Chapter 2 Outline: Culture - Kottak Introduction to Anthropology
Chapter 2 Outline: Culture - Kottak Introduction to Anthropology SOCA 105
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Introduction to Anthropology Notes 8/25/2015 .Chapter 2: Culture WHAT IS CULTURE - Edward Tylor (British anthropologist, author of Primitive Culture) said that cultures – systems of human behavior and thought – obey natural laws and therefore can be studied scientifically. o Tylor’s definition focuses on attributes that people acquire not through biological inheritance but by growing up in a particular society where they are exposed to a specific cultural tradition - Enculturation – the process by which a child learns their culture Culture Is Learned o Our own cultural learning depends on the uniquely developed human capacity to use symbols Symbols – something verbal or nonverbal that stands for something else Anthropologist Clifford Geertz defines culture as ideas based on cultural learning and symbols Every person consciously and unconsciously learns and interacts with others to understand a cultural tradition through the process of enculturation…sometimes, culture is even taught directly Ex. Parents telling their children to say “Thank You” when someone does them a favor Culture is also transmitted through observation Children modify their behavior based off what they see and what is considered right or wrong ALL humans have culture. “The Psychic Unity of Man” o Although people differ on emotional and intellectual levels, all human populations have equivalent capacities for culture Culture Is Symbolic o To Anthropologist Leslie White, culture originated when our ancestors acquired the ability to use symbols Symbols are usually linguistic, but not always (Ex. Flags) Every contemporary human has the ability to use symbols and thus to create and maintain culture Culture Is Shared o Culture is an attribute of individuals WITHIN groups o Culture is transmitted in society Shared beliefs, values, memories, and expectations link people who grow up in the same culture Enculturation unifies people by providing us with common experiences o We are most likely to agree with and feel comfortable with people who are socially, economically, and culturally like ourselves Culture & Nature o People have to eat, but culture us what, when, and how Introduction to Anthropology Notes 8/25/2015 o Our culture – and cultural changes – affect the ways in which we perceive nature, human nature, and “the natural” o Culture Is All-Encompassing o Culture encompasses features that are sometimes regarded as trivial or unworthy of serious study, such as “popular” culture o To understand North American culture, we must understand social media, cell phones, Internet, fast food restaurants, etc. Culture Is Integrated o Cultures are NOT haphazard collections of customs and beliefs, Cultures are integrated, patterned systems. Cultures are integrated not simply by their dominant economic activities and related social patterns, but also by sets of values, ideas, symbols, and judgements. o Core Values - key, basic, or central values that integrate into culture Core values integrate each culture and help distinguish it from others Different sets of dominant values exist in other cultures Culture Is Instrumental, Adaptive, and Maladaptive o Culture is the main reason for human adaptability and success. o Humans also adapt biologically Ex. Sweating when we get hot or shivering when we get cold People use culture instrumentally to fulfill their basic biological needs for food, drink, shelter, comfort, and reproduction… o People also use culture to fulfill psychological & emotional needs Ex. Friendship, approval, sexual desirability People seek informal support – help from people who care about them – as well as formal support from associations and institutions o On one level, cultural traits may be called adaptive b/c they help individuals with environmental stresses… o Such traits can also be maladaptive… Ex. Emissions from some machines have environmental effects that can harm humans and other life Ex. of Maladaptive Aspects of Culture include: policies that encourage overpopulation, poor food-distribution systems, industrial pollution, and/or overconsumption CULTURE’S EVOLUTIONARY BASIS o The human capacity for culture has an evolutionary basis that extends back at least 2.6 MILLION YEARS… o Similarities b/w humans and apes (our closest relatives) are evident in anatomy, brain structure, genetics, and biochemistry. We are most closely related to African Great Apes: Chimpanzees & Gorillas… Introduction to Anthropology Notes 8/25/2015 Hominidae is the zoological family that includes fossils and living humanss Hominids – chimps and gorillas Hominins – the group that leads to humans but not to chimps and gorillas and that encompasses all the human species that ever have existed Grasping ability, manual dexterity, opposable thumbs, depth perception, color vision, ratio of brain to body size exceeds that of most mammals, our brain’s outer layer (concerned with memory, association, and integration) is relatively larger…. What We Share with Other Primates o There is a substantial gap b/w primate society (organized life in groups) and fully developed culture, which is based on symbolic thought Many studies show the ability of nonhuman primates to learn from experience and change behavior just like humans do… Ex. Chimps learn to break large nuts with stones because their mothers showed them how to do it Archaeological evidence shows that humans were hunting by at least 2.6 million years ago, based on stone meat-cuttings tools found in Tanzania… How We Differ From Other Primates o Humans are among the most cooperative of the primates in the food quest and other social activities o In addition, the amount of information stored in a human band is far greater than that in any other primate group. o Humans and primates mate differently… o Marriage creates another major contrast between humans and nonhuman primates: exogamy & kinship systems o Other primates tend to disperse at adolescence. However, humans maintain lifelong ties with sons and daughters… UNIVERSALITY, GENERALITY, & PARTICULARITY o Anthropologists distinguish among the universal, the generalized, & the particular. o Certain biological, psychological, social, & cultural features are universal (found in culture) o Others are merely generalities (common to several but not all human groups) o Other traits are particularities (unique to certain cultural traditions) Universals & Generalities o Nuclear Families (a kinship group consisting of parents and children) o Societies can share the same beliefs and customs because of borrowing or through (cultural) inheritance from a common cultural ancestor Introduction to Anthropology Notes 8/25/2015 o English is spread through diffusion… Particularity: Patterns of Culture o A culture particularity is a trait or feature of culture that is not generalized or widespread o Similar cultural causes have produced similar culture results o When cultural traits are borrowed, they are modified to fit the culture that adopts them… Ex. Birth, puberty, marriage, parenthood, and death… o Cultures vary greatly in their beliefs, practices, integration, and patterning UNIVERSALITY, GENERALITY, & PARTICULARITY o Generations of anthros have theorized about the relationship between the “system” and the “person” or “individual” The “system” can refer to various concepts, such as culture, society, social relations, and social structure Individual humans make up or constitute the system Living w/n the system, humans are also constrained by its rules & by the actions of other individuals o Culture is contested: Different groups in society struggle with one another over whose ideas, values, goals, and beliefs will prevail… The ideal culture consists of what people say they should do and what they say they do… Real culture refers to their actual behavior as observed by the anthropologist… Culture is both public and individual, both in the world and in people’s minds …the individual and culture are linked b/c human social life is a process in which individuals internalize the meaning of public messages….then alone in groups, people influence culture by converting their private (and often divergent) understandings into public expressions o Culture is known as practice theory… Individuals within a society/culture have diverse motives & intentions & different degrees of power & influence… Focuses on how such varied individuals – through their ordinary & extraordinary actions and practices – manage to influence, create, & transform the world they live in… Practice Theory recognizes a reciprocal relationship b/w culture (the system) and the individual!! It also recognizes both constraints on individuals & the flexibility and changeability of cultures and social systems!! Introduction to Anthropology Notes 8/25/2015 Levels of Culture o National Culture – cultural features shared by citizens of the same nature o International Culture – cultural traditions that extend beyond national boundaries B/c culture is transmitted through learning, cultural traits can spread through borrowing or diffusion, from one group to another… o Subcultures – different cultural traditions associated with subgroups in the same complex society Ethnocentrism, Cultural Relativism, & Human Rights o Ethnocentrism – the tendency to view one’s own culture as superior and to use one’s own standards and values in judging outsiders o Cultural Relativism – idea that behavior should be evaluated not by outside standards but in the context of the culture which it occurs in o Human Rights – rights based on justice and morality beyond and superior to particular countries, cultures, and religions Seen as inalienable o Cultural Rights – rights vested in religious and ethnic minorities and indigenous societies Ex. a group’s ability to raise its children in the way of its forebears, to continue its language, & not to be deprived of its economic base by the nation in which it is located…???? IPR – intellectual property rights; an indigenous group’s collective knowledge and its applications… MECHANISMS OF CULTURAL CHANGE o Why Cultures Change?? Diffusion – borrowing of culture traits b/w societies Diffusion is direct when two cultures trade, marry, or wage war Diffusion is forced when one culture imposes its customs on another Diffusion is indirect when items move from group A to group C via group B with no firsthand contact b/w A and C Acculturation – an exchange of cultural features b/w groups in firsthand contact Introduction to Anthropology Notes 8/25/2015 Parts of the culture change, but each group remains distinct… o Ex. Pidgin (a simplified form of English) Independent Invention – the process by which humans innovate, creatively finding solutions to problems & develop cultural features in different societies… o Ex. agriculture developing in the Middle East and Mexico… DIFFUSION, MIGRATION, AND COLONIALISM HAVE CARREID CULTURAL TRAITS & PATTERNS TO DIFFERENT WORLD AREAS. MECHANISMS OF CULTURAL CHANGE INCLUDE DIFFUSION, ACCULTURATION, AND INDEPENDENT INVENTION… GLOBALIZATION o The accelerating interdependence of nations in the world system today Forces of Globalization: International commerce & finance, travel & tourism, transnational migration, & the media o The Internet plays a key role in long-distance communication Globalization Effects: Local people must deal w/ forces generated by larger systems, i.e. the region, the nation, the world… Globalization: Its Meaning & Nature 1. Globalization as fact: the spread and connectedness of production, communication, and technologies across the world 2. Globalization as ideology and policy: international efforts to create a global free market for goods and services o Financial globalization means that nations have less control over their own economies… o As capitalism has spread globally, the gap b/w rich & poor has widened both w/n and b/w nations
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