Culture critical concepts in sociology

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  • 1. Culture: Critical Concepts in SociologyEdited by Chris Jenks ID 501 Baak Topal
  • 2. Outline Accounts of culture Perspectives of viewing culture Culture as a cognitive category Culture as an embodied and collective category Culture as a descriptive and concrete category Culture as a social category Definitions of culture throughout history
  • 3. Definitions of culture have been fueled by the dichotomy of absolutism versus relativism. Some say that culture is losing value as time passes and needs a higher class to keep up the quality, whereas some take a more progressive approach and claim that culture is shaped by people through time and change is acceptable. Another aspect of this dichotomy is the political connotations. The need to evaluate culture needs to be taken analytically.
  • 4. Accounts of culture The changes in the structure and the quality of social life that occured in the late eighteenth century gave rise to the emergence of culture: ranking and hierarchy, division of labour, urbanization, aesthetic quality of life, industrialization. Culture became the mediator between human and nature.
  • 5. Accounts of culture Culture can be seen as the distinguishing factor that seperates the people in lowly state from the people of high quality. The concept of high culture arises with higher personal growth goals and education.
  • 6. Accounts of culture The distinguishing factor between human and animal can be described as another account of culture. Humans use learned, ideational symbols in society. The way humans store knowledge, customs, and artefacts make up culture.
  • 7. Accounts of culture Culture can also be associated with civilization. Culture and perfection achieved through art, literature, music endeavors is the aim of every civilization.
  • 8. Perspectives of viewing culture Culture as a cognitive category Culture is cultivated in the individuals state of mind. The individual aspires for personal growth and perfection.
  • 9. Perspectives of viewing culture Culture as an embodied and collective category Culture finds its place in the societys collective consciousness. It brings about a goal of development as a society.
  • 10. Perspectives of viewing culture Culture as a descriptive and concrete category Culture emerges as the concrete cumulation of art and intellectual work in a society. This is the most widely used definition of culture in daily language and depends on the symbolic meanings of artwork and intellectual work in the society.
  • 11. Perspectives of viewing culture Culture as a social category Culture finds meaning as a way of life of a group of people. It is most commonly used to describe subcultures in society, in a field called cultural studies. It is localized and specific to the subculture.
  • 12. Definitions of culture throughout history Aristotle states that the main goal of humans should be virtuous action. Every human being must strive to do good and benefit the society and ones self. The full potential of human is fulfilled through maximization of the natures potentials.
  • 13. Definitions of culture throughout history Locke mentions the human minds predisposition to accumulate knowledge with his theory of a blank page. Humans are born with empty minds which are then filled with information and experience through learning and transmission.
  • 14. Definitions of culture throughout history Giovanni Battista Vico(1744) contributes to definitions of culture by investigating the human being with its own symbolic creations. The analysis of the human is done through studies of historical accumulation of information, modes of communication, belief systems and legal conventions. These fit with the current definition of culture.
  • 15. Definitions of culture throughout history Marvin Harris(1750) creates the first easily recognizable formation of the concept of culture. He talks of a value system that is comprised of retention of ideas, communication of said ideas to others and transmitting them through generations.
  • 16. Definitions of culture throughout history Bentham(1789) states that there is a necessity of pain to be able to define pleasure. In order for humans to be happy, they need to go through the misery of being functional(as often cited as the humans alienation to its creativity by being forced to work), and get on with their lives.
  • 17. Definitions of culture throughout history Coleridge(1772-1834) generates a contrasting theory of human self expression despite the changes that come with modernity. He states that humans are capable to pursue the goal of perfection by a cultivation of qualities that characterize humanity. He articulates cultivation and marks a significant time in the definition of culture throughout history.
  • 18. Definitions of culture throughout history He does not state the source of the motivation to achieve perfection with an individual aspiration, but as an condition of the collective. In his theory, there are two realms of the natural state of human cultivation and the external, mechanical changes that are enforced by forces of modernity. He states that everyday life does not count as progression, and therefore is not culture.
  • 19. Definitions of culture throughout history Thomas Carlyle(1795-1881) argues that the mechanization process frequently criticized by Marx not only applies to organization of the outside, but also affects the humans soul, feelings and thoughts. He came up with the dualism of the dynamic, which deals with the inner workings of the human, and the mechanical, which consists of the practice of doing things in the world. He believes the human spirit should rise above the greed of accumulating wealth through dynamic departments of activity.
  • 20. Definitions of culture throughout history Carlyle valued the preservation of human values with the help of a literary elite social class whose relationships should not be meditated by money. He believes in policies of mass education.
  • 21. Definitions of culture throughout history Matthew Arnold(1822-88) is an important thinker in the culture debate. He thought of culture as the pinnacle of human achievement and as high culture in itself. He thinks culture brings perfection and harmony, and develops humanity. He sees his work as a manifesto and calls for a goal of perfection. His difference from other thinkers was that he thought the work and aspiration of wealth humans take part in are a part of culture, and the aim for inner perfection can be achieved by anyone.
  • 22. References Jenks, C. (1973). General Introduction. Culture: critical concepts in sociology, 1, 1-19.