Hierarchy of Cultures In societies where there are different kinds of people, one group is usually larger or more powerful than the others. Generally, societies consist of a dominant culture, subcultures, and countercultures.
A dominant culture is a culture that is the most powerful, widespread within a social or political entity in which multiple cultures are present. The dominant culture refers to the established language, religion, behavior, languagereligionbehavior valuesvalues and social customs. social customs
In the United States, the dominant culture is that of white, middle-class, Protestant people of northern European descent. There are more white people here than African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, or Native Americans, and there are more middle- class people than rich or poor people.
The majority doesn't always rule A group does not have to be a majority, to be a dominant culture. In South Africa, there are four times as many black Africans as white Africans of European descent. Yet under a system of racial segregation and domination called apartheid, which was legally in effect from 1948 to 1991, the white population managed to hold political and economic power. South African whites thus were the dominant culture.
A subculture is a group that lives differently from, but not opposed to, the dominant culture. A subculture is a culture within a culture. For example, Jews form a subculture in the largely Christian United States. Catholics also form a subculture, since the majority of Americans are Protestant. Members of these subcultures do belong to the dominant culture but also have a material and nonmaterial culture specific to their subcultures.
In the U.S. a subculture is the snake handlers who live in Appalachia in the Southeast or the stock brokers who work on Wall Street. This type of cultural group will often develop its own language, which is known as an argot, that further distinguishes the group. For example, members of subcultures who are fans of electro-house music have an eclectic vocabulary that includes terms like hipster, Molly,.
The following elements can also define a subculture: Occupation Financial status Political ideals Sexual orientation Age Geographical location Hobbies
One important theorist of subcultures was W. E. B. Du Bois. The first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University, Du Bois was one of the most renowned sociologists of race relations in the United States. He described racism as the predominant problem that American culture faced in the twentieth century. He paid special attention to the effects of what he called the color line in America and studied the impact of racism on both whites and blacks.
A counterculture is a subculture that opposes the dominant culture. For example, the hippies of the 1960s were a counterculture, as they opposed the core values held by most citizens of the United States. Hippies eschewed material possessions and the accumulation of wealth, rejected the traditional marriage norm, and espoused what they called free love, which was basically the freedom to have sex outside of marriage. Though hippies were generally peaceful, they opposed almost everything the dominant culture stood for. Not all countercultures are nonviolent. In 1995, the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was blown up, killing 168 people and injuring many others. That horrific crime brought to light the existence of another counterculture in the United States: rural militias. While such groups go by several names, their members tend to be people who despise the U.S. government for what they see as its interference in the lives of citizens.
A counterculture, on the other hand, is considered somewhat deviant against society. This type of subculture defies at least one aspect of the dominant culture. Examples of countercultures includes: The hippies who protested the war in Vietnam KKK clan members who terrorize other ethnic groups Homeschooling families who choose not to enroll their children in public or private educational institutions Militant groups who are against government control Survivalists who believe society is going to collapse due to man-made or natural events
Ethnocentrism and Xenocentrism Whenever someone believes that their own culture is superior over another culture, this is ethnocentrism. On the reverse end of ethnocentrism is xenocentrism. This means to think that another culture is better than your own. For example, you might think that the math skills of students in Singapore are better than those of American students or that food in France is better than your Spanish cuisine. This can create distress among a society when its individuals do not feel that their own culture is up-to-par.