Ideal culture is not necessarily what people want or

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ideal culture is not necessarily what people want, or what they wish were true - it is how they think it supposedly is - 2. anthropology tends to take a holistic view of people and societies - to really understand things, you have to consider the whole picture: take all aspects of culture or society into account - any aspect of life is entangled with every other aspect - example: say an anthropologist wants to understand how your workplace functions: how people treat each other, what gets done or doesn’t, why the business is succeeding or failing, why workers are happy or unhappy, etc. - the anthropologist would want to know not only what the work is, but also - the organizational structure of the business, that is, how authority, responsibility, and communication are arranged - economic matters that affect the business - how intense the competition is, profit margins, demands by investors, strategies of the CEO, etc. - government policies that affect the business - rules about salaries, overtime, working conditions, medical benefits, etc. - the class and economic backgrounds of the people there - the ethnicities represented and their historical relationships - maybe the Palestinian marketing guy and the Israeli engineer have a dicey relationship… - the age groups represented and their differing experiences and values - the kinds of school experiences that people there have had - and many other factors - the holistic approach differs from those more common in psychology, economics, political science, etc., which tend to emphasize one realm and ignore others - that is fine for the sake of simplicity and analysis - but anthropologists feel that we need to balance these intentionally simplified analyses with more complex, messy, realistic views of how life actually is - 3. anthropology tends to use a comparative approach - anthropology collects and compares examples of different ways of living - anthropology values all different ways equally
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Intro to Cultural Anthro 203.1 F 2011 / Owen: What is Anthropology? p. 3 - no assumption that our own ways are necessarily the best, most natural, most common, etc. - anthropology has an interest in learning comparative things about cultures such as - what is universal and what is not - what is common, or rare, and why - why certain variations occur in certain circumstances but not in others - why certain features tend to occur together, etc. - also interested in comparisons across time: culture change - evolution or development of new kinds of societies and features of culture - globalization being the overarching process now - but actually since 1492 or before - 4 main subfields - 1. Cultural anthropology - study of living people and societies; much more about this throughout the rest of the course - ethnography : description of a culture - through the process of participant observation - refers to both the product - an ethnography is a book - our books by Lee and Fernea are both ethnographies - Lee’s ethnography of the Dobe Ju’/hoansi is fairly typical, but unusually well written - Fernea’s ethnography of the women of El Nahra is unusual in being written like a story, with emphasis on her own experience as well - and the process - many cultural anthropologists do ethnography - those who do are ethnographers - ethnology
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