Sociology notes: chapter 2 -we tend to build our own sense of reality through the words and ideas that we use to mean something. Indeed what helps individuals do that is by the help of culture, which contains words and ideas that people may use to name and interpret what they experience. -culture consists of symbols which can referred as the words or even the ideas portrayed. It also includes how we shape the physical world that we are in. Indeed by using ?symbols? we are able to create a relationship with that symbol so that it may have something to do with us. We use symbols to name things as a way to focus our attention and build a reality to live in. so, words weave a reality, and they connect us to it. -without symbols, we would have been unable to understand how important experiences can be really be for us. There would be no thinking in the present. Indeed, without symbols we would be unable to communicate our experiences to one another; making the past practically impossible to remember or share. -we tend to separate ourselves from the natural world and therefore making us to have no respect for the environment we are living in. we may not believe we are animals as subject to the laws of nature as any bird, but that belief doesn?t mean the kinds of consequences that other animal species cannot escape will leave us untouched. -the ?obvious? also blinds us to the possibility that what?s obviously true might be false. We must be able to admit that what we feel is true CAN be false. However, when we tend to prove how wrong the ?obvious? might be, we may be victims of least resistance threats since we attack the status quo. -values rank think in terms of how socially desirable they really are. So various aspects of social life may preferred than others ( for example heterosexuality is valued more than homosexuality.) -so values provide us with choices that help us choose between alternatives that might otherwise be considered as equivalents. -we are always weighting the relative value of what we see as our alternatives, and culture is where we get the ideas we need to do these things. -?values? tend to sort people in different places in social hierarchy of worth. This makes problems like privilege and oppression more than seeing differences among people; it also ranks entire categories of people in ways that exclude, devalue, and oppress some and include, elevate and privilege others. So what is at stack is the dignity and worth of human beings and the cultural justification of systemic patterns of privilege and oppression. -we experience values as a natural part of reality. However, most of what we value is what we learned to do so through socialization in a particular system?s culture. -the more we get to see other?s culture, the more we are able to our own culture as a ?culture?. However, whenever we desire to make a choice, we always choose from a limited range of alternatives offered by our culture. So, since we are socialized into a set of cultural values and don?t choose what that happens, the values we acquire limit us in ways that are hard to see until we step outside and realize they aren?t the only possibilities. -we can expand our freedom of choices by liberating ourselves from the narrow range of choices that our culture, offers the people who participate in it. So we need to step outside the cultural framework we are used to so that we can see it as a framework; as a possibility among others. We can do so since cultural do not have rigid frameworks that determines who we are and what to do since every situation require a series of ?values? in order to help us base our judgments. So values help us weight one alternative solution to the next. -values map out paths of least resistance that shape how people participate in systems. -if you take a cultural value and turn it into a rule enforced with rewards and punishment, then we have a norm, a value that will hurt us if we don?t choose the path of least resistance. Norms go a step farther than values by linking beliefs and values to social consequences that wouldn?t otherwise happen i.e. by laws. so objective consequences are the physical harms/benefits that will occur but social consequences are the actual social harms/benefits that will take place after the action. - So we can?t tell what the social consequences of an action will be unless we know about the social system we?re operating in. -norms are not only ideas about how people behave, but about how they appear and, in some cases, who they are. -the functional perspective suggests that every social systems has certain requirements that must be met for it to work. So, norms act as these necessary requirements for social systems to not fall apart. -norms also help define a system?s boundaries by giving us a way to tell insiders from outsiders and by controlling who gets to be one or the other. The norms then are usually connected to beliefs and values that define reality and what?s considered important. -the most important thing about morality isn?t behavior, but the feelin of attachment that binds people to a group or society when they support its moral values. Without this, people feel lost and systems fall apart. -all norms have some bearing on belonging and commitment that can tell us as much about what we?re about as about the systems we participate in. -stigma is when people are treated as deviant not because of something they have done but because of who they are. -systematic patterns of exclusion, exploitation, domination, and abuse make more sense from what?s known sociological practice as the conflict perspective. The conflict perspective also focuses on systems but primarily as a setting for conflicts around patterns of social inequalities. Privilege groups may use their power and influence to shape culture itself in their own interests. -what we call ?property? exists only when cultures have believes that defines them as real. So, when owning property gives people power over others, then any norm that protects proerpty rights also protects the inequality of power and privilege and what people are able to do with it. -a lopsided distribution of wealth does mean that while the law protects everybody?s property, it also enables the elite maintain its privileged position; including its ability to increase its share of wealth even further. -sometimes, norms that seem sto support one value are liely to affect other values as well, so that what appears to be just about protecting property can also be about preserving an entire social order based on privilege and oppression. -cultural attitudes can be formed in ways in which beliefs, values and emotions are blended in ways that shape how we feel and behave toward people or even the earth , ideas and many other things. Indeed, ?feelings? depend on how people define the reality of what is going on, what matters most, and what?s expscted of them and regarded as socially appropriate. -attitudes can be primary emotions like fear that are attached to various cultural beliefs and values. So, many attitudes are emotions that exist only in relation to a social context. So we can?t judge something without using beliefs and values. Indeed, there is no such thing as being ?umemotional?, for ?unfeeling? is as much asn emotional state as ?deeply moved? or ?enraged?. It may help them do things that might sicken and horrify them if they allow themselves to feel those ?feelings? instead of the feeling of flat, detached ?I?m just doing my job? efficiency that often takes their places. -there are numerous forms of social inequalities in which those in lower positions are often culturally stereotyped as more emotional than those in higher positions, and this can be used against them. -In order to understand any parts of social life, we must be able to recognized both its material and - nonmaterial aspects and how they?re related to one another. So the term social life is also linked to the physical world; not only in who we are as people. -in a sense, the cultural the material world we create directly affects our own physical existence. However we can consider this as both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that we can do creative things that are otherwise far beyond our reach. The curse is that we can use material culture to do serious damages to both the natural world and ourselves with global warming and pollution etc. -indeed the significance of a material depends on how it is used through social life. -social control over the flow of ideas would be an issue even without the trend toward consolidating power in mass media. Indeed, people may be silent about topics such as ?capitalism? since being ?silent? is considered as a path of least resistance. So the most profound use of media power is what?s not being printed and told to the whole public. -material culture can take social life in many different directions at once. For example, the computer can be used as an instrument of oppressive control or even as a tool for corporate people to hire less people; indeed making people to work more than to work less. -we create the material culture and make it part of our identities, and yet we often experience it as separate and external, autonomous and powerful in relation to ourselves. We tend to depend on it so much that we think that we can?t live without it while we need to remember that it is a machine that was made by mankind. -we must be able to look ?beyond the box? of our small little imagination. However, we must be able to analyze the box itself. -ethnocentrism is a phenomenon where we tend to assume that other cultures either don?t exist or, if they do, are either just like ours or not worth the bother of getting to know. -in some ways a kind of ethnocentrism operates not only among societies but often within them as well. in complex societies, dominant groups often act as though the cultural ideas they use to construct reality apply to everyone. For example, whites, Christians often act as thought their outlooks and ways of life are at the center of the social universe and represent human experience in general. -every complex society includes a wide range of socially constructed realities, but some dominate and come to stand for the whole. The result is a kind of internal ethnocentrism in which diversity and differences are treated as invisible or, when acknowledged at all, as a secondary and inferior. -concepts like culture and ethnocentrism also point to the box itself and toward the powerful experience of imagining ourselves both inside and outside at the same time. Development
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