Biotech: The Countercultural Origins of an Industry (Politics and Culture in Modern America)

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  3. 3.1. What Is Culture?
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Cultures both constrain and continually go beyond constraints. In everyday conversation, people rarely distinguish between these terms, but they have slightly different meanings, and the distinction is important to how sociologists examine culture. If culture refers to the beliefs, artifacts, and ways of life that a social group shares, a society is a group that interacts within a common bounded territory or region. To clarify, a culture represents the beliefs, practices, and material artifacts of a group, while a society represents the social structures, processes, and organization of the people who share those beliefs, practices, and material artifacts.

Neither society nor culture could exist without the other, but we can separate them analytically. In this chapter, we examine the relationship between culture and society in greater detail, paying special attention to the elements and forces that shape culture, including diversity and cultural changes.

A final discussion touches on the different theoretical perspectives from which sociologists research culture. Humans are social creatures. Since the dawn of Homo sapiens , nearly , years ago, people have grouped together into communities in order to survive. Living together, people developed forms of cooperation which created the common habits, behaviours, and ways of life known as culture — from specific methods of childrearing to preferred techniques for obtaining food.

Peter Berger b. Unlike other animals, humans lack the biological programming to live on their own. They require an extended period of dependency in order to survive in the environment. The creation of culture makes this possible by providing a protective shield against the harsh impositions of nature. Culture provides the ongoing stability that enables human existence.

This means, however, that the human environment is not nature per se but culture itself. Over the history of humanity, this has lead to an incredible diversity in how humans have imagined and lived life on Earth, the sum total of which Wade Davis b. It is our collective cultural heritage as a species. A single culture, as the sphere of meanings shared by a single social group, is the means by which that group makes sense of the world and of each other.

But there are many cultures and many ways of making sense of the world. Through a multiplicity of cultural inventions, human societies have adapted to the environmental and biological conditions of human existence in many different ways. What do we learn from this? Firstly, almost every human behaviour, from shopping to marriage to expressions of feelings, is learned. In Canada, people tend to view marriage as a choice between two people based on mutual feelings of love.

In other nations and in other times, marriages have been arranged through an intricate process of interviews and negotiations between entire families, or in other cases, through a direct system such as a mail-order bride. To someone raised in Winnipeg, the marriage customs of a family from Nigeria may seem strange or even wrong.

In other words, the way in which people view marriage depends largely on what they have been taught. Behaviour based on learned customs is, therefore, not a bad thing, but it does raise the problem of how to respond to cultural differences. Secondly, culture is innovative. The existence of different cultural practices reveals the way in which societies find different solutions to real life problems. The different forms of marriage are various solutions to a common problem, the problem of organizing families in order to raise children and reproduce the species. The basic problem is shared by the different societies, but the solutions are different.

This illustrates the point that culture in general is a means of solving problems. It is a tool composed of the capacity to abstract and conceptualize, to cooperate and coordinate complex collective endeavours, and to modify and construct the world to suit human purposes. It is the repository of creative solutions, techniques, and technologies humans draw on when confronting the basic shared problems of human existence.

The existence of different cultures refers to the different means by which humans use innovation to free themselves from biological and environmental constraints. Thirdly, culture is also restraining. Cultures retain their distinctive patterns through time. In global capitalism, although Canadian culture, French culture, Malaysian culture and Kazakhstani culture will share certain features like rationalization and commodification, they also differ in terms of languages, beliefs, dietary practices, and other ways of life.

They adapt and respond to capitalism in unique manners according to their specific shared heritages. Local cultural forms have the capacity to restrain the changes produced by globalization. On the other hand, the diversity of local cultures is increasingly limited by the homogenizing pressures of globalization. Economic practices that prove inefficient or uncompetitive in the global market disappear. The meanings of cultural practices and knowledges change as they are turned into commodities for tourist consumption or are patented by pharmaceutical companies.

Globalization increasingly restrains cultural forms, practices, and possibilities. There is a dynamic within culture of innovation and restriction. The cultural fabric of shared meanings and orientations that allows individuals to make sense of the world and their place within it can either change with contact with other cultures or with changes in the socioeconomic formation, allowing people to reinvision and reinvent themselves, or it can remain rigid and restrict change.

Many contemporary issues to do with identity and belonging, from multiculturalism and hybrid identities to religious fundamentalism, can be understood within this dynamic of innovation and restriction. Similarly, the effects of social change on ways of life, from the new modes of electronic communication to failures to respond to climate change, involve a tension between innovation and restriction.

The premise we will be exploring in this chapter is that the human world, unlike the natural world, cannot be understood unless its meaningfulness is taken into account. Human experience is essentially meaningful, and culture is the source of the meanings that humans share. What are the consequences of this emphasis on the meaningfulness of human experience? What elements of social life become visible if we focus on the social processes whereby meanings are produced and circulated?

Culture is the term used to describe this dimension of meaningful collective existence. Culture refers to the shared symbols that people create to solve real-life problems. What this perspective entails is that human experience is essentially meaningful or cultural. Human social life is necessarily conducted through the meanings humans attribute to things, actions, others, and themselves.

