Terms Related to Culture from social and anthropological points of view Nur Yıldırım
Overview • Cultural Materialism • Cultural Studies • Culture and Personality • Material Culture • Nature and Culture
Cultural Materialism • materialist approach advocated by Marvin Harris, Cultural Materialism (1979)material world exhibits determinisJc inﬂuence over the non-‐material world. Thus culture is a product of relaJons between things. • FuncJonalist approach, Hindu taboo, killing caPle; maximizing economic uJlity of caPle. (factors external to society, material ones) ecological anthropology, similar in factors that are seen as determinant: environmental condiJons and subsistence techniques: determine or limit development of many other aspects of culture. • cogniJve and ideological aspects of culture must take second place to technological ones. • vulgar materialism, crude and simplisJc to take adequate account of embededness of the material world within ideological world.
Cultural Studies • BriJsh University System, introduced in 1963Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham, Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams • need to move beyond canonical deﬁniJons of textuality, in order to locate the culture of literacy in a wider social context’ • counter the eliJsm of high culture, more inclusive • referring anthropological deﬁniJon, culture as a way of life in contrast to its more eliJst literary rendering as aestheJcs or appreciaJon’ • poliJcize the producJon of academic knowledge within university system, collaboraJve work.
Cultural Studies • Class inequality, Ideology • 70s, cultural studies sought to document culture as ordinary, popular and ubiquitous • 80s, growing impact of poststructuralist, later psychoanalyJc theory. racism and imperialism -‐ maintenance of state power • concerns: gender, race, class
Cultural Studies • InternaJonally: poliJcal approach to scholarship, aPenJon to the intersecJons of gender, race and class, criJcal • theoreJcal perspecJves from Marxism • Postmodernism • posiJon rather than context: a space in which criJcal, theoreJcal and interdisciplinary research and teaching broadly organized under the rubric of the cultural analysis within developed industrialized socieJes
Cultural Studies • comparisons with anthropology: • cultural studies remained more concerned with the analysis of mass, public, dominant popular or mainstream culture, rather than cross-‐cultural comparison. • ant.: represenJng other cultures, diﬀerent from the anthropologists own. • making visible cultural tradiJons that are muted, marginal, under-‐represented or devalued within the society which the researcher is a part. • criJcal perspecJves on the producJon of knowledge itself, way of life within parJcular subject ﬁelds.
Cultural Studies • comparisons with anthropology: • cultural studies is above all concerned with the creaJon of new kinds of spaces for consideraJon of quesJons which do not ﬁt neatly within established tradiJons of intellectual exchange.’ • range of culture models employed; diﬀerenJaJng cultural studies from anthropology. Anthropologic view: cross-‐ cultural comparisons: wide range of cultural theory, sociology of culture, its concern with mass media, culture industries, cultural theories derivaJve ; semioJcs, deconstrucJon etc. • diﬀerence; ant: empirical tradiJon, ethnographic observaJon. goals of social science, documentaJon and representaJon of other cultures.
Cultural Studies • Cultural studies; objecJvist. Seen by anthropologists as reducJonist, eliJst, overly theoreJcal and speculaJve or journalisJc methods. Anthropologic separaJon of cultural logics from their lived embodied social milieu is unacceptable methodology. • challenges to tendency, consJtute an even dominant culture as monolithic, totalizing or determining. • anthropological and cultural studies overlap and inform one another. highly theoreJcal and criJcal perspecJves within cultural studies, empirical tradiJons of cultural analysis within anthropology, two ﬁelds will remain disJnct.
Cultural Studies • Kuper: • cannot be reduced to the study of popular culture, it is certainly the case that the study of popular culture is central to the project of cultural studies. • understand meanings of culture we must analyze it in relaJon to the social structure and its historical conJngency. Social structure and history -‐ culture is important and shapes them, not studies as a reﬂecJon of them • capitalist industrial socieJes divided unequally along ethnic, gender, generaJonal and class lines. culture is where this division established and contested. Struggle over meaning, dominant group impose meaning over subordinate groups: that makes culture ideological.
