12.2: Culture and Meaning
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At the end of the module, students will be able to:
- explain the relationship between culture and the social world
- understand the role and impact of culture on society
- describe concepts central to cultural sociology
- summarize and apply the theoretical perspectives on the study of culture
Culture is an expression of our lives. It molds our identity and connection to the social world. Whether it is our values, beliefs, norms, language, or everyday artifacts each element of culture reflects who we are and influences our position in society. If you think about how we live, communicate, think and act, these parts of our existence develop from the values, beliefs, and norms we learn from others, the language and symbols we understand, and the artifacts or materials we use. Culture is embedded into everyday life and is the attribute in which others view and understand us.
- Cultural Sociology
- Cultural sociology examines the social meanings and expressions associated with culture. Cultural sociologists study representations of culture including elitist definitions and understanding such as art, literature, and classical music, but also investigate the broad range of culture in everyday social life.
- Defining Culture
- Culture is universal. Every society has culture. Culture touches every aspect of who and what we are and becomes a lens of how we see and evaluate the world around us. Culture molds human nature and people learn to express nature in cultural ways. The sociological perspective acknowledges that all people are cultured.
- Link Between Culture and Society
- At the end of the module, students will be able to explain the relationship between culture and the social world. This chapter helps in understanding of the role and impact of culture on society and describes the concepts central to cultural sociology. Overall, it summarizes and applies the theoretical perspectives on the study of culture.
- Theoretical Perspectives on Culture
- The social structure plays an integral role in the social location (i.e., place or position) people occupy in society. Your social location is a result of cultural values and norms from the time-period and place in which you live. Culture effects personal and social development including the way people will think or behave. Cultural characteristics pertaining to age, gender, race, education, income and other social factors influence the location people occupy at any given time.
Thumbnail: ǃKung woman and child sharing a meal. Image used with permission (CC-SA-BY 4.0; Staehler).