Chapter 4: LANGUAGE Language: system of arbitrary vocal symbols we use to encode our experiences of the
Linguistics: the scientific study of language.
Anthropological interest in language:
1) Practical field work = communication
2) Language involves grammatical and conceptual intricacies that anthropologist can
analyze and gain sight into a culture
3) All people use language to encode their experiences to structure their
understanding of the world and of themselves and to communicate and engage
within one another.
Design features of the human language
Characteristics of language that, when taken together differentiate it from all other
known animal communication systems.
Openness, displacement, prevarication, arbitrariness, duality of patterning, semanticist.
Very complex compared to call system
Basic units of language
1) Phonemes: distinct sounds, come together to form words. Bat = 3 phonemes
2) Morphemes: smallest meaning, bearing units in any language
Bats = 2 morphemes, BAT and S
Linguistic competence: mastery of adult grammar
Communicative competence: the mastery of adult rules for socially and culturally
Linguistic relativity principle: the assertion (SapirWhorf hypothesis) that language has
the power to shape the way people see the world and reality.
Linguistic Determinism: a language that has different pronouns for men and women
forces its speakers to think of men and women as radically different.
Components of Language
1) Phonology: study of sounds of language
2) Morphology: study of minimal units of meaning
3) Syntax: study of sentence structures
4) Semantics: study of meaning
5) Pragmatics: study of language in the context of how it is used.
6) Ethno pragmatics: study of language use in a specific culture.
Pidgin LanguagesNegotiated meaning Pidgin: a language with no native speakers that develops in a single generation between
members of communities that posses distinct native languages. Ex : trade languages.
Linguistic inequality and oppression
Imposed linguistic motivators
Ebonics “black American English”
A system of beliefs about how language features relate to social features and what they
reveal about the people who use them.
Markers of struggles between social groups with different interest, what they say and
how they say it.
Language habits of women and men
Gender talk patterns: authority, permission seeking, topic of conversation, tone,
infliction and volume.
(If you were in an online chat room how would you know if it’s a man or a women?)
Chapter 5: CULTURE, THE INDIVIDUAL AND IDENTITY
Anthropologists are interested in the way people see, learn and make sense of their
Thought, perception and language are all linked
Perception: the process by which people organize and experience information that is
primarily of sensory origin.
How we sort and label what we perceive. Reality vs expectations
Natural vs Supernatural, Real vs Illusion
Seeing/experiencing through cultural expectations.
Schemas: Patterned, repetitive experiences, whole packages of life embedded in practical
activities. Ex: Christmas, birthdays, weddings and funerals; culturally prescribed events.
Schemas become prototypes
Context helps us understand and interpret prototypes
Illusionperception is cultural
Visuality: Learning to look
Visuality: The ways that an individual from a different society learns to interpret what
he/she sees and to construct a mental picture using the visual practices that their own
cultural system favors.
Looking and seeing are medicated by cultural expectations (ex: starring may be rude…)
Abstract art vs. Garbage Baule and Looking
Nian ▯To watch
Nyin ▯ Stare
Nyin kpa ▯a real stare
Kanngle ▯evil looks from the corner of the eye
Nian klekle ▯to look clandestinely, rapid glance
Mental process by which human beings gain knowledge
The “meeting” place of relations between the mind at work and the world in which it
How people systematically classify cultural knowledge
1) Ethno botany: relationship between plants and humans
2) Ethno zoology: animals and humans
3) Ethno science
4) Maps, geography, medicine, supernatural forces
Taxonomies: Hierarchical systems that sort groups of things into subgroups in the way
that the subgroups are mutually exclusive.
Cognitive capacities and intelligence
Elementary cognitive processes: mental tasks common to all humans without intellectual
cognitive impairment, all humans demonstrate them.
Functional cognitive systems: culturally linked sets of cognitive processes that guide
perception, conception, reason and emotion that work in a given cultural context.
Why intelligence testing does not work across all cultural boundaries.
Cognitive Style: Reoccurring patterns of cognitive activity that characterizes individual’s
perceptual and intellectual activities.
