a. Describe how culture is a social construction.
b. Identify the basic elements of culture.
c. Explain the importance of culture as an organizing tool in society.
d. Describe the components of culture to include language, symbols, norms, and values; also include material and non- material culture.
Culture is a social construct because it can be observed to vary from one society to the next and is learned by being a member of a (specific) society.
Culture exists anywhere humans exist, and no two cultures are exactly the same. Culture is a combination of elements that, together, form a people's unique way of life. Let’s take a closer look at those elements, specifically symbols, language, values, and norms. These elements look different across cultures, and many change with time as a society evolves.
The first element that exists in every culture is a variety of symbols. A symbol is anything that is used to stand for something else. People who share a culture often attach a specific meaning to an object, gesture, sound, or image. For example, a cross is a significant symbol to Christians. It is not simply two pieces of wood attached to each other, nor is it just an old object of torture and execution. To Christians, it represents the basis of their entire religion, and they have great
reverence for the symbol.
We can see more examples of symbols in American culture. Emoticons are combinations of keyboard characters that many use to represent their feelings online or through texting. The American flag represents our entire country. A red light at a traffic intersection is used to relay the message that you need to stop your vehicle.
The second element present in every culture is a language. Language is a system of words and symbols used to communicate with other people. This includes full languages as we usually think of them, such as English, Spanish, French, etc. But, it also includes body language, slang, and common phrases that are unique to certain groups of people. For example, even though English is spoken fluently in both America and Britain, we have slang and phrases that mean different things. American French fries are British chips, American cookies are British biscuits, and so on.
Another example of how cultural languages differ beyond vocabulary is the fact that eye contact represents different meanings in different cultures. In America, eye contact suggests that you are paying attention and are interested in what a person has to say. In other cultures, eye contact may be considered rude and to be a challenge of authority.
Another cultural element is a system of values, which are culturally defined standards for what is good or desirable. Members of the culture use the shared system of values to decide what is good and what is bad. For example, in America, we are individualistic - we encourage competition and emphasize personal achievement. A person who accepts a promotion in our culture is praised for their individual hard work and talent. But, our values are in stark contrast with the collectivistic values of other cultures, where collaboration is encouraged, and a person's success is only as good as their contributions to the group. The same person that is offered a promotion who lives in a collectivistic culture would consult with his family before accepting to ensure that it would be the most beneficial to the group as a whole.
The last element of culture is a collection of norms. Norms are culturally defined expectations of behavior. They are guidelines we use to determine how we should behave in any given situation and what would be considered inappropriate behavior. For example, we know that we should stand in line to use the restroom without even thinking about our behavior. If someone cuts in front of us, we are certainly irritated - if not angry - that the other person has not followed the norms of our culture.
This project is designed to help you familiarize yourselves with the various elements that make up a culture. You will accomplish this by way of analyzing the intricacies of one nation’s culture.
The 8 Elements of Culture:
Culture Box Procedure:
You will select a box (no smaller than a shoebox and no larger than a medium sized box 20”H, 30”L, and 30” W) that you will decorate.
Outside of the box should include pictures that represent all 8 elements of culture that were studied in class. The pictures should be in color and should accurately represent the various elements of the nation’s culture.
Inside of the box, there should be 8 items that represent that various elements of that culture. For example; if you were creating a box for the American culture, inside the box you may have:
The items inside of the box can be the actual items, models of the item (you can make the models), or even abstract symbols that represent the item.
Culture Box Key:
Turning in a culture box project without a key to what the objects are and why you selected them is quite useless. I would never understand the thought process you used in creating your project, so you must 'DECODE' your box. Select one of the BOX KEYS listed below. Your key must clearly show the 8 graphics on the outside of the box and the 8 objects inside the box. DESCRIBE why you chose those items and why they are significant in understanding your culture.
Examples of BOX KEYS:
Note: Each culture can be selected only once!
The Gods Must Be Crazy is a 1980 South African comedy film written and directed by Jamie Uys. Financed only from local sources, it is the most commercially successful release in the history of South Africa's film industry.
Originally released in 1980, the film is the first in The Gods Must Be Crazy series. It is followed by one official sequel, The Gods Must Be Crazy II, released by Columbia Pictures.
Set in Botswana, it follows the story of Xi, a San of the Kalahari Desert (played by Namibian San farmer Nǃxau ǂToma) whose tribe has no knowledge of the world beyond, Andrew Steyn (Marius Weyers), a biologist who analyzes manure samples for his PhD dissertation, and Kate Thompson (Sandra Prinsloo), a newly hired village school teacher.
Cars is a 2006 American computer-animated comedy-adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Directed and co-written by John Lasseter from a screenplay by Dan Fogelman, it is Pixar's final independently-produced film before its purchase by Disney in May 2006.
