Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Socio Cultural Class (Notes of 2014 and 2015)

Socio-Cultural Class (Notes of 2015 and 2014)

Notes of 2014

CULTURE, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNITY
PART ONE: A General Picture of Culture

What is Culture?

Defining
Admittedly, the word “culture” is not easy to define exactly. Very often we see it as related to the arts—like dance, song, food preparation, etiquettes and costumes. So when someone says, “In my culture…” very often that person will start talking about how food is prepared or how people greet each other, what words they say…or something close to these. We need to go further. Culture is more than these. Let us try a starting point. 
Culture, according to a sociologist (Guy Rocher), is an assembly of what a group of people say, feel and do. The way culture is described here is not, of course, complete, but it is a good starting point. So among a social group there are common ways of doing things, common ways of understanding and behaving.
The word “culture” is from the old Latin colere to mean “to inhabit” or “to cultivate”. From the point of view of vocabulary, “culture” suggests human activity. Note for example the sense of “to cultivate”. People cultivate the earth for their well-being. People also cultivate ideas and meanings for the growth of their minds. Notice that the word “culture” can mean the action of people to take care of themselves. In this action of caring people honour what they have—their ideas and their production. (This explains why in the word “culture” we also see the word “cult”—to honour.)
Another social scientist named Marvin Harris would give a very helpful definition of “culture”. For him “culture” is not just what people think. It is not just the attitudes of people. “Culture” is also repetitive patterns of people’s actions. Note that there are things that people do repetitively. The repetition happens over time—and over a long period of time. So it is not just about people today, it is also about people in the past and possibly people in the future. “Culture” therefore is repetitive human activity that is transmitted over time. From generation to generation certain ways of thinking and ways of doing things are handed.

Enculturation and diffusion
Social scientists have a word for this transmission: “enculturation”. (Be careful, it is not "inculturation". Inculturation is a theological concept, not a social-scientific concept.) Enculturation is a transmission from generation to generation. Elders pass on to younger ones within the social group. This is why we tend to see that within that social group there are patterns that repeat over and over again over generations. Past generations have been transmitting their life ways to future generations.
In a social group there is a kind of “over-all” culture. But if we look closely, within each social group there are groups of people who do certain things quite differently from others. Although they share the “over-all” culture, they have their own ways too. They do things that are not necessarily shared by the rest of the social group. These groups are called “sub-cultures”. They have features not shared with the rest of the social group. They have cultural ways unique within each of them.
In fact we might want to go down to the smaller micro levels. If there are sub-cultures, there are also smaller sub-cultures: think of men who have their own ways, or women who have their own ways…think of the micro cultures of a specific family, the micro-culture of children or of the neighbourhood sports club, etc. In fact, each individual person may have his or her own unique ways of thinking and acting…so there is also a “personal culture”.
We cannot go into all the micro levels. A smaller micro level may have its unique features but it is also situated within the bigger social levels. Somehow a micro-level participates in the over-all culture of the whole social group. For practical reasons we will try our best to focus more on the general levels—like the over-all ways of our countries or regions in our countries. In this room, for example, each of us comes from a specific society. We can think of the countries from which we come. We can try thinking of regions within each country. Although some come from a same country they still come from different regions of the same country. We can say that we will be interested in the over-all culture of our countries and regions.
Each country, each region has its sedimentation of en-cultured elements. Over time practices have been transmitted...often people do not anymore know how those practices really started. People keep on habitually repeating the en-cultured patterns. 
Today we do not just see enculturaltion we also see diffusion. Yes, we are more and more exposed to other cultures. In enculturaltion there is a passing on of tradition within the same culture. In diffusion there is a transmission in a “between-culture” way. One culture gets into contact with another and there is a blending of both. This can happen between cultures that are so similar to each other—like two neighbouring regions in a country. Of course it is not automatic that diffusion occurs. There can be resistance too. We see this especially in diffusion of elements of religions. Today with globalisation, just imagine the diffusion going on. Many are worried that there is a tendency to make a "uniform" culture marked in particular by the consumeristic patterns of the West.

Universal patterns
Although we are so different from each other culturally, we are still the same in certain aspects. Each culture always has these three. There are different forms of living culturally—and we see the uniqueness of each culture. But all of them also follow certain basic patterns that are proper to all humans. They are “universal patterns”…that is, patterns proper to all human societies (Marvin Harris).
Think of one pattern that all of us share. This is the survival pattern. All humans need to eat and drink, all humans need to sleep, and all humans need to “eliminate” the food and drink taken in. Go to any place in this world, we will find these present. We might as well add that people do sex—societies reproduce (or control reproduction). Babies are born. So any given society has its strategies to address these. Imagine a social group where nobody eats and no babies are anymore born! It will be the end of that social group. People need to produce and consume those things that make them survive and live.
Consider a consequence of this. If people will have to live, they also need to get organized. Organization among social members is also a universal pattern. Go to any place and we see people organized in certain ways. Production is organized according to who works and who is in-charge. In a farm there are those who take care of the planting and harvesting, the irrigating and the milling. In an industrial setting there are people like “factory workers”, “supervisors”, “CEO’s”, etc. Go to any place and we see families organized in specific ways—who is the head of the family, what are the roles of children, men, women, etc. Go to any place there is political organization. Maybe there is the “chief” or the “governor”…the President of the Prime Minister. Notice that in any society there is an organized regulation of work, exchange of goods, roles, managing of information, etc. Imagine a social group with zero organization—each one does anything at anytime and anywhere. That will be chaotic.
If people find ways to live and survive and organize themselves, they also need to fix these in some idea-form. People express their lives and relationships in terms of music, playing, decorations, literature, some form of religiosity, etc. There are symbolic ways of expressing—even playful or religious. Go to any place, we see these.
Take away one of these, the society will not exist. Stop production…we kill the social group. Stop organization…we put disorder. Stop music…well…just imagine how bleak that society will be. Note that wherever we go—and some of us have been to many places—we will note that the three are always present. People go to work (and bear children), people obey some form of authority, people play and worship.
Look at the patterns in your country. How do people feed themselves? How do people relate with each other? How do people celebrate?

Ethnocentric, xenocentric and a way to look at culture
It is expected that each of us has some kind of “ethnocentric” tendencies. What is this? Well, we rely a lot on the culture from which we come. So we tend to evaluate other cultures basing on our own cultures. This is very common. Just think of what one person will say when he/she eats the food of another country. The person might say “this is spicy” or “this is salty”… “it is unlike my food at home”. The person might say, “In my country we eat this type of food….but in your country….”. Etc. We tend to compare as we get exposed to different cultures. In the comparison we use our country-culture as base. This is expected and this is what is being “ethnocentric”.
Being ethnocentric can go an extreme, however. It can become “ethnocentrism”. (Note the suffix “ism”.) In ethnocentrism a person will say, “My culture is the best” or “it is better that this culture”. There is a lack of tolerance and appreciation for another culture. It does not open the doors to understanding and appreciating other cultures.
Now, there is also what is called as “xenocentric”. It is natural for us to rely on our country-cultures. But it is possible that we appreciate other cultures quite a lot too. We might like their music, their technologies, etc. This can lead to another extreme form—the opposite of ethnocentrism. This is “xenocentrism”.
In xenocentrism (again note the suffix “ism”) there is more preference for someone else's culture rather than of one's own. In a way an extreme xenocentric person would say, “Yours is so much better…unlike mine” or “the culture of that country is so much better than my culture”. A xenocentric person likes so much foreign things, “imported from…” but at a fault. In xenocentrism one goes to the extent of looking down on what is local. This is a reverse intolerance…this time intolerance towards one’s own.  
How then do we approach cultures? Social scientists give importance to what they call as “cultural relativism”. Here we try our best to avoid passing judgement on other cultures. We more or less, to the best of our abilities, to suspend judgement—neither saying “mine is the best” or “your’s is the best”. Culture, we say, is “relative to” the people living in it. We might learn that in the culture of Mr. A, young adolescent girls are allowed to “do this and that”. We might feel scandalized—shocked. But, in cultural relativism, we try to understand how and why in the culture of Mr. A that happens. What is the culture “relative to” the people in the country of Mr. A? We try our best to avoid judging one culture with the views of another culture. We try to avoid ethnocentrism and xenocentrism. This is not very easy especially when we hold dear to certain moral values. For the sake of understanding another culture, we might want to minimize judgements. Maybe many years ago it was very difficult to apply cultural relativism. But with the way we get exposed to many cultures, maybe we can be more flexible. In class you are a very mixed group. Surely you are vigilant about respecting each other’s culture.

In your communities
It is helpful that we have an idea of what happens when people of different cultures interact. In your communities there is a mixture of cultures. Sometimes the ethnocentric or xenocentric attitudes are triggered. Be vigilant.
Do not forget that each one has a cultural background—and that person is coming from that background. So the ways of talking, acting, making jokes, cooking, etc. are so influenced by the cultural background. A big bulk of what the person is doing is quite automatic and un-reflected. We may try working on the levels that the person is more or less aware of…but keep in mind the deeper automatic levels. To be vigilant about this is itself helpful in keeping harmony and understanding within a community.
There is a difference between how we look at what someone is doing and how that person sees his or her own action. We observe—so our point of view is that of an observer. The person acting has his or her own views of the action. We may not see everything going on in that person because we are “from the outside”, observing. But the observer can also see things that the person does not see. This is crucial. The relationship between “observer” and “person acting/behaving” has many nuances.
Just think of the “formator” as an “observer” dealing with the “formand” who is behaving in the formation community. The formand experiences things that the formator does not see. But also the formator sees things that are not evident to the formand. Imagine how complex things get when eachof them comes from a different culture. Then consider also the inverse—this time it is the formand who  observes the formator.
Consider also a community of so many mixed cultures. Each is observer and person behaving. Everyone observes and acts. Ethnocentrism, xenocentrism, cultural relativity, diffusion of elements…they are all there in each member of the community. It is quite an adventure! Now, of course a religious community is not just assembled by culture. There is also the gospel and vocation. So we see cultural living in front the Gospel. This is a topic in Theology—and it is known as “inculturation”. Well, it is not part of this course. But be aware of it, at least. Right now, just keep in mind how complex—and complicated things can get.

Conclusion
Culture is more than just what we think it is. It is not just about food, dance and song. It is what the three universal principles present. In the core of the three principles what we notice is that culture is the way by which people adapt to their world. It is a world of nature, society, technology, history…it is a very expansive world. People need to place themselves in it—and find their bearings in such a world. Over time, with transmissions and diffusions going on, people take the habit of dwelling in the world in their specific ways. Culture is a people’s way of harmonizing all the different aspects surrounding them. Somehow people are not in chaos and dis-order (Paul Diel). Somehow they have a place to belong to—where they are “at home”. People work, organize and worship—it is their form of harmonizing and adapting to their world.
When we face someone from another culture, we can recognize that the person is coming from a culture—from a context of some form of harmonizing and ordering life. That person has gotten into the “habit” of thinking and behaving that way. That person comes from his or her “home culture”. Somehow that person “honours” his or her original home culture. He or she relies a lot on what has been learned through transmission and diffusion.

On Food Production
We said earlier that all humans need to have ways to deal with eating and drinking, sleeping, eliminating and reproducing. In this section let us focus on food—the eating/drinking strategy of people.




Energy
For us to do anything, we need energy. Ok we now have electricity. That’s a form of energy. We use electricity to run our computers. In the kitchen when the staff cooks, they use gas. That’s energy source for their cooking. If we want to go somewhere, we might ride a car or a bus. Gasoline energy is what the vehicle uses to go somewhere. The engine uses lots of energy—and we sometimes hear mechanics say “horse power”. If there is a “black out”—an electric failure—we cannot use the computer. If there is no gas, the kitchen staff cannot cook. If there is no gasoline, the car will not move.
Whatever it is we do, we need enough energy. If we look around we use energy from many things—electricity, gas, machines, etc. Yet we must admit that there is a real basic source of energy that we are all in need of. This is food. Food is a basic source of energy. We need to eat. (Let us include here water and other drinks).
Somehow we need to “capture” energy. Just think of how electricity has been “captured”. Think of the long history that led to the discovery and use of electricity. Think of how gas was “captured”. Nowadays we hear people speak of “capturing” solar energy. Ok, fine. But again we go back to the basic—the most basic—source of energy and “capturing” that. We speak of food. Food is also “captured”. Some farm. Some hunt. Some fish. There are forms of “capturing” food. Maybe one way of “capturing” is by the use of simple tools…and perhaps with the help of animal energy, like the carabao. Others might be using sophisticated machines—like tractors—to “capture” food.

Food production
To “capture” food—and now we can use a more technical term: “production”—people need to find ways. People deal with the environment in different ways. People relate with the environment. So there is a kind of “relationship”: people and environment. The environment has resources to offer and people “capture” those resources. This is how we can understand food production.
It depends a lot on where you are. If you live in a desert, surely the environment has its resources to offer and people there must have ways to “capture” the resources. If you live in a sea shore or up the mountains, there are ways there too. This relationship with the environment is marked not only by what resources are offered—grains…animals…fish…fruits…etc.—but also by the seasons. Some live in places where it is almost dry all the time. Others live in places where there is the “wet” season and then the “dry” season. Other have four seasons. So people will have to adjust and adapt to what is surrounding them in order to get their food. So notice that people will really have to deal with the availability of food resources. People will adapt to what is available around…and they will need to rely on the seasons too.
Now one thing that we might need to look at is the degree of “technology” used in “capturing” food. The word “technology” here is not limited to what we are familiar with—machines and computers. No, be careful. We will have a special use for this word “technology”. It is how people “capture” the food using skills, instruments and other means. Some people use very basic instruments—without even animals. Other use sophisticated means—with machines and computers. So we can say that there are technologies that are quite simple and there are technologies that are complex.
The availability of food resources pair with the existing technology of people.  So we can have bow and arrow—which is our tools—and there are animals around. We might have the plough. We might have fishnets. So our technologies combine with the surrounding world and this becomes a kind of “partnership”. Yes, in a way, we are “partners” with the environment—with “nature”.      
In this “partnership” we make demands on the environment. We put to use our technologies and the environment gives us the resources. We cast our nets and we get the fish. We plough the soil and—later—we get our grains. We shoot our arrows and we get our meat. Now, we can exert a lot of demands on the environment. We can use our tools, instruments and, for the more modern people, machines.



Carrying capacity and diminishing returns
Here is a crucial question: At what point can we demand from the environment—and we get what we ask for—yet we do not deplete and destroy the environment? We might be casting our nets and there will always be fish. There is a point in which the environment might say, “No, you’re asking too much…I cannot anymore offer it”. This is the point when we deplete the environment and the environment cannot meet our demands. To put it technically, the resource base is already affected. Now, while this is not yet happening—again, we repeat, while this is not yet happening, while no depletion is happening—we are in a level of the “carrying capacity”. To put it simply, the environment can “carry” our demands. We are not too heavy for the environment. The environment is still capable of meeting our demands.
The carrying capacity can change. If climate changes, for example, and the resources become scarce, we see an effect on the capacity of the environment to meet our demands. If we deforest mountains, we affect the carrying capacity there. If we pollute the soils and the waters, carrying capacity is affected.
It is ideal—and many ancient societies have been doing this—not to disturb the carrying capacity. In other words, people need not make too heavy demands on the environment. In fact there is one experience people have when they make too much demands. This is known as “diminishing returns”.
We experience “diminishing returns” quite often. Play sports, for example. After some time we get tired. Stay up all night, and we reach a point of getting tired. In the beginning of the activities we show that we can so much…be active. But there is a “diminishing” point…we cannot be always productive. In a farm put one farmer…two farmers…three farmers… As we add farmers and workers we might increase production but there is a diminishing point.
This is an experience people of long ago have noticed. They noticed that at a certain point of production the amount of food produced would go down. It was not necessary to produce and produce. This point of diminishing returns showed that it was really useless to even challenge carrying capacity. Why demand so much from the environment—why work so much and take so much if the effort is not proportional to the production? Why work more for less results? This is what “diminishing returns” means: working more yet receiving less.
Slash and burn farmers, for example, noticed that as they kept on working on the same piece of land over and over again, a diminishing return would happen. The land cannot give so much after, say, six or seven years. So the farmer would have to leave the land to “rest”—to “fallow”. It would be senseless to force the land to give more…and destroy it in the long run.
That was when life was quite simple. Today we experience something different. Today we really put pressure on the environment and make the environment give more. It seems that we can do it—we can be “heavy” on the environment…demand more—and we get the results we want. We challenge the carrying capacity today. In other words we work more and more, we add pressure to the environment, and we actually produce more also. This is called intensification. In intensification we put pressure—like we add more labour and machines—and we produce more!
This is what our modernity is doing. We push things to such an extent that we even go beyond the carrying capacity and diminishing returns. How do we do it? We might be increasing the size of our fishnets. We might be putting so much chemical fertilizers in our soils. Just imagine how eggs are produced from chicken today! There is something artificial in intensification. The environment—“nature”—is complemented with chemicals and other industrial means. The technologies we have now in food production are so complex. The point is, we produce a lot more. Our “partnership” with nature has taken an artificial turn.
Is this ok or not ok? Well, maybe we can look at the so-called "green revolution". It is a highly intensified form of agricultural production but it works! It is said that thanks to the "green revolution" big populations have been saved from famine and starvation. It is really not just to immediately say negative things about intensification. But we do need to worry too. Environmentalists can be the first to raise the issue. Intensification, in some ways, affect the ecology and really, we must be vigilant against the degradation of our environment.



