Cultural Anthropology A Problem Based Approach
1 Culture and Meaning
How can people begin to understand beliefs and behaviours that are
different from their own?
Why look at The World Behind Everyday Appearances?
In socio-cultural anthropology, and science generally, the world is observed to find
patterns and insight, attempting to understand other cultures and ourselves.
Why do Human Being differ in their Beliefs and Behaviours?
Due to one’s own culture, their beliefs and behaviours differ from other cultures naturally
because they have experienced different events with different meaning.
How do People Judge the Beliefs and Behaviours of Others?
Due to a difference in culture, people judge other via rejection and condemnation.
People may be committing the ethnocentric fallacy of believing that all outside cultures
and beliefs are incorrect.
Relativism believes that no culture should be belittled simply because it isn’t our own,
instead, we must try to understand a culture in its own terms and to understand
behaviours or beliefs for the purpose, function, or meaning theyhave to people in the
societies in which we find them.
Relativistic fallacy implies that it is impossible to make moral judgments about the beliefs
and behaviours of others.
What is Objectivity and Morality?
Topic debates whether anthropologists should remain objective when studying cultures,
simply document, observe and write, or whether they should judge/critisize the
situation, or practice what is moral when encountering ethical issues within cultures,
fight for the culture.
Is it Possible to See the World Through the Eyes of Others?
Cultural Anthropology A Problem Based Approach
2 The Meaning of Progrress and Development
How do we explain the transformation of human societies over the past
10 000 years from small-scale, nomadic bands of foragers to a
large-scale, urban-industrial states?
Why Did Foraging Societies Switch to Sedentary Agriculture?
Sedentary agriculture war easier, less dangerous and more productive, it also gave farmers
more time for leisure. More people needed to be fed, sednetary agriculture provided
this support, it also created social organization.
Why are Some Societies More Industrially Advanced Than Others?
The growth of the textile industry in England produced wealth for some, but in the
process destroyed textile manufacturing in India, led to the colonization of India and
China, extended slavery in US while it drained Africa of productive labour,
enhancing wealth In the US lead to the removal of indigenous people from their own
Why Don’t Poor Countries Modernize and Develop in the Same Way as Wealthier
Even though a World band was established to provide countries with loans and
chances to better their economy, this only lead to the increase of poverty by the
incapability to pay back loans and better economy, as well as environmental
devastation of intense agriculture.
How Does the Westen Science Model of Health and Illness Differ From Medical Models
Found in Other Cultures?
On the Western Science Model of health, illnesses are viewed as an intrusion of
germs, bacteria, or viruses, and may be cured through their elimination. A failure to
eliminate health issues would lead to death. For other cultures, illness occurs from
witchcraft, sorcery, soul loss or spirit possession.
Why are So Many Smalle-scale Societies Disappearing?
Native groups were exterminated by representatives of modern societies all over the
world because of globalization. more land was needed for agriculture, thus taking
over territory required taking away rights from natives, and killing them afterwards.
How Can a Critical Understanding of the Concept of Economic Development Be Useful
for Career Opportunities?
Economic development must take-in varieties of possiblities and opinions in order to
be sucessful, it cannot be one sided and inconvenient for population. that is why
indigenious knowledge must be considered for economic development.
Anthropological background or perspective can aid in planning development Cultural Anthropology A Problem Based Approach
projects and bettering countries and economy altogether.
3 The Construction of the Nation-State
How do we explain emergence of the modern nation-state and the
methods through which persons come to believe that they own their
allegiance to their country?
Why Did Humans Beings Organize into Large State Organizations?
Segmentary Social Systems permitted the gatherings of groups to compete activities
amoung stateless societies. It is theorized that population growth attributed to the
necessityof organization within the village. States were thus created, led by planners
and leaders to support population. Forming a state resulted in technological
development that elevated the wealth and status of some, organization in another
perspective was mandatory to acquire property, power, land, etc.
Why Did the Nation-State Come to Exist and What Functions Does it Perform?
The nation-state was formed for economical purposes, to create a global economic
network, with functions of trading with other nation states for circulation and
diffusion of capital goods. In doing so, well-being would have been achieved for the
population – however this trading benefitted businesses and corporations, for they
would receive massive profits from sold products, as well as the taxes.