In a sense, people do not live in direct, immediate contact with the world and each other; instead, they live only indirectly through the medium of the shared meanings provided by culture. This mediated experience is the experience of culture. The sociology of culture is, therefore, concerned with the study of how things and actions assume meanings, how these meanings orient human behaviour, and how social life is organized around and through meaning.

Max Weber notes that it is possible to imagine situations in which human experience appears direct and unmediated; for example, someone taps your knee and your leg jerks forward, or you are riding your bike and get hit by a car , pp. In these situations, experience seems purely physical, unmediated.

Yet when we assimilate these experiences into our lives, we do so by making them meaningful events. By tapping your knee, the doctor is looking for signs that indicate the functioning of your nervous system. She or he is literally reading the reactions as symbolic events and assigning them meaning within the context of an elaborate cultural map of meaning: the modern biomedical understanding of the body. But afterwards, when you reconstruct the story for your friends, the police, or the insurance company, the event would become part of your life through this narration of what happened.

Equally important to note here is that the meaning of these events changes depending on the cultural context. A doctor of traditional Chinese medicine would read the knee reflex differently than a graduate of the UBC medical program. The problem of meaning in sociological analysis, then, is to determine how events or things acquire meaning e. Sociological research into culture studies all of these problems of meaning.

The central argument put forward in this chapter is that human social life is essentially meaningful and, therefore, has to be understood first through an analysis of the cultural practices and institutions that produce meaning. Nevertheless, a fascination in contemporary culture persists for finding biological or genetic explanations for complex human behaviours that would seem to contradict the emphasis on culture.

In one study, Swiss researchers had a group of women smell unwashed T-shirts worn by different men. The researchers argued that sexual attraction had a biochemical basis in the histo-compatibility signature that the women detected in the male pheromones left behind on the T-shirts. Women were attracted to the T-shirts of the men whose immune systems differed from their own Wedekind et al. In another study, Dean Hamer b. Therefore, women were thought to be able to use both sides of their brains simultaneously when processing visuo-spatial information, whereas men used only their left hemisphere.

In each of these three cases, the authors reduced a complex cultural behaviour — sexual attraction, homosexuality, cognitive ability — to a simple biological determination. Nevertheless, they follow a logic of explanation known as biological determinism , which argues that the forms of human society and human behaviour are determined by biological mechanisms like genetics, instinctual behaviours, or evolutionary advantages. Sociobiological propositions are constructed in three steps Lewontin, First they identify an aspect of human behaviour which appears to be universal, common to all people in all times and places.

Second, they assume that this universal trait must be coded in the DNA of the species.


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There is a gene for detecting histo-compatibility that leads instinctively to mate selection. Third, they make an argument for why this behaviour or characteristic increases the chances of survival for individuals and, therefore, creates reproductive advantage. Mating with partners whose immune systems complement your own leads to healthier offspring who survive to reproduce your genes. Despite the popularity of this sort of reason, it is misguided from a sociological perspective for a number of reasons. Another implication of his argument was that if aggression is instinctual, then the idea that individuals, militant groups, or states could be held responsible for acts of violence or war loses its validity.

However, a central problem of sociobiology as a type of sociological explanation is that while human biology does not vary greatly throughout history or between cultures, the forms of human association do vary extensively. It is difficult to account for the variability of social phenomena by using a universal biological mechanism to explain them. Even something like the aggressive tendency in males, which on the surface has an intuitive appeal, does not account for the multitude of different forms and practices of aggression, let alone the different social circumstances in which aggression is manifested or provoked.

It does not account for why some men are aggressive sometimes and not at other times, or why some men are not aggressive at all. If testosterone is the key mechanism of male aggression, it does not account for the fact that both men and women generate testosterone in more or less equal quantities. Nor does it explain the universal tendencies of all societies to develop sanctions and norms to curtail violence. To suggest that aggression is an innate biological characteristic means that it does not vary greatly throughout history, nor between cultures, and is impervious to the social rules that restrict it in all societies.

Ultimately, this means that there is no point in trying change it despite the evidence that aggression in individuals and societies can be changed. The main consideration to make here is not that biology has no impact on human behaviour, but that the biological explanation is limited with respect to what it can explain about complex cultural behaviours and practices.

This observation about a seemingly straightforward biological behaviour suggests that smiling is inborn, a muscular reflex based on neurological connections. However, the smile of the newborn is not used to convey emotions. It occurs spontaneously during rapid eye movement REM sleep. Only when the baby matures and begins to interact with his or her environment and caretakers does the smile begin to represent a response to external stimuli.

Moreover, from the age of 6 months to 2 years, the smile itself changes physically: Different muscle groups are used, and different facial expressions are blended with it surprise, anger, excitement. The smile becomes more complex and individualized. Therefore, social scientists see explanations of human behaviour based on biological determinants as extremely limited in scope and value.