Simple to Complex
                Notice that there are societies that are still engaged with the earth, the soil, plants, the rivers, the seas. People there might be in agriculture or even in horticulture. Basic there is the sense of “carrying capacity”. Production is not so intensified.
                Some societies, however, have intensified food production. Because of intensification, those societies have lots of surplus food and so they can afford to spend more productive time for many other things outside food production. Such societies are complex. People there are more focused with many…many…other things.
                 Compare a small, quiet agricultural-horticultural village in your country with, say, Sidney or New York. What is the type of work and production that most people do in the small village...and what is the type of work and production that most people do in Sidney or New York?

Sustainability
We come to a crucial question given this tendency to intensify. Are we depleting the environment? Are we already damaging it? Are we harming nature? If the answer is yes, then we risk losing our sustainability. At one point in time, all this might fall apart and all food production collapses. Many environmentalists ask this question. How can we sustain feeding our population given our technologies and intensification without losing the environment altogether. Can we deforest as much as we want? Can we put chemicals in soils as much as we want? Can we occupy the water spaces as much as we want? How far can we go? How far can we sustain our survival and decent living? This is a question we face today. We might have to secure, for example, our “staple” food. It is the minimum that we can do. If we start really damaging our soils and we lose even our staple food production, imagine the crisis that can create. (Just think of what happens if rice eating people do not anymore find rice on their bowls or plates!)
Let us look at two important points:
One, we might have to reconsider the role of our technologies. Can our modern societies create technologies that will be sustainable (can feed us) yet respectful of the environment. Maybe you see new technologies emerging in your countries.
Second, some would like to talk about “population” problems. Is it true that we must reduce the number of people to also reduce the tendency to intensify and deplete the environment? Think about these two points. 

Consumption

Money or no money
When we consume we take from somewhere. So when we consume food we take from the restaurant or the grocery. When we consume a gadget, like a celphone, we take from the store. Note that as we “take from” we also need to “put out” something. Today we put out money. We go to a restaurant and take food, but we pay money. Consumption means two things therefore, one is taking-from and the other is putting out. Let’s put it in simple, very modern terms. We buy. Our modern consumption is a matter of buying. Buying is a very modern thing to do and it has not been the consumption practice of more ancient societies. But we have an idea of what consumption is when we use this word “buy”.
We consume food, clothing, gadgets, books…we consume electricity, water, gas, etc. So when we consume we need to have ways of obtaining them. Experience tells us that we need to trade the goods we consume with something. We are so familiar with cash—and it is our main trading element to get what we want today. But this has not always been the case. It is possible that consumption can involve also non-cash trading. We want something, say food, and to get it we might have to put out not cash but work. We want food and maybe we exchange it for something we have…you have rice and I have a t-shirt. Give me rice and I give you a t-shirt. Just think of the many ways we can do to have things…and we do not pay in cash.
In non-market societies people work on land or fish in the river and they consume directly what they get. No exchange happens. There is a direct link between producing food and consuming it. It can happen that there are places where people do not exchange too much to get their food. But as we move into more complex societies we experience the necessity for exchange. We get what we want in exchange for something…mainly money. So what is the type of society to you live in? Is it a society using mainly money to get what people want? Is it a society where there is a more direct link between producing food and consuming it without much exchange?

Modes of Consumption
Let’s face it. For most if not all of us, we live in societies that use money. Some of us live in societies where “money is everything”…while some of us live in societies where money “is not everything”. We have patterns of consumption in our societies. We can name two patterns: minimalism and consumerism.
“Minimalism” means that people have very simple needs so their consumption is quite simple. There are only a few and limited consumer demands. People do not need to have too much. To get the goods they want, the means are simple and sustainable. Maybe there is very little—or no—money involved. As we said above, the consumption is directly linked with the production. There is a straight and direct path from farm to mouth. The gap between production and consumption is small. In many cases the consumer is, at the same time, the producer. In a minimalist setting we know who made the things we consume. In case money is involved, it is not so complicated and costly. We may still be paying for something that was produced by someone we know. There is a clear face behind that product. So in a minimalist setting consumption is personalized. There are actual persons and faces who we know.
What is crucial here is the sustainability of consumption. Somehow in a minimalist society people do not just run out of things—like food—to sustain themselves. Consumption does not deplete the food resources.
Now, minimalism is an extreme case of simplicity. We might ask if there are still societies that are highly minimalist. But it is helpful to have an idea of this.
“Consumerism” is at the other end. In consumerism, people’s demands are complex and infinite. People want to consume so many things. Food, for example, is itself consumed in complex ways—like McDonald food, street food, canned food, restaurant food, etc. People have choices. Satisfying the demands is very complex and also infinite.
In a consumerist setting there is a wide gap between production and consumption. We do not know the sources of what we consume. Consumption is therefore depersonalized. Buy canned sardines. Who caught that fish? Who put the fish in the can? We do not know. All we might know is that there is a fishing company named “X”.  But really we do not see faces behind the product.
The demands, in a consumerist setting, put pressure on the environment and threaten sustainability. Because the demands of people are infinite on resources, the production is intensified. As we saw, intensification challenges carrying capacity. At some point production forces artificial production—like putting in too much chemical fertilizers. This is hardly sustainable in the long run.
Both minimalism and consumerism are extreme cases. Our experiences may be in between. So sometimes we buy from the market and we know the farmers.

Spending
Check out where exactly people put their “expenses” on. What is it that people would want to consume? Well, if the society is simple, people put in labour, time, skills to get what they need. To obtain their food they “spend” in using their own labour, time, skills. In modern complex societies, people have to put in money. So here people “spend” money to get their food.
On what do people spend? If the society is minimalist, on what do people spend on? If it is consumerist, on what do people spend on? Let us give a general overview…and you can make you own list too.
First, there is consumption of basic needs. Here we can think of food, of course. Let us add drinks, clothing, shelter. These are basic to our bodily—physical—sustenance and survival. These are our “survival needs”. Think: how would a minimalist society spend for basic needs and how would a consumerist society spend for basic needs?
Then there is recurrent needs. Here we can think of maintaining health, maintaining shelter, maintaining place to store food, etc. Would you like to add things like “education of the kids”?  We call these “recurrent” because they repeat themselves over and over again. We get sick once in a while. The house needs repair once in a while. Parents need to bring the children to school. Notice that these are not “basic” for body survival…but they are still our needs. Think: how would a minimalist society spend for basic needs and how would a consumerist society spend for recurrent needs?
Shall we add “entertainment needs”? People might like to spend for leisure too. People would like to play, sing, dance, have fun, decorate themselves and their homes, etc. Of course these are not survival needs but every society has these too. Think: how would a minimalist society spend for basic needs and how would a consumerist society spend for entertainment needs?
Now, in case it may interest you, there are other complex needs. One is “government service needs”. We may not notice this too much…but in almost all societies today people rely on some amount of government services. So there is the maintenance of peace and order, the maintenance of streets and drainage and street lights and traffic enforcement, etc. Here people spend “taxes”. Now, there are minimalist societies that are, however, already part of a more complex political system. A small remote village might still be one way or another linked with politics. Surely consumerist/complex societies need to link with the government. Taxes are part of people’s budget.

Budget Basket
Every single person needs to live decently. Let us use a word, “budget basket”. Each person must have a budget basket to live properly. The basket allows the person to consume—to obtain products addressing his/her needs. If you have land and money and a good job with high salary…well, you’re quite in a lucky position because those things in your basket (land, money a job) allow you to meet comfortably your needs. Not everyone has the same contents in their baskets.
Budget baskets can be secured or they can be precarious. Just think of land and a good job. These sound very secured. What about people who rely on what they receive as they beg in the streets? What about people who may have jobs but are low salaried jobs and lasting only for a few months? Notice who is more secured and who is more precarious.
In general we can think of two types of baskets. One is the “independent” and the other is the “dependent”. Independent means that what is in your basket are yours immediately and you do not depend on anything or anybody else. Owning land, for example, is direct ownership. It is “mine”. Because it is directly mine, I can work on it and produce my food. I do not depend on others for the production of my food.
Dependent means that you rely on what others will give to you. Receiving salary, for example, can be dependent. You work and you get paid for it. You depend on what your employer gives. Note that we we see dependency on what we receive from others.
Which is more secured, dependent or independent? Well, experience will tell us that the more dependent people are, the more vulnerable they get. To put it in another way, some people have more direct and independent access to resources like food. They may be more secured. Others have indirect access and they depend a lot on what they receive. They are in a more precarious situation.
In simpler societies, it seems, people have direct access to resources. They are quite independent in their obtaining products for their basic needs. Their communities have common ownership—every member of the social group is owner of the whole area. In market societies, people do not grow their own food and they do not have direct access to basic resources. To get food and water they have to pay.
Let us say that the closer we are to being “independent” the more secured we might be. The more “independent” our baskets are the more we sense security. Why, because we have better access to resources. Now the more dependent we are, the more precarious we get. Why? Well, we rely on what others give.
Just consider this. You have a high salary job. You own a house. You have investments in the stock market. You have savings in a bank. These sound very “independent”, more or less. Well, more than less…right? The ownership you have will allow you easier access to food…education…entertainment.
Now, let us say that you work in a contractual basis. In three months you will end your contract. Soon you will have no more salary. You do not own a house, you are renting a room. You have no savings, not even a small bank account. How is your access to food…education…entertainment?
This is crucial: your basket “entitles” you to get resources. If you have a precarious basket, your access is not going to be easy going. If your basket is solid…well…you know what can happen. Inequality in society depends a lot on the budget baskets people carry.
Why is it that many people go hungry? Well, look at their baskets. They have a more dependent budgeting. Their access to resources are highly dependent on what happens to them…on what others give. They have little or nothing to present for obtaining resources. Maybe they are most independent in their bodies that they give as labour. But beyond that they have nothing very solid. They are not entitled to sufficient supply of food. Why is it that some people are bloated with food and drinks? Look at their baskets. They own this or that. They have better access to resources. They have a more independent budgeting.
What about in simpler societies? There everyone may have equal access to food. They may not be having needs for gadgets and computers. But they have strong baskets—strong and independent baskets.
Toy around with this “basket” concept. See how it can help you evaluate the wealth and poverty of your country.

Exchange
Transfer between
This time let us talk about exchange. What is this word “exchange”? In exchange there is a transfer between persons (or groups). In our modern societies, money is exchanged for goods. Money—cash—is very important for exchange. If we want something we exchange it for money.
Some societies may be non-money societies, that is, they do not use money too much. Their exchange is different. This does not mean that all exchanges happening in our modern societies always involve money. Some exchanges can also be non-money exchanges…sometimes. We may exchange gifts, exchange services, even gestures. But let us look closely at what we exchange.

Material Things
Ok, most often we exchange material things…like food. When couples get married their families might exchange food to each other—like in a marriage feast. Neighbours might be giving food to each other. Today it is my mother who cooks a lot and gives to the neighbours. Next week neighbours might bring us some of their food.
Maybe we exchange gifts…or drinks…t-shirts, books, cards, etc. These are material exchanges. One gives a material object and receives, in return also a material object.

Labour
Labour is another form of exchange. I work for you and you work for me. I help you in your farm and you help me in my house repair. There is labour sharing.
We see this in farms especially during certain seasons when farmers need the help of many others. People come and give their hand. In return they might be given a nice meal or they might be invited for a  feast.

Money
Let’s face it. This is our most familiar object of exchange, especially in our countries. Money, today, is a key medium of exchange. But let us be careful. We might think of money in terms of coins and paper. In some places money can be shells, types of beans, types of stones or tusks of boars. But we are more familiar with the money that we have each day—the coins and the paper.
Money can be used in exchange for many things. It is multi-purpose. It can be used to buy things—objects, services, land, information, etc. Money can also be used to get…money too!
Money is very convenient. It can be carried in the pocket or in a wallet—it is portable.
We can have one piece of paper with a big value or we can have coins amounting to the same value. Money is divisible.
Now, if you money you can buy either this object or that object with the same value. If you have ten dollars and you want to buy ten dollars of toothpaste, well you can decide on buying instead ten dollars of beer. In other words, the ten dollars can apply to any object. Money therefore is generalized.
Now if you use money, you need not know who exactly made that coin or paper. Also, you do not have to be someone else to use that money. That money can be used by anyone and anywhere (in the country, of course). We cannot say that because the user is a child, the value changes. My ten dollars and the ten dollars of a child can buy the same object. Money then is anonymous.
There is one crucial point about money too. Clearly we cannot photo copy them and use the photocopies to buy what we want. Each piece of paper or coin holds a legal value. There is a government control in the use of money. Money is therefore legal.
Notice then how convenient money is. There is an evolution going on here. We may be familiar with coins and papers, but there are also such things now as “cards”…like credit cards. Then there is also “e-money”, like in the payment of “paypal”. Underneath the transactions are monetary values—like five dollars or fifty dollars—but the medium is electronic. In some societies people do not carry money anymore, they use cards or they “e-mail”.

Reciprocal and Redistributive exchanges
We may think of certain exchanges that are quite “balanced”. Let us say we give gifts to each other. A gift is something we give and we do not, in principle, expect anything in return. Maybe later on we receive gifts too. But there is no declared statement that we should be giving gifts in return. However, if we look closely, we do find some people with reciprocal “expectations”. In other words, some people also expect something in return…maybe not now, maybe later. Some relationships are built on expectations. I gave you a gift this Christmas…why have you forgotten to give me in return? I greeted you hello during your birthday, why are you not saying hello now? We have been sharing our extra food but until now you have not shared anything. Here there is no official written declaration of returning something, but the expectation is there. Some societies function a lot this way…people expect exchanges from each other.
Some societies work with “redistribution”. This may look very strange for modern people, but check it out. In redistribution one person collects—say food—from everyone else and then redistributes to everyone. The redistribution may be formal—like the central person will partition the food for all. It can also be done through feasts. The central person makes a big feast where everyone is invited and will then partake of the pooled food (food gathered).
If we find this unusual…well, it is not. Taxation is a form of redistribution. We give to a central “person”, like the administering government office for taxes, and the money is redistributed throughout the country where roads, bridges, schools, etc. are constructed. Note that there is redistribution.

Market Exchange
We are most interested in “market” exchange. Now the market is what we know—the market. It is a central place where goods are delivered and there are people selling. Buyers come and look for what they want—and they buy, they pay. In many markets we know there are farmers who unload their goods—vegetables from this farm, meat from that farm, fruits from another farm. Some people may be unloading leather or clothes or pots or ropes or bags or…etc. The goods are then sold in the market. Different sorts of people with different needs come to buy. Most exchanges are done with money.
Some markets come and go. Like there is a day in the week in which goods are unloaded in a central place and the buying and selling take place. These are known as “periodic markets”. But then there are “permanent markets” that are fixed and set up in a place and the buying and selling are done on a daily basis.  
Both the periodic and the permanent markets have a kind of “personalized” feature. We see the sellers and we might even see the farms. People meet, talk, negotiate prices, etc. We see faces. But then there are other markets that are highly impersonal. Think of malls. Yes, we may be in front of sales people but we do sense something less personal. The products sold do not have the “personal touch” anymore. Many are branded and factory made.
And then think of the highly depersonalized markets—like the stock exchange. There we really do not see faces anymore—except, of course the presence of brokers. But really we see figures on boards and we see buying and selling and we are not sure who is who behind all those numbers.

Profit
People make exchanges. Some exchanges are useful because we get the object or the service that we want in the exchange. We exchange money for something else concretely. It can be a toothpaste or the service of a doctor.
With money, however, what we experience is this: we can buy anything with money. Therefore, we might as well accumulate money—have more money because it entitles us to have access to many things. Consequently, people can work with the aim of making more money. Production now shifts from production for use to production to make more money. 
Let us say that you are a farmer and you produce rice. That rice is for use. People will buy from you…they will pay you and you give them rice. But then you notice that with the money they pay you can do a lot more things. One is you add value to your rice. You make profit from your rice. Now you start producing rice not just as a means of exchange for what other people need. You produce rice to make extra money for yourself. Then later on you realize that you can plant pineapple and tobacco. People will not eat pineapple all the time…not every meal is with a pineapple. People will not have tobacco for breakfast. Pineapple and tobacco are not in the list of basic needs of people. But you, as farmer, see them as opportunities to make money. So you cultivate these not to meet the basic needs of people but…to make more money. The products are for profit. So you start a whole business of pineapples and tobacco not for basic use but for profit. Why run after profit? Well, the point is, money can buy anything…so why not run after money—profit.



Price market exchange
So now we have a better view of “market”. Initially market may be the place of exchange of things we need—the basic stuff we need, like food and clothing. The exchange has become quite complex that profit has entered the picture. What we find today is the “price market exchange”. Money has to accumulate now. It has to grow. There has to be profit in the exchange.
Notice that in this type of exchange there is now a “competition” between buyers and sellers. Sellers want profit while buyers try to economize as much as possible.
Everything will have to have a price—a monetary value. This is crucial. Nothing escapes the evaluation of money. Exchange now will have to be evaluated according to monetary terms…and those involved in the exchange will try to reap as much gain as possible. The sellers would like to make more money from their sales while buyers would like to not to give up as much money as possible. At some point both sellers and buyers will “agree” on a price—a monetary value. With that price sellers will have made profit and buyers will have economized. Hopefully it is a win-win situation. But is it?

