkable the mate selection or
by outsiders. Frequently people become disenchanted                        child-rearing practices of another culture.
with the policies of their own country, and a few take                          Conflict theorists point out that ethnocentric value
very violent steps.                                                        judgments serve to devalue groups and to deny equal op-
                                                                           portunities. Psychologist Walter Stephan notes a typical
Culture Shock                                                              example of ethnocentrism in New Mexico’s schools. Both
Anyone who feels disoriented, uncertain, out of place, or                  Hispanic and Native American cultures teach children to
even fearful when immersed in an unfamiliar culture may                    look down when they are being criticized by adults, yet
be experiencing culture shock. For example, a resident of                  many “Anglo” (non-Hispanic White) teachers believe that
the United States who visits certain areas in China and                    you should look someone in the eye when you are being
wants local meat for dinner may be stunned to learn that                   criticized. “Anglo teachers can feel that these students are
the specialty is dog meat. Similarly, someone from a strict                being disrespectful,” notes Stephan. “That’s the kind of
Islamic culture may be shocked upon first seeing the                        misunderstanding that can evolve into stereotype and
comparatively provocative dress styles and open displays                   prejudice” (Goleman 1991:C8).
of affection that are common in the United States and                           Ethnocentric value judgments have also compli-
various European cultures.                                                 cated U.S. efforts at democratic reform of the Iraqi
     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 that customs that
seem strange to us are considered normal and proper
in other cultures, which may see our own mores and
folkways as odd.
     Use Your Sociological Imagination           

 You arrive in a developing African country as a
 Peace Corps volunteer. What aspects of a very different
 culture do you think would be the hardest to adjust to?
 What might the citizens of that country find shocking
 about your culture?

Attitudes toward Cultural Variation                                        Cultures change. Fashions we once regarded as unacceptable—such
                                                                           as men wearing earrings and people wearing jeans in the
Ethnocentrism                                                              workplace—or associated with fringe groups (such as men and
Many everyday statements reflect our attitude that our                      women with tattoos) are now widely accepted.These countercultural
own culture is best. We use terms such as underdeveloped,                  practices have been absorbed by mainstream culture.

Let’s Discuss Have our norms changed as a result of the terrorist at-      Classroom Tip See “Conflicting Cultures” (Additional Lecture Ideas).
tacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?                          Web Resource Encourage students to take the multiple-choice quiz in
Global View Note cultural variation in the United States, China, Islamic   the student center of the Online Learning Center (
cultures, India, and Africa.                                               schaefer6). Remind them that they will receive instant feedback for in-
Classroom Tip See “Cross-Cultural Interaction” (Class Discussion           correct answers.
        72 Chapter 3

            Table 3-2               Major Theoretical Perspectives on Culture

                                            Functionalist                         Conflict                             Interactionist
                                            Perspective                           Perspective                         Perspective

            Norms                           Norms reinforce societal              Norms reinforce patterns            Norms are maintained
                                            standards                             of dominance                        through face-to-face

            Values                          Values are collective                 Values may perpetuate               Values are defined and
                                            conceptions of what is                social inequality                   redefined through social
                                            good                                                                      interaction

            Culture and society             Culture reflects a society’s           Culture reflects a society’s         A society’s core culture is
                                            strong central values                 dominant ideology                   perpetuated through daily
                                                                                                                      social interactions

            Cultural variation              Subcultures serve the                 Countercultures question            Customs and traditions are
                                            interests of subgroups;               the dominant social order;          transmitted through
                                            ethnocentrism reinforces              ethnocentrism devalues              intergroup contact and
                                            group solidarity                      groups                              through the media