These sometimes radical differences between cultures have to be accounted for instead by their distinct processes of socialization through which individuals learn how to participate in their societies. From this point of view, as the anthropologist Margaret Mead put it:. Aside from the explanatory problems of biological determinism, it is important to bear in mind the social consequences of biological determinism, as these ideas have been used to support rigid cultural ideas concerning race, gender, disabilities, etc.

Several hundred individuals were also sterilized in British Columbia between and McLaren, The interesting question that these biological explanations of complex human behaviour raise is: Why are they so popular? What is it about our culture that makes the biological explanation of behaviours or experiences like sexual attraction, which we know from personal experience to be extremely complicated and nuanced, so appealing?

As micro-biological technologies like genetic engineering and neuro-pharmaceuticals advance, the very real prospect of altering the human body at a fundamental level to produce culturally desirable qualities health, ability, intelligence, beauty, etc. The concept of the gene and the idea of genetic engineering have entered into popular consciousness in a number of strange and interesting ways, which speak to our enduring fascination with biological explanations of human behaviour.

If the old eugenics movement promoted selective breeding and forced sterilization in order to improve the biological qualities and, in particular, the racial qualities of whole populations, the new eugenics is focused on calculations of individual risk or individual self-improvement and self-realization. In the new eugenics, individuals choose to act upon the genetic information provided by doctors, geneticists, and counsellors to make decisions for their children or themselves Rose, This movement is based both on the commercial aspirations of biotechnology companies and the logic of a new biological determinism or geneticism , which suggests that the qualities of human life are caused by genes Rose, The concept of the gene is a relatively recent addition to the way in which people begin to think about themselves in relationship to their bodies.

The popularization of the idea of the gene entails the development of a new relationship to the human body, health, and the genetic predispositions to health risks as we age. On the basis of what might happen to her based on probabilities of risk from genetic models she decided to take drastic measures to avoid the breast cancer that her mother died of.

Her very public stance on her surgery was to raise public awareness of the genetic risks of cancers that run in families and to normalize a medical procedure that many would be hesitant to take. At the same time she further implanted a notion of the gene as a site of invisible risk in peoples lives, encouraging more people to think about themselves in terms of their hidden dispositions to genetically programmed diseases. Many misconceptions exist in popular culture about what a gene actually is or what it can do. Like biological determinism in general, the gene introduces a kind of fatalism into the understanding of human life and human possibility.

Often, a comparison of one culture to another will reveal obvious differences. But all cultures share common elements. Cultural universals are patterns or traits that are globally common to all societies. One example of a cultural universal is the family unit: Every human society recognizes a family structure that regulates sexual reproduction and the care of children.

Even so, how that family unit is defined and how it functions vary. In many Asian cultures, for example, family members from all generations commonly live together in one household. In Canada, by contrast, individuals are expected to leave home and live independently for a period before forming a family unit consisting of parents and their offspring. Anthropologist George Murdock first recognized the existence of cultural universals while studying systems of kinship around the world. Murdock found that cultural universals often revolve around basic human survival, such as finding food, clothing, and shelter, or around shared human experiences, such as birth and death, or illness and healing.

Through his research, Murdock identified other universals including language, the concept of personal names, and, interestingly, jokes. Humour seems to be a universal way to release tensions and create a sense of unity among people Murdock, Sociologists consider humour necessary to human interaction because it helps individuals navigate otherwise tense situations. Imagine that you are sitting in a theatre, watching a film. Cue the music. The first slow and mournful notes are played in a minor key. As the melody continues, the hero turns her head and sees a man walking toward her.

The music slowly gets louder, and the dissonance of the chords sends a prickle of fear running down your spine. Now imagine that you are watching the same movie, but with a different soundtrack. As the scene opens, the music is soft and soothing with a hint of sadness. You see the hero sitting on the park bench and sense her loneliness.

Suddenly, the music swells. The woman looks up and sees a man walking toward her. The music grows fuller, and the pace picks up. You feel your heart rise in your chest. This is a happy moment. Music has the ability to evoke emotional responses. In television shows, movies, and even commercials, music elicits laughter, sadness, or fear. Are these types of musical cues cultural universals? The research team travelled to Cameroon, Africa, and asked Mafa tribal members to listen to Western music.

The tribe, isolated from Western culture, had never been exposed to Western culture and had no context or experience within which to interpret its music. Even so, as the tribal members listened to a Western piano piece, they were able to recognize three basic emotions: happiness, sadness, and fear.

Music, it turns out, is a sort of universal language. Researchers also found that music can foster a sense of wholeness within a group. In fact, scientists who study the evolution of language have concluded that originally language an established component of group identity and music were one Darwin, Additionally, since music is largely nonverbal, the sounds of music can cross societal boundaries more easily than words.

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Music allows people to make connections where language might be a more difficult barricade. As Fritz and his team found, music and the emotions it conveys can be cultural universals. Despite how much humans have in common, cultural differences are far more prevalent than cultural universals. For example, while all cultures have language, analysis of particular language structures and conversational etiquette reveals tremendous differences.