Ownership or control of “access to”

Review consumption and exchange
Notice that as we discussed consumption and exchange, something might be coming to the surface. Consumption implies, for example, that people have baskets that entitle them to obtain things basic to them. Some people have more stable and independent baskets than others. Some people own lands, businesses, bank accounts…and others do not.
We discussed exchange. In exchange we said that people trade goods and in the modern context the means of exchange is by the use of money. Well, some people have more money than others. Some people have more “voice” in determining advantages in the exchange.


Ownership
We come to a delicate topic—that of “ownership”. Some have better access to resources than others. This is how we would understand “ownership”. It is the capacity to have access to resources.
In some—quite simple societies—everyone seems to have equal ownership of land and tools, for example. In fact, they would see that the land does not really belong to them—it belongs to “nature”. People do not stake a permanent claim of ownership. So they move from place to place depending on what the environment offers.
It is different in societies where people stake claims of ownership. In farms that we know, there are “landowners”. They have a claim of ownership to land. They have titles to support that claim. In a modern context there are owners of business, for example. They are often called the “capitalists”.
Ownership is a strong element in societies. People need to have a strong hold on the production and consumption of goods. It is a matter also of security. The better one has a hold—an ownership—over access to resources, the more secured one is.
Part of the environment is not just nature but…other people too. Somehow society has to get organized and have a strategy to control hold over resources, especially food and other goods addressing basic needs.  So a big question is addressed: how do people protect and improve standard of living? How can people guarantee their continued access to resources? Here is where ownership arises. People need to stake a claim of ownership over resources and access to resources.
Problems of resource depletion, for example, can arise. Problems of resources falling into the hands of others and thereby my losing security over resources can arise.
Lots of strategies can be devised. People might have a more sharing style of relating with each other to avoid the monopoly of ownership. People might like to feast a lot to make sure that resources are distributed as widely as possible. In other instance, people might go to war.


Securing control
It all boils down to securing control over production, exchange and consumption. In our societies we see this happening. There are “owners” of production and means of exchange. They have better control of access. A whole set of relationship happens between those who have “more access” than those who do not. We have a whole set of social living where people try to be “secured” in access to resources. Some are “more secured” than others. Social scientists describe often societies in terms of “stratification”. Some are “on top” while others are “below”.
Check who owns production. When we say “ownership of production” we can look at those who own land and those who own business that hire and give salaries.
In your place—your home place—check how people are organized according to ownership. Check also who are dependent on the owners. So, if your home place is very agricultural, see the relationship between the landowners and the tillers (tenants) of the land. How are they related? Check the way rent is paid. Check the way the tenant depends of the landowner. Is there any conflict between landowners and tenants? How is the conflict managed? If you come from a more commercial or industrial place, check the owners of shops or factories. Who are employed there? How are they paid? Is there any conflict between employers and employees? How is the conflict managed?
Let us take inspiration from the thoughts of Max Weber.
Who has access to wealth? Wealth can mean many things that people own. People can own animals, machines, land, money, jewellery, houses, etc.   Check who has more wealth? (How do they send their children to school? How do they manage their health needs? How do they feed themselves? How do they spend leisure?) Who are the people marginalized in terms of wealth?
Who has access to prestige? Prestige is the way others give you respect and honour. Check out the people in your place. Who are the ones so highly respected? Why? What are their characteristics that makes them so highly respected? (Check the work they do, the income they have and the way they consume things—their consumer behaviour). What about those not so respected? Why are they not so respected? Who are the people marginalized in terms of respect?
Who has access to political power? This power is the type of power in which you get what you want even with the resistance of others. Check out who are the people in your place who make decisions for many others. Maybe their decisions affect the village or the town. Perhaps when decisions are made these people will be consulted for their approval. Who are those who can mobilize police or army or similar forms? Who are those who can have influence over courts and the judiciary? What about others? Who are the people with less power? Who are the powerless?

Ideology (Harris/Johnson model)
            In more complex and modern societies there are big gaps between those who are dominant and the sub-ordinate, between those who have better access to resources and those who have less access to.  Law and order may not be easy. So society will need police/army power to makes rue that all is ok….no big conflicts arising. In a way, the police/army force is a specialized sector of society. Members here are full time in police/army matters, they are trained with sophistication. They are trained to make sure that deviancy is controlled.
            But it is very expensive for a society to maintain its police/army. If at every moment of deviancy the police/army has to be there, it can be too heavy. Another way can be done—as supplement to police/army force. Society needs the service of a particular sector which will make sure that society runs smoothly without much deviancy. Specialists are employed for this service. Their job is to supplement the police/army power. Their job is more on directing people’s thoughts. This is less expensive than using police/army force. Specialists here make public monuments, they are in charge of big events of kings or presidents or P.M.s In other words, there are specialists whose job is make a public presentation of the objects representing the dominant classes. By doing this the status of the dominant classes are made legitimate in the thoughts of the people. A “belief system” is created so that people will see that the dominant classes are the accepted and approved classes. They have their dominance accepted.
           Let us use the word "ideology". Symbols representing the dominating groups are presented and people will see that the dominating class have the right to their status as dominants. When people see the symbols—often in TV or in print media—people see that the dominant classes are so well recognized. Monuments, tombs, full ceremonies, etc. These are examples. Sometimes ideologies are ideas—found in books and propaganda materials. Ideology directs people’s minds, thoughts and even feeling. It motivates people to accept the interests and status of the dominant classes. Motivation can go even as far as telling people to support the dominant classes. People are made to even identify with the ruling groups. By doping this people are led to turn away from their status as sub-ordinates.

Shall we try to conclude part one?
            What we try to establish is this. People need to survive within their worlds—the world of their ecological conditions and also of their historical inter-actions. People have to adapt. To adapt they produce (and control their reproduction). People work to make a living. Some work are very “simple” and directly linked with nature. Other forms of work are complex…quite distant from nature.
            As people try to survive they get organized. What is strong here is the security hold on the strategies to survive. So we see the different ways of holding “access to”. Organizations can be “simple” revolving around family and village life, or it can be “complex” revolving around economic-political structures with centralized governments. But somehow take note that people really sustain and maintain their “access to”.
            Finally, people also justify why they take hold of security. This is how we can understand the meaning of “ideology”. “Ideas” are carved to justify the existing relationships—the power and access to different resources and the “places” in which people are put. “Ideas” are carved to tell people what is the “appropriate way to live” within the social setting.    
            In the course of time these have become so habitual…they become the marks of “culture”.




PART TWO: Inside your Community

On Communication

Communication: Successful?
Would it not be very nice if we always have a successful communication? When do we say that communication is to successful? This means that the intended meaning of the message transmitted by the sender—like the person speaking or posting in the facebook—is understood and accepted by the receiver of that message. Both what the sender wants to say and what the receiver understands are accurately the same. So if someone tells me, during meal at the table, “please pass me the glass of water”.  That person really means he wants me to pass him this glass of water. He says it and I understand what he says. This is successful communication.
But we also have experiences in which communication is not always successful. There is what we can call as mis-communication. In miscommunication the sender of the message means one thing while the receiver of the message understands it differently—it is not what the sender wants to say. It is a miscommunication. Someone tells me, “don’t be stupid”. I understand it to mean that the person is insulting me but the person saying that is only trying to be charming towards me. The phrase “don’t be stupid” is that person’s way of speaking with charm. There is a mis-communication. What the receiver understands is not what the sender means.
It  can also happen that the sender expresses something unintended. In other words, a message is transmitted and it is not in the intention of the sender to send it. The receiver gets the message and understands exactly what the sender means by the message. The receiver gets the message, understands the meaning of the sender, the receiver sees what exactly the sender is transmitting. Yet, it is not the aim of the sender to say it. As I talk to someone I see that person yawning…unintentionally. The person does not intend to show me boredom…but I see the point. Ah, he is bored. He really is bored but he does not want to show it. Somehow, through some non-verbal message, the other person transmits the “I am bored”. This is what we can call as accidental communication. It is by accident that a message is sent and it is well understood.
Similar to this is an unintentional sending of message and it is wrongly understood. The sender does not intend to transmit the message, but there it is, it is sent. The receiver gets the message and understands the message in a way that is not meant at all by the sender. This can happen, for example, when someone smiles at me in the street. That person—the sender—is imagining a joke and smiles. There is no intention to say anything with that smile, but I receive the gesture. For me I understand it to mean that the person wants to be my friend.
But not, it is not at all in the mind of the other person…it is just my reading of the gesture. We can call this as risky communication.
Finally we consider a complete failure of transmission in communication. The sender sends a message and the message never reaches the receiver. It can happen when texting to someone by the celphone. Right in the point when I press “send” my phone goes blank—no more battery power. It can happen that I send a note to someone by post. The person does not receive my note because he/she does not live there anymore. Take another example. I am trying to say something to someone who does not want to see me anymore. She slams the door at my face and none of my words...text messages...e-mails....reaches her at all. Well, I cannot say I have succeeded in communicating with her. This is failure in communication.

Culture and Communication
The challenge in communication in your setting (that is, in your communities of brothers/sisters coming from different cultures) is this: how to improve communication among persons of different cultures. As we saw, mis-communication, accidental communication and risky communication happen too. (Well, a failure in communication can happen…and unfortunately it can happen because of the refusal to listen or to share.) Perhaps this struggle with communication is one reason why community life is also…well, a struggle.
It will be helpful to have a kind of “type-making” of cultures. The culture of a person may be marked by a certain “type” of communication…a “cultural style” in communicating. Let us see if we can identify some of these styles.

Simple and Complex
Some societies are quite simple and basic—people are close to “nature”. These societies are perhaps strongly linked with earth and food production. People spend much of their productive time in food cultivation and production. There is very little on other matters outside food cultivation and production. A lot of activities revolve around the direct link with the ecology. These are simple societies. Their forms of consumption are more minimalist—basic, simple and ecological. They do not push their production beyond the carrying capacity and they are well within the limits of diminishing returns.
Some societies are influenced by a lot of non-food matters. Most members of such a society spend more productive time with non-food production. They might have offices, factories…they have forms of production that are quite distant from food production. So people here talk of “non-food” matters. Societies marked by such are complex societies. Their forms of consumption are more consumerist—non-basic, complex and intensified. They have "challenged" the carrying capacity of nature. They have lots of surplus food so they have more time for many other interests outside food production.
We might want to say that societies closer to the “foraging/horticulture” styles of production are “simple”. Societies closer to the “industrial/post industrial” styles of production are “complex”. Put it is terms of communication. Communication might be a matter of sharing starting from the background. 
Consider the communication of people from the two, “simple” and “complex”. People from “simple” societies talk of, say, agricultural experiences, food, the seasons, the evening, the sun, the day, the family, etc. Such things form the background of people from “simple” societies. People from “complex” societies might want to talk about Bach, economics, movies, social structures, etc. Some might know more about carabaos and farms, others might know more about computers and literature.  How would these people look at each other? How would the “simple” ones look at the “complex” ones. How will the “complex” ones look at the “simple” ones. How do you put them together and make them communicate? A person from a “complex” society might be frustrated that the person from a “simple” society does not know basic algebra. A person from a “simple” society might be frustrated that the person from a “complex” society does not know how to swim the river. In a community of persons from the two backgrounds, how can communication happen? 

High context and low context
Some cultures are marked by “high” or “low” context. A “high-context” culture gives emphasis on the context of the communication. As the communication is taking place, a person from a “high context” culture will be concerned with the environment in which the communication is taking place. One important aspect of the environment is the relationship between the persons communicating. Is this person my friend, my teacher, my boss, my superior, etc.? So while communicating, the “high culture” person is concerned with the status of this relationship. This person is concerned with “how to speak” and “what to say” in front of the other person, depending on the nature of their relationship.
If I am a “high context” person and I am talking to a priest, for example, I watch my words and I select what to say. I am concerned with the context of being in front of a priest. If I am talking to a child my communication will be in the context of me as adult-with-the-child. If I am talking to my boss at work I have to adjust my way of speaking because of that context.
In a “high context” culture, the emphasis of communication is strong on the context. In fact, it can happen that what is said is less important than the affirmation of the context of the communication. This implies the importance given to knowing first from where the other person is coming—is he a priest, is she the boss, is he “just a classmate”, is she the superior, etc. The communication will be shaped by that context. In communication there is commitment more to the relationship than to the exact details of the message.
In a “low context” culture, it is different. Here the message is the most important. What a person says—the very statement—is crucial. So it is important to deliver well the message, to say it clear. The context is not so important. It does not matter if I speak to a priest or a co-worker, what is important is what I say. Notice that there is a separation between the message and the relationship with the other person. In communication with a person of a “low context” culture, what is important is the logic of what is being said…what is important is the giving of details on what is said. Focus on what is being said and not on “who are you”. The information given in the message is what counts the most.
In communication the person from a “low context” culture is committed to the message. There is attention to the details of the message. Notice the commitment to the message rather than to the context and relationship of the persons communicating.
So, have you been in a situation of dealing with someone from a style different from your style? How was the communication? What did you notice?
Imagine a group of “high context” persons. How do they relate and communicate? What if the group is composed of “low context” persons? Imagine a person from a “low context” style in the middle of a group of persons of a “high context” style. Think of the reverse—this time someone from a “high context” style is in the midst of people of the “low context” style. Maybe your experience of having lived in another country for a long time can help you understand better the styles. In a country marked by a “low context” style, if someone offers a person of “high context”, say, a fruit and the “high context” person says say “no”, that person with a “low context” style will focus on the message. The “no” is really a “no” for that other person. But the “high context” person says “no” not because he or she does not like the fruit but because of the context. It is “not nice” to immediately present desires, think of the context first. In a “high context” culture, a person might have to say “no” first and the invitation is repeated. It is the relationship that matters.
In a community of persons from the two styles, how can communication happen?




Collectivist or Individualist
Other communication styles are known as “collectivist’ and “individualist” styles. As the words themselves show, they have something to do with emphasis either on group or on individual.
The “collectivist” style is interested in group benefit. When communication is done by the “collectivist” the communication style is oriented to making sure that everyone is part of the group. The message in the communication concerns the group. The “collectivist” likes harmony and smooth relationships. As much as possible the “collectivist” will refrain from self-emphasizing. Toe the group line. Give value to community/ collectivity.
The “individualist” style focus on—as expected—the individual. What is communicated in what the individual thinks and feels…what the individual considers as plans and goals. It is really “what I say and want”. There is emphasis on individual personal achievement. Shine out. Show what you’ve. Say your view openly, your individual and personal opinion counts and must be heard. 
Now imagine communication between a “collectivist” and “individualist”. If in a setting full of “collectivists” how will the “individualist” communicate and how will the “individualist” be perceived and treated? Someone is trying to shine out and speak openly for himself or herself. How do “collectivists” view that behaviour? How will communication happen?
Now, what about the “collectivist” within a highly “individualist” group? How will the “collectivist” be perceived and treated in such a group? This time the “collectivist” will always get a feel of the group and see what would be the group agreement or group opinion. How would the “individualists” view that behaviour? How will communication happen? In a community of persons from the two styles, how can communication happen?

Tight or Loose
Some societies emphasize strong and strict rules. Those societies are not so tolerant of deviancy and exploration. So societies with strict norms and with low tolerance for deviancy are called “tight societies”. Here everyone must conform to the approved ways, it is crucial for social coordination. There is a tendency to penalize deviancy. There is a strong emphasis on authority and hierarchy. People are monitored by authority and people are concerned with “what will authority say”. In a “tight” society there is a concern for avoiding mistakes especially when the mistakes will be deviant from expected norms. Follow rules.
There are societies that are not so focused on strict rules and they are more tolerant of deviancy. So in that society there are many variations of possible choices and even behaviour. So we can say that such societies are with flexible norms and with high tolerance for deviancy. Here there is allowance for experimentation and exploration of other options, so it is quite ok if one does not conform too much to the common ways. So what is emphasized here is self-initiative, “do your own thing”. Notice it is not so authority focused. There is a lot of room for individual discretion. Here there is the initiative to take risks and experiment. Follow what “your heart” says.
The “tight” communication emphasizes rules, norms, what “should” be done. The “loose” communication emphasizes flexibility, exploration, initiative. Now mix these two together. How will communication take place? How will a “tight” person deal with a “loose” person? In a community of persons from the two styles, how can communication happen?

Monochronic and Polychronic
Some cultures emphasize strict use of time. “Time is expensive”. So every moment counts. Do not waste time. Do not be late for an appointment. (Do not be late in class!) There is the importance of punctuality and being clear with how much time will be spent for some activity. Notice that there is a sense of “linear” time…from point A to point B and nothing outside that line. A lot of emphasis is given to the clock or the calendar. A cultural style marked this way is “monochronic”—one-time. People do one thing at a time. People here need to be exact with the use of time.
In terms of communication, time is important. When the “monochronic” person communicates, get to the point as early as possible. Do not talk of this and that…just go direct to the point. As communication takes place, time must be spent “wisely”. There is “no time” to mix things together and talk of this and that. Remember, there is an agenda and we have to get things done and we move forward to the future.
Some cultures are more relaxed with time. One can move from one activity to another, “take one’s own time”…”take your time”. There is no such thing as “being late”. It is not the clock that determines time it is “the rising or the setting of the sun”…the seasons, the moods, the feelings. A cultural style marked this way is “polychronic”—many-time. People can shift from doing one thing to another, they do not feel the need to complete one first to move to a next. People here are more relaxed with the use of time.
In terms of communication, use of time is relaxed. When the “polychronic” person communicates, he or she can move around the conversation, talk about this or that…there is no rush to get to the point. Perhaps there is even no point! As communication takes place, “take your time”. In case the conversation does not “get to the point” now, there is always time to do it at another time. We do not have to get things done at once and we can spend some time talking about the past. The agenda, if ever there is one, can “wait”.
Imagine, how will people from different styles of time use communicate? How will a “monochronic” person talk to a “polychromic” person? What will be the focus…the emphasis? How much time are they willing to spend together? The “monochronic” has an agenda in the communication. The “polychromic” is just interested in meeting and being together. In a community of persons from the two styles, how can communication happen?

