Provides rewards for proper behavior and may promise that these rewards will continue beyond the physical world
So pervasive and taken for granted that it rarely enters into our consciousness
When people that share many elements of a common culture live in a specific geographic territory and interact with one another, sociologists call that society
Most people around the world believe their societies and cultural beliefs and values are either “natural” or the “best”
Define/convey the importance of culture in your own words:
Review our work on the Nacirema. How was American culture described in the reading? Is the description still relevant? (it was written in the 1950s)
Imagine that you have been commissioned by a team of sociologists from the University of Pennsylvania to create a cultural collage dedicated to American “teenager culture.” You must think about the things that are important to a culture, how and why they become popular, and how the importance of these ideas or things is represented by the culture; see the bulleted list above for inspiration as you try to capture the beliefs, hopes, fears, emotions, trends, lifestyles, etc. of the American teenager. Include your ideas below:
Fairy Tale Exercise
What moral lesson is being presented by the fairy tale you brought in? Is it an important moral value in American society today?
What types of gender roles are present in your fairy tale?
How is the villain portrayed? Describe the language used to depict them and/or the drawings in your fairy tale.
How is “good” portrayed in your fairy tale? Describe the language used to depict them and/or the drawings in your fairy tale.
What types of social classes are represented in your fairy tale? Are there any positive or negative connotations associated with them?
How does your fairy tale treat the old and the young?
How are families depicted in your fairy tale? What are the roles of mother, father, siblings, etc.?
Use your sociological imagination to evaluate the effect of the fairy tale on young children in America.
How could the fairy tale be transformed into a [more] politically correct version? What would have to change?
Describe some of the changes made in this version of Little Red Riding Hood.
Why do you think the author chose to remake this story?
Don’t Blame Me! The “Culture of Victimization”
What key arguments are made by the author? List at least three:
Do you think our cultural emphasis on individualism is less strong today than in the past? Why?
Does using the sociological perspective/imagination encourage us to view people as victims? Why or why not?
What Are the “Culture Wars”?
What is cultural conflict? Why isn’t it novel?
What are some examples of culture wars in America today (according to the article)?
Do you align more with the traditionalist or progressive camp? Why?
Cultural Divide Over Parental Discipline
Do you sympathize with the Chinese families described in the article? Why or why not?
Do you think it is ethnocentric to expect the Chinese families described in this article to discipline their children according to cultural norms common in the U.S.? Or would you adopt a culturally relativist approach to letting these parents do what seems right to them?
How Rude! Manners in America
Etiquette, rules of proper social behavior, were once taught to children and firmly reinforced in society. Consider the rules of etiquette and manners you have been taught in your home and school. Make a list of proper manners and rules of behavior that you feel should be taught and enforced in society. Include manners associated with respect, eating, dating, and other areas that you feel are important.
Should “proper manners” be enforced in schools? Do you think students should be required to use titles of respect, such as Sir of Ma’am, when addressing teachers (for example)? Why or why not?
Rude, crude, and often violent behaviors have become an integral part of television, movies, music, and other media, resulting in “unruly behavior” and “insensitivity to others.” In your opinion, should media have “better manners”? Why or why not?
The Power of Gestures
Why are gestures important from a cultural standpoint?
How can gestures of one culture be misinterpreted by members of another culture? Give specific examples from the reading.
Describe the “rules” of elevator behavior discussed in the passage. What is another situation that is governed by unwritten laws of behavior?