        government. Before the 2003 war in Iraq, U.S. planners                      Cultural Relativism
        had assumed that Iraqis would adapt to a new form of                        While ethnocentrism evaluates foreign cultures using the
        government in the same way the Germans and Japanese                         familiar culture of the observer as a standard of correct
        did following World War II. But in the Iraqi culture,                       behavior, cultural relativism views people’s behavior
        unlike the German and Japanese cultures, loyalty to                         from the perspective of their own culture. It places a pri-
        the family and the extended clan comes before patriot-                      ority on understanding other cultures, rather than dis-
        ism and the common good. In a country in which almost                       missing them as “strange” or “exotic.” Unlike ethnocen-
        half of all people, even those in the cities, marry a first                        p. 44    trism, cultural relativism employs the kind
        or second cousin, citizens are predisposed to favor                         of value neutrality in scientific study that Max Weber saw
        their own kin in government and business deal-                              as so important.
        ings. Why trust a stranger from outside the family?                              Cultural relativism stresses that different social con-
        What Westerners would criticize as nepotism, then, is                       texts give rise to different norms and values. Thus, we
        actually an acceptable, even admirable, practice to Iraqis                  must examine practices such as polygamy, bullfighting,
        (J. Tierney 2003).                                                          and monarchy within the particular contexts of the cul-
             Functionalists, on the other hand, point out that eth-                 tures in which they are found. While cultural relativism
        nocentrism serves to maintain a sense of solidarity by                      does not suggest that we must unquestionably accept
        promoting group pride. Denigrating other nations and                        every cultural variation, it does require a serious and un-
        cultures can enhance our own patriotic feelings and belief                  biased effort to evaluate norms, values, and customs in
        that our way of life is superior. Yet this type of social sta-              light of their distinctive culture.
        bility is established at the expense of other peoples. Of                        An interesting extension of cultural relativism is
        course, ethnocentrism is hardly limited to citizens of the                  referred to as xenocentrism. Xenocentrism is the belief
        United States. Visitors from many African cultures are                      that the products, styles, or ideas of one’s society are infe-
        surprised at the disrespect that children in the United                     rior to those that originate elsewhere. In a sense, it is a re-
        States show their parents. People from India may be                         verse ethnocentrism. For example, people in the United
        repelled by our practice of living in the same household                    States often assume that French fashions or Japanese elec-
        with dogs and cats. Many Islamic fundamentalists in the                     tronic devices are superior to their own. Are they? Or are
        Arab world and Asia view the United States as corrupt,                      people unduly charmed by the lure of goods from exotic
        decadent, and doomed to destruction. All these people                       places? Such fascination with overseas products can be
        may feel comforted by membership in cultures that in                        damaging to competitors in the United States. Some U.S.
        their view are superior to ours.                                            companies have responded by creating products that
        Key Person William Graham Sumner                                            Theory Functionalists argue that ethnocentrism promotes solidarity and
        Classroom Tip See “Hostages to Tourism” (Additional Lecture Ideas).         group pride.
        Race/Ethnicity Ethnocentrism in New Mexico’s schools in treatment of        Classroom Tip See “Teaching Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativity”
        Hispanic and Native American students                                       (Class Discussion Topics).
        Theory Conflict view of ethnocentrism as contributing to denial of equal     Let’s Discuss Should our laws be changed to accommodate cultural
        opportunities                                                               diversity?
                                                                                                                                   Culture    73

sound European, such as Häagen-Dazs ice cream (made                          from an ethnocentric point of view or through the lens of
in Teaneck, New Jersey). Conflict theorists are most likely                   cultural relativism—has important consequences in the
to consider the economic impact of xenocentrism in the                       area of social policy. A hot issue today is the extent to
developing world. Consumers in developing nations fre-                       which a nation should accommodate nonnative language
quently turn their backs on locally produced goods and                       speakers by sponsoring bilingual programs. We’ll take a
instead purchase items imported from Europe or North                         close look at this issue in the next section.
America (Warner Wilson et al. 1976).
     Table 3-2 summarizes the major sociological per-
spectives on culture. How one views a culture—whether


