Monday, February 5, 2018

Culture can be tricky...

Today we are playing cards!  (No - not Hold 'Em, sorry)

We are playing a game similar to Spades or Hearts or Euchre, called a "trick" game.

The game is made up for sociology.  Teach each other how to play.

Once we start, I will ask that you PLAY WITHOUT LANGUAGE.

When I clap, the one winner of the most tricks from each group will rotate clockwise.

The one loser from each group will rotate counter clockwise.

Rock paper scissors to decide ties.


Welcome to Unit 2: Culture!

Download the packet for Unit 2 here.

Today in class we examined how people react when they come into contact with different cultures. Culture is essentially all the rules we learn about how to live our lives. We played a card game that illustrated this. When we are exposed to other cultures and we see such different rules, we are sometimes in shock of how different the other culture is (culture shock). If this shock results in our judging a culture based on the rules we have learned that is called ethnocentrism. Instead, sociologists try to use cultural relativity when examining a culture.

 Another metaphor for culture that we use is a fishbowl. All of the stuff in the fishbowl is material culture. But what you can't see (the water) is just as important (if not more so): the ph value of the water, the temperature, whether it is salty or not, etc... This is called nonmaterial culture. Additionally, the fish has never known life out of water just like we have been surrounded by culture from the moment we are born. And lastly, the fish must look through the water to see the world just as we always look through our culture to understand the world. We are limited and shaped by our cultural experiences. If the water in the bowl is blue then the whole world looks blue to the fish.

Identify the following reactions to culture:

            Culture Shock -
Ethnocentrism -

            Cultural Relativity –

How is culture like a fish bowl?


  1. As American's, we are sometimes too stubborn to appreciate what other countries have to offer. For instance, when American's go to a Chinese Restaurant, we always ask for forks and knives. Most of us, can't adjust ourselves to the chopsticks that the Chinese use. It is a culture shock to us. Also, like the story you told us about the Japanese toilet, that would be a huge culture shock to me and a lot of other Americans. For me, it would be a very uncomfortable way to go to the bathroom; however, it is a very smart way to keep bathrooms clean. Mostt American's someties have a hard time adjusting themselves to other cultures.

  2. For the most part mixing with people of different cultures has always taught there are many ways to look at and be in the world.

  3. Hi! I teach high school Sociology in South Carolina and am always looking for new ideas. What sort of card game was it?

    1. Hi LBB! You've come to the right place! I run a google listserve with nearly 200 teachers nationwide on it! There is an archive with discussions about lessons and teaching ideas. Please feel free to join the group: chicagoareasociologyteachers here is the link:!forum/chicagoareasociologyteachers

      As for this activity, it is usually called barnga. If you email me, I can send it to you. You can also find it on the web. Here is one link: