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SOAN101 What is Culture W15

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Julie Jenkins

on 4 March 2015

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Transcript of SOAN101 What is Culture W15

What is Culture?
Objectives:
Discuss different definitions & uses of the term 'culture'
Identify the components of culture
Discuss the characteristics of culture
Consists of...
Sets of Knowledge
What People Think & Say
Language
World View
Construction of Reality
Norms
Values
Symbols
Patterns of Behavior
What People Actually Do
Habits
Interactions in specific social contexts
Roles in interactions
Characteristics of...
...as learned
How is culture transmitted?
through socialization
Learned...but also contested and debated
...as shared
By members of a group
But how do we define a group?
Different levels of groupings...
subcultures
regional, religious, ethnic, political, interest based, organization based
...as encompassing
all people are members of a cultural group...and often more than one
...as constructed, produced, practiced, circulated
...subject to change
...as adaptive
change to the ways of living that is better fitted to survive and reproduce in its environment.
interaction with environment
perception/interpretation of reality-
how we should relate to the world, other people, etc
perception/interpretation of reality-
how we classify/categorize
how we think people should behave
beliefs about the goals or way of life that is desirable
"Vehicle for conception"- Geertz
something that means, stands for, or calls to mind something else
Institutions
--shapes our behaviors/ways of thinking
--sets the boundaries/rules
Education (schools)
Economic (capitalism)
Work
Religion
Politics (government, judicial, police)
polysemic
arbitrary
conventional
"guided reinvention of culture"
"shaped by the systems within which they were created, distributed, evaluated, taught, & preserved"
Degrees of being shared-
distribution of meaning
...as Integrated
Through internal debates
Through Interactions with other Groups
Issue is rate of change
The Politics of Tradition
...but factor in power into socialisation/shared
--hegemony
--most powerful group's ability to create consent/agreement without force
"Culture(d)"- Who decides?
"Its a Small World Phenomenon"
non-human primates
-lacks displacement
-lacks arbitrariness
How does language affect the way we see and understand the world? How does it shape our thought process? How does it affect the way we interact with others?
Sapir-Worfe Hypothesis
-- idea that language has the power to shape the way we see the world
Strong Version:
change the grammar should change the thought process
Weak Version:
not determinative, but a factor that directs attention to some aspect of experience rather than others..
'A culture' need not be homogeneous, or even particularly coherent. Instead of assuming far-reaching cultural sharing, a 'replication of uniformity', we should take a distributive view of cultures as systems of
meaning...(look at culture) in more processual terms. There is a 'management of meaning' by which culture is generated and maintained, transmitted and received, applied, exhibited, remembered, scrutinised and experimented with." Hannerz
What do cultural anthropologists do??
Ethnography
The account of a culture or subculture based on research/fieldwork.
Qualitative Methods
Interviews
Structured or unstructured
“using conversation with informants largely to discover the appropriate questions to ask” (Cohen 1984)

What kinds of problems may arise if one only uses interview techniques?
Problems:
-Lying
-People tend to talk about culture in a generic way
-Do not get a sense of what people actually do

Participant Observation
to "grasp the native's point of view" - Malinowski
Emic Perspective (rather than Etic)

What kinds of difficulties might a cultural anthropologist encounter?
Culture Shock
Rapport
Overcoming their biases of researchers
Overcoming our cultural biases

Language
system of communication that uses symbols to convey information
How is language used pragmatically, in particular contexts and how are speakers perceived?
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