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The
importance of culture is one of the most Important concepts in sociology.
Culture can’t be talked about without being linked with identity. Culture plays
a significant role with inflicting the values and norms of a society. Cultural
values adapt over time and form changes. In current society we have more power
over creating our own identities and making ourselves hold our own importance
within society. We hold the best knowledge in defining who we are and where we
have come from and where we are going within society. Our everyday choices help
shape us to become the people we are today. We are constantly creating and
making changes to our identities.

Draw conclusions about
culture and identity in a changing social world

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A research
carried out relating to culture and identity would be the work done by a
sociologist named Stan Cohen who considers the story behind the disturbances
between two large sub culture groups know as the Mods and Rockers in the early
1960’s. His research involved studying newspaper articles and interviews. Stan
Cohen used the labelling theory of deviance from the sociological theory of
symbolic interactionism to understand what was going on. The key question for
Stan Cohen was who decided to apply the deviant label. When an individual’s
behaviour is defined as deviant they may be costumed to adopt that label and
reinforce the deviant label. The deviance is amplified through the mass media
in 3 main processes, exaggeration and distortion of who did or said what,
prediction, the consequences of failure to act, symbolisation, the mods and
rockers signify threat. The media creates the two subculture groups as folk’s
devils. The cause is not a conspiracy amongst journalists but normal news
making. The media focus most on those events and people disrupting our social
order. This then makes general society sensitive to these issues including the
police and the law and public opinion. The consequences of a moral panic are
normally changes in the law. In the case of Mods and Rockers one law about
drugs already being passed was strengthened, with another on criminal damage
introduced as direct response. Cohen argued these measures were more
ritualistic than effective. Cohen believed moral panics happen because they fulfil
a function of reaffirming society’s moral values/ boundaries. Britain as a rich
society in the 1960’s disliked young people who were seen to be rejecting adult
ideals: Cohen suggests that moral panics are natural because society will
continue to produce the deviants which it then condemns. Cohen shows how
societies maintain their boundaries and how labelling can work to create social
control. Labelling is considered an interactive process. If this is the case,
then the mods and rockers would have seen themselves as folk devils. This was
not the case. So, Cohens theoretical approach may be flawed.

Explain sociological
research relating to a selected aspect of culture and identity

 

Karl Marx a
conflict structuralist believes that society is based on production and
consumption. People who own the means of production (properties, factories,
etc) have the power in society. Marx believed that there are two classes in
society that create conflict and Marx believes that there is always conflicting
forces and he viewed this with modern society and capitalism. Your class was
determined by your status within the means of production. The ruling class own
and control the means of production in society. The working class simply sell
their labour in the market place. Whilst the working class co-operate to
produce goods for the market place it is the ruling class who gain in profits.
The working class are quickly paid but pay back their wage through their
efforts what is left is called surplus value and is taken by the ruling class.
Marx said that class conflict comes from the two classes who pursue their
different interests in society. Marx believed the means of production had to be
maintained by the ruling class. Since they exploited the working class they had
to find ways to continue exploiting themselves. To explain why workers falsely believed
in their exploitation Marx came up with the idea of superstructure,
superstructure is the structure in society such as religion, media, law,
education, work, the family, etc. each of these structures reflect the ruling
class. Marx’s alienation refers to the way in which the working class are
socialised into accepting their inequalities of the social class division that
they become estranged from their labour because they aren’t involved with what
they produced, and the ruling class are the ones who are gaining in profit. Marx
believed that through alienation the working class would eventually unite and
adopt the true class consciousness and over throw the false consciousness which
is when the working believe that their world is fair and through the superstructure,
the higher class can pass on their ideas to maintain capitalism making an
unfair society seem fair. Although Consensus structuralist Emile Durkheim
believes that division of labour is important, he believes everyone must have
different jobs for society to survive. This meant that to fill all roles in
society there must be a meritocracy. Durkheim believes that the division in
labour goes further than economic interests, it also forms social and moral
order within a society. There are two types of social solidarity: mechanical
and organic. Mechanical solidarity connects an individual to society and
society is formed collectively and everyone in the group share the same
beliefs. The bond that connects the individual to society is the shared belief
system which is referred to as the collective conscious. Organic solidarity
explains how society is functioned differently. Every individual has their own
job, action or personality that is his or her own. Individuality grows as parts
of society grow. Society becomes more in sync even though each part of it has
movements that is its own.

