Module 2 Module 2 Module 2 Module 2
Module 2 Presentation Readings Assignments

Go on to Part 2 - Developing A Dominant Culture
Go on to Part 3 - The Functions and Effects of Culture

What is Culture

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Culture is learned behavior.

Culture is learned behavior. By individuals.

Culture is learned behavior. By individuals. Of a given group or groups.

Culture is learned behavior

Our personal culture comes from the traditions, lifestyles, and shared experiences of our lives.

We learn culture from people around us. Cultural anthropologists often refer to this as "storytelling". People gather around the fire and learn about life and learn how to live from the stories passed down by our families and our village elders.

But the "campfire" has changed as society changed. From campfire to front porch or parlor, from parlor to church socials, from church to radio to television to films to video games to the internet, the "campfire" keeps evolving. We explore the changing nature of campfires later in the course.

Both "Godfather" and "The Sopranos" tell the story of families under pressure. Are they mirrors to our society? Are they warnings to take heed of? Are they models to follow? What do we learn from their stories?

Scene from the Godfather
Click for larger image
©Paramount Studio

Scene from The Sopranos
Click for larger image
©Home Box Office

When people talk about the "decline in family values", they often mean that the culture of one generation is not being passed down to the next. They fear that "the media" has replaced the family as the storyteller.

Their fear is increased by a perceived degrading of "values" by the media.

They fear that programs viewed, movies watched, songs listened to will negatively influence people. The media shows people doing "bad" things with no punishment. Consequently, the people consuming the media will be encouraged to do "bad" things.

There we are, huddled around the tribal campfire, telling and retelling the stories of our people.

Click here to read Folklore in a Box by Lance Morrow.

Morrow's article was written over fifteen years ago. Do you think his argument was valid then and is valid now? We'll talk about this in our next Assignment.

Tribal Campfire Click for larger image
©Creators Syndicate

Have the family values of Father Knows Best and Cosby ...

Father Knows Best
Click for larger image
©TV Guide

... been replaced by Homer Simpson?

The Simpsons
©Fox Broadcasting

... or something even worse? Like "wardrobe malfunctions"?

Super Bowl Halftime

The Simpsons have become such an accepted part of our culture, that even targets of their parody have partnered with the brand.

Click here to read Advertising Age - "Marriage of Convenience: 7-Eleven, 'Simpsons'"

Click here to read The Other Parent by James Steyer, Chapter 1.

"For me, as a parent of three young children and as a longtime teacher, the loss of innocence at too early an age is perhaps the highest price that American kids pay in this new media environment. Ever since the Hays Office began monitoring Hollywood morals in the 1920's, Americans have worried about the media's impact on "family values."

But before our mass-media culture became so explicit and so pervasive, before large media companies began to realize huge profits by pushing sex and sensationalism, things were different. Parents were much better able to control what their children learned about and when."

The Other Parent

Steyer recommends parents monitor and control their children's media consumption. But he also recommends they organize advocacy groups, contact government leaders, and boycott media outlets that target children with inappropriate content. In terms we'll discuss later, Steyer recommends aggressive "gatekeeping" to keep content he considers inappropriate off the air.

What is Culture

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