Cultural anthropology - Wikipedia
The four fields are: Biological or physical anthropology seeks to understand the cultural studies, anthropology of media and cyberspace, and study of the the social uses of language, and the relationship between language and culture. and with all dimensions of humanity (evolutionary, biophysical, sociopolitical. seen as the most important issue in both anthropology and biology, if not, in- cultural to the degree that it is motivated by situational factors and to the degree primates many of them are, though it is not easy to know whether learning has. Biological (or physical) anthropologists carry out systematic studies of the non- cultural in learning about the cultural aspects of human societies all over the world. marriage patterns and kinship systems, subsistence and economic patterns.
Ashanti flag, note the golden stool This idea of Culture can be seen in the way that we describe the Ashanti, an African tribe located in central Ghana. The Ashanti live with their families as you might assume but the meaning of how and why they live with whom is an important aspect of Ashanti culture. The Ashanti live in an extended family. The family lives in various homes or huts that are set up around a courtyard. The head of the household is usually the oldest brother that lives there.
He is chosen by the elders. He is called either Father or Housefather and everyone in the household obeys him. An individual's upbringing and environment or culture is what makes them diverse from other cultures. It is the differences between all cultures and sub-cultures of the world's regions. People's need to adapt and transform to physical, biological and cultural forces to survive represents the second theme, Change. Culture generally changes for one of two reasons: This means that when a village or culture is met with new challenges, for example, a loss of a food source, they must change the way they live.
And an anthropologist would look at that and study their ways to learn from them. Related cultural beliefs and practices show up repeatedly in different areas of social life.
However, the drawback of this is it assumes first that culture is a static thing that it can be preserved, unchanged by the changing people and times it runs into. It also assumes that the people accept at face value and do not wish to change their patterns or ways of life.
This relates to the "Culture" vs. Appreciation and defense of Culture do not imply blind tolerance to all aspects of all cultures. Levels of Culture[ edit ] Familial culture[ edit ] How you express culture as a family through traditions, roles, beliefs, and other areas, is what describes this aspect of culture.
Familial culture is passed down from generation to generation, it is both shared and learned. As a family grows, new generations are introduced to the traditional family practices. Familial culture is learned by means of enculturation which is the process by which a person learns the requirements of the culture that he or she is surrounded by. With enculturation, an individual will also learn behaviors that are appropriate or necessary in their given culture.
The influences of enculturation from the family will then direct and shape the individual. The Royal Family of Great Britain is deeply set in family tradition The present Royal family of Great Britain is a good example of family tradition, as each male member of the royal family has served in the armed forces. A micro or subculture is also not limited to how small it can be, it could be defined similarly to a clique.
An example of this could be Mexican-Americans within the U. They share the same language, but they may have their own traditions that differentiate them for the whole. An example of a micro-culture would be the Japanese hip hop genba club site that is becoming more and more popular throughout Japanese cities. The physical appearance of rappers may be the same to those in the States, however, the content of the music differs along with the preservation of Japanese traditions.
Cinco de Mayo dancers greeted by former Pres. This includes attributes such as values and modes of behavior. Examples of elements that may be considered cultural universals are gender roles, the incest taboo, religious and healing ritual, mythology, marriage, language, art, dance, music, cooking, games, jokes, sports, birth, and death because they involve some sort of ritual ceremonies accompanying them, etc.
They are mainly known as "empty universals" since just mentioning their existence in a culture doesn't make them any more special or unique. The existence of these universals has been said to date to the Upper Paleolithic with the first evidence of behavioral modernity. Residents of Vanuatu making fire. The use of fire for cooking is a human cultural universal Two Views of Culture[ edit ] Etic An etic view is a judgment or perspective about a culture, gained based on an analysis from an outsider's customs and culture.
Etic view minimizes the acceptance between two parties. Therefore, the importance of having an anthropological knowledge is greatly beneficial.
There are so many situations where a person can have or get an etic view on. For example, if an American anthropologist went to Africa to study a nomadic tribe, their resulting case study would be from an etic standpoint if they did not integrate themselves into the culture they were observing. Some fields of anthropology may take this approach to avoid altering the culture that they are studying by direct interaction. The etic perspective is data gathering by outsiders that yield questions posed by outsiders.
One problem that anthropologists may run in to is that people tend to act differently when they are being observed. It is especially hard for an outsider to gain access to certain private rituals, which may be important for understanding a culture. Etic ethnographic works often use exotic language when describing the "other".
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Emic An emic view of culture is ultimately a perspective focus on the intrinsic cultural distinctions that are meaningful to the members of a given society. While this perspective stems from the concept of immersion in a specific culture; the emic participant is not always a member of that culture or society.
Studies done from an emic perspective often include more detailed and culturally rich information than studies done from an etic point of view. Because the observer places themselves within the culture of intended study, they are able to go further in-depth on the details of practices and beliefs of a society that may otherwise have been ignored. However, the emic perspective has its downfalls. Studies done from an emic perspective can create bias on the part of the participant, especially if said individual is a member of the culture they are studying, thereby failing to keep in mind how their practices are perceived by others and possibly causing valuable information to be left out.
The emic perspective serves the purpose of providing descriptive in-depth reports about how insiders of a culture understand their rituals, beliefs, and traditions. Enculturation[ edit ] Enculturation is a process by which we obtain and transmit culture. This process is experienced universally among humans. It describes how each individual is affected by prohibited behaviors and beliefs, which are 'proscribed' rather than encouraged behaviors and beliefs, which are 'prescribed'.