Conflict management
One final style that we can look at is the management of conflict. In relationships conflicts can arise. In communication, people might engage in conflict. Now, one style is to pursue the conflict because conflict is an opportunity to arrive at communication. Conflict is normal and it is useful. When there is something to discuss or talk about, it must be negotiated. Those involved in the communication can always come with agenda, plans, opinions and these will have to be negotiated during the process of communication. Now, direct confrontation is ok. It is alright to confront the other and disagree with the other. It is ok if everyone in the communication process is able to raise his or her views and have the views “dissected”. Conflict is helpful to resolve problems. Conflict is not a problem. A culture marked by this way of thinking is a “conflict-as-opportunity” culture.
On the other hand there are people who do not like conflict. They do not want disagreement, they want harmony. Conflict is, for them, harmful in relationships. It disturbs the harmony. So it is best to focus on the general needs of everyone. Avoid locking horns with anyone. Everyone should try to adapt to the generally approved views. Conflict is harmful, yes, and it is ineffective. It is useless to engage in conflict, it will not lead to good results. To avoid conflict, communication must be “disciplined”. A culture marked by this way of thinking is a “conflict-as-destructive” culture.
It can happen therefore that when people of different styles communicate, some are so “harmonious” in their sharing while others are more “conflictual”. A lot of mis-understanding can happen here. Some may feel irritated, disappointed, frustrated. Some “need” to argue, others avoid arguing.  
In a community of persons from the two styles, how can communication happen?

Conclusion 
             It is good to have an idea of these different styles of communicating. We might ask, “So what?” Yes, so what if some members are of this or that style and others are of this or that style. The communication might still be a matter of “power play”. One style dominates over another. Yes, this can happen.
             If we look at this “theologically”—and this is not the subject matter of our course—we might want to ask what exactly is the style proper to a religious community from the point of view of the gospel. Well, this question is for another class, not here. But is worth thinking about it in your private time.
             Look at the struggles you have inside your communities and try evaluating the struggles in terms of styles. It will help to avoid saying “this person is bad” or “that person is good” or “this person is wrong” or “that person is right”. Instead of considering community communication in terms of “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad”, consider—just try—looking the styles of members. See how the styles influence communication. Maybe a lot of difficulties in communication happen not because of “good versus bad” intentions but simply because styles meet and interact…and the mixing is not always that easy to facilitate.

The Group as “Community”
Group features
You call yourselves “community”. What exactly does it mean? Sure, there can be theological and spiritual meaning to that word. Let us first, however, try a more “secular” meaning.
As members of a group (that you call “community” or “fraternity”) you have an awareness of being members of the group. This is so obvious, but it is worth repeating. Everyone in the group has a clear awareness of membership, “I am part of the group”. You are organized for a purpose. You are not just a bunch of people living together, period. No, you are together for a purpose.
This means that members of the group are inter-dependent.  Each one relies on others for the fulfillment of the group purpose. This is obvious in the case of sports. In a basketball team there are “forwards”, “guards” and the “centre”. There are those whose main task is to “assist” while others have the task to “shoot the ball”. Not everyone plays the role of the “centre”. Each one has a piece to play, a role.
A group also has its cohesiveness. Members participate, each one playing a specific role. As each plays a specific role, a “unity” of some kind is attained. Of course it all depends on how members participate. A group can be very cohesive…or not. If the group dissolves and there is no sign of cohesiveness, then we might not consider it a group anymore.
In a group there are expectations. In other words there is a minimum of norms, rules and regulations to follow. Yes, the group may be highly formal or highly informal. The rigidity of norms may be different depending on the type of group. But if members are to see themselves as forming a group with a purpose, then they have some norms in the group. They expect each one to follow the norms. Ok, the group may be “tight” or “loose”…but there are norms, nonetheless.
If there are expectations then there are sanctions. There are penalties, rewards, punishments involved. Sanctions may be “not paying attention” to a deviant member or making rumours and gossips about that person. Sanctions may involve fines—like having to pay a certain sum of money. Sanctions may be highly severed like putting someone in jail! Again the group has its styles of sanctioning members and making sure that there is a level of cohesion.
Look at your community, observe it well. How do you define that community...what are the expectations, norms, sanctions, etc. You might want to add what we discussed above regarding the communication styles. Are there dominant styles in your community? Are there mixtures?

Parts of self (taking cue from A. Schutz and G. Simmel)
                One interesting study in sociology is what can be called as “parts of self”. In a more modern context we see many different forms of social participation. There are clubs, associations, affiliations etc. around us and we have roles to play there. So someone may be in the family, in a neighbourhood group, in a work group, in a school group, in a church group, etc. As a person is in each and every group, that person puts “part of self” in the group. Within the family, if the person is “parent-father” then that part of himself is there. At work maybe he is “office boss”. Ok, so there he has his role to play. In the church group maybe he is “choir member”.
                Now he does not mix up his different roles. For example he is not “office boss” while in the church choir. He is not doing choir work while in the family.
                A person then can have different “belongingess” and different roles. This is very strongly experienced in a modern context. The challenge here is to see how a person manages to balance roles. Sometimes a group might ask more resources and time from a person and we can ask—how far can the person stretch himself or herself to meet those demands. For example, the father-parent has his role in the family. But he too is office-boss and the work load is getting heavy. He has to be at work for more than eight hours a day. This means he has to reduce his family-time. Then maybe his church group—the choir—is also asking for more time in preparation for, say, a coming feast. The church group is also asking for extra donation to give as snacks during singing practice.
                Eventually then, to get his daily life organized, he has to choose. The parent-father is now in a situation of stretching himself—his time and his resources—to meet the demands of his different groups. He might have to evaluate the importance that he has to give for each. He might have to weigh his different forms of loyalty. How much time and resources is he willing to give to one and reduce from another? Where should he be more “full time”? Can there be a unity in all or is there conflict?
                Imagine then that the parent-father gives most weight to, say, to work. He will then organize himself—his time and resources—to show his emphasis at work. He might be willing to sacrifice more for his work load against other areas where he belongs. In a modern context lots of demands come from different areas.
                Now, let us go to your community life. Are you there as “part of yourself”? Where else—in what other “belonging”—is your self affiliated? Is there harmony or tension in the different areas in which you belong? Where resides your “heart”? This is crucial for you and for your community. How much “part of self” is invested in the community? Is it “all myself” or…”part of myself”? Well, to answer this you might have to ask also what exactly is the community asking from you. How much of yourself does the community need? This is crucial also in terms of communication within the community.
                Now, keep in mind that even within the community there are different layers of the self. There are different degrees of transparency and loyalty to each other. A part of oneself may be deeply shared with some members—going very personal in the sharing. But this does not always happen with everyone.  Religious communities require transparency. How far are members willing to go—how far is their “stretching”? The extent—the “stretch” that a member makes in order "to belong" may influence also the extent of transparent communication.

How you communicate and identify your community
Now, important here is the role of communication. As an organized group you, members, have a specific way of communicating to each other. Check it out. If we look at a group of college students organized for the purpose of studying biology, so it is “biology club” of college students, we see that it has a specific way of communication. If we look at a group of politicians assembled during the period of work, we also see that it has some style of communication. Consider a group of sports, like a “football club”. It has its ways of communicating. It may not be so obvious, but the kind of communication within the group has a strong role in identifying the group….what kind of a group it is. Most groups, we will notice, do not just communicate formally. There is also an informal level in group communication. Look at a sports club of football players. They just do not talk of football…they may talk of many other things, including topics that are quite personal and even private. It all depends on the purpose of the group and the relationship group members have to one another. Note that we see in a group an organization for a purpose but also with ways of relationships. When you communicate with each other, somehow you show the identity of the group—the “parameters”. If this look abstract let us ask some questions and try answering them. Let us ask about how you communicate with each other.
Do you communicate mainly in terms of agenda, plans, structures, formation of laws? Do you talk about what to accomplish in some time in the future? Is this the very usual way of communicating among yourselves? Then you might be assembled as a “formal” group with the purpose of doing something formal. During breakfast you talk about the “agenda” of the community. You have a “breakfast meeting”. At night you talk about the specific nature of prayer and the history of spiritual life, the theological basis of virtues and the exegetical meaning of a Biblical text.
Do you communicate mainly in terms of evaluating one another and evaluating the performance of the group? Do you communicate to evaluate how group projects and goals are accomplished or not accomplished. Are you very evaluative in your communication? Do you communicate in terms of “weighing” each other and “weighing” the performance of your group? Do you communicate in terms of looking for alternative projects and goals? If yes, then you might be assembled as an “advisory” group doing something evaluative. So in the morning, at breakfast, you talk about how well you did yesterday in your class or in your apostolate. Maybe at night you will talk about how to improve your apostolic work. You might be communicating about evaluation of each other’s performance over the past week.
Do you communicate mainly in terms of creating new ideas and new plans? You are assembled with the purpose of doing something creative. Do you communicate mainly in terms of “brain storming” and exploring things…and just seeing if there is anything else to do? If yes, then you are a “creative” group. Maybe at breakfast you talk of where to spend the day and what will be the nice colour for the chapel curtains. In the evening you might want to talk about the excursion for the weekend.
Do you communicate mainly in terms of listening to each other, helping each other in personal needs? Do you communicate in sharing knowledge, sharing feelings, sharing hopes and dreams? Do you communicate on the personal level and on the advising-solidarity level? If yes, then you are a “support” group. You are assembled with the purpose of doing something supportive of personal needs. At breakfast time someone talks about an emotional struggle and you listen and see how you can help. During the evening you might want to talk about “how I am” and “how is my life” or “what do I feel about my vocation”. Maybe you might want to add, “What I feel about you when you refused to help me in my homework”.  
Do you communicate mainly “on-line” and…that’s it? Do you communicate by facebook posting and e-mail sending? Well….surely you will say no…but check it out. Many of our relationships today are strongly “on-line” relationships. Anyway, such a group is a “network” group.
Check it out. What is the dominant form of communicating in your group—in your community? If you can see the basic “format” of your regular communication each day, you may have an idea of the identity you are trying to establish regarding your group. This is not the time to judge the group and say where you are “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad”. It is simply helpful to have an idea of your form of communication. Of course you can then see if that is how your life (as religious in that community) is designed. You might want to look at your constitutions, patrimony, institutional charism, etc.
Notice the way of communication—it indicates the level of relationship group members have with each other. Social scientists would make a distinction between “primary group” and “secondary group”. In primary group there is friendship and bonding. Members can go into more personal sharing. The secondary group has more distant relationships. Members touch on more general topics. Is your community a “primary group” community or a “secondary group” community. Check out the levels of communication. Of course the primary and the secondary can mix. There are no strict boundaries between them. Communication can shift—for example, from very formal to very supportive forms. There are times when members have to talk formally and there are times when they go to very personal levels.
Yet, to have an idea of the distinctions between primary group and secondary group can help especially during critical moments. There are times of internal conflicts, for example. Group members might have to check: Are we related formally, and that’s it? Do we go deeper into personal levels? How far do we extend our communication?
Again, this is not a course in theology or spirituality. But it may be helpful to mention some important questions: What is the community in the eyes of Christ? What is the community within the Church? What does Christ expect of the community? What does the Church expect of the community? The answers to these will guide not just the formation of the group but also the levels of communication.

Leadership
A leader is someone who has power over members. The power can be formal. The group official designates someone to lead. It can also be informal. This type depends a lot on the “liking” of group members. Someone may not be official declared as leader but members follow that person. That person has a strong influence in the group. Well, someone may be officially designated as leader but not everyone “likes” that leader.
We might hold the common idea that leadership is in the person of the leader. Yes, we can agree with this but not completely. Leadership is also relational. It depends not just on the person of the leader but also in the relationship made between leader and members. Leadership is in that relationship. Someone may be officially designated as leader, but members may not necessarily “follow”. Someone who does not hold the status or “title” of “leader”—boss, superior, provincial, formator, etc.—may still be leader because that person is able to gather the following of members. For example someone in the group has better ideas than the leader. Everybody else sees that this person is the person to listen to and to follow.
A leader can be someone who lets the group get things done. This leader makes the group move forward to its goals and purposes. This type of leader is an instrumental leader. He or she is instrumental for the group goal. Another leader may be the more emotional one. This leader gives emotional and morale support to group members. This leader is able to lead members in maintaining harmony and balance and cooperation. This type of leader is the expressive leader.
Some leaders, called autocratic leaders, like to give orders. They tell members what to do. Some leaders are democratic leaders. They look for common agreement among group members, they work according to the general consensus of the group. Some leaders are so “easy go lucky”, they allow members to be so free to do what they want. These types of leaders are known as the “laissez-faire (or permissive) leaders.
Now which is “better”, the instrumental or the expressive, the autocratic, the democratic or the laissez-faire? Think about these and observe the leaders of your community. Notice that there are the informal leaders too. How much influence do they have in the community?
What are the styles of your community leaders? Are they instrumental, expressive, are they autocratic, democratic or permissive? How is your community doing with respect to the leaders? Here is a crucial question: How do leaders of your community facilitate communication?

Making Decisions and Persuasion
How does a leader lead the group to a decision? Persuasion is an important element in decision making. How does the leader persuade the group?
One element may be that the leader is officially recognized as leader. The leader has that “title”. The title designates the official function of the leader. Let us call this leadership “by official title”. So the leader persuades the group by virtue of being the officially designated leader with an officially designated title. (Maybe you have heard of “de jure” leadership before).
It can also happen that a person is accepted to persuade the group to a decision because that person is an “expert”. If in a meeting a question regarding finances must be decided upon, very likely it is the person who is in-charge of the “bourse” will have to be heard. Maybe the “leader by title” has the higher position, but it is the expert in particular instances that will have to guide the decision making. This person is persuasive thanks to his or her expertise.
A group might also be persuaded by someone with a charism—a “likeable” person, very respected because of personality and character. Ok, the group listens to that person and is guided by that person to decision making. Let us call this the “referent leader”. This is usually someone with a personality that everyone else appreciates.
Now someone may not necessarily be an expert in a particular field, but this person has a lot of information about the “ins-and-outs” of the community. This person may have many connections—many friends. This person can make many other connections. When here is a problem the group can rely on this person to make use of the connections he or she has. The information of this person may not always be official, but because of his or her connections problems can be solved. Let us call this the leader “with connections”. The group is persuaded by the ability of this person to make connections.
Then of course there is someone who has “raw” power to coerce and to reward. This person uses sheer strength, force and muscle to lead the group to a decision. Whether group members like it or not, they have to accept the point given by this leader. Anyone who accepts is, however, given a reward. Let us call this as a leader of “coercive-reward power”. The group is persuaded out of…well, fear or craving for a reward.
Watch yourselves during a meeting and observe who is able to persuade the group to decision making. In what area is that person a leader? Does the group say yes to that person by virtue of that person’s title? Expertise? Personality? Connections with people? Or simply “raw”? Evaluate well. Sometimes group decisions get all styles of leadership mixed up and members are not quite sure who, in the final analysis, is “to be obeyed”?

Making Decisions and the informal setting
                In a small group or community, members might meet to discuss important matters and then decide. The setting is very often formal—like a meeting. Sometimes decisions are made that make everyone happy. Yet there are also times when not everyone is happy.
                There is an under-current in group decision making. Let us call it the “everyday persuasion”. Ok, fine, during the meeting the atmosphere is more or less formal. Everyone is seated and someone is facilitating the meeting. That is what is happening inside the meeting. But there are relationships going on outside the meeting. These are the everyday relationships—at table during meals, in the field during a football game, while playing the guitar during the community recreation, in the workplace while busy with things to do, etc. The community is not just situated in a formal meeting, it is situated in a whole everyday-life setting too. Now, when in a meeting to decide on something, all that web of informal and daily life relationships are also brought it. Some members are more friendly with each other than with others. Some know each other more than others. One may feel a closer loyalty and bonding with a few others but not with everyone. So all the fabric of daily life relationships mark the character and mood of the formal meeting.
                It is wise to keep this in mind. During a decision making process the under-current of other informal relationships is also an influence. The informal settings have an influence on the formal setting of the meeting. The dynamics during the decision making are not always and not exclusively “rational” and “well thought”. Feelings and group loyalties can also be there. In fact, a “pre-existing” decision might already be there in the meeting. In other words, members carry with them their attitudes, backgrounds, informal links with each other—all the elements outside the meeting. Those many elements influence the moment of making a decision. Remember that the formal meeting is just one aspect of the total life of the community. Many influences are at work there. Can you try identifying those elements outside the meeting that influence decision making?
              Some communities call themselves as "fraternal". They may have definitions about being fraternal. This is not the time for theology, but it is worth mentioning the fact that the redemption offered by Christ is seen in fraternal life. We have been made "brothers/sisters" to one another, we have one Father, Our Father, with Jesus as the eldest, the "first born of all creation". This fraternal life is very much permeating the everyday life of religious people. You are fraternal to each one and to other members of society. That fraternal relationship is brought within the formal setting of a meeting. So, theologically speaking, a formal meeting is equally fraternal. We say this in passing (although the passing is quite long...sorry about that.) Now back to social science.



