What are the benefits US society received from immigrants? What are the social problems created by immigration? Does the USA
Write 3 paragraphs answering the following question:
- What are the benefits US society received from immigrants?
- What are the social problems created by immigration?
- Does the USA need more immigrants?
Be sure that in your answers you demonstrate that you have read some of the following articles:
- Student can gain up to 5 points per paragraph written, and 5 points for the bibliography (list of sources consulted).
- Each paragraph must answer one of the questions.
- Each paragraph must demonstrate that the student completed the required readings and videos. Each paragraph must contain a direct reference or quotation to some of the required readings.
- Each paragraph must be original, using student’s own work or ideas.
- A complete list of used-sources must be included after the 3 paragraphs. Sources must be listed using APA, ASA or MLA format.
What is Culture?
Culture is the complex system of meaning and behavior that defines the way of life for a given group or society. Non-material culture is intangible. Material culture refers to the material goods of the culture. Both influence social behavior.
Characteristics of Culture
- Culture is shared. Its expression often includes great diversity.
- Culture is learned. The process of learning a culture is called socialization. A person learns or becomes a member of a culture by absorbing the formal and informal values, attitudes and beliefs of those around him/her. Until the culture is learned, the person is an outsider; whether an infant or an immigrant.
- Culture is taken for granted. It is what members of the culture consider “normal.” The everyday way of doing things such as brushing ones teeth or eating is not questioned. Lack of communication across cultures about these taken-for-granted features can have negative consequences.
- Culture is symbolic. Symbols are things or behaviors to which people give meaning. The meaning of symbols depends on the cultural context in which they appear. Symbolic attachments guide human behavior. Symbolic communication is both verbal and non-verbal; in fact most of one’s communication is nonverbal.
- Culture varies across time and place. Cultural relativism is defined as the process of non judgment and the recognition that every culture has its on way of doing things and they can only be understood in the contents of the culture. Taking a perspective of cultural relativism does not imply that every cultural practice is morally acceptable; however morality can only be judged in the context of the culture itself. Remember sociologists must remain value-free.
Elements of Culture
Culture includes language, values, norms, symbols and technology. Watch the following video. It tries to answer the question “What exactly is culture?” and explains the difference between material and non-material culture. It looks at things that make up culture, including symbols, values and beliefs, and norms. It also explores the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and how language influences culture. Finally, it examines the three types of norms – folkways, mores, and taboos – which govern our daily life.
Cultural Diversity and Stratification
- Dominant Culture – The culture of the most powerful group in a given society and they set the cultural expectations that constitute the culture’s or society’s major belief system. These expectations are supported by major institutions. The dominant culture often sets the standards by which other cultures in a society are judged.
- Subcultures –Groups within the larger culture whose values and norms of behavior differ from those of the dominant culture yet they share many elements of the dominant culture and co-exist with it. Some subcultures retreat from the dominant culture. Subcultures often develop when new groups of immigrants enter a society.
- Countercultures – Subcultures created as a reaction against the values of the dominant culture. Some countercultures, like the contemporary militia movement, directly challenge the dominant political system.
Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativism
- Ethnocentrism is the habit of seeing things only from the point of view of one’s own group, in contrast to cultural relativism. Ethnocentrism has a dual nature: it can build group solidarity and it can create prejudice and discrimination.
- Cultural relativism is the idea that something can be understood and judged only in relation to the cultural context in which it appears.
The Globalization of Culture
- The diffusion of a single culture throughout the world is referred to as global culture.
- Sociologists differ in opinion as to whether the feeling of belonging to a community vanishes as global cultural diffusion occurs.
- Benjamin Barber (Links to an external site.) sees many international conflicts as struggles between the values of a consumer-based, capitalist Western culture, and the traditional values of local communities.
Immigration is one of the main sources of cultural diversity in the USA and most modern nations. However, most Americans held many misconceptions about this important social process.
Sociologist Tomas Jimenez from Stanford University discusses the perceived differences between the last wave of American immigration and the current one.
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