The Issue                                                                 deed, 32 different languages are each spoken by at least
In Sri Lanka, Tamils seek to break away from the Sin-                     200,000 residents of this country (Bureau of the Census
halese-speaking majority. Romanian radio announces                        2003d; Shin and Bruno 2003).
that in areas where 20 percent of the people speak Hun-                        Schools throughout the world must deal with in-
garian, bilingual road and government signs will be                       coming students who speak many different languages.
posted. In schools from Miami to Boston to Chicago,                       Do bilingual programs in the United States help these
administrators strive to deliver education to their Cre-                  children to learn English? It is difficult to reach firm
ole-speaking Haitian students. All over the world, na-                    conclusions because bilingual programs in general vary
tions face the challenge of how to deal with residential                  so widely in their quality and approach. They differ in
minorities who speak a language different from that of                    the length of the transition to English and in how long
the mainstream culture.                                                   they allow students to remain in bilingual classrooms.
     Bilingualism refers to the use of two or more lan-                   Moreover, results have been mixed. In the years since
guages in a particular setting, such as the workplace or                  California effectively dismantled its bilingual education
schoolroom, treating each language as equally legiti-                     program, reading and math scores of students with lim-
mate. Thus, a teacher of bilingual education may in-                      ited English proficiency rose dramatically, especially in
struct children in their native language while gradually                  the lower grades. Yet a major overview of 17 different
introducing them to the language of the host society. If                  studies, done at Johns Hopkins University, found that
the curriculum is also bicultural, it will teach children                 students who are offered lessons in both English and
about the mores and folkways of both the dominant cul-                    their home languages make better progress than similar
ture and the subculture. To what degree should schools                    children who are taught only in English (Slavin and
in the United States present the curriculum in a language                 Cheung 2003).
other than English? This issue has prompted a great deal
of debate among educators and policymakers.                               Sociological Insights
                                                                          For a long time, people in the United States demanded
The Setting                                                               conformity to a single language. This demand coincided
Languages know no political boundaries. Despite the por-                  with the functionalist view that language serves to unify
trayal of dominant languages in Figure 3-1 (page 63), mi-                 members of a society. Immigrant children from Europe
nority languages are common in many nations. For ex-                      and Asia—including young Italians, Jews, Poles, Chi-
ample, Hindi is the most widely spoken language in India,                 nese, and Japanese—were expected to learn English
and English is used widely for official purposes, but 18                   once they entered school. In some cases, immigrant
other languages are officially recognized in the nation of                 children were actually forbidden to speak their native
about 1 billion people. According to the 2000 Census, 47                  languages on school grounds. Little respect was granted
million residents of the United States over the age of                    to immigrants’ cultural traditions; a young person
five—that’s about 18 percent of the population—speak a                     would often be teased about his or her “funny” name,
language other than English as their primary language. In-                accent, or style of dress.
Race/Ethnicity The debate over bilingualism in the United States             Global View Highlight the different ways in which other cultures have
grows out of the many languages spoken here.                                 responded to language variations.
Theory Bilingualism is examined from a functionalist and conflict view.       Web Resource Encourage students to try the interactive activities in
Student Alert Indicate the relationship between the social policy topic      the student center of the Online Learning Center
and concepts presented in the chapter: dominant ideology, ethno-             ( They will be required to complete         73
centrism, subcultures, and so on.                                            an assignment in the “foreign” language of Pig Latin.
74 Chapter 3

          Recent decades have seen challenges to this pattern
     of forced obedience to the dominant ideology. Beginning
     in the 1960s, active movements for Black pride and eth-
     nic pride insisted that people regard the traditions of all
     racial and ethnic subcultures as legitimate and impor-
     tant. Conflict theorists explain this development as a case
     of subordinated language minorities seeking opportuni-
     ties for self-expression. Partly as a result of these chal-
     lenges, people began to view bilingualism as an asset. It
     seemed to provide a sensitive way of assisting millions of
     non-English-speaking people in the United States to
     learn English in order to function more effectively within
     the society.
          The perspective of conflict theory also helps us to
     understand some of the attacks on bilingual programs.
     Many of them stem from an ethnocentric point of view,
     which holds that any deviation from the majority is bad.
     This attitude tends to be expressed by those who wish to
     stamp out foreign influence wherever it occurs, espe-
     cially in our schools. It does not take into account that
     success in bilingual education may actually have benefi-
     cial results, such as decreasing the number of high
     school dropouts and increasing the number of Hispan-
     ics in colleges and universities.