In some Middle Eastern cultures, it is common to stand close to others in conversation. North Americans keep more distance, maintaining a large personal space. Even something as simple as eating and drinking varies greatly from culture to culture. If your professor comes into an early morning class holding a mug of liquid, what do you assume she is drinking?

The way cuisines vary across cultures fascinates many people. Almost everyone is a little bit ethnocentric. Someone from a country where dogs are considered dirty and unhygienic might find it off-putting to see a dog in a French restaurant. But ethnocentrism can lead to disdain or dislike for other cultures, causing misunderstanding and conflict.

European colonizers often viewed the people in the lands they colonized as uncultured savages who were in need of European governance, dress, religion, and other cultural practices. A more modern example of cultural imperialism may include the work of international aid agencies who introduce modern technological agricultural methods and plant species from developed countries while overlooking indigenous varieties and agricultural approaches that are better suited to the particular region.

Ethnocentrism can be so strong that when confronted with all the differences of a new culture, one may experience disorientation and frustration. In sociology, we call this culture shock. An exchange student from China might be annoyed by the constant interruptions in class as other students ask questions — a practice that is considered rude in China. But as they experience unanticipated differences from their own culture, their excitement gives way to discomfort and doubts about how to behave appropriately in the new situation. Eventually, as people learn more about a culture, they recover from culture shock.

Culture shock may appear because people are not always expecting cultural differences. Originally from Indiana, Barger hesitated when invited to join a local snowshoe race. Sure enough, he finished last, to his mortification. To the Inuit people winning was enjoyable, but their culture valued survival skills essential to their environment: How hard someone tried could mean the difference between life and death. Over the course of his stay, Barger participated in caribou hunts, learned how to take shelter in winter storms, and sometimes went days with little or no food to share among tribal members.

Trying hard and working together, two nonmaterial values, were indeed much more important than winning. During his time with the Inuit, Barger learned to engage in cultural relativism. Cultural relativism requires an open mind and a willingness to consider, and even adapt to, new values and norms. The logic of cultural relativism is at the basis of contemporary policies of multiculturalism. However, indiscriminately embracing everything about a new culture is not always possible.

Sociologists attempting to engage in cultural relativism may struggle to reconcile aspects of their own culture with aspects of a culture they are studying. Nor does an appreciation for another culture preclude individuals from studying it with a critical eye. In the case of female genital circumcision, a universal right to life and liberty of the person conflicts with the neutral stance of cultural relativism. It is not necessarily ethnocentric to be critical of practices that violate universal standards of human dignity that are contained in the cultural codes of all cultures, while not necessarily followed in practice.

Not every practice can be regarded as culturally relative. Cultural traditions are not immune from power imbalances and liberation movements that seek to correct them. Feminist sociology is particularly attuned to the way that most cultures present a male-dominated view of the world as if it were simply the view of the world.

In part this is simply a question of the bias of those who have the power to define cultural values, and in part it is the result of a process in which women have been actively excluded from the culture-creating process. The overall effect is to establish masculine values and imagery as normal. One prominent aspect of contemporary Canadian cultural identity is the idea of multiculturalism.

Canada was the first officially declared multicultural society in which, as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared in , no culture would take precedence over any other. Multiculturalism refers to both the fact of the existence of a diversity of cultures within one territory and to a way of conceptualizing and managing cultural diversity.

As a policy, multiculturalism seeks to both promote and recognize cultural differences while addressing the inevitability of cultural tensions. Multiculturalism represents a relatively recent cultural development. Prior to the end of World War II, Canadian authorities used the concept of biological race to differentiate the various types of immigrants and Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

After World War II, the category of race was replaced by culture and ethnicity in the public discourse, but the mosaic model was retained. Culture came to be understood in terms of the new anthropological definitions of culture as a deep-seated emotional-psychological phenomenon. In this conceptualization, to be deprived of culture through coercive assimilation would be a type of cultural genocide.

Based on a new appreciation of culture, and with increased immigration from non-European countries, Canadian identity was re-imagined in the s and s as a happy cohabitation of cultures, each of which was encouraged to maintain their cultural distinctiveness. So while the cultural identity of Canadians is diverse, the cultural paradigm in which their coexistence is conceptualized — multiculturalism — has come to be equated with Canadian cultural identity.

However, these developments have not alleviated the problems of cultural difference with which sociologists are concerned. Multicultural policy has sparked numerous, remarkably contentious issues ranging from whether Sikh RCMP officers can wear turbans to whether Mormon sects can have legal polygamous marriages. This position represented a unique Quebec-based concept of multiculturalism known as interculturalism.

Whereas multiculturalism begins with the premise that there is no dominant culture in Canada, interculturalism begins with the premise that in Quebec francophone culture is dominant but also precarious in the North American context.

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It cannot risk further fragmentation. On the other hand, proponents of multiculturalism like Will Kymlicka describe the Canadian experience with multiculturalism as a success story. Kymlicka argues that the evidence shows:. Compared to residents of other Western democracies, Canadians are more likely to say that immigration is beneficial and less likely to have prejudiced views of Muslims.