Set in a world populated entirely by anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles, the film stars the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman (in his final acting role), Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin, Michael Wallis, George Carlin, Paul Dooley, Jenifer Lewis, Guido Quaroni, Michael Keaton, Katherine Helmond, John Ratzenberger and Richard Petty. Race car drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Mario Andretti, Michael Schumacher and car enthusiast Jay Leno (as "Jay Limo") voice themselves.
The first Volksempfänger, an affordable and extremely popular radio, was introduced in 1933, the year Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. This was no coincidence. Radio broadcasts played a major part in the Nazi propaganda machine. In an era before mass television, radio, newspapers and cinema all played their part in putting over to the public Hitler’s messages. Propaganda was placed in the hands of Joseph Goebbels and it was his idea to make cheap radios available to the German public.
Goebbels believed that radio was the most effective way of putting over a message. The public had to leave home to go to the cinema while some simply did not read a newspaper and Goebbels was less confident that newspapers were the perfect form of spreading the message.
“What the press has been in the Nineteenth Century, radio will be for the Twentieth Century.” (Goebbels)
During the era of Weimar Germany, radio broadcasts had been controlled by the Postmaster General’s office. In March 1933, Goebbels transferred this power to the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda with himself at the helm. This remained the way until the end of World War Two.
While Goebbels had the final say in radio broadcasts, he placed the day-to-day running of radio broadcasts in the hands of Eugen Hadamowsky who became head of the Chamber of Radio. Hadamowsky was charged with ensuring that German radio fitted into the National Socialist mould and that anyone who was against this stand had to be removed from their position. On August 16th 1933, Hadamowsky reported to Goebbels about the progress he had made:
“We National Socialists must show enough dynamism and enthusiasm coupled with lightning speed to impress Germany and the whole world. Party comrade Dr. Goebbels ordered me on July 13th to purge German radio of influence opposed to our cause. I can now report that the work has been thoroughly done.”
Radio broadcasts played home the Nazi ideals – national pride, patriotism, pride in Hitler, Aryan pride etc. All households that possessed a radio had to pay 2 marks a month to cover the cost of radio broadcasting. However, to ensure that all households could have a radio, Goebbels arranged for the production of two cheap types of radios priced at 35 and 72 marks that were known as ‘People’s Receivers’.
Goebbels also used radio broadcasts to spread the word of Nazism abroad. He wanted to convey to the world the idea that Nazism was an acceptable political idea and his first radio broadcasts were performances by some of Germany’s top orchestras and opera singers. Once this approach had bedded down, he introduced a system whereby little messages were broadcast piece by piece – spreading the words of Hitler in a minimalistic way at first. The broadcasts covered all of Western Europe and a huge broadcasting station at Seesen, near Berlin, ensured that broadcasts could be heard around the world. By 1938, shortwave broadcasts were being transmitted 24 hours a day in twelve different languages.
However, Germany was not immune from radio broadcasts from abroad and this proved a real issue for Goebbels in World War Two. Radio transmitters throughout Eastern and Western Europe had been destroyed but this was not so in London. Goebbels knew that it was impossible to know what every household with a radio was listening to. Therefore, true to course, the Nazis made it a treasonable offense to listen to oversees broadcasts. Anyone caught doing so faced a spell in a feared concentration camp and in the first year of the war alone, 1500 Germans were imprisoned for listening to London-based broadcasts.
During the war, Soviet experts found a way of infiltrating the official Nazi transmission system – Deutschlandsender – and interrupting broadcasts with what they claimed was the truth about what was happening in the war. The USSR also broadcast on shortwave a programme that was simply a list of German names – men captured by the Russians and held as POW’s. Listening to such programmes was highly illegal but regardless of the dangers, they were very popular.
Goebbels also used radio to broadcast to the UK during World War Two. The most famous programmes were those done by William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, who always started his broadcasts with “Germany calling, Germany calling”. It was said that anyone listening in the UK would find out more about the war than the UK government was willing to admit to.
Radio in Nazi Germany - History Learning Site historylearningsite.co.uk. The History Learning Site, 9 Mar 2015. 9 Feb 2021.
This assignment asks students to watch an episode of Saved by the Bell, an American television sitcom set in Bayside High School, that aired on NBC from 1989 to 1993. The show follows a group of friends and their principal. It primarily focuses on lighthearted comedic situations; it occasionally touches on serious social issues, such as drug use, driving under the influence, homelessness, remarriage, death, women's rights, and environmental issues. The series starred Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dustin Diamond, Lark Voorhies, Dennis Haskins, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley, and Mario Lopez. It then asks students to compare the observations to see how accurate TV's portrayal of reality is.
is a hidden camera show where senior citizens play pranks on unsuspecting youngsters.
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