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cultural anthropology_chapter2notes

cultural anthropology_chapter2notes - Chapter 2 Culture...

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Chapter 2: Culture What is Culture? Culture – systems of human behavior and thought Obey natural laws and can be studied scientifically Sir Edward Tylor’s: “Culture… includes knowledge, belief, arts, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society” Enculturation – the process by which culture is learned and transmitted across the generations Culture Is Learned Cultural Learning – the ability to absorb traditions, lessons, and insight based on past generations’ experiences or symbols. Symbols – something, verbal or nonverbal, that stands for something else. Signs that have no necessary or natural connection to the things they signify or for which they stand. Cultures are sets of control mechanisms – plans, recipes, rules, instructions for the governing behavior o Absorbed through enculturation in particular traditions Culture is learned through both direct instruction and through observation (both conscious and unconscious) Anthropologists in the 19th century argued for the “psychic unity of man.” o Individuals – differ in their emotional and intellectual tendencies and capacities. o Populations – have equivalent capacities for culture. Culture Is Symbolic The human ability to use symbols is the basis of culture o While human symbol use is overwhelmingly linguistic, a symbol is anything that is used to represent any other thing, when the relationship between the two is arbitrary Culture Is Shared Culture is located and transmitted in groups o Enculturation unifies people by providing us with a common experience Sharing common experiences tends to generate a common understanding of future events Culture and Nature “Human nature” is molded by cultural habits, traditions, perceptions, and inventions Page | 1
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o Culture takes the natural biological urges we share with other animals and teaches us how to express them in particular ways. o Science pushes and overcomes “natural” limitations Antibiotics and vaccines to prevent disease Cloning altered the way we think about biological identity o Natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc.) challenge our cultural building techniques, developments, and expansion Culture Is Integrated Cultures are integrated, patterned systems o If one part of the system (e.g., the economy) changes, other parts change as well o Integrated by their attitudes, values, ideals, and rules for behavior Core Values – key, basic, or central values that integrate a culture help distinguish one culture from another Culture Can Be Adaptive and Maladaptive Adaptive behavior – a type of behavior that is used to adjust to another type of behavior or situation
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