The first two elements of culture we will discuss, and perhaps the most crucial, are values and beliefs. Beliefs are the tenets or convictions that people hold to be true. Individuals in a society have specific beliefs, but they also share collective values. To illustrate the difference, North Americans commonly believe that anyone who works hard enough will be successful and wealthy.

Underlying this belief is the value that wealth is good and desirable. Children represent innocence and purity, while a youthful adult appearance signifies sexuality. Sometimes the values of Canada and the United States are contrasted. Americans are said to have an individualistic culture, meaning people place a high value on individuality and independence. In contrast, Canadian culture is said to be more collectivist, meaning the welfare of the group and group relationships are primary values.

As we will see below, Seymour Martin Lipset used these contrasts of values to explain why the two societies, which have common roots as British colonies, developed such different political institutions and cultures Lipset, Marital monogamy is valued, but many spouses engage in infidelity.

Values often suggest how people should behave, but they do not accurately reflect how people do behave. Values portray an ideal culture , the standards society would like to embrace and live up to. But ideal culture differs from real culture , the way society actually is, based on what occurs and exists. In an ideal culture, there would be no traffic accidents, murders, poverty, or racial tension. But in real culture, police officers, lawmakers, educators, and social workers constantly strive to prevent or repair those accidents, crimes, and injustices.

Teenagers are encouraged to value celibacy. However, the number of unplanned pregnancies among teens reveals that not only is the ideal hard to live up to, but that the value alone is not enough to spare teenagers from the potential consequences of having sex. One way societies strive to put values into action is through rewards, sanctions, and punishments. When people observe the norms of society and uphold its values, they are often rewarded. People sanction certain behaviours by giving their support, approval, or permission, or by instilling formal actions of disapproval and non-support.

Sanctions are a form of social control , a way to encourage conformity to cultural norms. Sometimes people conform to norms in anticipation or expectation of positive sanctions: Good grades, for instance, may mean praise from parents and teachers. A boy who shoves an elderly woman aside to board the bus first may receive frowns or even a scolding from other passengers. A business manager who drives away customers will likely be fired. Breaking norms and rejecting values can lead to cultural sanctions such as earning a negative label — lazy, no-good bum — or to legal sanctions such as traffic tickets, fines, or imprisonment.

Values are not static; they vary across time and between groups as people evaluate, debate, and change collective societal beliefs. Values also vary from culture to culture. For example, cultures differ in their values about what kinds of physical closeness are appropriate in public.

It is rare to see two male friends or coworkers holding hands in Canada where that behaviour often symbolizes romantic feelings. But in many nations, masculine physical intimacy is considered natural in public. A simple gesture, such as hand-holding, carries great symbolic differences across cultures.

So far, the examples in this chapter have often described how people are expected to behave in certain situations — for example, when buying food or boarding a bus. These examples describe the visible and invisible rules of conduct through which societies are structured, or what sociologists call norms.

As opposed to values and beliefs which identify desirable states and convictions about how things are, a norm is a generally accepted way of doing things. Norms define how to behave in accordance with what a society has defined as good, right, and important, and most members of the society adhere to them because their violation invokes some degree of sanction. They define the rules that govern behaviour. Formal norms are established, written rules. Laws are formal norms, but so are employee manuals, college entrance exam requirements, and no running at swimming pools.

Formal norms are the most specific and clearly stated of the various types of norms, and the most strictly enforced. But even formal norms are enforced to varying degrees, reflected in cultural values. For example, money is highly valued in North America, so monetary crimes are punished.

It is against the law to rob a bank, and banks go to great lengths to prevent such crimes. People safeguard valuable possessions and install anti-theft devices to protect homes and cars. Until recently, a less strictly enforced social norm was driving while intoxicated. While it is against the law to drive drunk, drinking is for the most part an acceptable social behaviour. Though there have been laws in Canada to punish drunk driving since , there were few systems in place to prevent the crime until quite recently.

These examples show a range of enforcement in formal norms. People learn informal norms by observation, imitation, and general socialization. Children learn quickly that picking your nose is subject to ridicule when they see someone shamed for it by other children. Although informal norms define personal interactions, they extend into other systems as well. Think back to the discussion of fast food restaurants at the beginning of this chapter.

In Canada, there are informal norms regarding behaviour at these restaurants. Customers line up to order their food, and leave when they are done. They do not sit down at a table with strangers, sing loudly as they prepare their condiments, or nap in a booth. Most people do not commit even benign breaches of informal norms. Informal norms dictate appropriate behaviours without the need of written rules. Like the symbolic interactionists, he believed that members of society together create a social order.

He noted, however, that people often draw on inferred knowledge and unspoken agreements to do so. One of his research methods was known as a breaching experiment. His breaching experiments tested sociological concepts of social norms and conformity. In a breaching experiment, the researcher purposely breaks a social norm or behaves in a socially awkward manner. The participants are not aware an experiment is in progress.

