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Introduction to Culture
Transcript of Introduction to Culture
The Components of Culture
Culture traits are the smallest distinctive items of culture.
They are units of learned behavior, ranging from the language we speak, to the tools we use, to the games we play.
Can also include our religion, a conviction, or belief.
Individual cultural traits that are functionally interrelated comprise a culture complex
They exist in all cultures.
The Maasai society in Kenya and Tanzania have a series of related culture traits that revolve around cattle.
they measure wealth by the number of cattle owned.
They have disdain for any work that does not involve cattle.
They even have ceremonies to draw blood from cattle, which they drink along with the milk.
In the United States, we have developed a culture complex revolving around the automobile.
Its more then just cars though, automobiles have spilled out into our culture...
...our children sleep in them...
...and we market movie after movie, decade after decade about them.
It's not just that; our rites of passage focus on the car:
When enough commonalities exist between multiple complexes, a culture system may be recognized.
A culture system is a larger spatial reality and generalization then a culture complex.
The United States has many different people who have different beliefs and eat different foods, but we have enough in common that all of us consider ourselves "American".
A culture region is a portion of the earth's surface occupied by populations sharing recognizable and distinctive cultural characteristics.
one type Political organizations over several countries...
...types of eating utensils used over a large area.
However, within any one culture region, groups united by those characteristics may also be competing and distinctive in other important cultural traits.
Culture Realms are large segments of the earth's surface having a rough fundamental uniformity in its cultural characteristics.
They must also show significant difference from adjacent realms.
See page 39 in the Fellman text for a map of cultural realms!
Interaction between people and the environment
All cultures develop in some physical environment that contributes to differences among people.
: the study of the relationship between a culture group and the natural environment that it occupies.
Environments As Controls
: the belief that the physical environment exclusively shapes humans, their actions, and their thoughts...
...this theory has long since been disregarded... environmental factors alone cannot account for the cultural variations that occur across the planet.
The environment does place limitations on a culture, though not absolute.
Human choices play a role in the use of landscapes.
We've built mines, factories and cities in places such as Siberia that were formally unpopulated.
This is not because it is suddenly sunny and warm in Siberia... this was a human choice regardless of environment.
: the view that people, not the environment are the determining factor of cultural development.
In other words: the impact of the environment is inversely related to the level of development, and the perception of environmental opportunities increases directly with growth in economic and cultural development.
Changes in a group's technical abilities or objectives bring about changes in its perceptions of the usefulness of the land.
Of course, environment does play a role... this is shown on maps that display the vast majority of the world's population is concentrated on less than one-half of the land surface.
so.... people make a difference in how the land is used. Natives used the Pennsylvania area differently than Americans did during the industrial revolution. This was not based on environment, but the technological and cultural development of the two groups.
So we know that we as humans can adapt to our environment, but we also have the ability to modify it.
Part of the way we use our environment is through the material objects we place on the landscape; (cities, farms, roads, etc.).
: the earth's surface as modified by human action.
The cultural landscape is a tangible physical record of a given culture.
Since the beginning of man, we have made an impact on the environment, whether it is modern day and CO2 emissions, or ancient man hunting herds of animals into extinction, or rendering formally productive land useless.
Roots of Culture
Of course, early humans found the environment to be more controlling than we do today.
As you know from your history classes, all early humans were hunter-gatherers.
As humans moved out of Africa, and especially north into what is now Sweden, Finland, and Russia, they needed more sophisticated tools and provisions for shelter and clothing than previously required.
by the end of the ice age, humans had spread to all continents except Antarctica.
As humans spread, the population increased.
By 9000 b.c.e., the population of the world was between 5 and 10 million... (according to your text)
Population of Georgia in 2015: 10,230,578
It is estimated that such groups could survive on a 2 1/2 hour workweek, leaving time for developing tools, as well as art and sculpture; variation in culture began to occur.
This variation in development is known as
As the Ice Age ended, more land became available for settlement.
as the rapid climatic fluctuation affected their plant and animal food sources, people began to experiment with the domestication of plants and animals.
The domestication of animals came first, probably as a result of keeping young animals as pets.
Plants, like animals, probably developed independently in more than one region between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago.
People began to change and innovate. we learned the arts of spinning and weaving plant and animal fibers, using the potter's wheel and fire, brick making, mortaring, and construction, mining, smelting, and casting metals.
Each of these developments lead to an increase in the carrying capacity.
As people specialized, another development occured; the stratification of society.
a culture hearth is a center of innovation and invention from which key culture traits and elements moved to surrounding regions.
: A center of innovation and invention from which key culture traits and elements moved to exert an influence on surrounding regions.
Several major culture hearths emerged during the Neolithic period.
These were in Egypt, Crete, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, Northern China, southeastern Asia, and several locations in sub-Saharan Africa, in the Americas, and elsewhere.
Each developed in separated areas of the world, under different circumstances, and each displayed its own mix of culture traits and amalgams.
All of these civilization were urban centered.
Some of these had a more pronounced urban structure, some less.
The West African Culture hearths were particularly involved in trade.
Jonathon Steward (1902-1972) - proposed the concept of
He said that different societies that formed in similar climate zones, would develop similar adaptations.
: the belief that cultural similarities occur primarily by spatial spread (diffusion) from one or very few common origin sites.
: describes the sharing of technologies, organizational structures, and even cultural traits and artifacts that is so evident among widely separated societies in a modern world.
The Structure of Culture
Leslie White (1900-1975) - suggested a three part structure to studying culture:
There are also three interrelated components of culture:
In Pairs, take 10 minutes to discuss the following questions, 5 minutes each.
1. What does culture mean to you?
2. Would you identify yourself as belonging to a cultural group? Why or why not?
Culture: the specialized behavioral patterns, understandings, adaptations, and social systems that summarize a group of people's learned way of life.