Chapter 2 Chapter Summary
1. What is culture?
As anthropologists see it, culture consists of the abstract values, beliefs, and perceptions of the
world that lie behind people’s behaviour and that are reflected in that behaviour. Members of a
cultural group share these elements, and when they are acted upon, they produce behaviour
that is intelligible to other members of that culture. Culture is learned largely through the
medium of language rather than inherited biologically. The parts of a culture such as economy,
spirituality, kinship, and so on, function as an integrated whole.
2. Why do cultures exist?
While distinct cultures differ in numerous ways, anthropologists have noted that cultures
display remarkable similarities in that they fulfill the needs of their members. To survive, a
culture must satisfy the basic needs of its members and deal with problems and matters that
concern these members. It must provide for its own continuity, and it must furnish an orderly
existence. In doing so, a culture must strike a balance between the self-interests of individuals
and the needs of society as a whole. Also, a culture must have the capacity to change and adapt
to new circumstances or to altered perceptions of existing circumstances.
3. How are cultures evaluated?
Cultures are not uniform. All is not uniform within any culture; one reason is that some
differences exist between male and female roles in any