Anthropology Chapter 2 Note

Anthropology  Chapter 2

Human Culture and Ties that Connect

2.1. Conceptualizing Culture: What Culture is and What Culture isn’t

Definition of Culture

  • Edward B. Tylor
    • a complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society
  • B. Malinowski
    • cumulative creation of man
    • the handiwork of man and the medium through which he achieves his ends
  • Robert Bierstedt
    • complex whole that consists of everything we think and do and have as members of society
  • culture is the common way of life shared by a group of people
    • It includes all things beyond nature and biology
  • Therefore Culture is
    • moral, intellectual and spiritual discipline for advancement, in accordance with the norms and values based on accumulated heritage
    • a system of learned behavior shared by and transmitted among the members of the group
    • collective heritage learned by individuals and passed from one generation to another
  • individual receives culture as part of social heritage and in turn, may reshape the culture and introduce changes which then become part of the heritage of succeeding generations

2.2 Characteristic Features of Culture

Main Features of culture
1. Culture Is Learned
  • It not transmitted genetically
  • it is acquired through the process of learning or interacting with one’s environment
  • human relies for their survival on behavior patterns that are learned
  • Enculturation:
    • process of acquiring culture after we born
    • the process by which an individual learns the rules and values of one’s culture
2. Culture Is Shared
  • Thing, idea, behavior pattern to qualify as being “cultural” it must have a shared meaning by at least two people within a society
  • In order to society to operate effectively, guidelines must be shared by its members
  • Without shared culture
    • Members unable to communicate and cooperates
    • confusion and disorder world result
3. Culture Is Symbolic
  • A symbol is something verbal or nonverbal, within a particular language or culture that comes to stand for something else
  • Symbolic thought is unique and crucial to humans and to cultural learning
  • There need be no obvious, natural, or necessary connection between the symbol and what it symbolizes
  • symbol’s meaning is not always obvious
  • many symbols are powerful and often trigger behaviors or emotional states
    • Example: the designs and colors of the flags
4. Culture Is All-Encompassing
  • It encompasses all aspects (material and non-material), which affect people in their everyday lives
  • particular people’s culture referring to all of its man- made objects, ideas, activities, old time things or those created lately
  • Culture It is the sum total of human creation: intellectual, technical, artistic, physical, and moral
  • It is the complex pattern of living that directs human social life
5. Culture Is Integrated
  • Cultures are not haphazard collections of customs and beliefs
  • It is integrated wholes, the parts of which, to some degree, are interconnected with one another
  • A culture is a system, change in one aspect will likely generate changes in other aspects
  • We can describe integrated nature of culture is by using the analogy between a culture and a living organism
    • human body comprises a number of systems, all functioning to maintain the overall health of the organisms
6. Culture Can Be Adaptive and Maladaptive
  • Humans have both biological and cultural ways of coping with environmental stresses
  • we use “cultural adaptive kits,” which contain customary activities and tools that aid us
  • unlike other animals, people adapt to the environment & any ecological condition using culture
  • Culture has allowed the global human population to grow in population through out the long history
  • Sometimes, adaptive behaviour that offers short-term benefits to particular subgroups or individuals may harm the environment and threaten the group’s long-term survival
    • Example: driving Automobiles
  • Many cultural patterns such as overconsumption and pollution appear to be maladaptive in the long run
7. Culture Is Dynamic
  • Culture is changing constantly as new ideas and new techniques are added
  • There are no cultures that remain completely static year after year
  • This characteristics of culture stems from the culture’s cumulative quality

2.3 Aspects/Elements of Culture

Two of the most basic aspects of culture are:

1. Material culture

  • consist of man-made objects
    • such as: tools, implements, furniture, automobiles, buildings, physical substance which has been changed and used by man
  • It is concerned with the external, mechanical and utilitarian objects
  • It is referred to as civilization
2. Non – Material culture
  • The term ‘culture’ when used in the ordinary sense, means ‘non-material culture’
  • It is something internal and intrinsically valuable, reflects the inward nature of man
  • consists of:
    • words, language
    • beliefs, values and virtues
    • habits, rituals and practices, ceremonies
    • customs and tastes, attitudes & outlook, our ways of acting, feeling and thinking
  • Some of the aspects of non-material culture
    • Values
      • standards by which member of a society define what is good or bad, beautiful or ugly
      • central aspect of the nonmaterial culture of a society
      • important because they influence the behavior of the members of a society
    • Beliefs
      • cultural conventions that concern true or false assumptions, specific descriptions of the nature of the universe and humanity’s place in it
Values are generalized notions of what is good and bad; beliefs are more specific and, in form at least, have more content, example:
      • Education is good – value
      • Grading is the best way to evaluate students – belief
    • Norms
      • shared rules or guidelines that define how people “ought” to behave under certain circumstances
      • They are generally connected to the values, beliefs, and ideologies of a society
      • Norms vary in terms of their importance to a culture, these

        • Folkway
          • Norms guiding ordinary usages and conventions of everyday life
          • They are norms that are not strictly enforced
          • Example: not leaving your seat for an elderly people inside a bus/taxi – result – a person getting a bad look
        • Mores
          • much stronger norms than are folkways
          • They are norms that are believed to be essential to core values and we insist on conformity
          • Example: Steals, rapes, kills – violation are society’s most important mores
          • People who violate mores are usually severely punished, although punishment for the violation of mores varies from society to society, It may take the form of
            • Ostracism, vicious gossip, public ridicule, exile, loss of one’s job, physical beating, imprisonment, commitment to a mental asylum, or even execution

2.4 Cultural Unity and Variations: Universality, Generality and Particularity of Culture

Certain biological, psychological, social, and cultural features are
    • Universal – found in every culture
    • Generalities – common to several but not all human groups
    • Particularitiesunique to certain cultural traditions
  • Universality
    • cultural traits that span across all cultures
    • Most are biologically that distinguish us from other species
      • Long period of infant dependency, Year-round sexuality, Complex brain that enables use of symbols, languages, and tools Social universals, Life in groups
      • A great example of universality is – family
  • Generality
    • traits that occur in many societies but not all of them
    • Societies can share same beliefs and customs because of borrowing Domination (colonial rule)
      • when customs and procedures are imposed on one culture can also cause generality Independent innovation of same cultural trait
        – Farming
      • ExamplesNuclear family Parents and children
  • Particularity
    • Trait of a culture that is not widespread Cultural borrowing
      • traits once limited are more widespread Useful traits that don’t clash with current culture get borrowed
    • Examples: – Food dishes
    • Particularities are becoming rarer in some ways but also becoming more obvious
    • Borrowed cultural traits are modified Marriage, parenthood, death, puberty, birth all celebrated differently

2.5. Evaluating Cultural Differences: Ethnocentrism, Cultural Relativism and Human Rights

The concepts of ethnocentrism and cultural relativism occupy key position in anthropology
    • It refers to the tendency to see the behaviors, beliefs, values, and norms of one’s own group as the only right way of living and to judge others by those standards
    • operate on the premise that our own society’s ways are the correct, normal, better ways, for acting, thinking, feeling and behaving
      • Our own group is the center or axis of everything, and we scale and rate all others with reference to it
    • It is a cultural universal
    • Alien cultural traits are often viewed as being not just different but inferior, less sensible, and even “unnatural”
    • Ethnocentrism results in:
      • prejudices about people from other cultures and the rejection of their “alien ways.”
      • prevent us from understanding and appreciating another culture
      • prevent open communication and result in misunderstanding and mistrust
    • The positive aspect of ethnocentrism:
      • the protection that it can provide for a culture. By causing a rejection of the foods, customs, and perceptions of people in other cultures, it acts as a conservative force in preserving traditions of one’s own culture
    • The concept of cultural relativism states that cultures differ, so that a cultural trait, act, or idea has no meaning but its meaning only within its cultural setting
    • A culture has to be studied in terms of its own meanings and values
      • we need to examine others behavior as insiders, seeing it within the framework of their values, beliefs and motives
      • Cultural relativism suspends judgment and views about the behavior of people from the perspective of their own culture
    • Cultural relativism describes a situation where there is an attitude of respect for cultural differences rather than condemning other people’s culture as uncivilized or backward
    • Respect for cultural differences involves:
      • Appreciating cultural diversity, Accepting and respecting other cultures
      • Knowing that a person’s own culture is only one among many
      • Recognizing that what is immoral, ethical, acceptable, etc, in one culture may not be so in another culture
    • Human rights are rights based on justice and morality beyond and superior to particular countries, cultures, and religions
    • Such rights are seen as inalienable (nations cannot abridge or terminate them) and international (larger than and superior to individual nations and cultures)
    • The idea of human rights challenges cultural relativism by invoking a realm of justice and morality beyond and superior to the laws and customs of particular countries, cultures, and religions
    • Anthropologists respect human diversity. Most ethnographers try to be objective, accurate, and sensitive in their accounts of other cultures. However, their objectivity, sensitivity and a cross-cultural perspective got nothing to do with ignoring international standards of justice and morality

2.6 Culture Change

  • anthropological account of the culture of any society is a type of snapshot view of one particular time
  • there are no cultures that remain completely static year after year
Culture change can occur as a result of the following Mechanisms:
  • Diffusion
    • The process by which cultural elements are borrowed from another society and incorporated into the culture of the recipient group
    • Culture change can occur as a result of the following

      • Direct
        • when two cultures trade with, intermarry among, or wage war on one another
      • Forced
        • when one culture subjugates another and imposes its customs on the dominated group
      • Indirect
        • when items or traits move from group A to group C via group B without any firsthand contact between A and C
          • group B might traders or merchants
          • group B might be geographically situated between A and C
In today’s world, much international diffusion is indirectculture spread by the mass media and advanced information technology
  • Acculturation
    • When exchange of cultural features results groups having continuous firsthand contact
    • This usually happens in situations of trade or colonialism
    • In situations of continuous contact, cultures have also exchanged and blended foods, recipes, music, dances, clothing, tools, and technologies
  • Invention
    • Invention is the process by which humans innovate, creatively finding solutions to problems
    • people in different societies have innovated and changed in similar ways, which is one reason cultural generalities exist
    • Often a major invention, such as agriculture, triggers a series of subsequent interrelated changes
      • example is the independent invention of agriculture in the Middle East and Mexico
        • It led to many social, political, and legal changes
  • Globalization
    • The term globalization encompasses a series of processes, including diffusion and acculturation, working to promote change in a world in which nations and people are increasingly interlinked and mutually dependent
      • Promoting such linkages are economic and political forces, as well as modem systems of
        transportation and communication
    • The mass media help propel a globally spreading culture of consumption
    • Emigrants transmit information and resources transnationally, as they maintain their ties with home. In a sense such people live multilocally-in different places and cultures at once

2.7 Ties That Connect: Marriage, Family and Kinship

  • marriage marks a change in status for a man and a woman and the acceptance by society of the new family that is formed
  • anthropologists have debated whether or not families and the institutions of marriage are universals
    • Nayar of Southern India, did not have marriage in the conventional sense of the term
      • husband took no responsibility for the women
      • frequently he never saw her again
      • Nayar do not have marriage according to our definition in that there is no economic, cooperation, regulation of sexual activity, cohabitation, or expectation of permanency Rules of Marriage
  • Societies also have rules that state whom one can and cannot marry, rules regulating mating (sexual intercourse)
  • common form of prohibition is mating with certain type of kin that are defined by the society as being inappropriate sexual partners
    • incest taboos – prohibitions on mating with certain categories of relatives
    • most universal form of incest taboo involves mating between members of the immediate (nuclear) familymother-sons, father-daughters, and brother-sisters
    • There are a few striking examples of marriage between members of the immediate family that violate the universality of the incest taboo
      • royal families among the ancient Egyptians, Incas and Hawaiians were permitted
  • Marriage is a permanent legal union between a man and a woman. It is an important institution without which the society could never be sustained Mate Selection: Whom Should You Marry?

