Harris Chapter 1
Anthropology is the study of humankind of ancient and modern people and their ways of living.
The Five Fields of Anthropology
1. Cultural Anthropology: the description and analysis of cultures
Socially learned traditions of past and present ages
Describes and interprets presentday cultures
Creates hypothesis and theories about the causes of past and present culture similarities
2. Archaeology: examines the material remains of past cultures (left behind or below the
surface of the earth)
3. Anthropological linguistics: the study of languages spoken by human beings
Interested in how language influences and is influenced by other aspects of human
Studies the relationship between the evolution and change of languages
4. Physical Anthropology (biological anthro): biologically determined nature of homo
seeks to reconstruct the course of human evolution by studying fossil remains
5. Applied Anthropology: uses the findings of all other types of fields to solve practical
What is distinctive about cultural anthropology?
Holism: the distinction of anthropology among the social sciences is that it is holistic; it tired
to understand the processes that influence and explain all aspects of human thought and
Fieldwork: refers to first hand experience with the people being studied. It involves
integration into community through longterm residence and knowledge of the local language
and customs while maintaining the role of observer
They collect their primary data through fieldwork
Fieldnotes: Data collected by anthologists
Includes journals, daily logs, diaries, interviews, behavioural observations, and transcripts
Participant Observation: Places the ethnographer at the scene where a combination of direct
observation and interviewing provides the evidence from which ethnographic accounts are
Direct systematic behaviour observations: refer to the study of activity patterns that show
patterns of action and interaction of the people we study.
Who we observe, when and where we observe, what we observe, how we observe.
WWWWH; Who When Where What How
Culture shock: feeling of anxiety and disorientation that develops in an unfamiliar situation
when there is confusion about how to behave or what to expect Shifts from one culture to another
This happens when you develop relationships known as fictive kinship
Informants: people through whom the anthropologist learns about the culture through
observation and by asking questions
Imp to choose informants that are knowledgeable and articulate
Ethnography: is a firsthand description of a living culture based on personal observation
means “portrait of a ppl”
written description of; customs, beliefs and behaviours based on your fieldwork
Ecological anthropology: interaction between environment and technology to study human
adaption and change
Economic anthropology: studies how goods and services are distributed through formal and
Political anthropology: focuses on political integration, stratification, methods of conflict
resolution, leadership, and social control
Medical anthropology: studies biological and sociocultural factors that affect health and
Psychological anthropology: studies how culture affect personality, child rearing, emotions,
attitudes and social behaviour
Anthropologists use this method to understand patterns of thought or behaviour that occur in
a number of societies.
This is a study of a particular topic or problem in more than one culture, using a
Difference between ethnography and ethnology!!
Ethnography studies customs and beliefs, etc, in a single culture while ethnology studies
the same things but between different cultures
Anthropology and Science
A humanistic approach: it describes and interprets each culture on its own terms’ it believes
comparisons distort the unique qualities of a given culture
A scientific approach: explains cultural differences and similarities; it believes that
regularities exist across cultures and can be discovered through empirical data collection and
As a science it looks at patterns and interrelationships to create hypothesis and
explanations from what we observe Why Study Anthropology?
Anthropologists mainly work at university teachers, colleges, museums; (natural history
museum, archaeology, art and folklore museum)
in recent years their fields have expanded: government agencies with welfare, drug
abuse, mental health, environmental impact, foreign aid, education, housing, etc.
Harris Chapter 2: The Nature of Culture
Definitions of cultures
Culture: learned, socially acquired traditions of thought and behaviour found in human societies.
It is a socially acquired lifestyle that includes patterned, repetitive ways of thinking, feeling and
Culture is a complex whole that includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, custom,
and any characteristics present in that society.
Sometimes seen as a “pure idea” or even compared to a computer “software” (bcz like a
culture it tells ppl what to do under various circumstances)
Society, Subculture, and Sociocultural System
Society: this term refers to an organized group of ppl who share a homeland and who depend on
each other for their survival and wellbeing.
All societies have groups of ppl that have different lifestyles that are not shared by the
rest of the society
^ Which brings us to the term subculture
Subculture: these members share certain cultural features that are different from other members
Subcultures can be very small (females, males, children, adults)
Larger subcultures are based on groups such as: ethnic, religious, class distinctions.
Sociocultural: reminder that society forms a complex system of interacting parts
Enculturation (passing of cultural traits from one generation to the next)
Enculturation: conscious and unconscious learning experience whereby the older generation
invites, induces, and compels the younger generation to adopt traditional ways of thinking and
Ex: Chinese use chopsticks instead of forks
Enculturation is learned through adults and the elder
Learned through encouragement and punishment
Ethnocentrism: a belief that one’s own patterns of behaviour are always natural, good, beautiful,
or important and that strangers, to the extent that they life differently, live by strangers, inhuman,
disgusting, or irrational standards.
ppl who think other cultures are for example disgusting, would not necessarily think
that if they were in that culture that being disgusting would actually be their own way of
behaving. Ethnocentrism leads to tolerance of different cultures and makes us want to learn