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Chapter 2- Page 32-55.docx

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University of Guelph
ANTH 1150

Chapter 2 The Nature of Culture Pg 32-55 THE CONCEPT OF CULTURE  Culture: (defined by Sir Edward Burnett Tylor): "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society"  Since Tylor's time definitions have proliferated  Recent definitions tend to distinguish between actual behaviour on the one hand and the abstract values, beliefs, and perceptions of the world that lie behind that behaviour on the other  Culture is not only observable behaviour but the shared ideals, values, and beliefs people use to interpret experience and generate behaviour and that are reflected by their behaviour  Culture provides the means for production and distribution of goods and services considered necessary for life, biological continuity through the reproduction of its members, teaching children appropriate behaviour to become functioning adults, maintaining order among its members (as well as outsiders), motivating its members to survive and to engage in activities necessary for survival, and encouraging them to find meaning in their lives  Through culture, the human species has secured not just its survival but its expansion as well CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURE Culture is Shared  They share a cultural identity, separate from other cultures  People can predict how others are most likely to behave in a given circumstance and can react accordingly  When people move to another culture they lose the ability to predict other people's behaviour, which creates a sense of uncertainty  The confusion, hostility, and anxiety that many people experience when living in an unfamiliar culture is known as Culture shock  Anthropologists because of the nature of their research, tend to be highly motivated to learn the new culture as quickly as possible.  Culture shock affects people immigrating to a country like Canada  Most immigrants attempt to fit into their new society, adopting many of the social and cultural features of Canadian Society, while also preserving parts of their traditional culture  Culture shock is an inevitable reality for new immigrants when they find themselves in an environment where people believe, think and act differently  A society is a group of people who live in the same geographical region, speak the same language, and are interdependent to a certain extent  A society may and often does contain more than one cultural group  The way people within a society depend on one another can be seen in their economic systems and their family relationships, members of a society are held together by a sense of common identity  The relationship that hold a society together are know as its Social Structure  Although a culture is shared by its members, we must realize that it is not entirely uniform  No member has the exact same version of his or her culture as another  The process of aging ins also influenced by culture  Other examples of cultural variation include ethnicity, occupation, social class, sexual orientation, geographical distribution (eg. eastern Canada- western Canadian, rural-urban), physical or mental challenges, and special-interest groups  Subcultures: a group of people within a larger society who have distinctive standards and patterns of behaviour  Subcultures may develop in different ways  Culture and subculture represent opposite ends of a continuum, with no clear dividing line in the "grey area" between  Sometimes a subculture appears to operate outside mainstream society  Canada is a cultural mosaic of many ethic subcultures as are most societies today  Pluralistic societies contain several distinct cultures and subcultures  Ethic subcultures possess an ethic identity or ethnicity that refers to a shared sense of identity based on cultural traits that have been passed down through generations.  Cultural traits or ethic boundary markers including history, beliefs and values, traditions, language, dress and food, set ethic subcultures apart from other groups  Religion is one marker that distinguishes ethic subcultures  Place of origin can also provide groups with a distinct identity  Language is one of the most powerful boundary markers  Distinctive clothing and food, are all symbols easily associated with particular ethnic subcultures  Identification of ethic subcultures is not always clear cut  Members of one cultural group may have difficulty understanding the needs and concerns of another  The degree of cultural accommodation is always in question and at times has cause increased tensions between groups Culture is Learned  All culture is learned rather than biologically inherited  Has prompted Ralph Linton to refer to it as humanity's "social heredity"  People learn their culture as they grow up  The process whereby culture is transmitted from one generation to the next is called enculturation  Through enculturation we learn the socially appropriate way to satisfy our biologically determined needs  We must distinguish between the needs themselves which are not learned and the learned ways they are satisfied  Enculturation not only serves to fulfill biological needs, it also teaches us how to "fit in" and be accepted by other members of our cultural group  Other enculturative forces include family, peers, religious organizations and the media  Old patterns of behaviour are altered to meet the changing needs of society, and new patterns are developed Culture is Based on Symbols  Leslie White observed that human behaviour originates in the use of symbols  Art, religion, and money involve symbols  The most important symbolic aspect of culture is language - the substitution of words for objects  Through language, humans are able to transmit culture from one generation to another Culture is Integrated  For comparison and analysis, anthropologists customarily break a culture down into many seemingly discrete parts, even though such distinctions are arbitrary  The anthropologist who examines one aspect of a culture invariably finds it necessary to examine others as well  This tendency for all aspects of a culture to function as an interrelated whole is called integration  We might suppose the various parts of a culture must operate in perfect harmony at all times  To a degree this is true of all cultures  We should not assume complete harmony is required  So as long as the par
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