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Week 2 Notes (Anthropology)

by: Carly Rothert

Week 2 Notes (Anthropology) Anth 2800

Marketplace > University of Toledo > Language > Anth 2800 > Week 2 Notes Anthropology
Carly Rothert
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About this Document

These notes are over everything in Ch 2 in the "Culture Counts" textbook
Cultural Anthropology
Shahna Arps
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carly Rothert on Wednesday January 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Anth 2800 at University of Toledo taught by Shahna Arps in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 32 views. For similar materials see Cultural Anthropology in Language at University of Toledo.

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Date Created: 01/20/16
Anthropology Ch 2 Notes  List the major characteristics of culture.  Describe the role that child-rearing practices play in culture.  Explain the relationship between culture and the ways in which people classify the world.  Give some examples of the way in which symbols create meaning for people in particular cultures.  Explain the ways in which culture can be considered a system and the ways in which it is not like a system.  Tell some of the ways in which culture is and is not shared.  Compare and contrast cultural and biological adaptation.  List some of the ways in which culture changes and describe the role of conflict and consensus in change.  With a better understanding of culture, explain the value of holism and cultural relativism as approaches to understanding culture. Major Characteristics of Culture:  cultures are made up of learned behaviors. People are not born knowing their culture. They learn it through a process called enculturation.  Cultures all involve classification systems and symbols. A symbol: is something that stands for something else. Central to language and culture. People use cultural symbols to create meaning  cultures are patterned and integrated. Thus changes in one aspect of culture affect other aspects. However, elements of culture do not necessarily work smoothly with one another.  Cultures are shared. Although there may be disagreement about many aspects of a culture, there must be considerable consensus as well.  cultures are adaptive and include information about how to survive in the world, but cultures can contain much that is maladaptive  Cultures are subject to change. Whether propelled by their internal dynamics or acted upon by outside forces, cultures are always in flux ***based on this culture could be defined as the learned, symbolic, at least partially adaptive, and ever-changing patterns of behavior and meaning shared by members of a group  Anthropologists agree on the basic characteristics of culture, but disagree on their relative importance, how to study them, and indeed the goals of anthropology itself Anthropological theory: a set of propositions about which aspects of culture are critical, how they should be studied, and what the goal of studying them should be  even though people say there is a right and wrong way to do anthropology; we suggest that theoretical perspectives are more like different windows through which one may view culture Child rearing practices and culture:  the practices are designed to produce adults who know the skills, norms, and behavior patterns of their society--the cultural content  transmission of this content also involves shaping children’s attitudes, motivations, values, perceptions, and beliefs so that they can function in their society.  Long period of immaturity o allows time for an enormous amount of childhood learning o demands that human cultures be designed to provide relatively stable environments that protect the young for long periods of time  enculturation: the process of learning to be a member of a particular group  Inuit people raising children: Pg. 30-32  Culture and personality: a theoretical position in anthropology that held that cultures could best be understood by examining the patterns of child rearing and considering their effect on social institutions and adult lives o 1920s-1950s How culture affects how people categorize the world  culture is a shared mental model that people use to organize, to classify, and ultimately to understand their world  different cultures have different models for understanding and speaking about the world  Ethnoscience: a theoretical position in anthropology that focuses on recording and examining the ways in which members of a culture use language to classify and organize their cognitive world o one position or technique within a broader perspective called cognitive anthropology--- a theoretical position in anthropology that focuses on the relationship between the mind and society Symbols and their meanings in different cultures  symbols can condense meanings or store large amounts of information/meanings  Symbolic anthropologists: a theoretical position in anthropology that focuses on understanding cultures by discovering and analyzing the symbols that are most important to their members  Example: Ndembu of east Africa and the mudyi tree o central symbol that symbolizes breastfeeding, relationship between mother and child, inheritance of the mother’s family line, and the unity of the Ndembu society  Interpretive anthropology: a theoretical position in anthropology that focuses on using humanistic methods, such as those found in the analysis of literature, to analyze cultures and discover the meanings of culture to its participants  Example: Americans and football o symbol that shows violence and sexuality underlying competition between men, relationship of the individual to the group, racial character, national identity, competitive opportunity and homeland security Is culture a system?  organic analogy: the comparison of cultures to living organisms o Good  shows society as composed of different elements---kinship, religion, and subsistence  also implies that anthropologists should describe the shape and role of such elements as well as the ways in which changes in one affect the others o Bad  implies that properly functioning societies should be stable and conflict free--- any conflict and struggle are deviations from the norm  ***in capitalist societies there has to be conflict  Functionalism: a theoretical position in anthropology that focuses on finding general laws that identify different elements of society, showing how they relate to each other, and demonstrating their role in maintaining social order  ecological functionalism: a theoretical position in anthropology that focuses on the relationship between environment and society Sharing Culture  Norms: shared ideas about the way things ought to be done; rules of behavior that reflect and enforce culture o Example: shaking hands when introduced is an American Norm  Value: Shared ideas about what is true, right, and beautiful o Example: advances in technology are good is an American Value  At some level, members of a culture must share ways of thinking and behaving (norms and values)  people sometimes go against norms and values  Subculture: a group within a society that shares norms and values significantly different from those of the dominant culture  Dominant Culture: the culture with the greatest wealth and power in a society that consists of many subcultures  ***not saying that one culture is inferior or superior, but that the dominant culture has more power and wealth and can impose its will easier  Historical Particularism: a theoretical position in anthropology associated with American anthropologists of the early 20th century that focuses on providing objective descriptions of cultures within their historical and environmental contexts  Postmodernists: a theoretical position in anthropology that focuses on issues of power and voice. Postmodernists hold that anthropological accounts are partial truths reflecting the backgrounds, training, and social positions of their authors o see culture and society as battlegrounds where individuals and groups fight for power and the right to determine what is accepted as true Culture is how humans adapt to the world  adaptation: a change in the biological structure or lifeways of an individual or population by which it becomes better fitted to survive and reproduce in its environment o animals have biological adaptations (claws, teeth) o humans have the adaptation of the ability to learn culture  Plasticity (in anthropology): the ability of humans to change their behavior in response to a wide range of environmental and social demands o allows humans to survive in a wide range of conditions  misinformation o leads to cultural practices that hinder rather than aid survival  Ex: unrestrained logging, mining, or fishing can cause short term success but long term disaster  cultural ecology: a theoretical position in anthropology that focuses on the adaptive dimensions of culture Culture is constantly changing  There are no cultures that have not been touched by the outside world o cultural change can happen slowly or in revolutionary bursts  pace has been increasing in the past years  Innovation: an object or way of thinking that is based upon but is qualitatively different from existing forms  Primary Innovations: new practices, tools, or principles that emerge from within a society and gain wide acceptance o frequently chance discoveries and accidents  diffusion: the spread of cultural elements from one society to another o trade, travel, and warfare  new ideas are sometimes not accepted right away because people don't fully understand them, they don't provide equal benefits to everyone, or powerful forces are against them  Cultural homogenization o are cultures being erased? o penetration of modern technology is uneven but in in almost every place on earth o world dominance of industrialized nations are transforming local cultures and making new ones Culture Counts  culture=learning, symbolism and meaning, patterns of thought and behavior, the things we share with those around us, the ways in which we survive in our world, and dynamism and change  because human lifeways are shared we don't simply adapt to our environment but fill it with meaning and this causes extraordinary differences in human culture


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