1) Global style: holistic (packaged worldview)
Field dependent: way of viewing the world that first sees it as a bundle of
relationships and only later sees the bits and pieces involved in these
2) Articulated style (smaller pieces make up the worldview)
Field independent: way of viewing the world that breaks it up into smaller and
smaller pieces which can then be organized into larger chunks.
Reason and the reasoning process
Thinking: the active cognitive process of going beyond the information given, distinct
from remembering or learning. It is open and active with no predetermined outcome. Syllogistic reasoning: culture and logic
A form of reasoning based on the syllogism, a series of three statements in which the
first 2 are premises and the last is the conclusion, the conclusion must follow from the
Ex. All students are human, John is a student, = John is human.
Reasoning styles differ from culture to culture
Reasoning style: how we understand a cognitive task, how we encode the information
presented to us and what transformation the information undergoes as we think.
Emotion: product dialectic between bodily arousal and cognitive interpretation. It is
compromised of states, values, and arousals. Ex. Butchers knife = tool vs. weapon.
Cole and Sribner describe emotion in terms of functional cognitive systems; gut feeling,
fear, creepy, positive attitude.
Motivation: to set and accomplish goals
Socialization: process by which human beings learn to become members of a group, both
by interacting appropriately with others and by coping with the behavioral rules of the
Enculturation: The process by which humans living with one another must learn to come
to terms with the ways of thinking and feeling that are considered appropriate in their
group. Integrating and feeling comfortable with the rules.
Personality: the relative integration of an individual’s perceptions, motives, cognitions
and behavior within a sociocultural matrix.
Self: the result of the process of socialization and enculturation for an individual.
Subjectivity: an individual’s awareness of his or her own agency and position as a
Gender roles: sets of behaviors that are commonly perceived as masculine or feminine
within a specific culture.
Sexuality: an individual’s sense of his or her own sexual orientation and preferences
Sex: biological distinction between male and females based on morphological sex
Gender: Cultural construction of beliefs and behaviors considered appropriate for each
Structural violence: violence that results from the way that political and economic forces
structure risk for various forms of suffering within a population Social trauma: individual or group experience of negative physical, mental and emotional
effects resulting from powerfully disturbing occurrences caused by forces and agents
external to the person or group.
Chapter 6: SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
Wide variations across cultures and time but anthropology generally agree that it is:
An institution that protypically involves a man and a woman, but may be a same sex
couple, transforms the status of the participants, implication about sexual access and
Gives children a position in society, and establishes connections between the kin of a
husband and the kin of a wife.
Legitimizes offspring’s, creates new social groups.
Marriage as a social purpose
Bride wealth: The transfer of symbolically important goods from the family of the groom
to the family of the bride representing compensation to the wife’s lineage for the loss of
her labor and for child bearing capacities.
Common in groups where the bride goes to live with or near the kin of the
Bride service: similar but implies that the groom will work for bride’s family instead of
Dowry: Opposite of bride wealth.
Wealth that a women brings to a marriage, often to attract a good mate, start a
household or maintain some independence.
Endogamy: marriage within a defined social group
Exogamy: marriage outside a denied social group
Monogamy: married to only one person
Polygamy: married to more than one person
Polygyny: 1 man, 2+ women
Polyandry: 1 woman, 2+ men
Nonconjugal family: a women and her children, the husband may occasionally be
present or completely absent.
Conjugal family: family based on marriage, minimum= spousal pair and children Nuclear family: 2 generations, one or more parents and their unmarried children
Extended family: 3 generations living together
Joint family (sibling based): brothers and their wives (or sisters and their husbands) along
with their children living together
Blended family: Created with previously divorced or widowed people marry bringing
children from their previous marriage.
Family of choice: created over time by new kin ties as friends and lovers demonstrate
their genuine commitment to one another.
Kinship systems of relatedness
Ways of organizing human interdependence
Kinship carries out the recruiting of group members
Provide residence rules
Provides intergenerational links
Helps to decide succession or inheritance.
*Kinship = web of social relationships
Patterns of descent in kinship
1) Lineages: A descent group composed of consanguine members or blood relatives
who believe they can trace their descent from real known ancestors.
2) Bilateral descent: the principle that a descent is formed by people who believe
they are related to each other by connections made through their mothers and
3) Unlineal descent: formed by people who believe they are related to each other by
links made through a father or a mother only.
