Is Culture Expectations?

Wed, 26 Jan 1994 15:08:03 CST

What's all this about culture as consisting of expectations? Sounds
like the blind alley down which the sociologists got led by Talcott
Parsonsa few decades ago. You know, the sociologists devote a chapter
to "culture," which they define mentalistically as norms, expectations,
etc., in their intro text, then think they are done with it. I hope we
know better! Are our machines, our monogamous marriages, and (some of
our) monotheistic beliefs not culture? Of course they are. If we adopt
dumb defintiions of culture, then the journalists will be the only ones
the public understands, because journalists know that "culture,"to
almost everyone outside academia, means a society's socially acquired
way of life--not just expectations. This is more or less what Edward B.
Tylor meant by it too. What is the point in defining "culture" in
narrowly mentalistic terms? Secondly, what's all this about the list
being lousy? I admit we're in a bit of a lull now; but maybe its just a
"breathing spell." Those bored by the recent matter can bring up their
topics or just wait awhile until things get better. New members should
bear in mind that it takes awhile to get a representative sampling of
the content. --Bob Graber