Cultural Studies • Kuper: • Ideology (Hall, 1982), arJculaJon (express and join together), cultural texts and pracJces comes into meaning with an act in a speciﬁc context, history or discourse. Expression is always connected and condiJoned by context. • CriJcized: celebraJon of the popular culture. • Cultural studies insists that popular culture is liPle more than a degraded culture, successfully imposed from above, to make proﬁt and secure ideological control. The best of cultural studies insists that to decide these maPers requires vigilance and aPenJon to the details of the producJon, distribuJon and consumpJon of culture. • They should be read oﬀ from the moment of producJon in (meaning, pleasure, ideological eﬀect etc.) contexts.
Culture and Personality • Subdisciplinary ﬁeld of psychological anthropology. American linguist and anthropologist Edward Sapir • inﬂuence of Gestalt; percepJon could be understood only when the thing perceived was viewed not as an assemblage of separate elements, but as an organized paPern. Whole may be more than the sum of its parts. • Meaning was a funcJon of organized paPerns, Sapir applied this idea to his analyses of language and culture and personality.
Culture and Personality • Cultural PaPerns: contemporary concept of culture; Jdy tables of contents aPached to parJcular groups of people. • culture can be made to assume the appearance of a closed system of behavior’ • vast reaches of culture are discoverable only as the peculiar property of certain individuals’ • Ruth Benedict: cultural whole determined the nature of its parts and the relaJons between them from ethnographic data concerning kinship, religion, economy etc, aimed to derive • more or less consistent paPern of thought and acJon that informed and integrated all the pracJced of daily life in four diﬀerent cultures’ • Margaret Mead: dominant cultural conﬁguraJons, adolescence, gender
Culture and Personality • early work on culture and personality rested on ﬁve assumpJons: • childhood experience determined adult personality • single personality type characterized each society • parJcular shared basic or modal personality gave rise to a parJcular cultural insJtuJon • projecJve test in west could not be used elsewhere • anthropologists were objecJve • what if personality varies much more within society as it does across socieJes
Culture and Personality • Le Vine, 80s, culture and personality research as follows: interrelaJon between the life cycle, psychological funcJoning and malfuncJoning and social and cultural insJtuJons. cultural inﬂuence in individual experience: emic views of normal and abnormal behavior’ • psychological anthropology, Spiro: person is not merely condiJoned by culture, rather culture is incorporated into the individual via the psychodynamic processes of idenJﬁcaJon and internalizaJon. • child will unconsciously accept various elements of culture with diﬀerent meanings, according to biological condiJons, • consJtuted by children, and will be transformed. How they consJtute ideas of themselves and world -‐-‐ answer of this quesJon; to understand conJnuity and change in culture over Jme.
Material Culture • Material culture had been an integral part of nineteenth-‐ century anthropology. • museums and material objects -‐ customs and cultural traits. lack of methodology, social and cultural traits, material arJfacts • ﬁeldwork, study of culture and society in context. -‐ behavior and social organizaJon rather than traits. american deﬁniJon, from traits, to ideas and bodies of knowledge. • two terms: material and ideaJonal, neglected to include social, re-‐inclusion of ideaJonal and the social. • neglecJng material culture, anthropologists disconnected it from rest of human life; integral part of value creaJon processes
Material Culture • 60s, material culture to the fore in the study of symbolism • Levi Strauss, material culture and world of thought • Marxist theory and environmental anthropology -‐ understanding long-‐term social processes • archeology: abstract data about social structure and ideaJonal systems • regional systems of trade, exchange, gender relaJons and value creaJon processes (Munn 1986)
Material Culture • Now it is a Form of evidence • In connecJng material culture to the person and to social life the sensual properJes of form – surface, texture, colour, smell, sound – and the means of percepJon become central topics. Style in material culture is recognized as being an important marker of idenJty and status. Fashion – what people wear, expressing individual idenJty • DisJncJons between objects ojen reﬂect factors such as class, religious aﬃliaJon, group idenJty, age status or occupaJon • An important area of the study of material culture that links the material with the social is researching how objects gain in value and processes of value transformaJon in space and Jme. Such studies of paPerns of material consumpJon have proved a rich vein in the study of complex socieJes.
