2015: The World Unbound

Social Studies

Worlds Held Together, Worlds Torn Apart

  1. Questions to Discuss

    • What holds a culture together, and what might cause a culture to fall apart?
    • What culture, or cultures, do you belong to?
    • Is your culture the same as your country?
    • Where did you develop your culture?
    • Are any cultures incompatible with one another?
    • Is it ever acceptable to say one culture is better than another?
    • What might drive a person to abandon his or her culture?
    • Does it mean more to you to see an original artwork than a perfect duplicate?
    • What makes a place authentic? How about a cuisine?
    • Suppose the original you had died and you were a perfect duplicate who had been created as a replacement—would you want to be told you weren’t the original you?
    • Can you think of a symbol or hand gesture that means something to you but would mean something different to your parents—or to people in another part of the world?
  1. The Ties that Bind

    • Sources of Cultural Identity
      • Frameworks to Evaluate: The Five Dimensions of Culture | Mechanical vs. Organic Solidarity | Sociobiology vs. Cultural Selection | Functionalism
      • Key terms: Ethnocentrism | Cultural Adaptation | Social Structure | Symbol | Pluralism | Ethnicity | Nationalism | Subculture | Enculturation | Rituals | Inversion | Reinforcement Culture Shock | Deviance
      • Examples to Consider: Festivals | Sporting Events | Political and Other Crises
    • Socializing Agents in the 21st Century
    • Semiotics: The Study of Meaning-Making
      • Signs and Signifiers
      • Icons, Indexes, and Symbols
      • Sample Exhibits: Gendered Bathroom Signs | Hipster Beards| Car and Clothing Colors | Software Design
    • Obstacles to Intercultural Communication and Collaboration
      • Trompenaars' model of national culture differences
      • Chronemics and cultural perceptions of time
    • The Reemergence of Anarchism
  1. Break-Ups and Breakdowns

  1. Additional People to Investigate (Examples)

    • Michel Foucault | Martin Heidegger | Judith Butler
    • Charles Sanders Peirce | James Scott | Fons Trompenaars
    • Emile Durkheim | Geert Hofstede | Robert Merton | Chie Nakane
  1. Current Cases and Questions to Discuss