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Culture-Lecture 1-Cultured Beasts Feb 26 2009


Course Code
Marcel Danesi

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February 26, 2009
Lecture 1: Cultured Beasts
I. Introduction
II. What is Culture?
x Learned
o Humans= shifts from animal skills-> human skills (communication, form
o ³&XOWXUHG%HDVWV´&ODZVDQGMDZV-> cultural living= these early
humans could learn to do these things then teach their young- GLGQW
have to rely on evolution to build in these behaviours as instinctive
o Dogs came with all their capacity to communicate built in (they knew
how to do it the second they were born)
o Different human groups learn different cultures
o Because cultures are learned and not instinctive- there are many
different kinds of learner behaviours
x Shared
persons head is not culture
x Dynamic
o Cultures; sets of shared meanings- never stay the same
o No human social group- never remain the same through time
o Cultural ideas are constantly changing (dynamic)
o Rapid cultural change is more often in the air then not (globalization)
o What is culture for? - business of function: cultural ideas function (there
for a reason)
o Culture functions as a whole to allow people to maintain and reproduce
their societies through time
o When someone dies- every culture in a whole as a set of ideas pf what
to do next (death rituals)
o Why does every society feel they need to mark death with ritual
Bring group together (family, community)
Help ppl deal with emotions
Functional analysis of culture
x Functional
x Conflictive
o Gender differences, age differences
o Status, ranking differences
o Income differences
o Class differences- ZRUNLQJFODVVFHVHWF«
o All of these different ways of carving out the pop- there is going to be
conflict among/between them
III. How Do Anthropologists Study It?
x Ethnocentric Evolutionists
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