Where did those ideas come from what function do they

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- where did those ideas come from? - what function do they serve? - who benefits from these ideas, and what do they do to preserve them? - why do people continue to believe them, or why do they change? - Culture’s influence is profound: even individualists know and mostly follow their culture's prescriptions - of dress, eating, behavior, etc. - even what an individualist resists, he or she must share enough to understand and manipulate - Culture as a system of meanings - we react not to things, but the meanings we put on them - your response to someone who gets out of a BMW, vs. someone who gets out of a Toyota Corolla - We also react to systems of meanings, or relations between things - school desks are appropriate in classrooms, but not in living rooms - you would be surprised to come into a classroom and find sofas and lazy-boy recliners
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Anth 340: Living in our Globalized World F 2011 / Owen: Culture p. 4 - and your behavior would probably be different as a result - These meanings, and thus the behaviors that result from them, are socially constructed , or culturally constructed - Not “out there” in the world - Rather, created in people’s heads (“constructed”) - Through social interactions (“socially”) - And to fit with other aspects of the culture (“culturally”) - Social constructs or cultural constructs are shared by members of the culture - A sort of unplanned consensus - Therefore arbitrary , and variable from culture to culture - One goal of anthropology: to show how given cultures are consistent, ordered, understandable, make sense in their context - Anthropologists ask “why do some groups of people assign certain meanings to things, and other groups of people assign different ones?” - that is, “why do some people see things this way, and not some other way?” - And then “why do WE see things this way, and not some other way?” - that is, anthropology encourages us to look at our own culture from outside - often looking for unconscious assumptions - discovering assumptions and figuring out how they fit into the rest of the way people think gives a clearer, more complete understanding of the culture - of the meanings that lead people to behave in certain ways - by finding OTHERs’ assumptions, we highlight our own, different assumptions about the same things - one goal in this class: to see how cultures affect how individuals and groups interact, and how cultures are in turn affected by that interaction - what are the differing meanings assigned by the different cultures to the same things? - why? - what effect do these different meanings have on how people act and interact? - Useful concepts - ethnocentrism - the assumption that one’s own culture is normal, natural, good - so practices that differ from those of one’s own culture are misguided, ignorant, backwards, wrong - without attempting to understand them in their own context - example: American tourists’ responses to vertical furrows in the Andean highlands - cultural relativism - the view that cultures and practices must be understood in their own context -
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  • Fall '11
  • Owen
  • globalized world, Bruce Owen

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