a203-11f-02-WhatIsAnth - Introduction to Cultural...

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Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: Class 2 What is Anthropology? Copyright Bruce Owen 2011 - What is anthropology? - Study of humanity - that is, the study of people: individuals and their societies (groups with their organization, institutions, relations, rules of behavior) - both how they work now, and how they got to be this way over time - 3 major features distinguish anthropology from other social sciences - 1. anthropology is strongly based on the concept of culture - in future classes, we will look more carefully at what culture is, exactly - a good-enough definition for now: - culture is the learned, shared values, beliefs, and rules that structure people’s thinking and behavior - unlike psychology, sociology, political science, economics… which otherwise overlap in many ways with anthropology, but until recently paid little attention to the role of culture - now it is becoming fashionable to discuss psychology and sociology in terms of culture, but this is new for them - some political scientists use the concept, but casually - very few economists are really using the concept yet - by not treating culture as a fundamental feature of people, behavior, and society, - other fields tend to assume that when they study some group of people, - they are studying humans in general - often assume that college undergraduates, New York voters, people who answer their phones in the 707 area code for a survey, etc. represent people in general - while anthropologists point out that they are really studying humans of a particular culture - so their conclusions may not apply in other cultures - this has become painfully obvious in clinical psychology and counseling, where diagnoses and treatments are clearly very culture-specific - there are also aspects of economics, political science, and many other fields that are also culture-specific - culture is sometimes divided into - symbolic culture : what and how people think and communicate, for example: - language and non-linguistic communication - beliefs about people, the world, and the supernatural - values - rules of behavior - and many other aspects of culture that are “in people’s heads” - material culture : the things people make and use - houses, clothes, food, tools, art, etc. - these obviously embody some aspects of symbolic culture
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Intro to Cultural Anthro 203.1 F 2011 / Owen: What is Anthropology? p. 2 - some would say that symbolic culture determines material culture - some would say that material culture, in turn, influences symbolic culture: how people understand and think about the world - symbolic culture exists in two versions - ideal culture : how people think or say things work - the “official” or “normal” version of how things are - how people say things are supposed to work - example: “Marriage is a life-long commitment.” - real culture : how people actually behave - you often have to observe this; often only unusually perceptive people, or no one at all, realizes or will say that the reality is different from the ideal
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This note was uploaded on 03/02/2012 for the course ANTHRO 203.1 taught by Professor Owen during the Fall '11 term at Sonoma.

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a203-11f-02-WhatIsAnth - Introduction to Cultural...

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