     Policy Initiatives
     Bilingualism has policy implications largely in two ar-
     eas: efforts to maintain language purity and programs
     to enhance bilingual education. Nations vary dramati-           In this Native American school at Acoma Pueblo,
     cally in their tolerance for a variety of languages. China      New Mexico, children are learning to read and write
     continues to tighten its cultural control over Tibet by         in their native language as well as in English.
     extending instruction of Mandarin, a Chinese dialect,
     from high school into the elementary schools, which
     will now be bilingual along with Tibetan. Even more            Canada. While special laws like this one have advanced
     forceful is Indonesia, which has a large Chinese-speak-        French in the province, dissatisfied Québécois have tried
     ing minority; public display of Chinese-language signs         to form their own separate country. In 1995, the people
     or books there is totally banned. By contrast, nearby          of Quebec voted to remain united with Canada by only
     Singapore establishes English as the medium of instruc-        the narrowest of margins (50.5 percent). Language and
     tion but allows students to take their mother tongue as        language-related cultural areas both unify and divide this
     a second language, be it Chinese, Malay, or Tamil              nation of 32 million people (Krauss 2003; Schaefer 2004).
     (Farley 1998).                                                      Policymakers in the United States have been some-
          In many nations, language dominance is a re-              what ambivalent in dealing with the issue of bilingual-
     gional issue—for example, in Miami or along the Tex-           ism. In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education
     Mex border, where Spanish speaking is prevalent. A par-        Act (ESEA) provided for bilingual, bicultural education.
     ticularly virulent bilingual hot spot is Quebec, the           In the 1970s, the federal government took an active role
     French-speaking province of Canada. The Québécois, as          in establishing the proper form for bilingual programs.
     they are known, represent 83 percent of the province’s         However, more recently, federal policy has been less sup-
     population, but only 25 percent of Canada’s total popu-        portive of bilingualism, and local school districts have
     lation. A law implemented in 1978 mandated education           been forced to provide an increased share of funding for
     in French for all Quebec’s children except those whose         their bilingual programs. Yet bilingual programs are an
     parents or siblings had learned English elsewhere in           expense that many communities and states are unwilling
Classroom Tip See “Bilingualism” (Class Discussion Topics).        Global View Conflict over separatism in Quebec
                                                                                                                               Culture   75


States with Official English Laws
                   Mapping Life NATIONWIDE                                                                       

                                                      MT        ND                                         VT        ME
                                   OR                                     MN
                                            ID                                   WI                                  MA
                                                                SD                                         NY         RI
                                                       WY                                 MI
                                                                                          PA                         CT
                                                                           IA                                    NJ
                                       NV                       NE
                                                 UT                               IN OH
                                                                                     IL                          DE
                                CA                         CO                                                    MD
                                                                 KS                    WV VA
                                                                            MO      KY                           DC
                                             AZ        NM            OK     AR          SC
                                                                               MS AL GA
                                  AK                                            LA

                                                      HI                                              FL

                                                                               States with Official
                                                                               English Laws

Source: U.S. English 2004.

to pay for and are quick to cut back. In 1998, voters in              Let’s Discuss
California approved a proposition that all but eliminated              1. Have you attended a school with a number of students
bilingual education: it requires instruction in English for               for whom English is a second language? If so, did the
1.4 million children who are not fluent in the language.                   school set up a special bilingual program? Was it effec-
      In the United States, repeated efforts have been made               tive? What is your opinion of such programs?
to introduce a constitutional amendment declaring Eng-                 2. The ultimate goal of both English-only and bilingual
lish the official language of the nation. A major force be-                programs is for foreign-born students to become profi-
hind efforts to restrict bilingualism is U.S. English, a na-              cient in English.Why should the type of program stu-
tionwide organization founded in 1983 that now claims                     dents attend matter so much to so many people? List
to have 1.7 million members. Its adherents say they feel                  all the reasons you can think of for supporting or op-
like strangers in their own neighborhoods, aliens in their                posing such programs.What do you see as the primary
own country. By contrast, Hispanic leaders see the U.S.                   reason?
English campaign as a veiled expression of racism.                     3. Besides bilingualism, can you think of another issue that
      Despite such challenges, U.S. English seems to be                   has become controversial recently because of a clash
making headway in its efforts to oppose bilingualism. By                  of cultures? Analyze the issue from a sociological point
2004, 27 states had declared English to be their official                  of view.
language (see Figure 3-4). The actual impact of these
measures, beyond their symbolism, is unclear.

