An they enter the workforce and become official

An in-depth exploration of culture,
theories of culture and culture within social classes

In
this essay, I will be exploring culture and the different ways in which it has
emerged within today’s society. I will focus on key sociologists and their
definitions of culture and how they think a person’s culture and upbringing
affects their lives in the future. The essay I have written will include a
report on my own findings of what kind of cultures exist and which culture is
looked up by as being the norm of society. I will link culture with the
different types pf social class and explore how different classes  try to adopt a ‘high-culture’ and those who
aren’t able to achieve this ‘high-culture’ will result to achieving it through
illegitimate means.

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Culture
has emerged in today’s society as an everyday and common practice.  It has become a social activity that is instilled
in everyone’s lives. It is a shared system of our beliefs, values, traditions,
norms and values. Talcott Parsons explains culture as existing between the
individual personality and the social world. He exclaims that it exists as a
negotiation space between us and culture. (Sociologyguide.com,
2018). Culture plays a
functional role in today’s
existing society and keeps potentially conflicting realms of human existence working alongside one
another. Society today teaches people early on to be tolerant and accepting of
different people. Social solidarity is taught by institutions such as schools
to children so once they enter the workforce and become official members of
society, it keeps things running smoothly and there are no mishaps between
people. According to sociologist Durkheim (1903), institutions operate to
promote social solidarity and without this, members of today’s society will
fall apart. By transmuting society’s shared culture people are given the right
norms and values. This will then allow a sustainable and peaceful society in
which people are affectionate and accepting of one another (History Learning Site, 2018).

There
is a submergence of a ‘high culture’ in todays society. The term takes quite a self-explanatory
approach. It relates to the culture adopted by those of the higher classes, the
set of cultural products such as arts for example going to operas, museums, theatre
and so on. Meanwhile low culture refers to works
of art that are more associated with those labelled as ‘non-elites’. This may
be more widely known as popular culture, one that is adopted by most people.
 (Cultural Diversity IR defense-2 2012, 2018). There has however been a recognition
of ethnocentrism in today’s society, Judging ones culture by the standards of
another. Many people attempt to adopt a high culture. This may be because it
brings a sense of superiority and intelligence. People
who approve and take on the high culture life style may feel like it has an
identity to be proud of. 

Marxism is a conflict theory that sees
society as being based upon class division and exploitation. Capitalist society
owns the means of production in which profit is made by exploiting labour of
the working-class proletariat. The mass culture is controlled by capitalist
society and it serves to maintain and legitimate an inherently unequal economic
base and serves to reinforce and justify the acts of capitalist authority for
example for working class or middle class it is normal to work for employer and
not reach for higher jobs or challenge bosses for their positions.  Religion explains not being able to have
all the luxuries in life. Religion makes them believe that they will be
rewarded double in the after life and therefore people remain content and do
not attempt to threaten the stability pf capitalism.  

 

Louis
Althusser emphasises that capitalists take two approaches to help keep them in
power. A repressive state apparatus is the physical force used to repress proletariat
citizens for example the police, courts etc meanwhile the ideological state
apparatus is the control over people’s ideas values and beliefs. The culture we
associate ourselves with transmit certain norms and values to us from an early
age. The family at home or the schools usually do this. They make people
believe that they won’t be able to rise from their status and their positions
in society are inevitable and just, Thus making people accept and not challenge
authority.

I chose to observe certain locations and see who is most likely to
be in these certain areas and whom they tend to be with. The first place I
decided to observe was a museum. I visited the Manchester Museum on Saturday
the 16th December 2017. When I went in to do my observation at
around 2pm, I walked around and observed my surroundings. I wanted to see whom
I would see in such an environment. Amongst the people I seen majority were
older people. However, my main target population who were teenagers were only
seen at the museum with their families. There were almost no teenagers there to
spending their weekends looking at the interesting stuff around them. Instead
evident amongst us were families, traditionally the nuclear family. This
consisted of the husband, wife and their children. This drew up my conclusion
that those teenagers and families who spend their Saturday afternoon at the museum
tend to be from a high culture. Parents seem to assume that by partaking in
such useful activities, children will be provided with skills and knowledge
allowing them to be at an advantage in school. They have extra knowledge
available to them that allows them to be one-step ahead. This adequate socialisation
of attending cultural trips provides children with a sense of self-confidence. The
Marxist sociologist Pierre
Bourdieu discusses the concept of cultural
capital and applied it to education. He argued that every existing social class
has its own cultural framework. They all have their own particular set of
norms, values and ideas, which he calls the habitus. This
habitus contains a set of assumptions about what counts as good and bad taste,
which influences the kind of leisure activities different classes engage in.
This ranges from the kind of activities they take part in, what they do in
their spare time. Where they visit, what books they read and so on. Thus, those
who spend their times with their families and make children attend museums adopt
a high culture Habitus, which intellectually stimulates children making them
one step ahead. (Thompson, 2018)

This culture is the one adopted by schools in today’s society. It
is the dominant culture looked up by everyone. Therefore, it is easier for
those from Middle class and high-class backgrounds to fit in schools. Basil
Bernstein exclaimed that the school system uses elaborated speech codes. This
way of speaking being more analytical with a use of complex sentences and wide
vocabulary making it hard for people from lower classes to fit in because
firstly parents who are uneducated themselves are unable to understand the
enrolment process and children are unable to understand exam papers and
questions. Middle class children thus ‘just fit in’ with middle class schools,
they are at home in a middle class environment, they don’t need to do anything
else other than be themselves in order to belong and thrive at school.
 (Newlearningonline.com, 2018).

I then observed the following weekend at my local shopping centre
The Trafford Centre that almost every teenager I came across was in either
groups or pairs of other teenagers. There were almost no teenagers shopping or
going around with their parents. They are instead spending their Saturday
enjoying their time off after a hectic week and going around shopping and
having fun. This may be because working class children want to spend leisure
time at the cinemas, shopping; bowling etc., they do not want to be left out so
they partake in leisure activities that they think will help them fit in to
society. They want the luxuries that middle class people can afford and the
stuff that is advertised to them on the television but when they are not able
to afford this stuff, they result to illegitimate non-utilitarian crimes such
as pick pocketing and theft. They form their own deviant subculture. Merton
explained that working class felt that they were not able to achieve the
‘American dream’ of success. They were not able to enjoy the leisure’s of
working class, which led to them to feel stressed and frustrated with their
position in society. He named his idea the ‘strain theory’ and working class
citizens including teenagers believe that the only way to reduce their
frustration was to resort to deviance.
(Open.lib.umn.edu, 2018)

Overall, culture plays a vital role in social
class; a person’s culture is a shared system of their beliefs, values,
traditions, norms and values. However, social class plays a trivial role in
what kinds of norms and values are transmitted to children from an early age.
Middle class parents tend to spend time with children visiting museums; they
provide children with extra tuition, with books and extra homework. All this
helps in the end. They help stimulate children’s education early on allowing
them to be a step ahead in school.  Whereas
working class want, what is advertised to them and what middle class children
have and to obtain this they result in illegitimate means. Functionalists
believe that norms and values transmitted from an early age help to make a
peaceful society meanwhile Marxists believe that the family and schools transmit
the norms and values and so they make people believe that they will not be able
to rise from their status and their positions in society are inevitable and
just. 

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