Jennifer Bishop September Anthro Book Notes Mirror for Humanity Chapter 3: Culture Intro: Society: organized life in groups (how humans organize themselves) Culture: distinctive traditions and customs transmitted over the generations through learning and through language Enculturation: the process by which a child learns his or her culture What is Culture? Culture is learned Cultural learning: depends on the human capacity to use symbols Symbol: a sign that has no necessary or natural connection to the thing it stands for/signifies How culture is transmitted: 1) directly ? through parents 2) observation Children modify behaviors based on awareness of right/wrong 3) unconsciously 4) experience Culture is Shared Cultures change, but beliefs/traditions/values/practices endure Culture is Symbolic Symbols are linguistic ? we call our barking pets ?dogs? Myriad nonverbal symbol: symbolize countries, restaurants, etc. Culture and Nature Culture teaches us how to express biological urges in certain ways Culture teaches us what/when/how to eat Culture teaches us how to use the bathroom Culture affects how we see nature, human nature, and ?the natural? Cultural advances overcome natural limitations Viagra, smallpox vaccine, cloning Nature ?strikes back? at our attempts to modify the environment through natural disasters like hurricanes/tornadoes Culture is all-encompassing All people are cultured Most significant cultural forces are those that affect people every day Culture is Integrated If one part of our culture changes, other parts change also Women in the 1950?s vs. women today Attitudes/behavior regarding marriage, family, children have changed Late marriage, cohabitation, divorce more common Work competes with marriage, reduces time with children Cultures train all members to share personality traits Core values: central values that integrate each culture and distinguish it from others (ex: individualism, work ethic) Culture can be Adaptive and Maladaptive Humans cope with environmental stressing 2 ways: 1) biologically 2) culturally Adaptive behavior may harm environment or threaten group?s long term survival Economic growth benefits some but depletes needed resources Automobiles give us transportation but create chemical emissions Cultural traits/patterns can be maladaptive: threatening to a group?s continued existence Culture and the Individual: Agency and Practice We are constrained by our culture?s rules and the actions of others Culture is contested: different groups struggle with one another over whose ideas/values/goals/beliefs will prevail Common symbols have different meanings for different people McDonalds? golden arches, a country?s flag, etc. Ideal culture: what people say they should do and what they say they do Real culture: actual behavior of people as observed by an anthropologist Individuals are linked to their cultures Individuals internalize meanings of public messages Agency: actions individuals take, both alone and in groups, in forming and transforming cultural identities Practice Theory: individuals within a society or culture have diverse motives and intentions and different degrees of power/influence Contrasts because of race/class/gender, etc. ?the system? shapes how we experience/respond to events and we play a role in how society changes (reciprocal relationship) Levels of Culture Different levels of culture: 1) National Culture: beliefs, learned behaviors, values, institutions shared by citizens of the same nation 2) International Culture: extends beyond national boundaries Cultural traits spread through borrowing (diffusion) 3) Subculture: symbol-based patterns/traditions associated with particular groups in same society Problem: ?sub? = ?low?; may be offensive Ethnocentrism, Cultural Relativism, Human Rights Ethnocentrism: tendency to view one?s own culture as superior, and to apply one?s own cultural values in judging the behavior and beliefs of people raised in other cultures Other societies considered not fully human Cultural Relativisim: behavior in one culture should not be judged by the standards of another culture No superior, international, or universal morality Ethical rules of all cultures deserve equal respect (even Nazis!) human rights activists challenge cultural relativism Female Genital Modification (FGM) in Africa/Middle East Clitoridectomy: removal of clitoris Infibulation: sewing lips/labia to constrict opening Reduces female sexual pleasure/adultery Opposed by women?s rights groups We can only understand a culture?s reasoning by understanding their motivations for their practices Human Rights: invokes justice/morality beyond the laws and customs of particular countries, cultures, religions Includes: right to speak freely, hold religious beliefs w/out persecution, not be murdered/injured/enslaved/imprisoned without charge Inalienable rights: what human rights are; can?t be abridged or terminated 4 U.N. documents describing all recognized human rights: 1) U.N. Charter 2) Universal Declaration of Human Rights 3) Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 4) Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Cultural Right: vested in groups, like religious and ethnic minorities, and indigenous societies Include: right to preserve culture, raise children in that way, continue language, not be deprived of economic base Intellectual Property Rights (IPR): attempt to conserve each society?s cultural base Ex: ethnomedicine (traditional medical techniques) Universality, Generality, and Particularity ?The Psychic Unity of Man? ? doctrine stating that although individuals differ in emotional/intellectual tendencies, all groups have equal capacities for culture People can learn any cultural tradition Universal: found in every culture Generality: common to several, but not all human groups Particularity: trait/feature of culture that is not generalized or widespread, but confined to a single place/culture/society Universals and Generalities Biologically based universals: 1) period of infant dependency 2) year-round sexuality 3) complex brain Social Universals: 1) life in groups 2) life in some kind of family Cultural generality: 1) life in nuclear family: group consisting of parents and children Reasons for cultural generalities: 1) diffusion ? societies share same beliefs through borrowing 2) domination ? customs/procedures imposed by a more powerful culture Particularity Traits that are useful are more likely to diffuse than others Ex: McDonald?s Certain particularities still exist Ex: beef stew baked in pie dough in upper Michigan Particularities are getting rarer, but different cultures emphasize dif things Borrowed cultural traits are changed to fit different cultures MTV in the U.S. is different than MTV in Germany Mechanisms of Cultural Change How cultures change: 1) diffusion: borrowing of traits between cultures Cultures never truly isolated; this happens throughout history Can be: Direct ? 2 cultures trade w/, intermarry among, wage war on one another Forced ? 1 culture subjugates another/imposes its customs upon another?s Indirect ? items/traits move from group A to group C by group B without any contact between A and C 2) Acculturation: exchange of cultural features that results when groups have continuous firsthand contact Parts of culture change, each group remains distinct Ex: pidgin ? mixed language developed to ease trade 3) Independent Invention: process by which humans innovate, creatively finding solutions to problems Ex: invention of agriculture in Mexico May trigger subsequent changes Have social/cultural repercussions Lead to notions of class, power, wealth, etc. Globalization Globalization: a series of processes, including diffusion, migration, and acculturation, working to promote change in a world in which nations and people are increasingly interlinked and mutually dependent Includes: International finance/commerce Travel/tourism Migration Media People live multilocally- in different places/cultures at once Local people must cope with forces generated by larger systems Tourism is increasingly popular Media promotes idea that work is for cash, not for subsistence Indigenous people must deal with threats to their lifestyles
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