Anthropologist have been able to identify six major prototypical patterns of kinship
terminology named after groups that use them:
Kinship and alliance
LeviStrauss alliance theory of marriage: find your mate in another place; marital ties
make for good neighbors. “Make love not war”. Kinship and practices
Status: we all have many aspects of ourselves that will define our social status.
Ascribed status: social positions people are assigned to at birth.
Achieved status: social positions people may attain later in life, often as the result of their
Chapter 7: MAKING A LIVING
Culture and livelihood
Subsistence strategies: making a living, relationship to ecology
Adaptation: adjusting to and modifying the environment.
Economic anthropology: is the part of the discipline that debates issues of human nature
that relate directly to the decisions of daily life and making a living.
Institutions: stable and enduring cultural practices that organize social life. Ex. Marriage,
politics, education, law.
Economy: from an institutional perspective, the materialmeans provisioning process in a
cultural system. Exchanges of goods and services: cash, labor…
Subsistence strategies: patterns of adaptation, production, distribution, and consumption
of goods that members of a society employ to ensure the satisfaction of their basic
material survival needs.
Important distinction between food collectors and food producers.
Food collectors foragers: huntergatherers gather fish or hunt food.
Food producers: those who depend on domesticated plants/animals for food (only past
Pastoralists: have animal herds
Extensive agriculture (horticulture): depends on slash and burn techniques, rainwater,
human muscle power, and a few simple tools such as digging sticks, hoes and machetes:
it exhaust the land, requiring farmers to move plots every few years.
Intensive agriculture: employs human labor plows, draft animals, fertilizer and such to
bring much more land under cultivation at one time. Mechanized industrial agriculture: large scale mechanized farming, often found in
conjunction with factory farming or animals that is highly dependent on industrial
methods of technology and production.
Pastoralism: domesticated herd animals used for many things; transportation, meat, dairy,
Phases of economic activity
1) Production: transformation of nature’s raw materials into a form of suitable for
human use. Acquisition or production of plant and animal foods.
2) Distribution: system of allocation of goods and services.
3) Consumption: preparations and using up food and material goods necessary for
Modes of exchange
1) Reciprocity: characteristics of egalitarian societies. Sahlins identified 3 kinds:
Generalized reciprocity: no immediate expectation of return
Balanced reciprocity: an expectation of an equal return
Negative reciprocity: one party gains more than the others
2) Redistribution: centralized social organization receives contribution from all members
of the group and redistributes them. Ex: social welfare or employment insurance.
*Societies may have more than one mode of exchange at any point in time.
3) Market exchange: exchange of goods (trade) is calculated in terms of a multipurpose
medium of exchange and standard of value (money) and carried on by means of a supply
and demand price mechanism (the market).
Labor: activity linking human social groups to the material world around them; human
labor is therefore alwayssocial labor.
Mode of production: a specific historically occurring set of social relations through which
labor us deployed to wrest energy from nature by means of tools, skills, organization and
Means of production: tools, skills, organization and knowledge used to extract energy
Relations of production: the social relations linking the people who use a given means of
production within a particular mode of production.
Marx 3 modes of production
1) Kinordered mode: social labor is deployed on the basis of kinship relations. 2) Tributary mode: primary producer, whether cultivator or herdsman is allowed
access to the means of production while tribute is exacted from him by political or
3) Capitalist mode: means of production are property owned by the capitalist.
Workers are denied access to such ownership and must sell their labor in order to
Applying production theory to social and cultural life
Ideology: according to Marx, ideology is those products of consciousness such as
morality, religion and metaphysics. To explain to people who they are and to
justify the kinds of lives they lead.
Explanations of patterns of consumption
1) Internal explanation: basic and derived needs
2) External explanation: cultural ecology, culture determined by ecosystem
3) Cultural explanation: what we think of things, symbolic associations.
Culture helps to shape needs and offers a way of satisfying them.
Chapter 8: Play, Art, Myth and Ritual
Play: A framing (or orienting context) that is
consciously adopted by the players;
somehow pleasurable; and
systemically related to what is nonplay by alluding to the nonplay world
and by transforming the objects, roles, actions, and relations of ends and
means characteristic of the nonplay world.
Art: ‘Play with form producing some aesthet