If beliefs etc are not shared then they are just

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- if beliefs, etc. are not shared, then they are just individual quirks, not culture - symbolic - symbols are things that refer to other things - A red octagon outlined in white refers to the concept “stop” - the symbol “means” something else - saying that culture is symbolic means that culture is essentially about meanings that people place onto, or read into, the world - that is, by placing meanings on things, culture turns objects, actions, etc. into symbols of other things or ideas - a black and silver sweatshirt with certain designs on it means “the wearer is an Oakland Raiders fan, passionate about football, etc.” - being male means that the male person should act in certain ways, and not in others - these meanings, interpretations, or ideas are the essence of culture - integrated - that is, its many parts fit together in a generally (but not necessarily completely) coherent, logical way - two senses of integration (at least!) - organizational integration - culture is a system of interconnected parts - each affecting, and affected by, many others - systems of production, exchange, and consumption - systems of social relations, family, marriage, class, etc. - systems of religious belief and practices - and many others - changing one aspect generally creates ripples of change through other aspects - cognitive integration - the different ideas, values, beliefs, etc. of the culture fit together logically - they make sense with each other - they often share common some broad, common themes, underlying logic, and values and beliefs
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Anth 340: Living in our Globalized World F 2011 / Owen: Culture p. 3 - examples: - in some cultures, a strong value placed on respect or honor may influence many aspects of the culture - or an emphasis on individualism - or an emphasis on conformity and the good of the group… etc. - practical (often put as " adaptive " in the ecological or evolutionary sense) - that is, many aspects of culture are ways of dealing with practical problems - of the physical environment - like getting food and keeping warm and dry - of the social environment - like resolving conflicts, forming a family, etc. - a culture’s the ways of dealing with these problems may not always be effective, but they are meant to be - naturalized and unconsidered - the meanings that culture places on the world seem natural, normal, inherently human - most people do not consciously question or check their cultures values and beliefs - people just assume that they are true facts of nature - In addition, culture is arbitrary - not established by fixed features of the real world - arbitrary ideas that differ from culture to culture - as in Kluckhohn's example of Native Americans of the same clan and white US brother and sister both being repelled at physical contact - “equally nonrational responses, culturally standardized unreason” p. 8 - “arbitrary” does not mean “random” - arbitrary beliefs or ideas are probably often present for a reason - so the question for anthropologists is: why does a given culture have its arbitrary beliefs, and not others, which are equally possible?
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  • Fall '11
  • Owen
  • globalized world, Bruce Owen

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