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Lecture 1 - Socio-cultural Anthropology

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University of Toronto St. George
Janice Boddy

Lecture 1: Soc: Thinking is a social act Socio-Cultural Anthropology Study of contemporary and recent human populations Comparative -how societies vary and why, under what conditions Holistic- studies communities in historical, political, economic, religious, etc. context Culture o At its most basic, culture is understood to refer to learned sets of ideas and behaviours that are acquired by people as members of society. o Like language (a dimension of culture), culture is symbolic o Much of culture consists of unspoken implicit meanings and behaviours o Expression of cultural ideas vary depending on the specific social relationships in which they arise: on the social context and the social positions of actors o Effects of changes in technology and safety measures o Culture is not a thing so much as a process: Dynamic (interactive) Historical (a culture changes over time) Changes in technology (bucket seats in cars0 and the law (safety regulations, seat belts) contributed to changes in the expression of certain cultural meanings (in cross-gender communication) Cumulative (we learn from the past and add to our cultural toolkits from other societies) Creative (subject to human innovation) Socially realized (becomes evident through social interaction) Imagined (i.e. conceptual) but not imaginary
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