Sociology Definitions

Culture: All that human beings learn to do, to use, to produce, to know, and to believe as they grow to maturity and live out their lives in the social groups to which they belong. Culture Shock: The reaction people may have when encountering cultural traditions different from their own. Culture Universal: Forms or patterns for resolving the common, basic, human problems that are found in all cultures. Culture universals include the division of labor, the incest taboo, marriage, the family, rites of passage, and ideology. Material Culture: All the things human beings make and use, from small handheld tools to skyscrapers.
Non-Material Culture: The totality of knowledge, beliefs, values, and rules for appropriate behavior that specifies how people should interact and how people may solve their problems. Norms: Specific rules of behavior that are agreed upon and shared within a culture to prescribe limits of acceptable behavior. Mores: Strongly held norms that usually have a moral connotation and are based on the central values of the culture. Folkways: Norms that permit a rather wide degree of individual interpretation as long as certain limits are not overstepped. Folkways change with time and vary from culture to culture.
Ideal Norms: Expectations of what people should do under perfect conditions. The norm that marriage will last “until death do us part” is an ideal norm in American society. Real Norms: Norms that allow for differences in individual behavior. Real norms specify how people actually behave, not how they should behave under ideal circumstances. Value: A culture’s general orientations toward life; its notion of what is good and bad, what is desirable and undesirable. Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis: A hypothesis that argues that the language a person uses determines his or her perception of reality.

Cultural Lag: A situation that develops when new patterns of behavior conflict with traditional values. Cultural lag can occur when technological change (material change) is more rapid than are changes in norms and values (nonmaterial cultural). Subculture: The distinctive lifestyles, values, norms, and beliefs of certain segments of the population within a society. Types of subcultures are religious, age, regional, deviant, occupational. Rites of Passage: Standardized rituals that mark the transition from one stage of life to another.
Ways that Culture is transmitted- Mechanism of Cultural Change-Diffusion: The movement of cultural traits from one culture to another. Reformulation: A trait is modified in some way so that it fits better in its new context. Innovation: Any practice or tool that becomes widely accepted in a society. Selectivity: A process that defines some aspects of the world as important and others as unimportant. Selectivity is reflected in the vocabulary and grammar of language. Taboo: A sacred prohibition against touching, mentioning, of looking at certain objects, acts, or people.
Symbol: Objects that represents other things. Unlike signs, symbols need not share ant of the qualities of whatever they represent. Ethnocentrism: The tendency to judge other cultures in terms of one’s own customs and values. Cultural Relativism: The positions that social scientists doing cross-cultural research should view and analyze behaviors and customs within the cultural context in which they occur. Ideology: A set or interrelated religious or secular beliefs, values, and norms justifying the pursuit of a given set of goals through a given set of means.

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