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Franz Boaz

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fariah ahmed

on 6 November 2012

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Transcript of Franz Boaz

Challenge & Change in Soceity :
Theorist Research Assignment Franz Boaz Pros(advantages) of the theory Cons(disadvantages) of the theory Thank You for listening ! A little bit about Boas Cultural Relativism Critical Question " No one has ever proved

that a human being, through

his descentfrom a certain

group of people, must of

necessity have certain

mental characteristics."
- Franz Boas Encourages respect and tolerance for all cultures and societies .

By extension, it advocates for equality among and between cultures.

Encourages a sense of unity within a culture by maintaining that all are bound by the same rules.
Provides an appropriate set of "rules" for all within that culture to obey and for outsiders to conform to, once they step within the bounds of that culture.


It warns us against assuming that all of our own cultural practices are based on some "absolute rational standard". It stresses the benefits of keeping an open mind and not rushing to judgment. If we’re of another culture, we could not judge them for their wrongdoing, because in their sense, it could be right, but in ours, it isn't.

One could simply create their own culture, consider it legal and not be judged by another.

By accepting that all cultures are equal and none are superior or inferior, we prevent people from protesting against harmful practices either inside or outside their own societies. If we accept that a culture is right for all its members, these protesters would have had no moral or ethical principles to support their calls for justice. The view that all beliefs, customs, and ethics are relative to the individual within his own social context.

“right” and “wrong” are culture-specific; what is considered moral in one society may be considered immoral in another, and, since no universal standard of morality exists, no one has the right to judge another society’s customs. widely accepted in modern anthropology.

believes that all cultures are worthy in their own rights and are of equal value.

Diversity of cultures, even those with conflicting moral beliefs, is not to be considered in terms of right and wrong or good and bad. What constitutes right and wrong is determined solely by the individual or by society.

Since truth is not objective, there can be no objective standard which applies to all cultures.

No one can say if someone else is right or wrong; it is a matter of personal opinion, and no society can pass judgment on another society. Ethnocentrism in Media It was precisely in the 1980s that anthropologists began to take a serious interest in the study of media
stereotypes over the years, traces of ethnocentrism can be detected if looked carefully.
The dominance of certain races of others seeps into the media usually through fabricated fiction intended for entertainment.
The average person may be ignorant or sheltered from the many dark sides of the media.

Compared to other foreign news, the U.S. media in particular puts a strong emphasis on American point of views, politics, culture, and self absorbing promotion of Democracy on a daily basis, even though the U.S. accuses other countries of acting nationalistic or ethnocentric in the same way.
. Not too many distinct non-American viewpoints are presented in the US local or mainstream media.
. In typical movies and television shows, white Caucasians (normally males) tend to undertake the dominating role. In these productions of American origin, other ethnicities such as African-Americans and Mexican seem to end up being displayed the ‘lesser’ people of society. If not the antagonists, those of different races are attached with stereotyped imperfections similar to real life even if exaggerated. He was a German-born American anthropologist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
considered to be the founder of modern anthropology and the father of American anthropology
As a teacher, principally at Columbia University, he served as mentor to many of the top names in American anthropology, including such luminaries as Alfred Kroeber, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Robert Lowie, and Edward Sapir. culture to Boas was not simply another synonym for "civilization"(i.e. art, technology, and lofty ideas).
He stuck to Charles Darwin's own conception of evolution: that changes occurre in response to current pressures and opportunities. And, that the path such change took varied in a multitude of ways. There was no one "right" way.
He thought each society was a unique adaptation to a unique and particular set of circumstances. When Boas applied this to anthropology he introduced the principle of "cultural relativism", the idea that each culture was the product of a unique and particular history, and not merely generated by race and environment.
After immigrating to U.S. he became a vocal opponent of racism and prejudice in all forms, including that against people of color, actively lent his support to African American organizations.
As an anthropologist he sought to use science, including his studies of tribal peoples, to seek out and document the truth about the significance of race. It was, in addition, his hope that people could learn to be tolerant of difference, and to see so-called primitives not as inferior or less developed, but as a source of diversity that had new ideas to offer. The implications of ethnocentrism displayed on the media, even if unintentional, cannot be avoided or overlooked.

Cultural differences in the real world are, to a certain extent, mirrored by the media hence creating a stereotyped perception of it as far as the influence of television and film goes.

This stereotype can affect how some people relate to others if taken seriously, an aftereffect that should be steered clear from. (1858-1942) " If we were to select the most intelligent,

imaginative, energetic, and emotionally stable

third of mankind, all races would be present." Is it really possible for an individual to have no ethnocentric feelings or thoughts at all ?

2. Can you think of a situation where either " cultural relativism" or "ethnocentrism" in the media went too far? 1. Earned his Ph.D. in geography in 1881, at Kiel.
Planned and undertook a geographic expedition to the arctic (1883-84).
Once there, he became fascinated with the people, their appearance, their language, and of course their way of life and traditions. After returning from his journey he decided to make anthropology his life work.
Although serious work was being done in anthropology at the time, the field was heavily peopled with untrained adventurers and armchair philosophers. Racial bias and bigotry was rampant, and the gathering of information was sometimes haphazard and riddled with an assortment of bias. OVERVIEW Franz Boas - Background Info.
Cultural relativism - Theory
Ethnocentrism and Media ( social change )
Pros & cons
Critical Questions For example, the ancient Mayan practices of self-mutilation and human sacrifice are neither good nor bad; they are simply cultural distinctives, Ethnocentrism by definition is the belief that one’s own ethnic or cultural group and way of life is superior to any other culture; a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one's own.
Ethnocentrism can be seen or heard at many occasions in the Mass Media.
There are many examples where reporters choose to report on things that are important in the western culture or from the western point of view on a subject matter rather then asking individuals from other countries what their perspective is on the matter
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