Material Culture • Methodologically the study of material culture adds an important dimension to anthropological research. The form of the object can be interrogated in an aPempt to uncover material composi-on, manufacturing processes, and func-onal and seman-c a4ributes which can then be explored with members of the producing socie-es to document systems of knowledge, trading pa4erns or semiologic systems. • CollecJons of material culture objects from the past in museum collecJons can provide, retrospecJvely, vital sources of informaJon about processes of social change, pa4erns of trade and colonial histories. • dialogical rela-onship makes material culture a rich resource for studies across the humani-es and social sciences. • such an intellectual ﬁeld of study is inevitably eclecJc: relaJvely unbounded and unconstrained, ﬂuid, dispersed and anarchic rather than constricted. In short undisciplined rather than disciplined. Materiality is the fulcrum, the locus of the nexus of interconnec-ons that creates the links across disciplinary boundaries.
Material Culture • Kuper; • history of things, human construcJon of the environment as a cultural and economic landscape • trace the origins of ideas, also used material culture as a major source of evidence. • study of material culture was missing from the ﬁeldwork revoluJon BriJsh anthropology In the USA the situaJon was more complex. Material culture was an integral part of culture-‐area theory and the ecological evoluJonary anthropology of White and Steward. The separaJon of material culture from other social and cultural data is now recognized to be arbitrary, and objects have been reintegrated within social theory. a previously neglected body of data that provides insight into social processes, and a bePer understanding of the artefacts themselves. • social historians, psychologists and exponents of cultural studies. • the ideaJonal systems that underlie the producJon and consumpJon of artefacts, to abstract from the surface correctness of their form by connecJng them to history and relaJng them to the diversity of social processes. Analysis has ojen been framed in terms of semioJcs or meaning other dimensions of its value which may include such factors as aestheJcs, style, symbolism and economics.
Material Culture • Kuper; • The analysis of material culture provides informaJon on value creaJon, on the expression of individual idenJty and on the moJvaJons underlying consumer behaviour. Increasingly material culture is being used as a source of informaJon in the study of complex socieJes and global paPerns and processes (Miller 1987). • transformaJons in the value and meaning of objects as they move from context to context, either as part of local exchange systems or global trading processes (Thomas 1991). • The study of material culture encompasses the analysis of ideological restructurings • Material culture not only creates potenJal for but also constrains human acJon, and it is subject to human agency; people make meaningful objects but they can also change the meaning of objects.
Nature and Culture • human cogniJon and acJon are mediated by learned and therefore cultural, rather than by insJncJve or inborn, responses. Since this is so, culture is a separate object of study, cultural varia-on is diﬀerent in kind from biological varia-on, and cultural anthropology is an autonomous discipline, separate from the biological sciences. • It is impossible to understand the concept ‘culture’ clearly without reference to its opposing concept, ‘nature’. • A theory that explains the diﬀerent varieJes of people, their customs, and their apparently diﬀerent mental capaciJes by reference to race (measured each race against the supposedly most advanced, the Northern Europeans) • Franz Boas, cultural anthropology, (The Mind of PrimiJve Man in 1911) showed that bodily form is not linked to language or to any of the maPers we associate with culture: altudes and values, customs, modes of livelihood and forms of social organizaJon. He argued that there is no reason to think that other ‘races’ (or, more accurately, other ways of life) are less moral or less intelligent than Northern Europeans, and so there is no single standard for evaluaJon.
Nature and Culture • Diﬀerent paPerns in human life; they could not have arisen from a uniform process of social or cultural evoluJon but must rather be the fruit of complex local historical causes. • Levi Strauss, argued that the nature/culture divide is to be found among all socieJes in some form as a cogniJve device for understanding the world. Indeed he went further, suggesJng that it is the very making of a dis-nc-on between nature and culture that dis-nguishes humans from animals. • nature versus culture as an interpre-ve device throughout anthropology. ( men and women, such that women, or perhaps the processes of childbirth, are natural, whereas men, or the ritual and poliJcal processes they control, are cultural) • the temperature of the conJnuing conﬂict between the parJes of biological and cultural determinism remains high. This conﬂict has ranged in the twenJeth century across race, sexuality, gender, aggression, intelligence, nutriJon and many more issues besides.
Nature and Culture • Synthesis; CooperaJve eﬀort, by behavioural biologists, psychologists and anthropologists, not so much to reconcile the disciplines as to channel their conﬂicJng energies into a greater project. • Beneath and around the stuﬀ of culture there stands a scaﬀolding of social abiliJes and disJnctly social intelligence.
• The Social Science Encyclopedia • The Routledge Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology