Culture as an Adaptive Mechanism - Culture is the complete set of learned human behaviour patterns. It is an "ancient", or evolutionary tool or technique to obtain food/safety in a particular environment.
How are Cultural Traits transferred?
Discovery - someone uncovers something that already exists and it's useful - e.g. mould that kills bacteria, E=mc2, fire, radio waves.
Inventions - people create new tools and uses of things they discover or create. Metal, agriculture, the wheel, printing press, modern telecommunications.
If, and when, people create good things or discover useful things, they spread to other cultures through trade, discussion, etc. We call this, Diffusion of Innovation.
Cultural Universals - marriage, importance of meal-time, transportation, music, complex communication, entertainment, social hierarchy structures, architecture, religion (ways of explaining the unexplainable), etc.
Does culture evolve or is it static? ALWAYS evolving - just look around at your own lifetime. People are very clever and there are more of us around than ever, so new ideas will continue to develop at an accelerating rate.
What mechanisms cause cultural evolution?
Alienation - feeling disconnected from or unwanted in a situation. e.g. environmental groups want to change how Canada deals with the oil sands, they see the damage being done and want that to stop. Their anger (alienation) over the oil sands makes them take action. Eventually society might take a different stand on the oil sands - if this happens culture will have changed in Canada.
Conformity - wanting to alter your behaviour or attitude to match that of a group that you want to be part of.
So, over time, attitudes and behaviours change in general. The catch-phrase I've used is this:
Change occurs when reality conflicts with a new idea - tension rises to a crisis point at which time it must be resolved. The resolution is the change.
Sometimes there are barriers to change:
- religious beliefs
- human nature = avoid change
- dominant paradigm (paradigm is the framework through which we think about something).
- cultural values
Forces that help cultures change -
- "acts of God"
- new technology - Google, Facebook
- charismatic leadership: Hitler, Trudeau, Mao, Ang Sun Sui, Dalai Lama, Gandhi.
- Pop Culture: sports celebs, music celebs, Hollywood celebs
Ethnocentricity and Subjective Validity.
Can you explain a big cultural change that has happened somewhere in the world?