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Transcript of Cultural Anthropology
anthropos - "man"
logos - "account"
the study of the the human species (homo sapien sapien)
physical (biological) - evolution, primatology
archeology (cultural evolution) - excavation of cultural evidence
linguistic (language) - varation, social uses, unwritten
cultural (social) - understanding similarities and differences
What is Culture?
Culture is “...all that human beings
learn to do, to use, to produce, to know, and to
believe as they grow to maturity and live out their lives in the social groups to which they belong.”
Culture and Biology
Human beings are biological creatures with biological needs, but . . .
humans differ from almost all other animals in the basis for our behavior
Animal behaviour is based largely on
, which are innate and universal for a given species
Human behaviour is almost exclusively
, in interaction with culture, and is thus highly variable
refers to the difficulty that people have when they encounter cultures very different from their own
Our tendency is to make value judgments on the basis of our own customs, a practice called
Anthropologists strive toward
when studying other cultures—understanding these cultures on their own terms
Components of Culture
Signs and Symbols
all things humans make and use (physical objects-artifacts)
Canadian society places great importance on science and technology
non-tangible human creations, including knowledge, beliefs, values and rules for behavior
The RCMP has come to symbolize a number of Canadian cultural values, including authority, law and order
Norms are standards of expected behavior
Norms are relative:
Vary across time
Vary across societies
Vary across situations
Some Important Distinctions Among Norms
Mores: Norms thay are vital to a society and morally significant
Folkways: Norms that permit great discretion in carrying out as long as certain boundaries are not violated
Laws: Norms that are created and enforced by political authorities
Folkways: Manners, Appropriate Dress
Mores: Cannibalism, Bigamy
Laws: Speeding, Theft
Values and Cognitive Culture
Values are the general orientations toward life—it's notions of what is good or bad, pleasurable or painful, etc.
Values are part of cognitive culture, which refers to the “thinking” component of culture such as beliefs and knowledge as well as values
allows communication of complex ideas
reflects cultural reality and what a culture considers important
anything that represents something other than itself
The meanings of symbols are arbitrary, in that meaning is not inherent to the symbol
The meanings of symbols are shared by a substantial number of people in a given culture
The Change and Evolution of Cultures
Using the information found in your textbook, on-line or in articles about “How Cultures Adapt”, create a timeline that outlines the chronological development of the major types of cultures (there are 6). Along with basic data on each of the cultural types, be sure to include the important social, political and economic features/characteristics that distinguish one cultural type from the next.
Subcultures consist of certain segments of the population who share beliefs, lifestyles, values and norms which are distinctive from the general population.
Cultural Universals refer to cultural features that are found in all cultures
Anthropologists have identified several cultural universals, including:
division of labor—the division of tasks among members of a population
taboos —unspoken socio-cultural prohibitions, such as the incest taboo forbidding sexual relations with (certain) family members
rites of passage—rituals marking major life transitions
ideologies—belief systems that unite the members of a culture (socially, politically and economically)
religion—beliefs about spirituality, the divine, creation, and afterlife
marriage—customs and beliefs surrounding family, procreation
child-rearing—values, attitudes and beliefs concerning socialization of children (either formally or informally)
World Values Survey
Traditional values emphasize the importance of religion, parent-child ties, deference to authority and traditional family values. People who embrace these values also reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide. These societies have high levels of national pride and a nationalistic outlook.
Secular-rational values have the opposite preferences to the traditional values. These societies place less emphasis on religion, traditional family values and authority. Divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are seen as relatively acceptable.
Survival values place emphasis on economic and physical security. It is linked with a relatively ethnocentric outlook and low levels of trust and tolerance.
Self-expression values give high priority to environmental protection, growing tolerance of foreigners, gays and lesbians and gender equality, and rising demands for participation in decision-making in economic and political life.
Some Important Distinctions Among Norms
is a shared element
influences biological needs (our nature)
shapes the development of society
is shared among an identifiable group
is learned through the process of socialization
defines and influences our nature and biological needs
shapes how we perceive and understand the world
has systemic patterns of beliefs and behaviours