ANT100Y1 Lecture Notes - Ethnology, Social Anthropology, Ethnography

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1 Mar 2013
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Social-Cultural Anthropology 2/28/2013 4:16:00 PM
February 28
What is it?
The study of human society and culture, the subfield that descirbes,
analyses, interprets, and explains social and cultural similarities and
differences. It is particularly concerned with exploring cultural
adaptation
Modern cultural anthropology has origins in 19th century
“ethnology,” which involves the organized comparison of human
societies. Ethnology uses secondary data to compare and contrast
and to make generalizations about societies and cultures
Early colonial ethnologists worked mostly with materials collected
by others, usually missionaries “armchair anthropology”
Modern cultural anthropology is characterized by the practice of
ethnography, which is both a research method and the product of
that research that describes and interprets a culture
Why Social and Cultural?
Developed distinctly in Europe and America
“British social anthropology” focused on society and sociality.
Exploring relationships and social institutions (religion, economics,
politics)
“America cultural anthropology focused on the ways people
expressed their view of themselves and their world, especially in
symbolic forms
These approaches frequently converged and generally
complimented each other
Gradual merging of social and cultural anthropology following WWII
led to socio-cultural anthropology
Social-cultural
One of primary goals is to make the strange familiar and the
familiar strange
Developed historically as the study of the “Other”
Also served to help Europeans question and think more critically
about their own societies and cultures
Culture
European usage = 1700-1800
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Process of improvement of individual, especially through education
Those with culture were deemed “civilized”
Those lacking culture were described as “living in a state of nature”
Non-Europeans were thought of as lacking culture
“Culture…is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief,
art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits
acquired by man as a member of society”
o Edward B. Taylor
o One of the first descriptions. Not something we are born
with, acquired through contact and exposure to society
Humans share society with other animals but culture is what sets us
apart
Culture is:
o Universal
All humans have the capacity for culture
Some cultural features are shared by all peoples (incest
taboo, nuclear family)
Some are specific and unique to particular societies
(Fraternal Polyandry one women will marry a group
of brothers)
o Knowledge
What we think, believe, know, and interpret
Explicit (aware of) laws
Tacit (unconscious) language rules
o Behaviour
What we do
Verbal/non-verbal communication, greeting, eating, etc.
o Artifacts
What we make and use
Clothing, houses, tools, etc.
o Learned
Children learn through process of enculturation
Direct instruction
Indirect observation
o Symbolic
Unique and universal human capacity to use signals
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Document Summary

The study of human society and culture, the subfield that descirbes, analyses, interprets, and explains social and cultural similarities and differences. It is particularly concerned with exploring cultural adaptation. Modern cultural anthropology has origins in 19th century. Ethnology, which involves the organized comparison of human societies. Ethnology uses secondary data to compare and contrast and to make generalizations about societies and cultures. Early colonial ethnologists worked mostly with materials collected by others, usually missionaries armchair anthropology . Modern cultural anthropology is characterized by the practice of ethnography, which is both a research method and the product of that research that describes and interprets a culture. British social anthropology focused on society and sociality. Exploring relationships and social institutions (religion, economics, politics) America cultural anthropology focused on the ways people expressed their view of themselves and their world, especially in symbolic forms. These approaches frequently converged and generally complimented each other.

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