1) Exogamy
  • man is not allowed to marry someone from his own social group
  • reasons for which practice of exogamy got approval
    • A conception of blood relation prevails among the members of a group
    • Attraction between a male and female gets lost due to close relationship in a small group
    • popular idea that a great increase of energy and vigor is possible in the progeny if marriage binds two extremely distant persons who possess no kin relation
    • exogamy has adaptive value – it links people into a wider social network that nurtures, helps, and protects them
2) Endogamy
  • requires individuals to marry within their own group and forbids them to marry outside it
  • Religious groups such as the Amish, Mormons, Catholics, and Jews have rules of endogamy
  • Castes in India and Nepal are also endogamous
3) Preferential Cousin Marriage
  • Kinship systems based on lineages distinguish between two different types of first cousins:
    • Cross Cousins
      • children of siblings of the opposite sex
      • one’s mother’s brothers’ children and one’s father’s sisters’ children
      • most common form of preferential cousin marriage is between cross cousins
    • Parallel Cousins
      • between the children of the siblings of the same sex
      • either from one’s father’s brother’s children or mother’s sister’s children
4) The Levirate and Sororate
  • require a person to marry the husband or wide of deceased kin
    • The levirate
      • widow is expected to marry the brother (or some close male relative) of her dead husband
      • children fathered by the woman’s new husband are considered to belong legally to the dead brother rather than to the actual genitor
      • serves as: social security for the widow and her children
    • The sororate
      • when a wife dies, is the practice of a widower’s marrying the sister (or some close female relative) of his deceased wife
      • family of the deceased is under a general obligation to supply some equivalent relative as a substitute NUMBER OF SPOUSES
how many mates a person may/should have
  • Monogamy
    • marriage of one man to one woman at a time
  • Polygamy
    • marriage of a man or woman with two or more mates
    • two types:
      • Polygyny
        • a man to two or more women at a time
        • sororal polygyny – Marriage of a man with two or more sisters at a time
      • Polyandy
        • woman to two or more men at a time
    • Advantages Polygamy marriage
      • Having two/more wives – sign of prestige, wealth, power, & status both for the polygnous husband, wives and children
      • produces more children, who are considered valuable for future economic and poltical assets
      • encourages to work hard (more cows, goats..) for more wives
    • Drawbacks Polygamy marriage
      • Jealousy among the co-wives who frequently compete for the husband’s attention Economic Consideration of Marriage
  • Most societies view as a binding contract between at least the husband and wife
  • contract includes the transfer of certain rights between the parties involved:
    • rights of sexual access
    • legal rights to children
    • rights of the spouses to each other’s economic goods and services
  • transfer of rights is accompanied by the transfer of some type of economic consideration
  • transactions, which may take place either before or after the marriage can be divided into three categories
    • Bride Price
      • also known as bridewealth
      • compensation given upon marriage by the family of the groom to the family of the bride
      • bride price has been seen as security or insurance for the good treatment of the wife
      • mechanism to stabilize marriage by reducing the possibility of divorce
      • symbol of the union between two large groups of kin
    • Bride Service
      • groom works for his wife’s family
      • Example: recalled that in the Old Testament, Jacob labored
      • practiced by the Yanomamo, a people living in the low- lands of Venezuela
    • Dowry
      • transfer of goods or money in the opposite direction, from the bride’s family to the groom’s family Post-Marital Residence
  • Where the newly married couple lives after the marriage
    • Patrilocal Residence – near the relatives of the husband’s father
    • Matrilocal Residence – near the relatives of the wife
    • Avunculocal Residence – near the husband’s mother’s brother
    • Ambilocal/Bilocal Residence – has a choice of living with relatives of the wife or relatives of the husband
    • Neolocal Residence – forms an independent place of residence away from the relatives of either spouse
2.7.2 FAMILY
  • basis of human society; most important primary group in society; universal; most permanent and most pervasive of all social institutions; an endurable social unit
  • two fundamentally different types of family
    • The Nuclear Family
      • Consisting of husband and wife and their children
      • two-generation family formed around the conjugal or marital union
      • everyday needs of economic support, childcare, and social interaction are met within the nuclear family itself
      • neolocal residence, nor is there any particular obligation or expectation to care for their aging parents in their own homes
      • parents are not actively involved in mate selection for their children
    • The Extended Family
      • consist of two or more families that are linked by blood ties
      • married couple living with one or more of their married children in a single household or homestead and under the authority of a family head
      • personal property in the household is not owned by the newlyweds, but is controlled by the husbands’ father
      • marriage is viewed more as bringing a daughter into the family than acquiring a wife
      • There is a rough correlation found between extended family system and an agricultural way of life Functions Marriage and Family
  • Biological Function
    • (sexual and reproductive) function
    • socially approved means to control sexual relation and a socially approved basis of the family
    • The task of perpetuating the population of a society is an important function of a family
    • Society reproduces itself through family
  • Economic Function
    • brings economic co-operation between men and women and ensure survival of individuals in a society
    • In small scale societies family is a self-contained economic unit of production, consumption and distribution
  • Social Function
    • institution of marriage brings with it the creation and perpetuation of the family
      • the form of person to person relations and linking once kin group to another kin group
  • Educational and Socialization Function
    • burden of socialization (via processes of enculturation and education) of new born infants fall primarily upon the family
    • family behaves as an effective agent in the transmission of social heritage
  • Kinship is the method of reckoning relationship
  • every adult individual belongs to two different nuclear families:
    • family of orientation
      • family in which he was born and reared
    • family of procreation
      • family to which he establishes relation through marriage
  • kinship system is neither a social group nor does it correspond to organized aggregation of individuals
  • It is a structured system of relationships where individuals are bound together by complex interlocking and ramifying ties
  • consanguineous kinship – the relationship based on blood ties
  • final relationship – kind of bond, which arises out of a socially or legally defined marital relationship
 2.7.4 DESCENT
  • refers to the social recognition of the biological relationship that exists between the individuals
  • rule of descent refers to a set of principles by which an individual traces his descent
  • three important rules of decent:
    • Patrilineal descent
      • descent is traced solely through the male line
      • Succession and inheritance pass through the male line
    • Matrilineal descent
      • descent is traced solely through the female line
      • only females acquire the succession and inheritance
    • Cognatic Descent
      • individuals are free to show their genealogical links either through men or women
      • There is no fixed rule to trace the succession and inheritance; any combination of lineal link is possible in such societies

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