GETTING INVOLVED                                                                                                  

To get involved in the debate over bilingualism, visit this           the Online Learning Center as well; it provides survey
text’s Online Learning Center, which offers links to rel-             data on U.S. public opinion regarding this issue.
evant websites. Check out the Social Policy section on

Let’s Discuss Should all states have official English laws?
Classroom Tip See “Using Humor” (Class Discussion Topics).
76 Chapter 3


Culture is the totality of learned, socially transmitted       6. Sociologists distinguish between norms in two
customs, knowledge, material objects, and behavior. This          ways, classifying them either as formal or informal
chapter examines the basic elements that make up a cul-           or as mores or folkways.
ture, social practices common to all cultures, and varia-      7. The formal norms of a culture will receive the
tions that distinguish one culture from another.                  heaviest sanctions; informal norms will carry light
  1. A shared culture helps to define the group or soci-
                                                               8. The dominant ideology of a culture is the set of
     ety to which we belong.
                                                                  cultural beliefs and practices that help to maintain
  2. Anthropologist George Murdock compiled a list of
                                                                  powerful social, economic, and political interests.
     cultural universals, or general practices found in
                                                               9. In a sense, a subculture can be thought of as a
     every culture, including marriage, sports, cooking,
                                                                  small culture that exists within a larger, dominant
     medicine, and sexual restrictions.
                                                                  culture. Countercultures are subcultures that de-
  3. Human culture is constantly expanding through
                                                                  liberately oppose aspects of the larger culture.
     the process of innovation, which includes both
                                                              10. People who measure other cultures by the standard
     discovery and invention.
                                                                  of their own engage in ethnocentrism. By contrast,
  4. Diffusion—the spread of cultural items from one
                                                                  cultural relativism is the practice of viewing peo-
     place to another—has fostered globalization. But
                                                                  ple from the perspective of their own culture.
     people resist ideas that seem too foreign, as well as
                                                              11. The social policy of bilingualism calls for the use
     those they perceive as threatening to their own val-
                                                                  of two or more languages, treating each as equally
     ues and beliefs.
                                                                  legitimate. It is supported by those who want to
  5. Language, an important element of culture,
                                                                  ease the transition of non-native language speakers
     includes speech, written characters, numerals, and
                                                                  into a host society, but opposed by those who ad-
     symbols, as well as gestures and other forms of
                                                                  here to a single cultural tradition and language.
     nonverbal communication. Language both de-
     scribes culture and shapes it.

Critical Thinking Questions
  1. Select three cultural universals from George Mur-            culture with which you are familiar. Describe the
     dock’s list (see page 58) and analyze them from a            norms, values, argot, and sanctions evident in that
     functionalist perspective. Why are these practices           subculture.
     found in every culture? What functions do they            3. In what ways is the dominant ideology of the
     serve?                                                       United States evident in the nation’s literature,
  2. Drawing on the theories and concepts presented in            music, movies, theater, television programs, and
     this chapter, apply sociological analysis to one sub-        sporting events?