Part Three: Conclusion

            We have the ambition to discuss as many things as possible. But a semester is short and we need to really select what to discuss. Ambition is one thing…but time constraints force us to be more modest.           
            We might be asking ourselves: What does Part One have to do with Part Two. They look like they have very little to do with each other. Well, a reason why we do Part One is, partly, to have some grasp of the big social-cultural forces affecting our countries. This grasp can help introduce you to another important subject for another semester, namely, "Church Social Doctrine".
           Now those forces make people adapt. There are the ecological forces--the places of habitation, the seasons, climates, soil and water, etc. People over centuries have been adapting to their ecological worlds producing and reproducing. There are also (though we did not discuss them) historical forces. Different people of different cultures meet. Societies of different strengths and powers come and go and their presences over time have greatly affected people's lives.
          Somehow in the process of adaptation people live in the habit of relating with each other and justifying those relationships. So people get organized in terms of domestic and political powers. Through the way they organize they assure also how they can live--survive--and consume and exchange goods, facilitated by the use of objects,  labour and money. In a way people secure their access to life and survival. This is basic to all life. Culture is a matter of habitual adaptation in terms of production and security. The people "talk" about these ways of adaptation through their songs, literature, dances, etc.
          Look at this diagram, below. 
https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-gLZ7LPGLy1M/U0IQPOblUkI/AAAAAAAAA2M/GHVfgtfWLgY/s1600/adapt.png
      
            The big forces "out there" have a strong influence on how people relate--and communicate--with each other. So you can see why we also discussed Part One. It is to make us appreciate the fact that within communities are cultural forces operating and affecting relationships. Those forces enter into your communities. Everyone in there comes from somewhere--from some culture marked by its forces of production, power and expression. Each one carries all that cultural baggage--a baggage marked by survival strategies, power strategies, etc. Within your communities therefore are many elements, many aspects, many forces. So even within the community is a specific culture and we can have an idea of that culture through the way members communicate.
           At times community members irritate each other and members make moral judgments about each other. Maybe it is helpful to suspend such judgments and see how cultural forces affect the relationship in the community.  
           We are not doing theology here, but it is worth mentioning it a bit. The assumption behind the assembly of your communities is that the assembly is within the ekklesia--the Church--assembled by Christ. The foundation is therefore not just cultural. It is "revealed"! The late Bishop Francisco Claver once said that religious life must be "counter-cultural"!
           Vigilance about this is crucial. On one hand you cannot avoid behaving culturally--and therefore you will be marked by the impulse to have secured access to survival, prestige, power, etc. Yet you are called to a life that is for the Kingdom. How then will you situate your cultural patterns--like communication--within this vocation of servicing the Kingdom?

References:
Sociology, Core Concepts, by James M. Henslin
The Anthropology of Culture, by Barbara D. Miller
Cultural Anthropology, by Marvin Harris and Orna Johnson. (This has greatly influenced our discussions especially in Part One).
The Basics of Communication, A Relational Perspective by Steve Duck and David T. McMahan (This also has greatly influenced our discussions, especially in Part Two.)
A philosopher-psychologist has some contributions here and there. He is Paul Diel and he wrote a very interesting book, Psychologie de la Motivation.
Here and there, interspersed, are ideas from Alfred Schutz, my "favorite" social philosopher.
In case you want to read more "technically", you can approach me and I can lend you the books.
kikocastrooldphilam


Notes of 2014

Infrastructure
On Food Production
We said earlier that all humans need to have ways to deal with eating and drinking, sleeping, eliminating and reproducing. In this section let us focus on food—the eating/drinking strategy of people.




Energy
For us to do anything, we need energy. Ok we now have electricity. That’s a form of energy. We use electricity to run our computers. In the kitchen when the staff cooks, they use gas. That’s energy source for their cooking. If we want to go somewhere, we might ride a car or a bus. Gasoline energy is what the vehicle uses to go somewhere. The engine uses lots of energy—and we sometimes hear mechanics say “horse power”. If there is a “black out”—an electric failure—we cannot use the computer. If there is no gas, the kitchen staff cannot cook. If there is no gasoline, the car will not move.
Whatever it is we do, we need enough energy. If we look around we use energy from many things—electricity, gas, machines, etc. Yet we must admit that there is a real basic source of energy that we are all in need of. This is food. Food is a basic source of energy. We need to eat. (Let us include here water and other drinks).
Somehow we need to “capture” energy. Just think of how electricity has been “captured”. Think of the long history that led to the discovery and use of electricity. Think of how gas was “captured”. Nowadays we hear people speak of “capturing” solar energy. Ok, fine. But again we go back to the basic—the most basic—source of energy and “capturing” that. We speak of food. Food is also “captured”. Some farm. Some hunt. Some fish. There are forms of “capturing” food. Maybe one way of “capturing” is by the use of simple tools…and perhaps with the help of animal energy, like the carabao. Others might be using sophisticated machines—like tractors—to “capture” food.
Food production
To “capture” food—and now we can use a more technical term: “production”—people need to find ways. People deal with the environment in different ways. People relate with the environment. So there is a kind of “relationship”: people and environment. The environment has resources to offer and people “capture” those resources. This is how we can understand food production.
It depends a lot on where you are. If you live in a desert, surely the environment has its resources to offer and people there must have ways to “capture” the resources. If you live in a sea shore or up the mountains, there are ways there too. This relationship with the environment is marked not only by what resources are offered—grains…animals…fish…fruits…etc.—but also by the seasons. Some live in places where it is almost dry all the time. Others live in places where there is the “wet” season and then the “dry” season. Other have four seasons. So people will have to adjust and adapt to what is surrounding them in order to get their food. So notice that people will really have to deal with the availability of food resources. People will adapt to what is available around…and they will need to rely on the seasons too.
Now one thing that we might need to look at is the degree of “technology” used in “capturing” food. The word “technology” here is not limited to what we are familiar with—machines and computers. No, be careful. We will have a special use for this word “technology”. It is how people “capture” the food using skills, instruments and other means. Some people use very basic instruments—without even animals. Other use sophisticated means—with machines and computers. So we can say that there are technologies that are quite simple and there are technologies that are complex.
The availability of food resources pair with the existing technology of people.  So we can have bow and arrow—which is our tools—and there are animals around. We might have the plough. We might have fishnets. So our technologies combine with the surrounding world and this becomes a kind of “partnership”. Yes, in a way, we are “partners” with the environment—with “nature”.     
In this “partnership” we make demands on the environment. We put to use our technologies and the environment gives us the resources. We cast our nets and we get the fish. We plough the soil and—later—we get our grains. We shoot our arrows and we get our meat. Now, we can exert a lot of demands on the environment. We can use our tools, instruments and, for the more modern people, machines.
Carrying capacity and diminishing returns
Here is a crucial question: At what point can we demand from the environment—and we get what we ask for—yet we do not deplete and destroy the environment? We might be casting our nets and there will always be fish. There is a point in which the environment might say, “No, you’re asking too much…I cannot anymore offer it”. This is the point when we deplete the environment and the environment cannot meet our demands. To put it technically, the resource base is already affected. Now, while this is not yet happening—again, we repeat, while this is not yet happening, while no depletion is happening—we are in a level of the “carrying capacity”. To put it simply, the environment can “carry” our demands. We are not too heavy for the environment. The environment is still capable of meeting our demands.
The carrying capacity can change. If climate changes, for example, and the resources become scarce, we see an effect on the capacity of the environment to meet our demands. If we deforest mountains, we affect the carrying capacity there. If we pollute the soils and the waters, carrying capacity is affected.
It is ideal—and many ancient societies have been doing this—not to disturb the carrying capacity. In other words, people need not make too heavy demands on the environment. In fact there is one experience people have when they make too much demands. This is known as “diminishing returns”.
We experience “diminishing returns” quite often. Play sports, for example. After some time we get tired. Stay up all night, and we reach a point of getting tired. In the beginning of the activities we show that we can so much…be active. But there is a “diminishing” point…we cannot be always productive. In a farm put one farmer…two farmers…three farmers… As we add farmers and workers we might increase production but there is a diminishing point.
This is an experience people of long ago have noticed. They noticed that at a certain point of production the amount of food produced would go down. It was not necessary to produce and produce. This point of diminishing returns showed that it was really useless to even challenge carrying capacity. Why demand so much from the environment—why work so much and take so much if the effort is not proportional to the production? Why work more for less results? This is what “diminishing returns” means: working more yet receiving less.
Slash and burn farmers, for example, noticed that as they kept on working on the same piece of land over and over again, a diminishing return would happen. The land cannot give so much after, say, six or seven years. So the farmer would have to leave the land to “rest”—to “fallow”. It would be senseless to force the land to give more…and destroy it in the long run.
That was when life was quite simple. Today we experience something different. Today we really put pressure on the environment and make the environment give more. It seems that we can do it—we can be “heavy” on the environment…demand more—and we get the results we want. We challenge the carrying capacity today. In other words we work more and more, we add pressure to the environment, and we actually produce more also. This is called intensification. In intensification we put pressure—like we add more labour and machines—and we produce more!
This is what our modernity is doing. We push things to such an extent that we even go beyond the carrying capacity and diminishing returns. How do we do it? We might be increasing the size of our fishnets. We might be putting so much chemical fertilizers in our soils. Just imagine how eggs are produced from chicken today! There is something artificial in intensification. The environment—“nature”—is complemented with chemicals and other industrial means. The technologies we have now in food production are so complex. The point is, we produce a lot more. Our “partnership” with nature has taken an artificial turn.
Is this ok or not ok? Well, maybe we can look at the so-called "green revolution". It is a highly intensified form of agricultural production but it works! It is said that thanks to the "green revolution" big populations have been saved from famine and starvation. It is really not just to immediately say negative things about intensification. But we do need to worry too. Environmentalists can be the first to raise the issue. Intensification, in some ways, affect the ecology and really, we must be vigilant against the degradation of our environment.
Simple to Complex
                Notice that there are societies that are still engaged with the earth, the soil, plants, the rivers, the seas. People there might be in agriculture or even in horticulture. Basic there is the sense of “carrying capacity”. Production is not so intensified.
                Some societies, however, have intensified food production. Because of intensification, those societies have lots of surplus food and so they can afford to spend more productive time for many other things outside food production. Such societies are complex. People there are more focused with many…many…other things.
                 Compare a small, quiet agricultural-horticultural village in your country with, say, Sidney or New York. What is the type of work and production that most people do in the small village...and what is the type of work and production that most people do in Sidney or New York?
Sustainability
We come to a crucial question given this tendency to intensify. Are we depleting the environment? Are we already damaging it? Are we harming nature? If the answer is yes, then we risk losing our sustainability. At one point in time, all this might fall apart and all food production collapses. Many environmentalists ask this question. How can we sustain feeding our population given our technologies and intensification without losing the environment altogether. Can we deforest as much as we want? Can we put chemicals in soils as much as we want? Can we occupy the water spaces as much as we want? How far can we go? How far can we sustain our survival and decent living? This is a question we face today. We might have to secure, for example, our “staple” food. It is the minimum that we can do. If we start really damaging our soils and we lose even our staple food production, imagine the crisis that can create. (Just think of what happens if rice eating people do not anymore find rice on their bowls or plates!)
Let us look at two important points:
One, we might have to reconsider the role of our technologies. Can our modern societies create technologies that will be sustainable (can feed us) yet respectful of the environment. Maybe you see new technologies emerging in your countries.
Second, some would like to talk about “population” problems. Is it true that we must reduce the number of people to also reduce the tendency to intensify and deplete the environment? Think about these two points.
Structure Part I
Exchange
Exchange as a “transfer between”
This time let us talk about exchange. What is this word “exchange”? In exchange there is a transfer between persons (or groups). In our modern societies, money is exchanged for goods. Money—cash—is very important for exchange. If we want something we exchange it for money.
Some societies may be non-money societies, that is, they do not use money too much. Their exchange is different. This does not mean that all exchanges happening in our modern societies always involve money. Some exchanges can also be non-money exchanges…sometimes. We may exchange gifts, exchange services, even gestures. But let us look closely at what we exchange.
Material Things
Ok, most often we exchange material things…like food. When couples get married their families might exchange food to each other—like in a marriage feast. Neighbours might be giving food to each other. Today it is my mother who cooks a lot and gives to the neighbours. Next week neighbours might bring us some of their food.
Maybe we exchange gifts…or drinks…t-shirts, books, cards, etc. These are material exchanges. One gives a material object and receives, in return also a material object.
Labour
Labour is another form of exchange. I work for you and you work for me. I help you in your farm and you help me in my house repair. There is labour sharing.
We see this in farms especially during certain seasons when farmers need the help of many others. People come and give their hand. In return they might be given a nice meal or they might be invited for a  feast.
Money
Let’s face it. This is our most familiar object of exchange, especially in our countries. Money, today, is a key medium of exchange. But let us be careful. We might think of money in terms of coins and paper. In some places money can be shells, types of beans, types of stones or tusks of boars. But we are more familiar with the money that we have each day—the coins and the paper.
Money can be used in exchange for many things. It is multi-purpose. It can be used to buy things—objects, services, land, information, etc. Money can also be used to get…money too!
Money is very convenient. It can be carried in the pocket or in a wallet—it is portable.
We can have one piece of paper with a big value or we can have coins amounting to the same value. Money is divisible.
Now, if you money you can buy either this object or that object with the same value. If you have ten dollars and you want to buy ten dollars of toothpaste, well you can decide on buying instead ten dollars of beer. In other words, the ten dollars can apply to any object. Money therefore is generalized.
Now if you use money, you need not know who exactly made that coin or paper. Also, you do not have to be someone else to use that money. That money can be used by anyone and anywhere (in the country, of course). We cannot say that because the user is a child, the value changes. My ten dollars and the ten dollars of a child can buy the same object. Money then is anonymous.
There is one crucial point about money too. Clearly we cannot photo copy them and use the photocopies to buy what we want. Each piece of paper or coin holds a legal value. There is a government control in the use of money. Money is therefore legal.
Notice then how convenient money is. There is an evolution going on here. We may be familiar with coins and papers, but there are also such things now as “cards”…like credit cards. Then there is also “e-money”, like in the payment of “paypal”. Underneath the transactions are monetary values—like five dollars or fifty dollars—but the medium is electronic. In some societies people do not carry money anymore, they use cards or they “e-mail”.
Reciprocal and Redistributive exchanges
We may think of certain exchanges that are quite “balanced”. Let us say we give gifts to each other. A gift is something we give and we do not, in principle, expect anything in return. Maybe later on we receive gifts too. But there is no declared statement that we should be giving gifts in return. However, if we look closely, we do find some people with reciprocal “expectations”. In other words, some people also expect something in return…maybe not now, maybe later. Some relationships are built on expectations. I gave you a gift this Christmas…why have you forgotten to give me in return? I greeted you hello during your birthday, why are you not saying hello now? We have been sharing our extra food but until now you have not shared anything. Here there is no official written declaration of returning something, but the expectation is there. Some societies function a lot this way…people expect exchanges from each other.
Some societies work with “redistribution”. This may look very strange for modern people, but check it out. In redistribution one person collects—say food—from everyone else and then redistributes to everyone. The redistribution may be formal—like the central person will partition the food for all. It can also be done through feasts. The central person makes a big feast where everyone is invited and will then partake of the pooled food (food gathered).
If we find this unusual…well, it is not. Taxation is a form of redistribution. We give to a central “person”, like the administering government office for taxes, and the money is redistributed throughout the country where roads, bridges, schools, etc. are constructed. Note that there is redistribution.
Market Exchange
We are most interested in “market” exchange. Now the market is what we know—the market. It is a central place where goods are delivered and there are people selling. Buyers come and look for what they want—and they buy, they pay. In many markets we know there are farmers who unload their goods—vegetables from this farm, meat from that farm, fruits from another farm. Some people may be unloading leather or clothes or pots or ropes or bags or…etc. The goods are then sold in the market. Different sorts of people with different needs come to buy. Most exchanges are done with money.
Some markets come and go. Like there is a day in the week in which goods are unloaded in a central place and the buying and selling take place. These are known as “periodic markets”. But then there are “permanent markets” that are fixed and set up in a place and the buying and selling are done on a daily basis. 
Both the periodic and the permanent markets have a kind of “personalized” feature. We see the sellers and we might even see the farms. People meet, talk, negotiate prices, etc. We see faces. But then there are other markets that are highly impersonal. Think of malls. Yes, we may be in front of sales people but we do sense something less personal. The products sold do not have the “personal touch” anymore. Many are branded and factory made.
And then think of the highly depersonalized markets—like the stock exchange. There we really do not see faces anymore—except, of course the presence of brokers. But really we see figures on boards and we see buying and selling and we are not sure who is who behind all those numbers.
Profit
People make exchanges. Some exchanges are useful because we get the object or the service that we want in the exchange. We exchange money for something else concretely. It can be a toothpaste or the service of a doctor.
With money, however, what we experience is this: we can buy anything with money. Therefore, we might as well accumulate money—have more money because it entitles us to have access to many things. Consequently, people can work with the aim of making more money. Production now shifts from production for use to production to make more money.
Let us say that you are a farmer and you produce rice. That rice is for use. People will buy from you…they will pay you and you give them rice. But then you notice that with the money they pay you can do a lot more things. One is you add value to your rice. You make profit from your rice. Now you start producing rice not just as a means of exchange for what other people need. You produce rice to make extra money for yourself. Then later on you realize that you can plant pineapple and tobacco. People will not eat pineapple all the time…not every meal is with a pineapple. People will not have tobacco for breakfast. Pineapple and tobacco are not in the list of basic needs of people. But you, as farmer, see them as opportunities to make money. So you cultivate these not to meet the basic needs of people but…to make more money. The products are for profit. So you start a whole business of pineapples and tobacco not for basic use but for profit. Why run after profit? Well, the point is, money can buy anything…so why not run after money—profit.
Price market exchange
So now we have a better view of “market”. Initially market may be the place of exchange of things we need—the basic stuff we need, like food and clothing. The exchange has become quite complex that profit has entered the picture. What we find today is the “price market exchange”. Money has to accumulate now. It has to grow. There has to be profit in the exchange.
Notice that in this type of exchange there is now a “competition” between buyers and sellers. Sellers want profit while buyers try to economize as much as possible.
Everything will have to have a price—a monetary value. This is crucial. Nothing escapes the evaluation of money. Exchange now will have to be evaluated according to monetary terms…and those involved in the exchange will try to reap as much gain as possible. The sellers would like to make more money from their sales while buyers would like to not to give up as much money as possible. At some point both sellers and buyers will “agree” on a price—a monetary value. With that price sellers will have made profit and buyers will have economized. Hopefully it is a win-win situation. But is it?
Structure Part II
Ownership or control of “access to”
Review consumption and exchange
Notice that as we discussed consumption and exchange, something might be coming to the surface. Consumption implies, for example, that people have baskets that entitle them to obtain things basic to them. Some people have more stable and independent baskets than others. Some people own lands, businesses, bank accounts…and others do not.
We discussed exchange. In exchange we said that people trade goods and in the modern context the means of exchange is by the use of money. Well, some people have more money than others. Some people have more “voice” in determining advantages in the exchange.
Ownership
We come to a delicate topic—that of “ownership”. Some have better access to resources than others. This is how we would understand “ownership”. It is the capacity to have access to resources.
In some—quite simple societies—everyone seems to have equal ownership of land and tools, for example. In fact, they would see that the land does not really belong to them—it belongs to “nature”. People do not stake a permanent claim of ownership. So they move from place to place depending on what the environment offers.
It is different in societies where people stake claims of ownership. In farms that we know, there are “landowners”. They have a claim of ownership to land. They have titles to support that claim. In a modern context there are owners of business, for example. They are often called the “capitalists”.
Ownership is a strong element in societies. People need to have a strong hold on the production and consumption of goods. It is a matter also of security. The better one has a hold—an ownership—over access to resources, the more secured one is.
Part of the environment is not just nature but…other people too. Somehow society has to get organized and have a strategy to control hold over resources, especially food and other goods addressing basic needs.  So a big question is addressed: how do people protect and improve standard of living? How can people guarantee their continued access to resources? Here is where ownership arises. People need to stake a claim of ownership over resources and access to resources.
Problems of resource depletion, for example, can arise. Problems of resources falling into the hands of others and thereby my losing security over resources can arise.
Lots of strategies can be devised. People might have a more sharing style of relating with each other to avoid the monopoly of ownership. People might like to feast a lot to make sure that resources are distributed as widely as possible. In other instance, people might go to war.
Securing control
It all boils down to securing control over production, exchange and consumption. In our societies we see this happening. There are “owners” of production and means of exchange. They have better control of access. A whole set of relationship happens between those who have “more access” than those who do not. We have a whole set of social living where people try to be “secured” in access to resources. Some are “more secured” than others. Social scientists describe often societies in terms of “stratification”. Some are “on top” while others are “below”.
Check who owns production. When we say “ownership of production” we can look at those who own land and those who own business that hire and give salaries.
In your place—your home place—check how people are organized according to ownership. Check also who are dependent on the owners. So, if your home place is very agricultural, see the relationship between the landowners and the tillers (tenants) of the land. How are they related? Check the way rent is paid. Check the way the tenant depends of the landowner. Is there any conflict between landowners and tenants? How is the conflict managed? If you come from a more commercial or industrial place, check the owners of shops or factories. Who are employed there? How are they paid? Is there any conflict between employers and employees? How is the conflict managed?
Let us take inspiration from the thoughts of Max Weber.
Who has access to wealth? Wealth can mean many things that people own. People can own animals, machines, land, money, jewellery, houses, etc.   Check who has more wealth? (How do they send their children to school? How do they manage their health needs? How do they feed themselves? How do they spend leisure?) Who are the people marginalized in terms of wealth?
Who has access to prestige? Prestige is the way others give you respect and honour. Check out the people in your place. Who are the ones so highly respected? Why? What are their characteristics that makes them so highly respected? (Check the work they do, the income they have and the way they consume things—their consumer behaviour). What about those not so respected? Why are they not so respected? Who are the people marginalized in terms of respect?
Who has access to political power? This power is the type of power in which you get what you want even with the resistance of others. Check out who are the people in your place who make decisions for many others. Maybe their decisions affect the village or the town. Perhaps when decisions are made these people will be consulted for their approval. Who are those who can mobilize police or army or similar forms? Who are those who can have influence over courts and the judiciary? What about others? Who are the people with less power? Who are the powerless?
Superstructure
Ideology (Harris/Johnson model)
            In more complex and modern societies there are big gaps between those who are dominant and the sub-ordinate, between those who have better access to resources and those who have less access to.  Law and order may not be easy. So society will need police/army power to makes rue that all is ok….no big conflicts arising. In a way, the police/army force is a specialized sector of society. Members here are full time in police/army matters, they are trained with sophistication. They are trained to make sure that deviancy is controlled.
            But it is very expensive for a society to maintain its police/army. If at every moment of deviancy the police/army has to be there, it can be too heavy. Another way can be done—as supplement to police/army force. Society needs the service of a particular sector which will make sure that society runs smoothly without much deviancy. Specialists are employed for this service. Their job is to supplement the police/army power. Their job is more on directing people’s thoughts. This is less expensive than using police/army force. Specialists here make public monuments, they are in charge of big events of kings or presidents or P.M.s In other words, there are specialists whose job is make a public presentation of the objects representing the dominant classes. By doing this the status of the dominant classes are made legitimate in the thoughts of the people. A “belief system” is created so that people will see that the dominant classes are the accepted and approved classes. They have their dominance accepted.
           Let us use the word "ideology". Symbols representing the dominating groups are presented and people will see that the dominating class have the right to their status as dominants. When people see the symbols—often in TV or in print media—people see that the dominant classes are so well recognized. Monuments, tombs, full ceremonies, etc. These are examples. Sometimes ideologies are ideas—found in books and propaganda materials. Ideology directs people’s minds, thoughts and even feeling. It motivates people to accept the interests and status of the dominant classes. Motivation can go even as far as telling people to support the dominant classes. People are made to even identify with the ruling groups. By doping this people are led to turn away from their status as sub-ordinates.
Shall we try to conclude?
            What we try to establish is this. People need to survive within their worlds—the world of their ecological conditions and also of their historical inter-actions. People have to adapt. To adapt they produce (and control their reproduction). People work to make a living. Some work are very “simple” and directly linked with nature. Other forms of work are complex…quite distant from nature.
            As people try to survive they get organized. What is strong here is the security hold on the strategies to survive. So we see the different ways of holding “access to”. Organizations can be “simple” revolving around family and village life, or it can be “complex” revolving around economic-political structures with centralized governments. But somehow take note that people really sustain and maintain their “access to”.
            Finally, people also justify why they take hold of security. This is how we can understand the meaning of “ideology”. “Ideas” are carved to justify the existing relationships—the power and access to different resources and the “places” in which people are put. “Ideas” are carved to tell people what is the “appropriate way to live” within the social setting.   
            In the course of time these have become so habitual…they become the marks of “culture”.

