1. Culture Is…
a. A set of shared meanings about the world and everyone and everything in it.
ii. Social Roles
iv. Life transitions
b. Acquired (through the form of ideas and practices), and shared/transferred from
generation to generation.
c. Adaptive, through outside influences, and by their understanding of the world,
and incorporated into their belief systems.
d. Constantly changing, as people and institutions change
e. Symbolic, as we create and convey meaning all the time.
i. Ex: Our letters, a phonic system, represent sounds.
f. Passed and spread symbolically, through languages and specific lessons.
g. Patterned; values and beliefs “show up” in different areas of social life. In
i. Individualism is highly valued in American culture, and is seen in
conversations and phrases.
ii. Childrearing; babies are put in strollers, away from their mother (as if they
want to be autonomous) due to the idea that picking up babies too much
(giving them too much attention) will spoil them.
iii. Individuality and individualism trump collectivism; Following your own
conscience, or “instinct” is valued over obedience of laws.
iv. Tend to blame individuals for certain illnesses, and affect our feelings
about health policy.
2. Cultures Aren’t…
a. Seamlessly, fully-integrated wholes, full of internal logic
b. Always good for people, including their physical and physiological health. For
i. Cultures can cause tension, death, and discriminatory practices, such as
slavery and frequent contradictions between the law and ideal conditions.
3. Challenges of Anthropology a. There is a tendency towards an unconscious ethnocentrism (a bias towards our
own culture) For example:
i. Medicinal cannibalism
ii. Ritual cannibalism