How is the State Constructed and Maintained and How Does it Succeed in Binding
Together Often Disparate and Conflicting Groups?
The state is construted from creating a ‘nation’ from conventionalized institutions
that make the population believe in a shared culture, heritage and language that
interconnects them. Through creating infrastructre that gathers all members on a
imposed culture/institution, institutions like jobs and education allow all members to
participate in that conforms their behaviour and beliefs into a common bereaucracy -
the government’s liking. As expectations are understood bythe members of the state,
some oppose to these policies, which result in consequences of ethnocide and
Can Marginalized Peoples Challenge the Power of the State?
Many cultures and groups marginalized or percieved as minorities are challenging
the state, observed from first nations.
How Is the State to Survive in an Increasingly Globalized World?
Transnational corporations integrate national economies, they control the rules and
regultions of the nation-state for corporate interests. WTO a transnational
corporation can permit offending countries to force them to alter trade rule to benefit
their own nation-state. Cultural Anthropology A Problem Based Approach
4 The Social and Cultural Construction of Reality
Why do people believe different things, and why are they so certain that
their view of the world is correct and other views are wrong?
How Does Language Affect the Meanings of People Assign to Experience?
Sapir acknowledges that languae defines and guides our exception of experience.
Whord further argued that languages frame the refernces that can be used in
accordance with that perception of the world based on that language and culture. In
addition, metaphors assign and associate language with experiences.
How Does Symbolic Action Reinforce a Particular View of the World?
Reoccuring symbolism in media and culture acts as a reinforcer to consistently
influence culture to think or understand the concept in the way it is
introduced/understood to be. The Kwakwaka’wakw has created ritual dance hamatsa
that made their lives revolve around the reality they have created. This aapplies to
regular rituals of any other culture, consistent exposure to that ritual makes the
person unresponsive and accepting of that symbol. Key scenarios in stories portray
values that people learn and duplicate in their own lives, for instance, the typical
archetype of a hero must face death, escape evile and reach ultimate goals.
How Does the Way We Live Affect Our Beliefs and Rituals?
The way we live creates the underlying infrastructure to rituals and beliefs, it is
accomodated in daily life. The knowledge that we attain is only through learning
from direct experience
What Happened to Local Worldviews When They Were Confronted by the Religion of the
It is quick for us to assume that Eurpoean oppressingly enforced their value system
upon the cultures that they have interacted with, however it is demonstrated through
many worldviews that elements of Christianity had been incorporated into their own
How Can People Reorder Their View of the World if it Becomes Unsatisfactory?
People's cultures and beliefs are altered and influences by external factors that are
chosen, and not always totally enforced. Wallace suggests that there are
revitalization movements that are taken on by members of the culture, that claim to
have visions and dreams of a better living without oppression or frustration. There is
also a reordering of worldviews by syncretisation, in which elements of external
beliefs and internal beliefs of cultures are combined to form a new perception of
living experience. Cultural Anthropology A Problem Based Approach
5 Patterns of Family Relations
What Do We Need to Know Before We Can Understand the Dynamics of
Family Life in Other Societies?
What is the Composition of the Typical Family Group?
The composition of family groups depends on the cultures that are being appointed,
all establish bilateral relation through both parents. North Americans reckon the
nuclear family to be the typical family. Similarly, the key relationships are identified
between husband and wife alike the ju/’hoansi people. The Ju/’hoansi live in groups
from 10 – 40 people, circulating amongst villages,. The tradition of brideservice
requires the wedding couple to live with the bride’s parents. The Trobriand
Islanders classify their kinships through the lineage of the mother and female line
(extended family), living in villages accompanying up to 400 people. Key
relationships are between brother and sister, the father is an outsider to the family. In
rural China the patrilineal extended family constructs kinship, sons are needed to
extend the family line.
How Are Families Formed and the Ideal Family Type Maintained?
Families are formed through the marriage of male and female, that also joins to families
together. This marriage leads to sharing residence and intercourse between the married
couple, in which re