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Chapter 8

ANTH 100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Enculturation, Mental Disorder, Participant Observation

Course Code
ANTH 100
Mc Guire Erin- Lee

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Parts of culture:
cognition - what we think
-acts as a lens
-influences the values we learn & the symbols we understand
-the info & understandings we have that allow us to relate to others
action/behaviour - what we do
-interactions with others
material culture - what we have
-the material products that people make, altar & use
-artifacts: portable items (ex. clothing, pottery)
-features: non-portable items (ex. roads, buildings)
Human culture is:
learned - we learn culture actively & acquire it passively from the people
around us through teaching & observing
-we are not born with culture
-enculturation: process by which children learn their culture
-assimilation: learning a new culture
-can deeply effect our beliefs & thoughts
-understanding a culture allows us to act appropriately
symbolic - anything that stands for something else & carries meaning
-is conventional & agreed upon
-often linguistic (we think is a distinctive possession of Homo sapiens)
holistic - all aspects of a society are linked & if one aspect is altered, the
others will be affected as well
-all encompassing
shared - involves more than just one individual
-shared across & within groups
-members of the same culture share a set of beliefs, customs,
knowledge & values = guides our behaviour & allow us to act in ways
that make sense & are accepted by others
-all human groups have culture (some animals - not to the same extent
as Homo sapiens)
-people share culture by understanding what goes on around them in
approximately the same way
-can be concentrated or diasponic (spread across the world)
patterned - cultures vary, but patterns exist
-models & patterns should be treated as flexible
adaptive - culture is static & always changing
-over time become traditions
it did not emerge all at once, but evolved over time
Human capacity for culture depends on:
transmission: the ability to copy a behaviour by observing or learning
memory: the ability to remember behaviours
reiteration: the ability to reproduce or imitate behaviours
innovative: the ability to develop new behaviours
selection: the ability to know which behaviours to keep or discard
Personality development:
Personality: the product of specific genes coming into contact with your
cultural & social environment
-can be a wide variety of what is considered “normal” personalities
Child-rearing: how children are raised in any society
-dependence training: family over individual (extended families)
-independence training: individual over family (nuclear families)
Cultural differences:
the same objects, actions or events are not universal
cross-cultural communication errors can be problematic
Ethnocentrism: the idea that our own customs are normal & correct,
while other’s are strange, wrong or disgusting
-dictates our food choice
-leads to racism, colonialism & globalization
-it is an anthropologists responsibility to observe, describe & interpret
behaviours objectively
Cultural relativism: the idea that all cultures are equally valid & can
only be understood in their own context
-behaviour in one culture should not be judged by the standards of
another culture
-opens our eyes to other possibilities
-pushes us to find areas of common ground & differences
-understanding is not the same as condoning
we can avoid ethnocentrism by:
-acknowledging our own enculturation
-learning about other cultures
-challenge ideas about the “truth”
-recognizing & respecting cultural traditions different than our own
Ethnicity: describes heritage, geography & language
Cultural identities: the aspects of our lives that are not linked to our
ethnicity (ex. gender, social roles, interests, occupation, etc)
Community: people who live, work & play together
group: a looser term referring to people who share culture (generally living
in the same place)
society: a large # of people with social connections
-human society is predicted on cultural values & expectations
-every society adapts & evolves
identity markers: the cultural characteristics of a person
-our culture is closely connected to our identity
subcultures: people connected by similarities
homogeneous: a group of people sharing identity markers
heterogenous: a group of people that share few identity markers
Race: describes varieties or subspecies of a species
-inaccurately used to refer to human differences
-leads to eugenics (a plan to “purify” the human race), abortion,
sterilization, laws against marriage, anti-immigration policies
-is a cultural category of humans, not a biological one
Culture-bond disorder: mental disorder specific to a particular group
agency: control of one owns life
-cultural beliefs & practices are just resources
-individuals use culture creatively
cultural determinism: then belief that the culture we are raised with
determines who we are at the emotional & behavioural level
-cultures do not have clear boundaries
-people have individual variety
-people are able to enact change
human rights: justice & morality beyond & superior to the laws &
customers of particular countries/cultures/religions
cultural rights: the right of a group to preserve its culture, language &
economic base
indigenous & intellectual property rights: the conservation of each
society’s core beliefs, knowledge & practices
oppression: prolonged cruel or unjust treatment
Adaptation & maladaptation:
Biological adaptions: allows an organism to better survive in its present
conditions or to live & reproduce successfully
Cultural adaptions: cultural activities that help humans to succeed in
their environment
maladaptations: cultural activities that harm humans/environments
-often seems attractive to young people
the adaptions/functions of culture are to:
-provide for the basic needs of a group
-serve to support the health & well-being of its members & the survival
of the culture
not everyone experiences the same level of satisfaction from their
culture depending on their circumstances
Assess the adaptiveness of culture by looking at:
-health - the physical & mental health of the members
-demographics - birth & mortality rates
-goals & services - whether or not people can get what they need
-order - whether people feel safe
-enculturation - how well the culture gets passed down to the next
Studying culture:
Ethnographic research: participating in people’s lives, while at the same
observing & analyzing behaviour
Ethnography: the process & product of a research study in cultural
Ethnographers: those who study a group of people, seeking to
-emic: the cultural insider’s view
-etic: the outsider’s observer’s view
participant-observation: extended periods of close conduct with
members of anther society
-are a participant, not just an observer
-a primary research method
-Ideal behaviour: how people think & say they should behave
-Real behaviour: how people actually behave
what anthropologists are most interested in
-Bronislaw Malinowski studied the people of the Trobraind
Islands after being stranded there by WWI
Anthropology Chapter 8 - Culture
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