DSST Anthropology as a Discipline

With respect to society it is the interrelationships

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With respect to society, it is the interrelationships between statuses that comprises the social structure. Community is to culture what a group of people is to society , in that culture is a special case of community and society is a special case of a group of people. Culture and society also have indefinite life spans and therefore 'stand-alone viability' . Fundamentally, culture refers to a way of life. Since we are referring to the overall ways persons live their lives, social practices are the basic building blocks of culture. Accordingly, without social practices and members to enact them, there can be no actual culture. Social practices refer to the repertoire of behavior patterns which in a given culture, constitute what there is for members to do. Social practices also refer to the various ways in which a given behavior pattern can be done. As a phenomenon that has a part-whole relationship, social practices can have other social practices as components. Some instances of social practices are having dinner and attending a professional conference. Ralph Linton, an anthropologist from the first half of the 1900's, wrote that culture is a combination of universals, alternatives, specialties, and individual peculiarities. Universals are things that everyone or virtually everyone in a society does in common. An example of a universal might be their language, although even here there could be some variations. Alternatives are things that some people do one way and others do another way. For example, we might consider sex roles in a society as alternatives, as are different religions or age roles, etc. Specialties are skills that some people have which others do not; i.e. playing guitar or understanding quantum physics. We've described Universals, Alternatives, and Specialties. The final element of culture is individual peculiarities-- there are some things that the individual has just developed for him/herself or that are just personality quirks. All of these together compose the rich fabric of cultural life. Ideal culture is what people should do according to group norms and values. Real culture is what people actually do in everyday, normal interaction. Diffusion is the movement of cultural traits and ideas from one society or ethnic group to another. While the form of a trait may be transmitted to another society, the original meaning may not. For instance, McDonald's hamburgers are thought of as a cheap, quick meal in North America, but they are generally considered special occasion foods in Beijing, China and Moscow, Russia. According to the British school of diffusionism , all cultural traits originated in Egypt. British diffusionists believed that all aspects of higher civilization began in Egypt and were spread to other cultures as other people came into contact with the Egyptians.
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