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If the breach is successful, however, these innocent bystanders will respond in some way. For example, he had his students go into local shops and begin to barter with the sales clerks for fixed price goods. It also breaks a number of other conventions which seek to make commercial transactions as efficient and impersonal as possible. This has also raised questions of Internet privacy and personal privacy globally.

Major political developments in the s decade for the United States and the Middle East revolved around recent modern terrorism , the War on Terrorism , the Afghanistan War , and the Iraq War. The September 11 attacks - which were described as a "watershed moment" of contemporary history - were a series of coordinated suicide attacks by Al-Qaeda upon the United States on 11 September On that morning, 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners.

Both buildings collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others. The hijackers crashed a third airliner into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia , just outside Washington, D. The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville in rural Somerset County, Pennsylvania , after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D. Major terrorist events after the 11 September Attacks include the Moscow Theatre Siege , the Istanbul bombings , the Madrid train bombings , the Beslan school hostage crisis , the London bombings , the October New Delhi bombings , and the Mumbai Hotel Siege.

The United States responded to the 11 September attacks by launching a "Global War on Terrorism", invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban , who had harbored al-Qaeda terrorists, and enacting the Patriot Act. Many other countries also strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded law enforcement powers. The 'Global War on Terrorism' is the military, political, legal and ideological conflict against Islamic terrorism and Islamic militants since the attacks. The aim of the invasion was to find the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking al-Qaeda members and put them on trial, to destroy the whole organization of al-Qaeda , and to remove the Taliban regime which supported and gave safe harbor to al-Qaeda.

The Bush administration policy and the Bush Doctrine stated forces would not distinguish between terrorist organizations and nations or governments that harbor them. Two military operations in Afghanistan are fighting for control over the country. Operation Enduring Freedom OEF is a United States combat operation involving some coalition partners and operating primarily in the eastern and southern parts of the country along the Pakistan border.

The multinational infantry actions, with additional ground forces supplied by the Afghan Northern Alliance , and aerial bombing campaign removed the Taliban from power, but Taliban forces have since regained some strength. Violence against coalition forces and among various sectarian groups soon led to asymmetric warfare with the Iraqi insurgency , strife between many Sunni and Shia Iraqi groups, and al-Qaeda operations in Iraq. President Barack Obama announced an month withdrawal window for "combat forces". Using information obtained from Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in , the name and whereabouts of one of Bin Laden's couriers, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti , was learned, and the courier eventually led U.

In , the United States formally declared an end to the Iraq War. The IS was able to take advantage of social media platforms including Twitter to recruit foreign fighters from around the world and seized significant portions of territory in Iraq , Syria , Afghanistan , and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt from and ongoing.

3.1. What Is Culture?

On the other hand, some violent militant organizations were able to negotiate peace with governments including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines in The presence of IS and the stalemate in the Syrian Civil War created a migration of refugees to Europe and also galvanized and encouraged high-profile terrorism attacks and armed conflicts around the world, such as the November Paris attacks and the Battle of Marawi in the Philippines in In , the United States decided to intervene against the Islamic State in Iraq , with most IS fighters being driven out by the end of In the last fifteen years, they have intervened in a variety of military conflicts in its neighboring countries including Georgia and Ukraine leading to the annexation of Crimea and an ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine.

In the beginning of the s decade , there was a global rise in prices in commodities and housing , marking an end to the commodities recession of — The US mortgage-backed securities, which had risks that were hard to assess, were marketed around the world and a broad based credit boom fed a global speculative bubble in real estate and equities. The financial situation was also affected by a sharp increase in oil and food prices. The collapse of the American housing bubble caused the values of securities tied to real estate pricing to plummet thereafter, damaging financial institutions.

The Great Recession [39] [40] spread to much of the industrialized world , [41] and has caused a pronounced deceleration of economic activity. The global recession occurred in an economic environment characterized by various imbalances. This global recession has resulted in a sharp drop in international trade , rising unemployment and slumping commodity prices. The recession renewed interest in Keynesian economic ideas on how to combat recessionary conditions.

However, various industrial countries continued to undertake austerity policies to cut deficits , reduced spending , as opposed to following Keynesian theories. From late European sovereign-debt crisis , fears of a sovereign debt crisis developed among investors concerning rising government debt levels across the globe together with a wave of downgrading of government debt of certain European states.

Concerns intensified early and thereafter making it difficult or impossible for sovereigns to re-finance their debts. In October eurozone leaders agreed on another package of measures designed to prevent the collapse of member economies. The three most affected countries, Greece, Ireland and Portugal, collectively account for six percent of eurozone's gross domestic product GDP.

The world is in the third millennium. The 21st century is the century of the Christian Era or Common Era in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It began on 1 January and will end 31 December The s, or The Tens , decade runs from 1 January , to 31 December The third millennium is the third period of one thousand years. As this millennium is in progress, only its first decade, the s decade , can be the subject of the conventional historian's attention.

The remaining part of the 21st century and longer-term trends are researched by futures studies , an approach that uses various models and several methods such as " forecasting " and " backcasting ". Ever since the invention of history, people have searched for "lessons" that might be drawn from its study, on the principle that to understand the past is potentially to control the future. Toynbee , in his monumental Study of History , sought regularities in the rise and fall of civilizations.

Future Studies takes as one of its important attributes epistemological starting points the ongoing effort to analyze alternative futures. This effort includes collecting quantitative and qualitative data about the possibility, probability, and desirability of change.

The plurality of the term "futures" in futurology denotes the rich variety of alternative futures, including the subset of preferable futures normative futures , that can be studied. Practitioners of the discipline previously concentrated on extrapolating present technological , economic or social trends , or on attempting to predict future trends, but more recently they have started to examine social systems and uncertainties and to build scenarios , question the worldviews behind such scenarios via the causal layered analysis method and others create preferred visions of the future, and use backcasting to derive alternative implementation strategies.

Apart from extrapolation and scenarios, many dozens of methods and techniques are used in futures research. At the end of the 20th century, the world was at a major crossroads. Throughout the century, more technological advances had been made than in all of preceding history. Computers, the Internet, and other modern technology radically altered daily lives. Increased globalization , specifically Americanization , had occurred. While not necessarily a threat, it has sparked anti-Western and anti-American sentiment in parts of the developing world, especially the Middle East.

The English language has become a leading global language , with people who did not speak it becoming increasingly disadvantaged. Less influential, but omnipresent, is the debate on Turkey's participation in the European Union. New urbanism and urban revival continue to be forces in urban planning in the United States. First of all, wealth is concentrated among the G8 and Western industrialized nations , along with several Asian nations and OPEC countries. However, developing countries face many challenges, including the scale of the task to be surmounted, rapidly growing populations, and the need to protect the environment, and the cost that goes along with facing such challenges.

Climate change and global warming reflects the notion of the modern climate. The changes of climate over the past century, have been attributed to various factors which have resulted in a global warming. This warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the midth century and its projected continuation. Some effects on both the natural environment and human life are, at least in part, already being attributed to global warming.

A report by the IPCC suggests that glacier retreat , ice shelf disruption such as that of the Larsen Ice Shelf , sea level rise , changes in rainfall patterns, and increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events are attributable in part to global warming.

It usually is impossible to connect specific weather events to human impact on the world. Instead, such impact is expected to cause changes in the overall distribution and intensity of weather events, such as changes to the frequency and intensity of heavy precipitation.

Broader effects are expected to include glacial retreat , Arctic shrinkage , and worldwide sea level rise. Other effects may include changes in crop yields , addition of new trade routes, [55] species extinctions , [56] and changes in the range of disease vectors.

Until , the Arctic Northwest Passage pack ice prevented regular marine shipping throughout most of the year in this area, but climate change has reduced the pack ice, and this Arctic shrinkage made the waterways more navigable. Various emerging technologies , the recent developments and convergences in various fields of technology, hold possible future impacts.

Emerging technologies cover various cutting-edge developments in the emergence and convergence of technology, including transportation, information technology, biotechnology , robotics and applied mechanics , and material science. Their status and possible effects involve controversy over the degree of social impact or the viability of the technologies.

Though, these represent new and significant developments within a field; converging technologies represent previously distinct fields which are in some way moving towards stronger inter-connection and similar goals. In , Shuttle mission STS conducted research in space with the electrodynamic tether generator and other tether configurations.

In missions, the program suffered with two shuttles destroyed. In market terms, again, this makes sense: a case of two parties valuing different commodities differently. But in human terms, it means finding a seller who denies the very human longing that the buyer wishes to act upon. It requires a seller who is willing to betray his or her own flesh and blood offspring — not out of desperation, but for a price.

By now, ads for anti-impotence drugs are common fare in magazines and on television. He flaunts his nakedness — the loss of his powers, the hunger for his powers — for all the world to see, including his children. Now consider another story — the story of Noah in the book of Genesis, naked in his tent; and the story of his sons Shem and Japheth , who so revere their father that they do not look upon him.

They walk backward to him and cover him with their cloak. They knowingly choose to live leaving some things in the dark, without pressing back to the naked truth about temporal beginnings or ultimate origins. Today, by contrast, we leave nothing in the dark and we strip down every giant. Both proper pride and proper shame are thrown to the wind. While Coach Ditka might seek such drugs in the name of his manliness, it is precisely his manliness that is compromised. Instead, he lays out his nakedness for all the world to see, including the sons who now cannot help but shame him.

In his quest for potency, he reveals his ultimate dependence, with no cloak to preserve any ennobling illusions. Already, cosmetic surgery is no longer simply the province of actors in Hollywood and politicians in Washington. It is becoming — slowly but steadily — a mass phenomenon, and perhaps soon a middle-class phenomenon.

Some parents now give their teenage daughters nose-jobs and breast implants as high school graduation presents. Aging is no longer accepted gracefully but fought back with the knife. Imperfection is increasingly intolerable. And the question is: In so doing, what have we lost? After all, beauty is never an achievement but an undeserved gift of nature. Why does it matter whether the giver of the gift is God, the gods, or the master surgeon? Perhaps nothing. Even as we remake the flesh in accordance with our will, we cannot escape the attachments of the flesh that we did not will — the attachments to our parents and our children.

