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-Culture is a result of ''NURTURE'' rather than ''NATURE''
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-the influence of inherited biological characteristics
-the influence of inherited biological characteristics

Revision as of 09:15, 10 October 2019

Cultural Anthropology

What is Culture

Culture can be defined as the total system of ideas, values, behaviours, and attitudes of a society commonly shared by most members of society. [1] Thus, cultural anthropology is the branch of anthropology concerned with the study of human societies, cultures and their development.

-Culture is a result of NURTURE rather than NATURE


-the influence of inherited biological characteristics


-the process of training & influencing a child through learning

Understanding Cultures

Social customs are an important concept to understand when analyzing culture. Social customs are the expected & ideal behaviours of a society demonstrated by individuals. Social customs are:

- One of the most obvious differences among cultures - Learned through socialization (the process of learning social customs)

Subculture is a small group within a larger group that shares a common system of values, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, & lifestyle distinct from those of the larger group. - As a layer of culture, subculture is often made up of differences in religion, socioeconomic status, and even race.

Rites Of Passage

- Mark a change in life or social status

- Marked by a ceremony, ritual, or event

- Major life events such as birth, adolescence, marriage, or death

- May vary between males & females

Three stages:

1. Segregation (separation from old status/society)

2. Transition (the process of becoming)

3. Incorporation & Reintegration (society recognizes the person’s new social status)

Rites of Passage Tour Around the World [2]

Schools of Thought

1. Cultural Relativism -Franz Boas

-Cannot compare 2 cultures because each culture has its own internal rules that must be accepted

-People see other cultures through the lens of their own culture

-Ethnocentric: believing that one’s own culture is superior to all others

2. Functional Theory -Bronisław Malinowski

-Believed that societies could be objectively measured & compared

-The idea that every belief, action, or relationship in a culture functions to meet the needs of individuals

-Noticed this in WWI when he discovered the Kula Ring

-Exchange between individuals in the Trobriand Islands

-Increased social status and was highly ceremonial

3. Cultural Materialism -Marvin Harris

-Materials or conditions within the environment (climate, food, geography, supply) influence how a culture develops, creating the ideas and ideology of a culture

-Society develops on a trial & error basis