Assumes that peoples beliefs and actions generally

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assumes that people’s beliefs and actions generally make sense to them in their cultural context and situation - that we get the best understanding of people, practices, and beliefs by understanding them relative to their culture and situation - not relative to our own culture, as if that were some absolute standard - seeks to understand why and how others’ practices make sense to them
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Anth 340: Living in our Globalized World F 2011 / Owen: Culture p. 5 - ethical relativism - the idea that morality (right and wrong) are defined relative to each culture - that we cannot judge things to be right or wrong outside of their cultural context - this is an extreme position - one can be a cultural relativist without being an ethical relativist - you can strive to understand the practices of another culture without necessarily approving of them - naïve realism: the assumption that some arbitrary cultural construct is actually a universal, real fact of life - the assumption that the concept or way of behaving applies to all people, is a feature of the real world - rather than being arbitrary and socially constructed - Examples of cultures as systems of arbitrary meanings: different meanings about food - every culture defines different things as edible or not - we respond to the meanings our culture teaches us to place on potential foods, not simply to the actual food itself - as in people who vomit when they are told they have eaten something they consider inedible, like rattlesnake meat (in Kluckhohn article, p. 7) - other examples of responding to culturally constructed meanings - cuy (Guinea pig) in Peru - pumpkin pie in Peru - point: what we consider to be edible is determined by the meanings placed on the items, not their taste, nutrition, etc. - there is nothing inherent in rattlesnake, cuy, or pumpkin pie that makes people sick - is it only the strength of the culturally constructed meanings that does that - Another kind of evidence of how strongly we are affected by our culture: the existence of culture shock - Culture shock is a psychological syndrome - syndrome : a characteristic set of specific symptoms - caused by the stress of being immersed in a foreign culture - it usually takes numerous days, weeks, or longer to develop - the stress is strongest when the person has little or no contact with others of his or her own culture - Many specific aspects of the foreign culture contribute to this stress - strange food - new sights and smells - the pork section of the Orcotuna market - incomprehensible language - inexplicable strange behavior - the Tongan official wiggling his eyebrows - and strange responses to your behavior - the social cues you expect are missing or don’t work - the people have different values or interpretations of things
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Anth 340: Living in our Globalized World F 2011 / Owen: Culture p. 6 - The characteristic symptoms include: - anger, frustration, irritability, anger, hostility, depression - for unease to inexplicable rages - constant complaining about the people, food customs… - and an idealized recollection of how great it is at home - paranoia -
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  • Fall '11
  • Owen
  • globalized world, Bruce Owen

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