Of course, it is not just the body we seek to fix but also the embodied mind. Commercials for mood-altering drugs are ubiquitous, and the use of such drugs has skyrocketed in the last decade, with distracted two-year-olds to the depressed elderly to everyone in between as part of the market. According to the dean of one Ivy League school, roughly 20 percent of the incoming class takes some kind of anti-depressant.

The commercials for these drugs all work in the same way: a troubled child or employee — failing at work, failing at school, growing more distant from loved ones. A thirty-second commedia with neurochemistry as the playwright. Without question, such drugs can help many individuals who suffer from terrible mental illness, rooted in chemical problems in the brain, that only medication can ameliorate. For such people — the truly sick — psychotropic drugs are a godsend. And no doubt the strategy of selling these drugs is the same as selling any other product: convincing people they are inadequate as they are, yet within reach of perfection; making people feel sick and desperate, only to discover that what they lack is some liberating product.

But surely something deeper is at work here, when the inadequacy is the psyche itself, and the liberation involves, in part, a new identity altogether. The real questions about the rise of psychotropic drugs go beyond the present essay — questions about why so many people feel so depressed in the first place, why they believe only medication can help them, and who they really are once they start taking these mood-altering medications and start forming human relationships that depend on taking the drugs to sustain them.

In a certain sense, of course, this is all true: we live as given bodies, with drives that we do not fully control and cannot fully explain, and limits that come with our particular set of DNA. But we also live — or have long lived — with the belief that we are more than our chemicals, that our choices, joys, and miseries are more than inexplicable neuroactivity, that there is a difference between what is real and what is induced.

To sleep easily amid carnage or rest easily after the death of a beloved spouse is to live in a world of fantasy. It is to seek salvation by no longer being fully human. My final example is somewhat more futuristic, but not entirely so. Depending on where the science takes us, it is not too far-fetched to imagine that human embryos will one day be valuable medical commodities — harvested routinely as a source stem cells.

Embryo destruction for research purposes is now commonplace. Scientists are already exploring methods that would allow us to produce human eggs artificially, thus eliminating the only practical barrier to embryo production on an industrial scale. Perhaps I exaggerate, but it is an exaggeration with a point. What the market does is veil the meaning of what it uses so that everything can be used efficiently. It tames the remarkable and makes it seem normal — like everything else.

It reduces each commodity to measurable data — where what matters is not the different things in themselves but the differential movements on the chart: coffee grinds up, embryos down; computer parts up, body parts down; Viagra up, Paxil down. Even the individual who is troubled by this prospect — who still asks whether a human embryo deserves more respect than a natural resource — will find it hard not to participate: Will he reject embryo therapies that might save his child?

Will he leave his job at the insurance company that covers such therapies? Will he sell the mutual fund that buys shares in an embryo-production company? We should not forget that the goal of embryo commerce would be humanitarian — the pursuit of health, the very good that modern societies most desire. But the means are, arguably, a form of cannibalism of the weak by the strong — if a cannibalism not obvious to the eye because embryos look so un-human, and thus without a visceral repugnance to awaken our conscience and guide our behavior.

But the violation is no less real for being unobvious, and it is only possible because we now take for granted a truly remarkable thing — the power to initiate human life outside the body, the power to see and hold what was once left shrouded. We will come to believe that bio-capitalism can sell us everything we desire, and thus come to accept that everything is for sale.

S uch a critique is not meant as an act of ingratitude for our economic prosperity and freedom. Only a fool would belittle the genuine virtues of progress, and I can imagine no better way to organize a modern society than democratic capitalism. At the same time, however, we must face up to the fact that modern commerce is often a moral problem, the capitalism of the body most especially.

Perhaps ironically, it is the friends of commerce conservatives who will most likely see the profaning power of commerce. But conservatives realize that the deeper problem with capitalism is that it creates many things we should not create in the first place, and may ask us to do many things we should not do at all. Email Updates Enter your email address to receive occasional updates and previews from The New Atlantis.

As John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, declared: I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion Biotechnology and the Counterculture I n , with the last vestiges of communism crumbling and the Cold War ending, Irving Kristol warned that the greatest threats to a capitalist future were spiritual and cultural. The New Commerce of the Body O f course, most biotechnology is admirable; it is a continuation of bourgeois progress as we have long known it, whose only negative effect is raising expectations, and thus raising the stakes of potential calamity.

Series: Politics and Culture in Modern America

Example 1. The Betrayal of the Child. Recently, a law-student friend of mine received a solicitation in the mail: Dear Potential Egg Donor: The Genetics and IVF Institute is looking for healthy, college educated, ethnically diverse women between the ages of 21 and 32 to assist infertile couples by becoming an anonymous egg donor Example 2.

The Shaming of the Father. Example 3. The Modern Birth-Mark.