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Lecture 10

Lecture 10 -- The Characteristics of Culture.docx

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ANT 2000
Elyse Anderson

The Characteristics of Culture  ……..  Sometimes we are aware of certain features of our culture; other times it is unconscious or goes unnoticed  Variation between societies = gender  Gender = the cultural elaborations and meanings assigned to the biological differentiation between sexes  Americans = binary gender opposites  Disregard/ignore variation  Culture isn’t uniform; people within a culture experience it differently according to their gender, age, social status, sexual orientation, etc.  Subculture = a distinctive set of ideas, values, and behavior patterns by which a larger group within a larger society operates, while still sharing commons standards with that larger society  Culture is symbolic = a sound, gesture, mark, or other sign that is arbitrarily linked to something else and represents it in a meaningful way  Language = the most important symbolic aspect of culture  Culture is often analyzed as a well-structured system made up of particular parts that function together as a whole (can’t understand how it affects one without understanding how it affects the other!) = o Social structure = the rule-governed relationships—with all their rights and obligations— that hold members of society together; includes household, families, associations, and power relations (including politics) o Infrastructure = the economic foundation of a society, including its subsistence practices and the tools and other material equipment used to make a living o Superstructure = a society’s shared sense of identity and worldview; the collective body of ideas, beliefs, and values by which a group of people make sense of the world—its shape, challenges, and opportunities—and their place in it; includes religion and national ideology o In reality, the division between these units are often not clear-cut; all of these “parts” are interrelated and influence one another  Anthropologists distinguish between universal, general, and particular cultural traits = o Universal = found in every culture; e.g. stuff mankind needs to actually survive (food, clothes, shelter, etc.) o General = e
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