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Chapter 3: SOCIETY AND CULTURE: Hardware and Software of Our Social World: Journal Articles and Discussion Questions

Dedicated Followers of Fashion? The Influence of Popular Culture on Children's Social Identities
Sharon Boden
Media, Culture, and Society

  1. What are "tweens" and why are they different than children and teenagers, according to the authors? Do you believe that "tweens" exist as a separate social category?
  2. The article discusses how popular culture affects tweens in the UK. Is popular culture more or less salient on the identities and purchases of tweens in the US? Why?
  3. Can you think of examples of cultural norms being affected by popular culture?
  4. How do social status markers, like clothing style or brand, influence peer relations? Is there a difference in the status markers that influence peer relations as we age? What markers are important as children? As tweens? As young adults? As adults?
  5. Is the idolization of cultural icons a good or a bad thing? When should we encourage this behavior? When should we discourage it? What social problems could it potentially create?

Studying Extreme Sports: Beyond the Core Participants
Michele Donnelly
Journal of Sport and Social Issues

  1. As the article states, subculture research has typically consisted of individuals who are active participants in the subculture. However, what different information can we gain by studying not only the active participants in the subcultures, but periphery participants and non-participants?
  2. The authors state that "posers" are an important element of all subculture. How are "posers" created? Are they a necessary part of a subculture? Why are they labeled as outsiders or ostracized from the core group? Are there subcultures without posers? What distinguishes subcultures with posers from subcultures without posers?
  3. What is authenticity? Why is it so important to subcultures?
  4. How does the us (members) versus them (posers) mentality arise in a subcultural context? Does ownership of a culture exist? If so, how should we define culture ownership? If not, why do people make claims to culture ownership that are sometime effective?
  5. Do successful subcultures always become integrated into the mainstream? How do we know when a subculture has been integrated into the mainstream? How does mainstreaming affect membership? Norms? Values? Claims of authenticity?
  6. The authors highlight many contradictory values within the snowboarding subculture. What are some of these contradictory values? Are contradictory values a common trait of a subculture? How specifically do snowboarders emphasize inclusiveness and a refuge for cultural outsiders while also practicing elitism?

Cultural Trauma: The Other Face of Social Change
Piotr Sztompka
European Journal of Social Theory

  1. How does the author define his concept of social trauma? How is this concept defined differently than cultural disorientation? How is it different from culture shock?
  2. Why is culture so vulnerable to social change? What are some examples of cultures that have experienced social trauma due to social change?
  3. Which of the following events do you think caused a social trauma? How has the culture of the societies changed after experiencing the event? How were norms, values, and beliefs reformed in an effort to heal the culture after existing the trauma?
    1. September 11, 2001 in the US
    2. Hutu and Tutsi genocide in Rwanda (or similar genocides in the Balkans and Darfur)
    3. The collapse of a communist economy in Russia, Poland, Czech, or China
    4. Hurricane Katrina in the US
    5. Ethnic conflict in Israel and Palestine
    6. The death of Pope John Paul II
    7. The 2004 tsunami that struck Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia
    8. The death of Diana Princess of Wales
    9. The Columbine school shootings in the US
    10. The Los Angeles riots in the US
  4. How can society stay in tact after a serious event occurs? Can a society maintain their culture after experiencing a cultural trauma, or do they have to change their culture?
  5. Can the aftermath of a cultural trauma be positive? Can you think of a cultural trauma that strengthened society or advanced technology or beliefs in a way that benefited the society?
  6. The author states that education and capital can help individuals adapt and persist after experiencing a cultural trauma. Do you believe this is always true? What about in the instance of a natural disaster? Or when the change results from the activity of another culture or society?

Domestic Dinner: Representations and Practices of a Proper Meal among Young Suburban Mothers
Annechen Bahr Bugge and Reidar Almås
Journal of Consumer Culture

  1. What are some of the food norms in Norway the authors discuss? How are these norms similar and how are they different from norms in the US? What are cultural values these norms reflect? How do the cultural values performed through food vary between the US and Norway?
  2. The article discusses how food is one cultural product that reflects the shift in almost every culture toward multiculturalism. Are there other cultural products you can think of that embrace multiculturalism? Why might some cultural products be more likely to reflect multiculturalism than others?
  3. The article (and your textbook) highlights how a biological drive, eating to survive, becomes a means of cultural expression. Why do you feel we integrate cultural values and norms into the most basic activities? Why do we make rituals of activities that could be routine?
  4. In the article, the author highlights how gender and social class dictate food preparation, food use, and food service norms, despite the strong policies in Norway that promote gender and social class equality. Is this a breach between real and ideal culture, in your opinion? Why or why not? How can these contradictions between expectations and practice affect Norwegian society?

Looking for some more interesting research to review? You'll find it in SAGE Journals! Search for more journals and related articles at the Sage Journals Online site,