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What is Culture?

by: Carina Sauter

What is Culture? ANTH 1102

Carina Sauter
GPA 3.79

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About this Document

These notes go over Dr. Birch's second lecture of the year and focuses on culture.
Introduction to Anthropology
Dr. Birch
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carina Sauter on Friday January 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 1102 at University of Georgia taught by Dr. Birch in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 15 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Georgia.

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Date Created: 01/22/16
What is Culture? I. What is culture? • Origins of the concept of culture o Edward Tyloth § 19 century British anthropologist § armchair anthropologist • relied on others work § “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, arts, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” § Blends our sense of “high culture” to general culture • Culture is learned not through genetics or biology o Acquire as members of society o Culture is transmitted… § Directly (consciously) by teaching § Indirectly (unconsciously) by observation o Enculturation is the process by which a child learns his or her culture o We accept the way over culture odes things as the correct way § Many permutations o Culture depends on symbols § Language, gestures § Non-verbal communication • Conscious and unconscious § We can learn any cultural tradition § Human abilities that permit culture • To learn • To think symbolically • To manipulate language • To create/use tools and other cultural products or biocultural development • Culture and Biology o Culture shapes how we mark events in the biological life cycle – birth, puberty, marriage/mating, death o Biology happens everywhere the same way; culture differs o Ex. Death across different cultures § US culture: bury them in a coffin and host funeral § Other culture: allow body to fully decompose to release soul § Both cultures find the other abhorrent o Culture shapes how we respond to biological needs § Ex. elimination of waste – when/where/how o Culture is integrated § If one part of the cultural system changes, other parts change as well § Ex. WWII in America • Men went to war • Women started working • Children’s entertainment became more violent § Trickle down effect/ chain reaction • Religion, politics, housing, education, economics all affect one another • Types of Culture o Not necessarily mutually exclusive o National culture § Ex. American culture: Hollywood, apple pie, baseball; stereotypical § Regional culture: South – sweet tea, football, country music o Subcultures § Cultural groups that don’t see themselves as the dominant culture § Ex. Punk rock, goth, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered § You tend to go toward you group: see a UGA student, identify yourself with them o Popular culture § Mass media § Permeate everyday lives of society § Changes over time o You can belong to multiple cultural groups at the same time • Key Concepts o Ethnocentrism: judging other cultures using one’s own cultural standards; the error of viewing one’s own culture as superior § Grow up with view that your culture is the norm § We are not the pinnacle o Cultural relativism: the principle that all behavior should be evaluated in the context of the culture in which it occurs § Must understand how the people of a culture see their world – in context § Immerse and understand from within § No one culture is superior • Cultural change o No culture is static, always in a state of flux o Diffusion: borrowing of cultural traits between cultures § One way § Culture A absorbs part of Culture B over time as it diffuses § Ex. Africa adopting language of new people o Acculturation: exchange of cultural features through continuous contact § Both ways o Independent innovation: the process by which humans innovate, or find creative solutions to problems § Domestication of plants and animals § Pyramids: start somewhere and move all over the world § Social institutions: governments • Culture and Globalization o Culture is transmitted quickly o Many distinct people linked by travel, telecommunication, etc. o Many cultures are interlinked – you are part of many cultures o Internet communities II. Why do we study it? • To better understand the human condition • To collaborate with people whose cultural patterns and processes we seek to understand • To bridge social distances • To help give greater voice to underrepresented peoples • To supporting efforts at positive social change • To encourage respect for the diversity of cultures and systems of knowledge III. Applying anthropology in the world around us


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