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THE DYNAMICS OF SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR

I. Why is culture so important?


Culture is a design for living,he shared understandings that people use
to coordinate their activities. Human beings learn to be human
through the socialization process but the content of socialization
varies from one society to another and thsedifferemces reflect the
content of culture. In everyday conversation culture refers to an
appreciation of the finer things in life.

II. What are the basic elements of culture?
All culture consist of six basic elements :
1. Beliefs ( shared knowledge and ideas about the nature of life )
Ex : whereas americans think of time as marching on,the
Vietnamese conceive of time in cycles.
2. Values ( sharedstandarts for what is right and desirable )
Ex : The vietnamese value family loyalty, adaptability, and
propriety. In contrast Americans value individualism, sticking to
ones principles.
3. Norms ( norms translate beliefs and values into specific rules for
behavior ). Norms vary in intensity from sacred taboos to everyday
habits also vary according to the actor and the situation. Sanctions
are the punishments and rewards that people use to enforce
norms.
Ex : young Vietnamese female arent allowed to leave their homes
without chaperone but American females are expected to date
when they reach adolescence.
4. Symbols ( designs or objects that have acquired special cultural
meaning ). The same object may symbolize different feelings in
different cultures.
Ex : both American and Vietnamese bury their dead in coffins dan
both may invest a great deal of money in these containers.
5. Language ( a key element of culture ). Whereas other animals
communicate via signs,humans by means of symbols. Language
cuases people to pay attention to certain things but ignore others,
but theres a little evidence that language determines the way
people think since its only element of culture.
Ex : English provides only one term for addressing another
person, Vietnamese provides numerous terms indicating degrees
of respect.
6. Technology ( sets the tone for culture, influencing not only how
people work but also how they socialize and think about the world.
Ex : to rural Vietnamese immigrants, the United States may seem
as fantastic as Disneyland appears to be among American children.

III. What is the difference between ethnocentrism and
cultural relativity?
Ethnocentrismis feelings of cultural superiority peoples who has this
feelings have a high opinion of their own design for living, compared
with those of other peoples.

Cultural relativity refers to the view that behavior must be understood
in terms of its own cultural context, which is the opposite of
ethnocentrism.


I. Cultural inconsistencies and diversities
Cultures vary widely in their degree of cultural integration,
the extent to which different parts of culture fit well together and
support one another.
Ideal culture consist of norms and values to which people
openly and formally adhere, real culture consist of norms and
values that people may not openly or formally admit to, but pratice
nonetheless. The interplay between ideal and real culture can
result in obvious contradictions.
Subculture exist when a group of people has developed a
set of variations on cultural norms and values that set these people
apart from other members of their society. subcultures may
develop around etnic idetity, occupation, special interests. when a
group opposes a number of widely held norms and values, it is
known as a counterculture.

II. Explaining culture
In recent years, attempts to explain both of role that culture
plays in society and the relationship between individuals and
culture have moved to the forefront of sociology.
Functionalists view culture as a highly integrated system. in
analyzing cultures, they focus on the ways in which beliefs and
practices function to satisfy basic human needs and to reinforce
commitment to a social system. One group of contemporary
functionalist sociologists and anthropologist, called cultural
ecologists.
Unlike functionalists, who emphasize the role of culture in
promoting social solidarity and adaptation to the environment,
conflict theorists emphasize the role of culture in the struggle for
power and privilege.

III. Cultural change
No culture is static. There are three main source of large
scale cultural change : natural environment; cultural contact (
between norms, values, and techonolgy are different); and
discovery and invention. culture change often occurs in fits and
starts, there is delay between a change in techonolgy and changes
in beliefs and values. people require adjustment to change, when
changes are dramatic, adjustment can be extremely difficult. even
when change is peaceful and welcome, adjusting to a new design
for living is problematic.