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Seventh note

Course Code
Jennifer Jackson

of 2
Sociocultural anthropology
Patterns of thought and behaviour
Marriage patterns, kinship, political systems, economic systems, legal systems,
religion, art, etc.
Similarities and differences between societies and cultures
Only tend to focus on living people
How is anthropology different from other disciplines?
Non-western societies and cultures are studied
"primitive" or "third world" societies
How people make meaning in the world
Write interpretations on other peoples interpretations
Comparative - less ethnocentric (our values are better than other peoples values)
Holistic - many aspects of human experience at the same time
Focus on typical characteristics of a society (things taken for granted) - rules,
beliefs that are shared
Aim is to make everyday appear weird, and weird appear everyday
Doing fieldwork
What does it study?
Culture and/or society
Cultural anthropology - what people think
Social anthropology - what people do
What is culture?
Something we learn
Passed on between generations because it is learnt from someone
Shared and relatively stable belief systems
Based on symbols, and thus complex
Informs action - the things we do are done because of the ideas we have
It doesn't exist - a way of looking at the world that the anthropologists have to bring
things into view (a concept)
What is society?
General - human society (what it is to be human, nature vs. man)
Plural - actually existing social forms on the ground (people living together in the
same place)
Institutional form that preexists and exists after we are gone (capitalism)
Organize ourselves into different institutions (legal, economic, etc)
What is human?
Both culture and society studies comes down to studying what is human
Are we first and foremost people who are interpreters - is that what it is to be
Inherently social
Don't sit and think about world but form groups - organization into groups to think
All disciplines have different models of what it is to be human (psychology,
economics, etc)
Why bother?
People want to know whats out there
Courtesy to know your neighbour - curiosity
Understand ourselves better (not in a psychological way) - learning something
interesting about ourselves by contrasting ourselves with others
To get at the question - what is man?
Challenging the assumptions of other academic disciplines