Sociology - Culture and Social Structure

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Culture and Social StructureTrish Wilkinson

An important factor that defines who we are is the culture in which we are raised. From the type of music we listen to and the types of foods that we eat, to the types of cars we drive and the way that we decorate our homes. Material cultures are focused on such tangible things, whereas non-material cultures focus less on the material and more on the cerebral and spiritual development of knowledge, religion and language.

Regardless of whether one enjoys a more material culture or a non-material culture, a common language is essential in allowing us to communicate our individual perceptions of reality, either verbally or non-verbally. Self-expression is as personal and as varied as the individuals themselves and individual reaction to societal interactions are symbolic of their significance. However, not all forms of self-expression are without consequence. The norms of a culture dictate what is and is not acceptable behavior and when rules are broken, offenders are often punished. The severity of the punishment depends on the severity of the crime, ranging from looks of disapproval to actual prison terms. The aim of most western cultures, and in particular Canada, is to maintain a peaceful and compassionate society. We are a polite culture, steeped in tradition of folkways and mores; respected values which help facilitate social order and change. Along with, oft times “questionable’ efficiency, hierarchy and clear rules in our bureaucracy, we strive to balance the advantages and disadvantages to both the merchants and consumers. Of course, that all depends on who you ask. The average layman will tell you the “red tape” is confusing, frustrating and a waste of precious time involving seemingly unnecessary steps and loads of paperwork. In a perfect utopian society, we would succeed at balancing the scales of power and justice. As it stands now, we often fall short of that goal. With such diversity in...
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