Ownership or control of “access to”

Introduction
We said that people need to survive. They survive by getting or “capturing” food. Although we focused mainly on food, do not forget that people also need clothing, shelter, good health, etc. As society becomes more complex the survival also becomes complex. Maybe in a simple society it is enough to eat well and live simply. Butt in a complex society we need to eat well, clothe ourselves well, live well in strong shelters…and we need to go to school, we need to have a computer in the house, we need to have cars, we need to travel, etc. We become quite complex. To survive is not just to eat it is also to be part of a whole complex system.

The next question: access
Notice that people must obtain or have the basic things like food. Some people are more stable and independent than others. Some people own lands, and today some own businesses, bank accounts. Others do not own these things.
We see that some people have more money than others. Some people are more powerful than others, they get what they want. Some people are more honored than others, they are praised more. So in society there is the “more”…there is the “less”.
Yes, we need to eat, we need to protect ourselves, we need to have a good health. But what are the means by which we can have these? Now we come to the discussion of the second part. The first part was the “infrastructure” adaptation. The second part, now, is “structure”. Now we will look into the “having” means to survive. It is not enough to say that there are food, clothing, shelter, schools, hospitals, transportation, etc. We must ask: how to we have access to these? The access to these is important because without this access our chances of surviving a living properly becomes precarious.
Let us begin with the notion of “exchange”. In any society, there is the transfer of a product from one person to another person. In exchange there is a reciprocal transfer. When we were children our parents transferred to us the food they received. We, as little children, reciprocated by charming them and by cleaning the house and doing errands. Our “survival” happened thanks to this “exchange”.
Today, we go to the store to get food, for example. The store “transfers” to us the food. Then we exchange by paying. We give money. Now we can eat. If we want to study in a school, there is a school that transfers to us knowledge and information. We, in turn, pay the school fees and tuition. There is an exchange.
If we need to own and get and have what we need, it is transferred to us but we give back something in return. If we need to survive, food is transferred to us, but what do we give back? Clothing is transferred to us, but what do we give back? Shelter is transferred to us, what do we give back? Education is transferred to us, what do we give back? Electricity is transferred to us, what do we give back? Medicine is transferred to us, what do we give back?
We are inter-related with each other and it is a world of exchange.

Exchange as “transfer”
Let us talk about exchange. What is this word “exchange”? In exchange there is a transfer between persons (or groups). In our modern societies, money is exchanged for goods. Money—cash—is very important for exchange. If we want something we exchange it for money.
Some societies may be non-money societies, that is, they do not use money too much. Their exchange is different. In the very early times there was a direct exchange between the environment and people. In the hunting and gathering societies, for example, there was a direct transfer from the mountain and the trees to people. But as societies became complex humans had less and less of the direct exchange with nature. Somehow, today, in our very complex world, to get what we want we rely on what others can give.
This does not mean that all exchanges happening in our modern societies always involve money. Some exchanges can also be non-money exchanges…sometimes. We may exchange gifts, exchange services, even gestures. A mother gives a nice plate of food to the son. The son does not pay. The son thanks the mother and smiles and embraces her. There is no money involved.
But for the mother to make that nice and delicious meal, another form of exchange happened. She went to the store and to the market. No embraces happened. She did not embrace the seller in the market. That time, there was money involved. In our modern lives we get both, money and non-money exchanges. Very often, we get what we need through money….very often.
Let us look closely at what we exchange.

Material Things
Ok, most often we exchange material things…like food. When couples get married their families might exchange food to each other—like in a marriage feast. Neighbours might be giving food to each other. Today it is my mother who cooks a lot and gives to the neighbours. Next week neighbours might bring us some of their food.
Maybe we exchange gifts…or drinks…t-shirts, books, cards, etc. These are material exchanges. One gives a material object and receives, in return also a material object.

Labour
Labour is another form of exchange. I work for you and you work for me. I help you in your farm and you help me in my house repair. There is labour sharing.
We see this in farms especially during certain seasons when farmers need the help of many others. People come and give their hand. In return they might be given a nice meal or they might be invited for a  feast.

Money
Let’s face it. This is our most familiar object of exchange, especially in our countries. Money, today, is a key medium of exchange. But let us be careful. We might think of money in terms of coins and paper. In some places money can be shells, types of beans, types of stones or tusks of boars. But we are more familiar with the money that we have each day—the coins and the paper.
Money can be used in exchange for many things. It is multi-purpose. It can be used to buy things—objects, services, land, information, etc. Money can also be used to get…money too!
Money is very convenient. It can be carried in the pocket or in a wallet—it is portable.
We can have one piece of paper with a big value or we can have coins amounting to the same value. Money is divisible.
Now, if you money you can buy either this object or that object with the same value. If you have ten dollars and you want to buy ten dollars of toothpaste, well you can decide on buying instead ten dollars of beer. In other words, the ten dollars can apply to any object. Money therefore is generalized.
Now if you use money, you need not know who exactly made that coin or paper. Also, you do not have to be someone else to use that money. That money can be used by anyone and anywhere (in the country, of course). We cannot say that because the user is a child, the value changes. My ten dollars and the ten dollars of a child can buy the same object. Money then is anonymous.
There is one crucial point about money too. Clearly we cannot photo copy them and use the photocopies to buy what we want. Each piece of paper or coin holds a legal value. There is a government control in the use of money. Money is therefore legal.
Notice then how convenient money is. There is an evolution going on here. We may be familiar with coins and papers, but there are also such things now as “cards”…like credit cards. Then there is also “e-money”, like in the payment of “paypal”. Underneath the transactions are monetary values—like five dollars or fifty dollars—but the medium is electronic. In some societies people do not carry money anymore, they use cards or they “e-mail”.

Reciprocal and Redistributive exchanges
We may think of certain exchanges that are quite “balanced”. Let us say we give gifts to each other. A gift is something we give and we do not, in principle, expect anything in return. Maybe later on we receive gifts too. But there is no declared statement that we should be giving gifts in return. However, if we look closely, we do find some people with reciprocal “expectations”. In other words, some people also expect something in return…maybe not now, maybe later. Some relationships are built on expectations. I gave you a gift this Christmas…why have you forgotten to give me in return? I greeted you hello during your birthday, why are you not saying hello now? We have been sharing our extra food but until now you have not shared anything. Here there is no official written declaration of returning something, but the expectation is there. Some societies function a lot this way…people expect exchanges from each other.
Some societies work with “redistribution”. This may look very strange for modern people, but check it out. In redistribution one person collects—say food—from everyone else and then redistributes to everyone. The redistribution may be formal—like the central person will partition the food for all. It can also be done through feasts. The central person makes a big feast where everyone is invited and will then partake of the pooled food (food gathered).
If we find this unusual…well, it is not. Taxation is a form of redistribution. We give to a central “person”, like the administering government office for taxes, and the money is redistributed throughout the country where roads, bridges, schools, etc. are constructed. Note that there is redistribution.

Market Exchange
We are most interested in “market” exchange. Now the market is what we know—the market. It is a central place where goods are delivered and there are people selling. Buyers come and look for what they want—and they buy, they pay. In many markets we know there are farmers who unload their goods—vegetables from this farm, meat from that farm, fruits from another farm. Some people may be unloading leather or clothes or pots or ropes or bags or…etc. The goods are then sold in the market. Different sorts of people with different needs come to buy. Most exchanges are done with money.
Some markets come and go. Like there is a day in the week in which goods are unloaded in a central place and the buying and selling take place. These are known as “periodic markets”. But then there are “permanent markets” that are fixed and set up in a place and the buying and selling are done on a daily basis.  
Both the periodic and the permanent markets have a kind of “personalized” feature. We see the sellers and we might even see the farms. People meet, talk, negotiate prices, etc. We see faces. But then there are other markets that are highly impersonal. Think of malls. Yes, we may be in front of sales people but we do sense something less personal. The products sold do not have the “personal touch” anymore. Many are branded and factory made.
And then think of the highly depersonalized markets—like the stock exchange. There we really do not see faces anymore—except, of course the presence of brokers. But really we see figures on boards and we see buying and selling and we are not sure who is who behind all those numbers.

Profit
People make exchanges. Some exchanges are useful because we get the object or the service that we want in the exchange. We exchange money for something else concretely. It can be a toothpaste or the service of a doctor.
With money, however, what we experience is this: we can buy anything with money. Therefore, we might as well accumulate money—have more money because it entitles us to have access to many things. Consequently, people can work with the aim of making more money. Production now shifts from production for use to production to make more money. 
Let us say that you are a farmer and you produce rice. That rice is for use. People will buy from you…they will pay you and you give them rice. But then you notice that with the money they pay you can do a lot more things. One is you add value to your rice. You make profit from your rice. Now you start producing rice not just as a means of exchange for what other people need. You produce rice to make extra money for yourself. Then later on you realize that you can plant pineapple and tobacco. People will not eat pineapple all the time…not every meal is with a pineapple. People will not have tobacco for breakfast. Pineapple and tobacco are not in the list of basic needs of people. But you, as farmer, see them as opportunities to make money. So you cultivate these not to meet the basic needs of people but…to make more money. The products are for profit. So you start a whole business of pineapples and tobacco not for basic use but for profit. Why run after profit? Well, the point is, money can buy anything…so why not run after money—profit.

Price market exchange
So now we have a better view of “market”. Initially market may be the place of exchange of things we need—the basic stuff we need, like food and clothing. The exchange has become quite complex that profit has entered the picture. What we find today is the “price market exchange”. Money has to accumulate now. It has to grow. There has to be profit in the exchange.
Notice that in this type of exchange there is now a “competition” between buyers and sellers. Sellers want profit while buyers try to economize as much as possible.
Everything will have to have a price—a monetary value. This is crucial. Nothing escapes the evaluation of money. Exchange now will have to be evaluated according to monetary terms…and those involved in the exchange will try to reap as much gain as possible. The sellers would like to make more money from their sales while buyers would like to not to give up as much money as possible. At some point both sellers and buyers will “agree” on a price—a monetary value. With that price sellers will have made profit and buyers will have economized. Hopefully it is a win-win situation. But is it?