Key Terms
Argot Specialized language used by members of a              Cultural universal A common practice or belief found
   group or subculture. (page 69)                              in every culture. (58)
Bilingualism The use of two or more languages in a           Culture The totality of learned, socially transmitted
   particular setting, such as the workplace or school-        customs, knowledge, material objects, and behavior.
   room, treating each language as equally legitimate.         (55)
   (73)                                                      Culture lag A period of maladjustment when the non-
Counterculture A subculture that deliberately opposes          material culture is still struggling to adapt to new
   certain aspects of the larger culture. (71)                 material conditions. (61)
Cultural relativism The viewing of people’s behavior
   from the perspective of their own culture. (72)
                                                                                                               Culture   77

Culture shock The feeling of surprise and disorienta-           Law Governmental social control. (65)
   tion that people experience when they encounter cul-         Material culture The physical or technological aspects
   tural practices that are different from their own. (71)         of our daily lives. (61)
Diffusion The process by which a cultural item                  Mores Norms deemed highly necessary to the welfare
   spreads from group to group or society to society.              of a society. (65)
   (59)                                                         Nonmaterial culture Ways of using material objects,
Discovery The process of making known or sharing                   as well as customs, beliefs, philosophies, govern-
   the existence of an aspect of reality. (58)                     ments, and patterns of communication. (61)
Dominant ideology A set of cultural beliefs and prac-           Norm An established standard of behavior maintained
   tices that helps to maintain powerful social, eco-              by a society. (64)
   nomic, and political interests. (68)                         Sanction A penalty or reward for conduct concerning
Ethnocentrism The tendency to assume that one’s                    a social norm. (66)
   own culture and way of life represent the norm or are        Sapir-Whorf hypothesis A hypothesis concerning the
   superior to all others. (72)                                    role of language in shaping our interpretation of real-
Folkway A norm governing everyday behavior whose                   ity. It holds that language is culturally determined. (62)
   violation raises comparatively little concern. (65)          Society A fairly large number of people who live in the
Formal norm A norm that has been written down and                  same territory, are relatively independent of people
   that specifies strict punishments for violators. (65)            outside it, and participate in a common culture. (58)
Globalization The worldwide integration of govern-              Sociobiology The systematic study of how biology af-
   ment policies, cultures, social movements, and finan-            fects human social behavior. (61)
   cial markets through trade and the exchange of ideas.        Subculture A segment of society that shares a distinc-
   (59)                                                            tive pattern of mores, folkways, and values that dif-
Informal norm A norm that is generally understood                  fers from the pattern of the larger society. (68)
   but not precisely recorded. (65)                             Technology Cultural information about how to use
Innovation The process of introducing a new idea or                the material resources of the environment to satisfy
   object to a culture through discovery or invention.             human needs and desires. (61)
   (58)                                                         Value A collective conception of what is considered
Invention The combination of existing cultural items               good, desirable, and proper—or bad, undesirable,
   into a form that did not exist before. (58)                     and improper—in a culture. (66)
Language An abstract system of word meanings and                Xenocentrism The belief that the products, styles, or
   symbols for all aspects of culture; includes gestures           ideas of one’s society are inferior to those that origi-
   and other nonverbal communication. (62)                         nate elsewhere. (72)


 www.       Internet Connection

Note: While all the URLs listed were current as of the            2. Our society recently developed a new set of norms
printing of this book, these sites often change. Please check        to govern behavior on the Internet. Are you
our website ( for updates,                    familiar with these rules? Test your knowledge of
hyperlinks, and exercises related to these cites.                    appropriate behavior on the Net by exploring the
                                                                     Netiquette site (
  1. One of the more interesting examples of argot
     comes from the prison subculture. To see an
     extensive glossary of terms used by prison inmates,
     visit the Other Side of the Wall (www.prisonwall.
     org) and select “Prisoner’s Dictionary.”
78 Chapter 3

               Online Learning Center with PowerWeb

In this chapter you have learned that language is the          line Learning Center ( re-
foundation of every culture. For a long time, people in        quires you to use a “foreign” language to do the activity.
the United States demanded conformity to a single lan-         You will be taught a simple language called Pig Latin.
guage. More recently, however, we have seen challenges to      Give it a try and see whether or not you feel competent
this forced obedience to our dominant ideology. One of         completing the exercise in this “foreign” language.
the interactive exercises in the student center of the On-

               Reel Society Interactive Movie CD-ROM 2.0

                                   Reel Society 2.0 can be used to spark discussion about the following topics from this
                                       • Cultural Universals
                                       • Norms

To top