AS Sociology, Culture & identity - UNIT 2.




-> the shared beliefs, values, norms, customs, rituals, language, symbols, history & knowledge that make up the way of life of a social group or society.

GIDDENS (1997) -> "no cultures could exist without societies but equally, no societies could exist without culture."

SUBCULTURE = a smaller culture held by a group of people within the main culture of a society, in some ways different from the main culture but with many aspects in common.

-> culture created by local communities & is rooted in the customs & beliefs of everyday life of ordinary people. Folk culture is 'authentic' not manufactured & is associated with pre-industrial societies.
examples = traditional folk music, folk songs, storytelling & folk dancing (Morris dancing), which are passed on from one generation to the next through socialization.

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-> seen as supirior to other forms of culture & refers to cultural products seen to be of lasting artistic or literary value, which are admired & approved by elites & the upper middle class.
examples = serious news & documentaries, classical music (Mozart or Beethoven), opera, foreign language, art, Shakespheare, etc..

-> generally contrasted with high culture & seen as inferior to high culture. Marxists argue that this type of culture is manufactured for mass consumption, that it maintains the ideological hegemony (dominant set of ideas) & the power of the dominant social class in society.
examples = media, mass circulation magazines, celebrities, tabloid newspapers like 'the sun', t.v soaps, video games, rock & pop music, etc..

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-> the growing interdependance of societies across the world, with the spread of the same culture, consumer goods & economic interests across the globe.
example = Mona Lisa painting transformed over the internet, you can buy products with the Mona Lisa face on it & it is recognized all over the globe.

-> refers to the way globalization has undermined national & local cultures, with cultural products & ways of life in different countries of the world are becoming more alike. the same cultural & consumer products are now sold across the world which are inspired by media advertising.
examples = t.v companies sell their programmes like Big Brother & Who Wants To Be A Millionaire globally. Companies like McDonalds, Coca Cola, Nike are symbols which are recognized all over the world.

MARSH & KEATING (2006) -> "the British are increasingly a gloabalized people. Our consumption patterns are increasingly influenced & shaped by the growth of global media.

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Postmodernists argue that globalization is good for us because it offers us more choice in terms of constructing our identities & lifestyles. Postmodernists also argue that our personal identities as well as our cultural identity are now influenced in a positive way by a range of cultures from around the world.

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-> is how individuals or groups see & define themselves & how others see & define them.

WOODWARD (2000) -> "individual identity is concerned with the question 'Who am i?'" - their own self-concept of the 'inner me' as Mead refer to it.

-> offers little choice & defines individuals in relation to the social groups with which they are identified & to which they belong to.
examples = homosexuals, Muslims, welsh or Scottish, etc..

- > a social group involving elements from both personal & social identities.

-> people with several identities.
example = Asian Muslim or British Muslim? 

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stigma = physical impairment (being blind), or a social characteristic (being mentally ill).

GOFFMAN (1990) -> "a stigmatized identity is an identity that is in some way undesirable, excluding people from full acceptance in society.
example = disabled people are often said to have a stigmatized identity in the wider society.
-> those with stigmatized identities can face serious consequences, with others treating them in a different way, for example = not employing them, refusing them certain medical treatment, poking fun at them, etc..
-> as GOFFMAN put it, "stigma is a process by which the reaction of others spoils normal identity."

-> this can also lead to self-fulfilling prophecy. (SFP)   

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Socialization Process

-> the main agent of primary socialization is the family; this is where a child first begins to learn about basic values & norms of society.
-> PARSONS sees the family as a 'personal factory'. this ensures that the child subscribes to value consensus.
-> Marxists are critical of Functionalists view. they argue that the family is used by the capitalist class to instill values, such as obedience & respect for authority, that are useful to the capitalist ruling class. such values make sure that individuals can be exploited at later life by the ruling class because ordinary people will have learnt that power & inequality should be viewed as normal.     

-> socialization which takes place in the wider society, through education system, workplace, media or religious institutions.
-> these build on what has been learned during primary socialization in order to help the individual child to take place & conform to expected values & norms in the wider society.  

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-> structuralists, like functionalists, & some Marxists, adopt a macro approach, seeing culture & identities created by the wider social forces making up the social structure of society.
-> individuals are seen like puppets or robots who are manipulated by social institutions like the agencies of socialization.
-> individuals have little choice or control over choosing their own identities, their identities are being handed to them based on sources like social class, gender, ethnicity, etc..
CRITICISMS -> structural approaches don't recognize that individuals have free will, can take initiatives, challenge or disobey rules & can carve their own identity in interaction with others.

-> social action or interpretivist theories adopt a micro approach, focusing more on the individual itself & everyday behavior.
-> emphasizes that individuals create culture & define their identities.
-> norms, values & rules are not orders but guidelines that individuals can interpret & choices are more flexible.

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Socialization Process..

MEAD argues that as children grow up, they learn to develop a sense of their self-concept.
-> 'looking-glass self' = our image of us is reflected back to us in the view of others. as we consider this, we may change or modify our views or behaviors to how others views us. - therefore our individual identity is a social construction.
-> GOFFMAN (1990) sees a society like a stage.
-> impression management is the way individuals try to convince others of the identity they wish to assert by giving particular impressions of themselves to other people.
CRITICISMS -> critics of the social action approach suggest that individuals are seen as having too much control over their identity formation & not enough emphasis is given to the importance of power inequalities in society & the role of social institutions in limiting & controlling the identities that individuals can adopt.
-> although individuals might be able to choose some aspects of their own identity, they are still limited in their choices by factors such as social disapproval.  

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A Third Way: Structuration.

GIDDENS (2006)

-> argues that there is a middle way between structure (macro) & action (micro) approaches, which he calls 'saturation'.
-> he accepts that social structures limit how people may act & the identities they may adopt, but they also make it possible for people to act & form identities in the first place.
-> the culture & structure of society provides people with the means of establishing their identities, the tools necessary to make sense of society, & provide some degree of predictability in social life though an understanding of & agreement on basic social norms & values & a common language.
-> without these, it would be very difficult for individuals to establish their identities. while people can make choices & have opportunities to form & change their identities, they can only make choices within the cultural frame-work  of the society in which they live in.
- social structure (macro approach) & social action (micro approach), are therefore interdependent.

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Social Class & Identity.

-> this refers to a group of people who share a similar economic situation, such as similar occupations or similar income & wealth.
-> BOURDIEU (1971) a French Marxist, argued each social class posesses its own set of ideas, which he called a 'habitus'.
-> the high culture reflects the good taste of the habitus of the dominant class, while the working class is more associated with inferior tastes of popular culture.
-> those who have access to the habitus of dominant class posses cultural capital. - (the knowledge, education, language, lifestyle, etc.. possessed by the upper & the upper middle class.

-> the main owners of society's wealth.
-> those with non manual work - no physical work.
-> those with manual work - work which requires physical work.

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deferred gratification = putting off rewards or pleasure in pursuit of education or training.

infant mortality = the number of child deaths at birth & in the first year of life for every 100 children that are born.

meritocracy = the idea that achievement is solely the result of intelligence, talent, skill, & hard work, rather than inheritance of good luck.

old-boy network = a system of economic& social supports maintained by ex-public-school boys in adulthood.

social closure = the process by which the upper class maintain wealth & privilege, e.g, by keeping marriage within the class, by sending children to expensive schools.

underclass = a class subculture generally made up of the poor.

urban = living in the city (as opposed to the countryside).

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