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Anth101/111 What is Culture SPR2016

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Julie Jenkins

on 21 January 2016

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Transcript of Anth101/111 What is Culture SPR2016

What is Culture?
Objectives:
Discuss different definitions & uses of the term 'culture'
Identify key elements of culture
Discuss the properties of culture
what are we looking for?
Sets of Knowledge:
What People Think & Say
World View
Construction of Reality
Norms
Values
Symbols
Patterns of Behavior
What People Actually Do

Habits
Interactions in specific social contexts
Roles in interactions
Properties of...
...as learned
How is culture transmitted?
through socialization
Learned...but also contested and debated
...is 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
...is constructed, produced, practiced, circulated
...is subject to change
...is 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 think 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
--shape our behaviors/ways of thinking
--sets the boundaries/rules for action & interaction
Institutions
-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"
Language
Degrees of being shared
or the distribution of meaning

"believing that man..is suspended in webs of significance, I take culture to be those webs" (Clifford Geertz)
through debates & interaction
The Politics of Tradition
...but factor in power
--use of economic & institutional resources to make one interpretation "stick" over others
--hegemony

"Culture(d)"- Who decides?
"Its a Small World Phenomenon"
How does language affect the way we see and understand the world?
"'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, scrutinized and experimented with." (Hannerz 1998)
system of communication that uses symbols to convey information
"I don't know how many times I've wished I've never heard that damn word"
Raymond Williams
Is Miner giving a balanced account or is he biased? If he is biased what elements of the essay make you feel that way?
“looking from far and above, from our high places of safety in the developed civilization, it is easy to see all the crudity and irrelevance of magic. But without its power and guidance early man could not have mastered his practical difficulties as he has done, nor could man have advanced to the higher stages of civilization."
"the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement"
-checklist approach of defined attributes
“The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.”
Earnshaw's Infants' Department (1918)


-active process of meaning making & contestation (Street 1993)

-way for boundaries to be created and maintained

-historically specific and never formed coherent whole
(Wright 1998)

-in hegemonic form, appears as if its coherent, systematic, and consensual (Wright 1998)
"the complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society" (E.B. Tylor, 1971)
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