Ownership
We come to a delicate topic—that of “ownership”. Some have better access to resources than others. This is how we would understand “ownership”. It is the capacity to have access to resources.
In some—quite simple societies—everyone seems to have equal ownership of land and tools, for example. In fact, they would see that the land does not really belong to them—it belongs to “nature”. People do not stake a permanent claim of ownership. So they move from place to place depending on what the environment offers.
It is different in societies where people stake claims of ownership. In farms that we know, there are “landowners”. They have a claim of ownership to land. They have titles to support that claim. In a modern context there are owners of business, for example. They are often called the “capitalists”.
Ownership is a strong element in societies. People need to have a strong hold on the production and consumption of goods. It is a matter also of security. The better one has a hold—an ownership—over access to resources, the more secured one is.
Part of the environment is not just nature but…other people too. Somehow society has to get organized and have strategies of control over resources, especially food and other goods addressing basic needs.  So a big question is addressed: how do people protect and improve standard of living? How can people guarantee their continued access to resources? Here is where ownership arises. People need to stake a claim of ownership over resources and access to resources.
Problems of resource depletion, for example, can arise. Problems of resources falling into the hands of others and thereby my losing security over resources can arise.
Lots of strategies can be devised. People might have a more sharing style of relating with each other to avoid the monopoly of ownership. People might like to feast a lot to make sure that resources are distributed as widely as possible. In other instance, people might go to war.

Securing control
It all boils down to securing control over production, exchange and consumption. In our societies we see this happening. There are “owners” of production and means of exchange. (Remember what we said about the control of the supply food chain? We said that today many companies own not just the raw material resources but also the processing and the transporting of products. From farm to table they own much of the processes.)
To won is to have a better control of access. A whole set of relationship happens between those who have “more access” than those who do not. We have a whole set of social living where people try to be “secured” in access to resources. Some are “more secured” than others. Social scientists describe often societies in terms of “stratification”. Some are “on top” while others are “below”.
Check who owns production. When we say “ownership of production” we can look at those who own land and those who own business that hire and give salaries.
In your place—your home place—check how people are organized according to ownership. Check also who are dependent on the owners. So, if your home place is very agricultural, see the relationship between the landowners and the tillers (tenants) of the land. How are they related? Check the way rent is paid. Check the way the tenant depends of the landowner. Is there any conflict between landowners and tenants? How is the conflict managed? If you come from a more commercial or industrial place, check the owners of shops or factories. Who are employed there? How are they paid? Is there any conflict between employers and employees? How is the conflict managed?

Max Weber
Let us take inspiration from the thoughts of Max Weber.
Who has access to wealth? Wealth can mean many things that people own. People can own animals, machines, land, money, jewellery, houses, etc.   Check who has more wealth? (How do they send their children to school? How do they manage their health needs? How do they feed themselves? How do they spend leisure?) Who are the people marginalized in terms of wealth?
Who has access to prestige? Prestige is the way others give you respect and honour. Check out the people in your place. Who are the ones so highly respected? Why? What are their characteristics that makes them so highly respected? (Check the work they do, the income they have and the way they consume things—their consumer behaviour). What about those not so respected? Why are they not so respected? Who are the people marginalized in terms of respect?
Who has access to political power? This power is the type of power in which you get what you want even with the resistance of others. Check out who are the people in your place who make decisions for many others. Maybe their decisions affect the village or the town. Perhaps when decisions are made these people will be consulted for their approval. Who are those who can mobilize police or army or similar forms? Who are those who can have influence over courts and the judiciary? What about others? Who are the people with less power? Who are the powerless?


There is progress…or is there progress?
1.    What is the idea of progress? There is progress and we move towards a better future. This is how modernity sees humanity. Humanity is progressing. Well, this idea was very popular beginning around the end of 1600’s. Modernity was on the rise and the “old Tradition” was being criticized.
2.    Progress can be defined as a process or steps in which what is happening today is better than what happened before. The recent is better than the past. The recent is superior  to the past. This includes the idea that there is change going on and change is taking a direction. The direction is understood to be a direction towards something better. Change therefore is a movement towards a better world, a better life, a better society. This change is natural and cannot be stopped. This change also is irreversible because we cannot go and take a step backward. So when we think about the future the change will always lead to something better. The future is better than today.
3.    Notice that there is a “straight line” thinking here. Time moves in a straight line. History has a meaning and that meaning is becoming more and more fulfilled. History moves to a “bright future”. Together with this is the idea that all humans move to that direction towards a “bright future”. One day, all people will be in a kind of wonderful and perfect society. Of course people will not just sit down and wait for the future to happen. People are still involved; people still have to act. But the progress will mean that people will really move to transform the world and humanity is master of history and nature. Humanity chooses to act for progress.
4.    The future will be a “very happy” future. Now the idea of progress is supplemented by modern science and technology. The human being is “master” and dominates over nature. The human is capable of discovering the laws of nature. The human can therefore apply this knowledge to transform nature. Of course this includes mathematical applications. Nature is like a machine. The human, using science, technology and mathematics can dominate over nature and use nature for human progress. In nature there is “cause and effect”. The human discovers this and can intervene in this “cause and effect”. So everything can be useful for humanity to move on.
In passing, we can add that there is a strong connection between this optimism of progress with the idea of “merchandising”.
5.    What is merchandising? Well, it is the idea that everything has a price, especially monetary price. Calculate things and labor according to price. If the world can be mathematical and mechanical, so everything else in the world can be mathematical and mechanical—including things we produce and buy and including work and service.
6.    Sometime in the 1700’s-1800’s, there were economists who believed that the human is a creature of plenty of desires. In fact desires are hard to satisfy; the human has insatiable desires. So the idea here is that the human must maximize satisfying desires. The human must make use of science, technology and other instruments to gain satisfaction of desires. Progress would mean the advancement of the human capacity to meet human needs and desires.
7.    Just look at what is happening, especially in science and economics. Always look forward to the future. Notice how the past—including tradition—is rejected. If the future is very important there is not need to dwell on the past. The past should have no authority over us. Let human change happen. Progress cannot be stopped.
8.    The idea of progress gives value to what is new. Progress always has the thirst for what is new. Of course what is new will always be better than the old. Just look at how technology is presenting things new and better.
9.    The idea of progress tells us to walk together towards a better future—let us progress. But let us be aware that the human is always on the move towards better perfection. Yes, the human is marked by desires. The human is also marked by “perfectibility”. In other words the human progresses to more perfection.
10.  Maybe we are different from each other in terms of language, ethnicity, sex, age, etc. But all our differences can be erased and we can all be transformed into becoming more perfect and better. By education, for example, we can be the same. We can all be “civilized” under one common civilization.
11.  The idea of progress tells us that we should avoid obstacles to progress. One obstacle is tradition in which we still believe in “superstitions” and the authority of elders and priests. We should not stop the movement of progress towards a better world. Humanity should not be burdened by the past. Humanity should always move to the future.
12.  This idea of progress gives a lot of value to Reason. We should not be ruled by emotions and personal tastes. We should be governed by rational thinking. Of course one question can arise: when will progress end? Will the day come when all will really be ok and happy and perfect? Or will progress be indefinite and non-ending?
Are we regressing?
13.  Or is it possible that we are not progressing but regressing? It is also possible that humanity regresses—it moves to a worse future. Just look at the big wars we have had in the 1900’s. Yes, we can say that we are advancing in material things. But this advancement has a cost. Material life has improved but it has created cities of crime and depression. Material life has improved but it has created environmental degradation. Now there are people who advocate environmental concern and they do not agree with the idea of progress. Bio-technology may be improving but at the cost of genetic manipulation that threatens all agriculture. 
14.  Pope Francis himself criticizes the progress of economics. Economics, he says, eats up whatever is obstacle to the way of increased profits. The environment and the poor needy people are seen as obstacles to the interests of the “market”. Progress has made us live according to the rules of the market and this is highly questionable for the pope.
15.  Today we still sense the influence of the idea of progress. Our governments and economists still tell us that we really must move forward for a better future—a better economy and a better politics. The orientation towards a better future is still strong in our governments. It is also strong in the heads of many people. Maybe people feel uncertain about the future but there seems to be a general agreement that the future will really be better. People give a lot of hope to science and technology. People still want to see new things.
In poor countries the idea of progress is marked by the idea of “development”. Poor countries try to become like the rich and “developed” countries. So development is about progress becoming like the rich countries.  This was already proposed in the 1960’s by an economist named Walt Rostow. He said that all societies will move in progress.
16.  What do you think?

Social integration (stability), deviance and control

Social Integration and deviancy
1.                   Social “integration” means that a society has strong links among its members. One sociologist used the concept a lot—he was Émile Durkheim. He said that for a society to be integral, everyone must be united with others. This assures stability. Everyone must be integrated with others. Society shows the capacity to reduce the disparities and differences and in so doing can avoid deviancy. What is deviancy?
2.                   Deviancy is action that escapes the rules and norms—the “shoulds” approved by society. It is action of not conforming with the approved norms of the social group. An action goes against the norms. Deviancy is one of the big topics in the social sciences touching on fields like law, history, anthropology, sociology and psychology. Examples of deviancy are crime, drug use, sexual misconduct, etc.
3.                   Deviancy is defined by what social members approve. What is deviant for one society might not be deviant for another. What scandalizes a social group may not scandalize another social group. What we can say as deviant is this: what is disapproved by the members of a given society. The norms might be official, as written in the law books. But it can also be unofficial as part of the everyday life norms. 

Conformity and social control: One theory in the line of Durkheim
4.                   We can go back to the sociology of E. Durkheim. He saw that when integration is strong there is a strong regulation of the actions of social members. The regulation limits the behavior of people so that people will stay within the norms of the social group. If the social group shows signs of weak integration—there is weak cohesion—social control also weakens. When social control weakens then there is the risk of more deviancy.
5.                   In the USA, notably in the Chicago school of sociology, this position of Durkheim has been widely accepted for a long time. The sociologists studies delinquency in major American cities. They saw that social disorganization can happen in a city that is badly planned and badly organized. There is a decrease in social control especially in poor neighborhoods. They saw that inside poor communities “gangs” emerged. A gang broke away from the accepted norms of society. They engaged in deviancy like crimes. For the sociologists they said that social disorganization did not allow some people to express themselves and articulate their needs. In simple terms, they were not heard. So crime can be understood as a way of communicating.
6.                   So what then is social control? It is a social strategy that assures that social members respect and obey rules and norms. There are controls that are formal and there are controls that are informal.
7.                   Formal social controls are done officially and formally by specialized groups in society. Examples are: the police, the court of justice, religion. Sanctions are institutional. So there is the fine, the legal prohibitions and even jail.
8.                   Informal social controls happen in the course of daily life like controls inside the family with sanctions given by elders and parents. Among friends there are sanctions that they impose on each other. Among classmates, there are sanctions too. Controls are implicit and may not be officially and legally declared. People can laugh at others, they might make jokes against others, shame others, or they might encourage and compliment each other. Today people send facebook messages or cel phone messages to give opinions that control. The whole work is to produce a maintenance of conformity to norms of the social group. What about the radio, t.v., the newspapers? They may not be able to directly sanction people, but they have sanctioning powers too. They can publish their opinions and judgements—and so make their own ways of control.
9.                   Some sociologists say that social control is effective if the member of society is already integrated in the social group. If an individual is not part of the social group then the control may not make sense. (Remember what we discussed about the foreigner and the local. Locals understand the norms and so they understand the control. Foreigners do not see the whole meaning of the norms, so they do not fully appreciate the  controls.)
In social control people are expected to respect and observe the norms. This assures the stability of the social group. Just imagine if everyone will just do anything without control. It will be a chaotic society.
10.                Note then that social links and stability is always associated with social control. Social stability discourages deviancy. To avoid disintegration social members avoid deviancy. Every social member accepts to be part and member of the social group. Social members recognize social impositions, rules, disciplinary actions, etc. as also valide for internal control. Let us put this simply as this: If I want a stable social life, I internally live according to the external control of the social group. I accept to live according to the (both formal and informal) impositions of my society.
11.                Note then that social links can be “flight path” of social control. The concern for living coherently and stable together is what supports social control. The desire of social members to have an integral social life promotes control. Sociologists use the word “conformity”. They observe four types of conformity. (T. Hirschi)
Attachment: people conform because of their attachments to others. They have persons of reference to attach to. Children attach to parents, for example. Because of this attachment they accept the control of parents. In attachment people identify with the importance of the judgement of their reference persons. They conform with the judgements of reference persons. The reference persons can then be sources of external control. They can punish or reward those attached to them. They limit the tendency of transgression and deviancy.
Engagement: Here people choose to conform their lives with others. This is often found in institutions—like in a school or a church. People get involved with the institution and their lives are shaped according to their engagement in the institution. Hence they accept the external control of the institution.
Implication: Here persons are interested in how they are implicated in the activities of the social group. We can see this, for example, in a club. A member is implicated in whatever happens to the club. The member is therefore concerned about how far he or she is implicated. The member is interested in the role he/she plays in the social group. Feeling implicated and feeling the importance of one’s role in society, the member accepts the impositions and control. The member conforms to the control.
Belief: Here social members believe in the validity of the ways of the social group. Members accept the value and meaning of living with the social group and they believe in the truth of the norms of the social group. Of course the degree of belief depends on each member. Yet in general social members share the same values that they believe in.
12.                Some sociologists would put numbers 2 and 3 together. They say that people can be engaged in institutions and feel implicated inside.
13.                Notice that the types of conformity seem to coincide with levels of maturity. A child begins with attachment. Then, growing up, the person gets engaged with society—concerned with politics, social problems, etc. The person feels implicated, saying that “I have a role…I have a responsibility”. Finally, the person believes in the values and norms of society. Hence the social member is willing to adhere to society.

Practical: Costs and Benefits
14.                This theory of social control has a presupposition: that people are practical. An action—whether in the norm or deviant—relies on the practical evaluation of costs and benefits that can happen with the action. In other words, there is more benefit that cost in an action. There is more benefit than cost in conforming with society. To be attached to an institution, for example, means that people see a benefit in doing that. They can profit from their attachment. People are engaged because they see a practical benefit in it. People feel implicated and they take their responsibilities seriously because they benefit from it. Their belief in the norms imply a practical benefit—belief is also profitable.
15.                Notice then that a stable society can be a society that is able to offer people benefits. People feel that their places are “profitable”; their actions gain more benefits than costs. A weak society that is so disorganized and unstable tends to create more costs for people. Thus, people go deviant.
16.                Now, if social members notice that there is no benefit from any of their conformity, if they notice a weakness in gratifications, the evaluation of costs and benefits tend to reverse. Now social members feel that the costs are more than the benefits. It is more costly to be attached, to be engaged, to be implicated, to believe. It is more costly to conform. What is the consequence? It will be more beneficial to be deviant.
17.                Some studies about school children have shown that when the school became burdensome, children tended to go deviant. The “anti-school” behavior would look for areas where children can be recognized and appreciated. Their teachers did not anymore benefit their psychological needs.
18.                Let us look at social crimes. Crimes happen depending on the place of members are. If social members are in places where they experience little or no social benefits they reject their conformity to society and they do crimes.  So crimes result from the search of persons for benefits. People do not have jobs. Their housing are un-homely. Their health care is not attended. So they do crime. It is a communicative way to say that they are not benefiting from society and that they want to be where there are benefits. What do you think?
19.                Some sociologists think that in society (and surely this is a complex society) there is a kind of “market of belonging-to”. A person is exposed to different social groups offering activities that can benefit that person. In school this can happen. High school adolescents group themselves according to interests. A fresh student then is offered membership in a group where that student can have a feeling of belonging. The student benefits from the group.



Deviance for Robert Merton

Merton says that people are deviant when they cannot meet the demands of society. Deviants are persons who cannot achieve the expectations of society. Deviants feel a strain when they cannot achieve what society expects of them. According to Merton, people conform to social ways or they are deviants. When they become deviants, they can be deviants in four ways:
1. Conformity: The individual person conforms to the ways of the social group. The individual sees no problem in terms of goals and the means of society. There is no need to go deviant to obtain goals.
2. Innovation: The innovator accepts the expectations of society but cannot achieve those expectations by legitimate means. They have to go illegal—against the law. Stealing is an example.
3. Ritual: There are persons who reject social expectations but they accept the means. They do not agree with society but they go through the gesture of participating. Hence they are like doing only a “ritual” but their “heart” is not present. A person might work very hard but does not believe in the importance that society thinks about work.
4. Retreatism: Some people reject both social expectations and means. They do not agree with society and social living and they do not anymore participate in social life. Alcoholics and drug addicts are in this category. They have “retreated”.
5. Rebellion: There are individuals who reject social expectations, they stop participating but they look for alternatives. Revolutionaries and insurgents are examples here.
Merton thinks that in society there are dominating people. The ideas and desires of the dominating people rule over all society. Everybody in society tries to follow the dominants. The dominant group is their point of reference. Correct social participation means doing what dominant people expect that people should do. Deviant people are those who do not always accept the rules of the dominant.
Think about some behavior that might be deviant in your country: stealing, cheating, disobeying traffic rules, alcoholism, rape, picking the nose in public, interfering someone talking, urinating in the street, murder, hiding in the room. Can you see in which box of Merton each of these can be put? Can you add other examples?
On Stratification
1.    Sociologists and anthropologists suggest that stratification is happening everywhere. It seems to be the way societies evolve—they become stratified over time. Why? The social scientists propose some theories.
2.    One theory is called the functionalist theory. This theory says that people have behaviour and roles that function for the society. Some people do things that are more important than what other people do. So they have a higher function in society. They are more qualified in society. Take the case of two persons, one is a medical doctor and the other is a school janitor. The functionalist theory will say that the doctor has a higher function and is more important and is more qualified than the janitor. So the doctor will have to be more rewarded than the janitor. Stratification is a result of competence and important functions. In a society people have their places of function and competence. It is therefore normal that society will be stratified. It is normal that there will be major differences among people. 
3.   
 
