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Lecture 2 What Is Culture
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Lecture 2 What Is Culture






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    Lecture 2 What Is Culture Lecture 2 What Is Culture Presentation Transcript

    • ANTH45 Summer 2008 Section 101 What is Culture?
    • vs.
    • In Pursuit of Culture (Goodenough)
      • How people become anthropologists
        • Early interest in culture
        • No previous knowledge about the field
      • Influence of and relationship with other fields: linguistics, psychology, biology, sociology
      • Introduction to several themes of the course: language and communication, property systems, marriage rules, etc.
    • The Concept of Culture
      • Concept used by all social sciences
      • Central to ethnology, archaeology, and biological anthropology
      • Anthropology has done more than any other discipline to refine our understanding of the concept of culture
    • Defining Culture
      • Over 160 definitions have been identified
      • Tylor’s definition (1871)
        • That complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.
      • Goodenough’s definition
        • The product of learning in society
          • As opposed to simply patterns of recurring events
          • Focus on the content of culture (observed from behavior)
        • Criteria for: categorizing phenomena; deciding what can be; preferences and values; what to do about things; how to do those things; skills needed to perform
    • A better definition…
      • Focuses on what culture is , but also on what it does
      • Culture is the only thing that separates us from all other animals (not social behavior)
    • When Do We First See Culture?
      • Anatomically Modern Peoples and the Upper Paleolithic (100,000 years ago)
      • Culture
        • Emerges as a ‘more
        • potent’ force than
        • biology
        • Symbolic behavior
            • Art
            • Decoration
            • Sculpture
            • Pendants
            • Cave painting
    • When Do We First See Culture?
      • More Symbolic Behavior
        • Ritual
          • Burial
    • Culture is …
      • A major adaptive tool for humans
        • can be direct and can rapidly change
      • Learned through enculturation
      • Transmitted
      • Universal and specific
      • Shared and integrated
      • Constantly changing
      • Based on human ability to create symbols
      • Exchanged between societies through a process called acculturation
    • Culture is Adaptive
        • Humans have adapted by manipulating environments through cultural means.
        • Humans have come to depend more and more on cultural adaptation.
          • Because it works and fast!!
          • Polar bear vs. Inuit
        • What is adaptive in one context may be seriously maladaptive in another
    • Culture is Adaptive
      • Not every aspect of culture is adaptive
        • Some are neutral
        • Some are maladaptive
          • Sex in Papua New Guinean tribe
          • American energy policy
    • Culture is Generally Integrated
      • Integration
        • The tendency for all aspects of a culture to function as an interrelated whole.
        • System: a set of connected elements such that if you change one of them, you change the others
        • Concept of holism in anthropology
    • Individual Cultures
      • Core values
        • Unique to each culture
      • Constantly changing
        • Language evolves, customs change, beliefs and behaviors change
      • Ideal culture vs. real culture
        • What people say should do and what they say they do vs. what the anthropologist observes
        • Anthropological use of emic vs. etic perspective
    • Emic vs. Etic: why cows are sacred in India
      • Emic idea: cows are sacred because our religion tells us so
      • Emic behavior: we don’t eat cows
      • Etic idea: cows are crucial for farm labor. It is maladaptive to eat a cow because it produces more on a farm
      • Etic behavior: people sometimes eat old cows
    • Culture is Symbolic
      • The most fundamental aspect of culture is the capacity to symbolize
        • Culture is dependent upon symbols
        • Symbol: something that represents something else with which it is not intrinsically related
        • Symbols are powerful
    • Culture is Shared
      • For a thing, idea, or behavior pattern to qualify as being cultural, it must have a meaning shared by most people in a society
        • Society: a group of people who have a common homeland, are interdependent, and share a common culture
        • More to come: how people in States have shared culture and the institutions that help give common sense of identity
    • Culture is Differentially Shared
      • Degree with which traits are shared varies between cultures
      • Sources of variation
        • Sex and Gender
        • Age
        • Class
        • Religion
        • Etc.
      • Differences exist in different sections of society
      • Subcultures
        • Subsets of a wider culture
        • Share traits with mainstream
        • But still unique
      • Subcultures can be threatening to the mainstream
    • Culture is Learned
      • Enculturation
        • The process of acquiring culture
        • Learning or interacting with one’s cultural environment
        • Observation, direct learning, experience
        • Not all learned behavior is cultural
          • Conditioning by repeated training is not enculturation
          • “ Brain-washing”
      • Ward Goodenough:
        • Because culture is learned, it’s in your head
        • No two people have the exact same criteria
        • As long as differences don’t affect the ability to interact with each other, you have a sense of shared culture
      • … but sometimes they do!
      • … that’s why we squash them
      • … who’s we? Mainstream, powerful groups, lobbies, governments…
    • Culture’s Influence on Biology
      • Functions
        • Eating
        • Sleeping
        • Work/exercise
      • Body types and images
        • Attitudes
        • Modification
    • Culture and Change
      • All cultures change over time for one reason or another
        • Meeting environmental crises
        • Responding to intrusions by outsiders
        • Evolving internal behavior and values
      • Results may be beneficial or disastrous
    • Mechanisms of Cultural Change
      • Internal Changes
        • Innovations
          • Ultimate source of all culture change
      • External changes
        • Diffusion
          • Spreading of a cultural element from one culture to another
          • Responsible for the greatest amount of change in any given society
            • Because people have never been isolated
      • Acculturation: process of adopting foreign cultural elements (beliefs, customs, behaviors)
    • Cultural Universals
      • Despite variation in many aspects there are basic similarities
        • System(s) of production
        • Marriage and family
        • Education
        • Social control
        • Supernatural beliefs
        • Communication
    • As Individuals…
      • Culture influences our behavior, but…
      • It does not determine our behavior
      • Deviance from cultural norms exists in all societies
    • Short Exercise
      • Describe American culture to a foreigner: food, religion, education, political system, values
      • Which aspects of American culture are a result of innovation?
      • Which resulted from diffusion from another culture?
      • List 2 American symbols besides the flag: what do they represent?
      • List and describe 2 American subcultures. How does the mainstream view these subcultures? Are they respected, feared, ignored?