Culture and Identity

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Conflict Vs. Consensus

Conflict is the basis of Marxism. It consists of one small group owning and controlling the resources (ruling class).

  • E.g. in recessions the wages of the working-class will go down but profits for the ruling-class will stay high.

Consensus is the basis of Functionalism. It is made up of institutions that work harmoniously together. All classes are equally important.

  • A human body, without one part of it nothing will function correctly. 
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Peter Berger (1960s)

"The first wisdom of sociology is this - things are not what they seem."

For example, "laws are there to protect us" - but are they equally enforced?

  • There are more laws about the protection of property than anything else - rich people own lots of property - does the law favour rich people?
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Feral Children

A feral child (also, colloquially, wild child) is a human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behaviour, and, crucially, of human language.

Feral children are proof that socialisation is key to development and that human behaviour is learnt (nurture) and not innate (nature).

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How do you learn to be part of a culture?

  • Friends/peers
  • Learning a language
  • It's forced on you - you have no choice, you're born into it - "puppets of society"
  • Media
  • School
  • Being toilet trained
  • Discipline
  • Religion
  • Learning to walk
  • Parents/family
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Transmission of Culture

The transmission of culture involves:

  • Learning how things are done in the social world.
  • Culture needs to be passed on from one generation to another to ensure it's shared. 
  • Shared culture allows communication and co-operation. 
  • Learning norms and values so ways of thinking, behaving and seeing things are internalised. 
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Primary Socialisation

Primary socialisation:

  • Parents
  • Sibblings
  • Extended family
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Secondary socialisation

Secondary socialisation:

  •  TV
  • Magazine
  • Computers
  • Game consoles
  • Education
  • Peers
  • Teachers
  • Religion
  • Location
  • Work
  • Class
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
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Conflict Between Social Classes

Upper class:

  • Make sure that society is structured in a way they can keep their wealth - causes conflict between upper and lower class.
  • People born in upper class houses usually stay in them. 

Middle class:

  • People in middle class houses usually stay in them although they're more likely to shift classes.

Lower class:

  • Lower class don't usually have the same opportunities in education.
  • Don't usually get the chance to earn enough money to move up classes. 
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Gender Roles - Women

Women's stereotypical roles:


  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Washing


  • Look after babies - keep this as their job
  • Loving and caring


  • Nursing
  • Teaching
  • Cleaner
  • Retail
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Gender Roles - Men

Men's stereotypical roles:


  • Gardening
  • DIY


  • Make and reinforce rules


  • Practical work - builder, mechanic, engineer, etc. 
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Sex and Power

Women are under represented in many positions of power and influence within society.

This could be because:

  • They might want a family rather than a job with a position of power - it would be difficult to do both.
  • It might just be because women aren't interested in these types of jobs.
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Jacks (1993)

Jacks said world culture is used in four different ways.

1. Culture as a quality possessed by individuals who are able to gain the learning and achieve the qualities seen as desirable in a cultural human being.
E.g. knowledge, manners, politeness, etc.

2. Some societies can be seen as more cultured or more civilised than others.

3. The sum total of all the arts and intellectual works of a society - opera, theatre, literature, etc.

4. The whole way of life of a people. 

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