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Culture & Identity

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Introduction

Culture & Identity "Every human society has its own shape, its own purposes, its own meanings". (Williams, 1958) To arrive at a definition of culture many aspects of social life are observed. In this way culture can be seen as an umbrella term. Culture is the whole way of life of a people. Identity can be seen as the ideas that a person has of themselves as they come to develop through life in society. This can include nationality, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs etc. Both culture and identity are closely associated. It is the participation in culture and sub-cultures that a person forms their identity within. Functionalism adopts an organic view of society. Various parts of society are integrated to form a functioning system through the existence of a value consensus. As the functionalist perspective is seen as a whole functioning system in order for it to work there needs to be cooperation between each part. This is made possible through the idea of a value consensus. This is an understanding between each functioning part of the major values within a society. For example the value of religion is accepted in society despite the diverse choice of religion available. Functionalists take an interest into how society remains unwavering but also in how it changes. Functionalists argue that the value consensus is subject to adaptation and changes. ...read more.

Middle

The theory of the alienation of people leads to the theory of the ruling class ideology. "The ideas of the ruling class are , in every age , the ruling ideas: i.e. the class which is the dominant material force in society is at the same time its dominant intellectual force.[...] The dominant ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas. "(Marx & Engels ,1946) An idea of Marx of culture in society is that we appear to be given all the facts , when this is simply an illusion to make us believe we do within the concept of the ruling class ideology. This is created by the ruling class to give us a feeling of freedom that we create our own ideas and our own identities. This is the idea of relative autonomy. There is a close relationship between identity and social class within the Marxist perspective. This identity is shaped by an individual's relationship to the means of production. Stuart Hall (1992) argues that an individual's position in society determines their identity. They were not perceived as distinctive individuals but part of the grand scheme of things. As a result of this a person's identity was predetermined and not as a result from personal attributes. If an individual was born into those who owned the means of production then that individual became part of the ruling class and became involved in the control of society. ...read more.

Conclusion

However hyper commodification disagrees with this idea. Crook et al regard the development of taste as an important aspect of modern culture. The idea that we have been given the opportunity of what we consume by choice becoming available to all classes is important. Another post modernist idea of modern culture is that of rationalisation. Crook et al argue that culture is moulded by rationalisation. This is the use of technology to spread the communication of culture. There is a greater number of choice of media and communication within modern society and this allows an individual to choose their own lifestyles. The post modernity ideas of culture argue that there is now a mixture of high and popular culture. There is a large choice of cultural forms available. We constantly consume culture in this way everyday. The access to news through mediums such as the internet , newspapers and television is constantly available to us whenever we choose to access it , and our information is now given to us in real time too. This influences and effects the choices we make daily to which culture we belong. From the ideas of post modernity we can conclude that our culture and identity is no longer predetermined. The functionalist and Marxist theories are deterministic in that the social classes , our occupations our roles within society determine our shared cultures and identity with individuals of similar circumstances. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ryan Robertson Sociology C Open Book Assessment ...read more.

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