Sunday, January 26, 2014

Components of Symbolic Culture


Gestures movements of the body to communicate with others are shorthand ways to convey messages without using words. Although people in every culture of the world use gestures, a gesture’s meaning may change completely from one culture to another.Gestures not only facilitate communication but also, because they differ around the world, can lead to misunderstanding, embarrassment, or worse.To get along in another culture, then, it is important to learn the gestures of that culture.It is also significant that certain gestures can elicit emotions; some gestures are so closely associated with emotional messages that the gestures themselves summon up emotions.

The primary way in which people communicate with one another is through language— symbols that can be combined in an infinite number of ways for the purpose of communicating abstract thought. Each word is actually a symbol, a sound to which we have attached some particular meaning.By means of language, we pass ideas, knowledge, and even attitudes on to the next generation. This allows others to build on experiences in which they may never directly participate. As a result, humans are able to modify their behavior in light of what earlier generations have learned.
To learn a culture is to learn people’s values, their ideas of what is desirable in life. When we uncover people’s values, we learn a great deal about them, for values are the standards by which people define what is good and bad, beautiful and ugly. Values underlie our preferences, guide our choices, and indicate what we hold worthwhile in life.
Norms that are not strictly enforced are called folkways. We expect people to comply with folkways.Other norms, however, are taken much more seriously. We think of them as essential to our core values, and we insist on conformity. These are called mores.
taboo refers to a norm so strongly ingrained that even the thought of its violation is greeted with revulsion. Eating human flesh and parents having sex with their children are examples of such behaviors.  
   

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