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Chapter 2

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University of Guelph
ANTH 1150
Hank Davis

Stephanie Oliveira 1 Chapter 2: Culture Chapter 2: Culture Edward Tylor proposed that cultures, systems of human behavior and thought, obey natural laws and therefore can be studied scientifically. Tylors definition focuses on attributes that people acquire not through biological inheritance but by growing up in a particular society in which they are exposed to a specific cultural tradition. Kottak was aware the conditions that the way Tylor was observing culture was back then. Now, it is different. Enculturation- the process by which a child learns his or her culture. What is Culture? What Tylors definition entails: 1. Culture is learned Our own cultural learning depends on the uniquely developed human capacity to use symbols: signs that have no necessary or natural connection to the things they stand for or signify. Clifford Geertz defined culture as ideas based on cultural learning and symbols. Cultures have been characterized as sets of control mechanisms plans, recipes, rules instructions, what computer engineers call programs for the governing of behavior. Every person begins immediately to incorporate a cultural tradition through the process of enculturation. Culture is also transmitted through observation. Children modify their behavior not just because other people tell them to do so but as a result of their own observations and growing awareness of what their culture considers right and wrong. Culture is also observed unconsciously. North Americans acquire their cultures notions about how far away people should stand when they talk, not by being told directly to maintain a certain distance but through a gradual process of observation, experience, and conscious and unconscious behavior modification. They learn to do so as a part of their cultural tradition. 2. Culture is Symbolic Culture is constructed of symbols and thats what makes it unique. Symbols can mean different things in different settings. Symbol- something verbal or nonverbal, within a particular language or culture, that comes to stand for something else. Leslie White defined culture as: dependent upon symbollingculture consists of tools, implements, utensils, clothing, ornaments, customs, institutions, beliefs, rituals, games, works of art, language, etc. For White, culture originated when our ancestors acquired the ability to use symbols, that is, to originate and give meaning on a thing or event, and to grasp and appreciate such meanings. There need be no obvious, natural, or necessary connection between the symbol and what it symbolizes. Language is one of the distinctive possessions of Homo sapiens. No other animal has developed anything approaching the complexity of language, with its multitude of symbols. Symbols are often linguistic. The association between a symbol (water) and what is symbolized (holiness) is arbitrary and conventional All humans possess the abilities on which culture rests the abilities to learn, to think symbolically, to manipulate language, and to use tools and other cultural products in organizing their lives and coping with their environments. Every contemporary human population has the ability to use symbols and thus to create and maintain culture. 3. Culture is shared Culture is transmitted in society. Shared beliefs, values, memories, and expectations link people who grow up in the same culture. Enculturation unifies people by providing us with common experiences. People in the United States sometimes have trouble understanding the power of culture because the value that American culture places on the idea if the individual. In American culture, individualism is a distinctive shared value. It is transmitted through hundreds of statements and setting in our daily lives. Although a culture changes, certain fundamental beliefs, values, worldviews and child-rearing practices endure. 4. Culture and Nature Culture takes the natural biological urges we share with other animals and teaches us how to express them in particular ways. Cultural habits, perceptions, and inventions mold human nature into many forms. Our cultureand cultural changesaffects how we perceive nature, human nature, and the natural. Through science, invention, and discovery, cultural advances have overcome many natural limitations. (ex: we have cures for diseases that our ancestors died from) 5 Culture is All-Encompassing Culture encompasses features that are sometimes regarded as trivial or unworthy of serious study, such as those of popular culture. As a whole, part of our lives. To understand contemporary North American culture, we must consider tv, fast food, sports and games.Stephanie Oliveira 3 Chapter 2: Culture 6. Culture is integrated It makes sense. The different elements of culture come together into a systematic whole. Cultures are integrated, patterned systems. If one part of the same (the overall economy, for instance) changes, other parts change as well. Attitudes and behavior regarding marriage, family, and children have children have changed. Ex: Late marriage and divorce have become more common. Cultures are integrated by sets, values, ideas, symbols, and judgments. Cultures train their individual members to share certain personality traits. A set of characteristic core values (key, basic, central values) integrates each culture and helps distinguish it from others. 7. Culture is Instrumental, Adaptive and Maladaptive Culture is the main reason for human adaptability. Humans adapt biologically. (Ex: by shivering when we get cold or sweating when we get hot.) People also have a cultural way of adapting. (Ex: to cope with environmental stresses, we use technology or tools.) People also use culture to fulfill psychological and emotional needs. (Ex: friendship, companionship) Individuals cultivate ties with others
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