Another theory—called the conflict theory—states that stratification is a result of private ownership. If we follow the ideas of Marx, a society stratifies because of its conservation of ownership of the means of production. Some people would try to conserve their hold of the means of production—like land or machines, offices, etc. So there are landowners “versus” tenants. There are capitalists “versus” workers. There is a conflict between those who own and those who do not own.
4.    Max Weber is not exactly in the line of Marx. If we follow the ideas of Max Weber we see that stratification involves the access to wealth, prestige and hold of army/police. Stratification is a result of people having more power to access wealth, prestige and police power.  So even if Weber is different from Marx, he seems to be in the conflict line because of the conflict in accessing resources.  
*****
5.    In the changes of our societies we became more and more stratified. Look at the history of our countries. But there were other contributions to stratifying our countries. One theory states that  colonialism  had a strong influence in stratifying us. Colonialism was the activity of powerful countries to come to our countries and take resources from our countries. The resources were used in the colonizing countries. For example sugar and coconut and tobacco were intensified in our countries and sent to the colonizing countries. Our countries were modified by the colonizers—our agriculture was transformed and our people were stratified.
6.   
 
Another theory saying why we have been so stratified in called the “world system theory”. This theory says that in the international scene countries were re-organized according to “centre” and “periphery”. There were core countries that dominated the  economy while other countries—like our countries—were made dependent on the core countries.  Our countries/societies were modified to serve the core countries. So within our countries we were heavily stratified. Some people were closer to the core-rich/powerful nations. They formed the elites of our countries. Others have become “under” the elites.
7.    So our societies were re-structured—stratified. The rural/village area has its elites close to the elites of towns and cities. The elites of towns and cities are close to the core nations like the USA and European nations.
8.    Let us apply the theory of Karl Marx in our evaluation of our countries.
Check who owns production. When we say “ownership of production” we can look at those
·                     who own land and
·                     those who own business that hire and give salaries.
In your place—your home place—check how people are organized according to ownership. Check also who are dependent on the owners. So, if your home place is very agricultural, see the relationship between the landowners and the tillers (tenants) of the land. How are they related? Check the way rent is paid. Check the way the tenant depends of the landowner. Is there any conflict between landowners and tenants? How is the conflict managed? If you come from a more commercial or industrial place, check the owners of shops or factories. Who are employed there? How are they paid? Is there any conflict between employers and employees? How is the conflict managed?
9.    Let us apply the theory of Weber.
·         Access to wealth: Wealth can mean many things that people own. People can own animals, machines, land, money, jewellery, houses, etc.   Check who has more wealth? (How do they send their children to school? How do they manage their health needs? How do they feed themselves? How do they spend leisure?) Who are the people marginalized in terms of wealth?
·         Access to prestige: Prestige is the way others give you respect and honour. Check out the people in your place. Who are the ones so highly respected? Why? What are their characteristics that makes them so highly respected? (Check the work they do, the income they have and the way they consume things—their consumer behaviour). What about those not so respected? Why are they not so respected? Who are the people marginalized in terms of respect?
·         Access to political power: This power is the type of power in which you get what you want even with the resistance of others. Check out who are the people in your place who make decisions for many others. Maybe their decisions affect the village or the town. Perhaps when decisions are made these people will be consulted for their approval. Who are those who can mobilize police or army or similar forms? Who are those who can have influence over courts and the judiciary? What about others? Who are the people with less power? Who are the powerless?
10.  After evaluating your place, try answering this question: Is the relationship among the people in your place functional or conflicting? Are the differences accepted or are the differences cause of tension and conflict?
Review for Socio-Cultural class
1.    In society people need to live and survive. They do this by engaging in “capturing” energy like food. (Of course they need to shelter themselves and protect themselves in the environment. They also reproduce. But we did not study these.) People in society have been relating with the environment according to how much the environment can provide for their needs. But later people “intensified” and put pressure on “carrying capacity”. Explain
2.    Agriculture was a turning point in the changes of our societies. With agriculture people were able to do more non-food production. Life became more “complex” and the way to survive also became more “complex”. What were some of the changes that agriculture made?
3.    People need to live and survive. It is not enough to say that people relate with the environment. People also relate with each other and organize. Social life is not just about direct relating with nature. It is also about people relating with each other. In this relationship and organization people secure their survival. Some are more secured than others. Some are not even worried about surviving because they have so much. Life in society became more “unequal”. Two social thinkers have their views about this. Marx said it is about “private ownership”. Weber said it is about the different “access to wealth, power and prestige”. Explain.
4.    Using Weber’s idea of “access to”, why is money today important?
Ideology: Means of Control (Harris/Johnson model)
1.    In more complex and modern societies there are big gaps between the dominant and the sub-ordinate. Law and order may not be easy. So society will need police/army power to makes rue that all is ok….no big conflicts arising. In a way, the police/army force is a specialized sector of society. Members here are full time in police/army matters, they are trained with sophistication. They are trained to make sure that deviancy is controlled.
2.    But it is very expensive for a society to maintain its police/army. If at every moment of deviancy the police/army has to be there, it can be too heavy. Another way can be done—as supplement to police/army force. Society needs the service of a particular sector which will make sure that society runs smoothly without much deviancy. Specialists are employed for this service. (In terms of Becker, there are “moral entrepreneurs”). Their job is to supplement the police/army power. Their job is more on directing people’s thoughts. This is less expensive than using police/army force. Specialists here make public monuments, they are in charge of big events of kings or presidents or P.M.s In other words, there are specialists whose job is to make a public presentation of the objects representing the dominant classes. By doing this the status of the dominant classes are made legitimate in the thoughts of the people.
3.    Let us use the word ideology. Symbols representing the dominating groups are presented and people will see that the dominating class have the right to their status as dominants. When people see the symbols—often in TV or in print media—people see that the dominant classes are so well recognized. Monuments, tombs, full ceremonies, etc. These are examples.
4.    Sometimes ideologies are ideas—found in books and propaganda materials. Ideology directs people’s minds, thoughts and even feeling. It motivates people to accept the interests and status of the dominant classes. Motivation can go even as far as telling people to support the dominant classes. People are made to even identify with the ruling groups.
5.    There is, in ideology, attempt to shape the minds of people so that they accept the status quo. They will also not be deviants by refusing to be moved by opposing ideas.
6.    Look at other areas where ideology can be in operation.
7.    The family can be an agent of ideological control. Of course we do not consider the father or the mother as “specialist”…at least not in the same way as a lawyer is a specialist. But there is something in family life that can resemble a specialising ideological function. 
8.    The family teaches us attitudes, values, and behaviour considered appropriate by society. Through the family we learn self-control, sensitivity to society and feelings of guilt whenever we break approvals of society. Now a family may also be attuned to the approvals of the elite. So the family can serve as “moral entrepreneur” of ideology.
9.    What about school and education? Yes, education can be a tool of ideology. The school teaches us standards approved by society—and by the elite. Schools can also indoctrinate students in the approved ways about work, authority, and the elite. Teachers can be specialists of ideology—even if they are not maybe aware that they are doing it.
10.  Religion also can be ideological. Religious groups give guidelines of behaviour. Religious groups can reinforce the status quo by teaching “what should be accepted”.  One of the dangers of religion is that it can teach poor people to accept their status as poor and not be critical about it. Maybe religion can use the idea of sin to say that people are poor because of sin. Or a religion will say that those who suffer now will have to accept their status quo and be rewarded in the next life. So the focus is not in what is happening now but in the after-life. Priests, pastors, and other religious leaders are specialists in their fields and they can be ideologically functioning—even if they are not maybe aware that they are doing it. 
11.  Sports can be ideological! This might surprise us. Sports contain rules, procedures, training, and competitive desires. Sports can reinforce the value of competition and the status of winners. Athletes and trainers can be ideological—even if they are not maybe aware that they are like that. 
12.  Media is certainly marked by ideology. We will focus on this. Media can often promote images and ideologies that support the status quo. Let us look at advertising later.
13.  Notice then that there are many areas of society that promote and conserve a “belief system”. People are made to accept and conform with a social life in which the dominant classes are the accepted and approved classes. The elites have their dominance accepted. People’s minds are shaped to conform.

Copy Strategy in Advertising
1.    Advertisements are a form of communication. The goal is to call the attention of “consumers” or “buyers” to adapt to a wished behavior. What is this wished behavior? It is to buy a product. Of course it can also be to call attention to elect a political personality. It can be a call to attention to accept an idea. It can me to attract attention to a service. The point is to attract attention on something—a product or a person or a service or an idea—and to suggest that people “do something” about the attraction.
2.    The aim then is to affect changes in behavior—like to buy (because people do not have it yet). While the behavior is affected there is an underlying value presupposed: there is a benefit in behaving that way. The consumer is favored by the act. Hence, every advertisement has a message: “do something and it is ok for you”.
3.    So advertisements have the effect of augmenting or increasing economic exchanges and technical innovations. New products are introduced; new technological inventions are promoted.
4.    An enterprise might want to sell its products. In a more complex society there are specialists who will take care—full time—of this need for enterprises to sell. A full time specialist in advertisement will then conceive of ideas as to how to sell. Of course this is paid.
5.    Advertisements tend to all “look the same”—or “homogenize”—as we become more and more global. The ads of one country becomes more and more similar to many other countries. Of course there are contents that indicate differences according to cultures. But a keen observation will show how similar they all can get in many ways.
6.    Advertisements influence a lot the desires and perceptions of needs of people. Advertisements can change people’s norms—food norms, clothing norms, even sexual and other behavioral norms. This is why a uniformity of advertisements among different countries can indicate that common general norms become more and more accepted and applied.
7.    Can we say that advertisements are effective? Well, for one thing, a lot of investments and put into ads. And advertisement does not only look for what people want it also shapes minds to create wants that people will try to satisfy. So: do not just satisfy, create desires to be satisfied by consumption.
8.    Here is one strategy in doing advertisements. It is called the “copy-strategy” started by the soap company Procter & Gamble. It is a strategy that focuses on how a product can benefit consumers. Consequently four elements are put to operation:
·         The theme: this is the product (or service) that a company wants to sell. It must contain certain information that the product (or service) contains. The theme gives information but often does not give all information. So the point here is to check what information must the consumer know (and not know).
·         The “promise”: Here the advertisement will show the consumer’s advantage in buying the product (or service). How will the consumer be satisfied with the product? What benefits can the consumer get? Here there is a “conative” or “emotional” component involved. Is the consumer “seduced” by the product? Is the consumer awakened to have interest in the product? Has the consumer realized that the product is really desired by the consumer? Is the consumer then attracted to buy the product? 
·         The “proof”: Here the advertisement justifies the promise. The advertisement will show that the product itself contains the solutions to the consumer’s desires. So it is not enough to give information about the product, it is necessary to add that the product itself—and what it contains—is really what the consumer wants. (At times the advertisement might subtly show how other competing products are not as effective.)
·         The “tone”: Here the advertisement presents the product in a situation…at “atmosphere” or “ambience”. Many elements that are not directly relevant to the products can be put in. Maybe the product is present in a particular place and in a particular time with a specified group of people. The tone therefore is the situation in which the product is placed. The tone can be very visual with sounds and music and with words. It all depends on the strategy of advertising. Included here is the way to buy the product—whether in the store, or by telephone, etc.
9.    Recall the advertisements we watched in class. Do you notice how common they all tend to become? Can you identify how the “copy-strategy” was used?

A Few observations about advertisements
1.    Advertisements promote an ideal world. It is a world that is generally inaccessible to most people in society. To have access to that world, one must pay.
2.    But even as one pays, that ideal world remains still inaccessible. What is that ideal world? It is a world that is contrary to the world where we live in. In the world where we live we have things that are not permanent. In the world where we live the things we have—like cellphones, computers, food, health care—can become obsolete. To overcome having the obsolete, we have to buy new things. So advertisements keep on bringing us images of new things. Buy the new product…the old one is becoming obsolete. Notice then that there is an “ideal” to reach where things are always new.
3.    That ideal world is symbolized by the “top”: the top model, the top product, the top person, etc. Those in the “top” are presented in the advertisement to show that we, consumers, must aim to be “like them”. But they stay on the “top” and we do our best to reach that level with our buying.
4.    So in advertisements we can notice the promotion of a world “out there” that is not within our reach. Notice that it is a “happy world”. It is a world in which people who buy products look very happy. It is a chance to be so happy too, so buy. Put all the advertisements together—those we watched in class. Notice that they all have the common feature of presenting a very happy world to which we strive for.
5.    That happy world is in dissonance with the actual world of daily life. What is happening in daily life? Well, there are conflicts and struggles. People work hard. Families have difficulties and some people are sad, lonely and depressed. In daily life there are workers waking up early in the morning, going to work, spending hours at work and getting paid with small salaries. Such a world is not presented in advertisements.
6.    So there is the world—happy and ideal—that advertisements present and there is the actual hard world of daily life. A dissonance is created. We are made to focus on the happy ideal world. Because advertisements are in television and in movies and newspapers, they give the impression of being the officially approved ways of living.
7.    We, people of daily life, are stimulated to orient ourselves according to the approved images. How do we do this? We do it by consumption. We buy the products promoted by the advertisements. So somehow we can “stay in the loop” and we are not left behind.
8.    Unfortunately, even values can be affected. We try to follow the promotion of advertisements even if it means possibly saying yes to unhealthy and unjust inclinations. A product might be associated with, say, sexual promiscuity. Never mind the sexual conduct, what is important is buying the product.
9.    Ideology, we saw, is a way of shaping people’s minds to make people approve the existing social situation they are in. It is a form of social control. Advertisements have that status of approval. They are powerful media telling society—through symbols and images—what are approved and accepted in society. Because advertisements are so well placed in television, newspapers, etc., they really appear as official images of social relationships. They are unquestioned. (In fact we cannot question; there is dialogue between us and the advertisements. Advertisements flood us with information and statements and we absorb them.)
10.  Advertisements, therefore, present us with “official identities” of who are elite and who are not. Advertisements serve as “identity vector” telling us to look at the ways of the elite and dominant classes and accept the place of the dominant. Class differences are approved in symbols and images of advertisements. There are the “approved and correct” places for the dominant class. Notice, for example, the “tone” of advertisements: people are in wealthy houses, people are in wealthy and comfortable localities, people are behaving and spending luxuriously. We see images of people who seem to be spending their lives having fun and not working and struggling with salaries and family problems. It is a “happy world” that advertisements show. That “happy world” is inhabited by elites and dominant classes. It is the approved world.
11.  Advertisements, therefore, do not just reflect what is happening in society. They also “format” social behavior by orienting us to an ideal, happy world and saying that it is the approved world. It is a world that is not accessible to everyone but some persons have access to it—they are “happy people” of the dominant class. We are formatted to say yes to that status of the dominant and to keep that status unquestioned.
12.  Advertisements, therefore, do not just sell products they also legitimize the status of the dominant class. People accept and approve that. They try to identify with that and by consumption they may have some ways of identifying with.
13.  In a way, also, advertisements help the dominant class to secure its survival in society. By shaping minds into making minds accept the status quo, questions and critical positions are avoided. Notice that advertisement can have a subtle strategy of even softening possible questioning. It is possible that some people may ask and wonder why indeed society is marked with inequality. Many people might really question the status of the dominant. Some advertisements have the strategy of making the dominant class look “good”, “nice” and “caring”. This cushions the possible critical questions of people. When people see advertisements of “nice” elites, why then must they pursue their criticisms and questions? 
Review for Socio-Cultural class
1.    If there is “conformity” there can also be “innovation”, “ritualizing”, “retreatism” and “rebellion”. Explain each of these. Think of examples.
2.    Ideology is a form of social control. Explain. Think of examples.
3.    What is ideology trying to preserve? Think of examples.
4.    Advertisements can be ideological. Explain. Think of examples.
5.    There are many ways to prepare for advertisements. One strategy is the “copy strategy”. Describe this. Think of examples.
6.    When we look at a theme we see also horizons. Explain. Think of examples.
7.    Why do we select a theme? Explain in terms of “plans” and “facts”. Think of examples.
8.    A plan, when it is fulfilled, becomes a fact. Explain. Think of examples.
Review for Socio-Cultural class
5.    In society people need to live and survive. They do this by engaging in “capturing” energy like food. (Of course they need to shelter themselves and protect themselves in the environment. They also reproduce. But we did not study these.) People in society have been relating with the environment according to how much the environment can provide for their needs. But later people “intensified” and put pressure on “carrying capacity”. Explain
6.    Agriculture was a turning point in the changes of our societies. With agriculture people were able to do more non-food production. Life became more “complex” and the way to survive also became more “complex”. What were some of the changes that agriculture made?
7.    People need to live and survive. It is not enough to say that people relate with the environment. People also relate with each other and organize. Social life is not just about direct relating with nature. It is also about people relating with each other. In this relationship and organization people secure their survival. Some are more secured than others. Some are not even worried about surviving because they have so much. Life in society became more “unequal”. Two social thinkers have their views about this. Marx said it is about “private ownership”. Weber said it is about the different “access to wealth, power and prestige”. Explain.
8.    Using Weber’s idea of “access to”, why is money today important?


No comments:

Post a Comment