Use two sociological
theories to explain a selected aspect of culture and identity

 

Culture
refers to the life of a society such as; language, dress, traditions, beliefs,
relationships, customs, norms, and roles. Culture varies according to time
(history) and place (geography). Within society their may be a variety of sub
cultures that differ from dominant culture in terms of dress, norms, values and
language. Youth subcultures have their own style of dress and music that make
them different from others. A sub culture is a smaller group of individuals
within the main culture of society. A lot of sub culture groups are based on
frustration and failure. For example, youths exposed to deprived communities
where they feel that it is too difficult to achieve success through education
or wealth, turn to deviant alternative values which helps provide them with status.
sub cultures can be an important way of identity.  Dominant culture can often have the power to
define the sub culture group by labelling them which can create prejudice and
discrimination. Sub cultures are often groups who struggle to achieve success
in the more dominant society and try build their own power to define the
success that the sub culture holds. The dominant culture can also have the
power to take a sub culture and turn it into a more mainstream culture. For
example, in the 70’s ‘punk ‘was a youth subculture where they expressed
themselves through the clothes they wore, the hair and make up and type of
music. Mainstream culture has drained the group of its counter cultural meaning
for example, today things such as coloured hair and piercings are sociably
acceptable and hold no separate meaning towards a sub culture group.

Explain the concepts of
culture and/ or sub cultures in terms of power and status

 

Socialisation
is the way in which we learn the appropriate behaviour of our society. The
socialisation process continues throughout all our lives from birth to death
and influences the way we think and behave. We learn the social norms and
values and roles in our culture for the society in which we live in. The first
type of socialisation in which we are exposed to in the early years of our
childhood is known as the primary socialisation process, this is where we learn
basic behaviour patterns, language and skills that we will require for later in
life. The agents for this socialisation process is normally the family and
friends, they make sure that when we were children we adopted the appropriate
behaviour for society and gender. As we grow up we start to become influenced
by other agents such as peer groups, media, religion and the workplace this is called
the secondary socialisation process which considers the socialisation
influences that occur in later childhood and adulthood that progress outside of
the family. This process teaches individuals society’s norms and values. Some
of our behaviour is learned in set ways for example in school we learn skills
such as reading and writing and counting. These skills are important in our
society because they teach us how to communicate and benefit us for going into
the working industry. This process is known as formal socialisation. Although a
lot of the things that we learn are created from observing other people and
listening to things we are told by our peer groups or the mass media. This type
of socialisation continues all the time through our lives and is known as
informal socialisation.  Other ways in
which sociologists have created understandings for our social behaviour is
through a debate called the nature versus nurture. This debate is important to
the study of sociology and socialisation. When sociologists discuss nature, they are referring to what an
individual inherits through their genes. This is known as the genetic
inheritance of a person. Everyone inherits half their genes from their mother
and the other half from their father. Genes determine things such as what sex
you will be and the colour of your eyes. Although biologists argue that genetic
influence can also explain social behaviour and characteristics. Some argue
that things such as aggression, personality and intelligence are all inherited.
The term instinct means that behaviour is programmed into our genes.
Sociologists talk about nurture which they are referring to all the behaviours
we learn through the socialisation process. Things we do are a result to what
we have learned. This means our experiences and environment influence the
shaping in our behaviour. Our social behaviours come from our expectations and
guidelines which we acknowledge and learn within each society and culture. We
often believe things we do come naturally to us because we have done them for
such a long time without thinking however, what we consider as natural may also
just be the behaviour that we have learned but because we are socialised from
an early age it seems natural. Gender also plays a key role in the
socialisation process because we expect females and male’s behaviour to differ.
Nature’s understanding of female and male behaviour is that they do have
genetic differences that influence both physical and behavioural
characteristics. These biological differences mean that males and females are
suited to dissimilar roles for example some people believe that biological
differences have made females more suited to raise children. Although nurture
emphasises that there is a range of social institutions such as; work, family,
religion, mass media and education teach individuals their gender roles. Males
and females are treated differently as soon as their born, boys are dressed in
blue and females are dressed in pink. Another example of socialisation is
achievement in school. Nature’s view is that your genes determine your IQ. Your
IQ determines what you can achieve to your ability and if you have a high IQ
you are seen to be more successful than someone with a low IQ this is inherited
from your parents. Although nurture argues that a person’s IQ shows how good
they are at tests but nothing about their intelligence. A person with a low IQ
may have been at a disadvantage with the environment they have been exposed to.
Some pupils are not as successful due to social factors such as poverty,
expectations from teachers and discrimination. The socialisation process means
we learn the behaviour that society accepts as normal or desirable but there
are differences. Different societies have diverse ways of behaving for example
in the UK we are taught to greet people with a handshake but in Japan its
normal to bow. Most British people eat with knives and forks, but Japanese
people are more likely to use chopsticks. Within large scale societies there is
variations in the way that individuals are socialised due to agents such as
religion or gender, for example males and females may be socialised in separate
ways to prepare them for roles later in life.

Explain the impact of
socialisation on the formation of identity.

 

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