Module 4: Discussion Question: Culture

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There are a number of things we have “learned” in the course already that you need to begin putting together in your daily sociological thinking. A few things come to mind:

1) The Sociological Imagination

2) Sociological Theories and how each perspective can help explain a social phenomenon or problem.

3) Research Methods and how empirical research can help us comprehend the depth of social problems, and perhaps even help us come up with possible policy initiatives to help solve these problems.

One of the things that intrigues me about culture is the way it is “enforced” in our everyday lives, many times through “conformity”. Basically, we are socialized at an early age in our culture’s social norms. These “norms become unquestioned ways of thinking and acting”. For the most part, we take these norms for granted. When someone sneezes, we generally say something like “Bless You.” We hold the door open for someone behind us who is close enough that we can politely keep the door open for them. If we don’t say “Bless You,” or if we ignore the person behind us and don’t open the door, we are “told” that we have violated the social norm through some sort of body language (a roll of the eyes, and verbal statement like “excuse me,”) or something similar. We unconsciously follow these social norms because we unconsciously “know” of the potential negative reactions we will receive if we don’t is a form of social control.

There are some social norms that are so important and valuable in our culture that breaches warrant punishment, such as arrest or imprisonment. Consider violent crimes like rape and murder. The punishments are a strong form of social control.

Culture is the glue that holds society together. We are “taught” culture the moment we are born. Our parents socialize us into our culture. Families, schools, peers, external forces solidify the norms and values that define our culture. But as we move through different places, different circles in life, different and new knowledge, our culture will change. Culture is not a fixed entity—it changes through time.  Our environment has a significant impact on who we are. As we move into different environments, our cultural definitions are refined.

Ethnocentrism is a dangerous extreme when it comes to valuing “our” culture. We can be “proud” of our culture, but we must not be led by “blind faith” that doesn’t see the weaknesses with certain aspects of our culture.

Answer the following question(s). Make sure your response is at least 125 words in length. Make sure as well that you respond to three other students’ posts.

There are a number of contemporary examples of Ethnocentrism today.

1. Define Ethnocentrism. (The text defines it very well.)

2. Provide one example of Ethnocentrism in today’s society.

3. Use what you’ve learned so far in the course to provide ONE possible way to reduce or eliminate ethnocentrism in society today.

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