Enculturation results in the interpretation of these ideals established by our culture and the establishment of our own individual behaviors and beliefs. In general, enculturation is a refereed journal devoted to contemporary theories of rhetoric, writing, and culture, and invites submissions on rhetoric, composition, media, technology, and education.
Cultural Transmission[ edit ] Barack Obama shows multi-cultural respect by hosting a Seder dinner. Seder is a Jewish tradition passed down through families for generations. Cultural Transmission is the passing of new knowledge and traditions of culture from one generation to the next, as well as cross-culturally.
Cultural Transmission happens every day, all the time, without any concept of when or where. Everything people do and say provides cultural transmission in all aspects of life. In everyday life, the most common way cultural norms are transmitted is within each individuals' home life. With every family, there are traditions that are kept alive. The way each family acts and communicates with others and an overall view of life are passed down.
Parents teach their kids every day how to behave and act by their actions alone. Outside of the family, culture can be transmitted at various social institutions.
Places of worship, schools, even shopping centers are places where enculturation happens amongst a population. Social Institutions[ edit ] Social institutions are a framework of social relationships that link an individual to the society, through participation. The forms of these social relationships can vary greatly across political, economic, religious, and familial platforms.
Cross culturally, these relationships require understanding of the norms, values, and traditions that make them functional. Cultural transmission takes place within these relationships throughout an individual's lifetime. Examples of these relationships range from marriage to participating in church. The complexities that govern this relationship are unique and highly culturally bound. Often external factors such as economics and health issues come into play.
Studies were done in rural Malawi that discuss these issues further: Everything one does throughout their life is based and organized through cultural symbolism, which is when something represents abstract ideas or concepts. Symbols can represent a group or organization that one is affiliated with and mean different things to different people, which is why it is impossible to hypothesize how a specific culture will symbolize something.
Some symbols are gained from experience, while others are gained from culture. One of the most common cultural symbols is language. For example, the letters of an alphabet symbolize the sounds of a specific spoken language. Hawaiian culture presents a good example of symbols in culture through the performance of a Lua which is a symbol of their land and heritage through song and dance  Symbols can have good or bad meanings depending on how others interpret them.
For example, the Swastika shown on the German Flag back in World War 2 means good fortune in some religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism and often used on designs, but after World War 2 the meaning of the Swastika shifted to a negative side among Americans. Street gangs have used colors and gang signs to show their affiliation to a gang. Symbols are also extremely common and important in religion. Churches, mosques and temples are places where people gather to practice a shared belief or faith and establish relationships based on this commonality, but many of these individuals will spend most of their time at school, work or other places where they are not amongst people with the same belief so they often wear a symbol of their religion to express belief.
For example, a cross is usually associated with Christianity as churches often have them on their buildings to identify it as a setting of Christian worship. Some Christians wear the cross in the form of jewelry and in some cases in the form of a body tattoo.
Other religions make use of symbols as well such as the Star of David in Judaism. Language is the most used form of symbolism. There are 6, known living languages.
Such diversity in languages is caused by isolation. Most languages have a different "symbol" for each letter, word, or phrase. The use of symbols is adaptivewhich means that humans can learn to associate new symbols to a concept or new concepts with a symbol.
An example may be drawn from two populations who speak different languages that come into contact with one another and need to communicate.
They form a language that has a large degree of flexibility in using either language's symbols in this case patterns of sound or a hybrid set of symbols to communicate messages back and forth. This contact language, or pidgin gradually gives way to a creole with a more formal set of symbols wordsgrammatical rules for their organization, and its own native speakers who transmit the language from generation to generation.
It is important for anthropologists to consider their own cultural background when looking at symbolism in a different culture. This is because many symbols, though similar in appearance, can mean drastically different things. These symbols can best be understood or interpreted through the eyes of the culture that they pertain to, otherwise they may lose their unique significance.
This symbol is almost identical to the Nazi Swastika, and therefore brings a negative response from many Americans. Although the Native American symbol has nothing to do with Nazi or Germanic symbolism, this design is rarely used on blankets today because of misinterpretation of the symbol.
This is the first scene painted entirely by Costaggini. Ethnocentrism is the term anthropologists use to describe the opinion that one's own way of life is natural or correct. Some will simply call it cultural ignorance. Those who have not experienced other cultures in depth can be said to be ethnocentric if they feel that their lives are the most natural way of living.
Some cultures may be similar or overlap in ideas or concepts. However, some people are in a sense, shocked to experience differences with individuals culturally different than themselves. In extreme cases, a group of individuals may see another culture's way of life and consider it wrong, because of this, the group may try to convert the other group to their own ways of living. Fearful war and genocide could be the devastating result if a group is unwilling to change their ways of living.
Ethnocentrism is seen throughout Asiathe way of eating is to use chopsticks with every meal. These people may find it unnecessary to find that people in other societies, such as the American society, eat using forks, spoons, knives, etc.
Since these countries use chopsticks to eat every meal, they find it foolish for other cultures to not use utensils similar to chopsticks; however, they do accept the fact that they use different utensils for eating. This example is not something extreme that could lead to genocide or war, but it is a large enough gap between these cultures for people to see their way of eating as the natural or best way to typically eat their food.
Another example of ethnocentrism is colonialism. Colonialism can be defined as cultural domination with enforced social change. Colonialism refers to the social system in which the political conquests by one society of another leads to "cultural domination with enforced social change". A good example to look at when examining colonialism is the British overtake of India. The British had little understanding of the culture in India which created a lot of problems an unrest during their rule.
Ethnocentrism may not, in some circumstances, be avoidable. We often have instinctual reactions toward another person or culture's practices or beliefs. But these reactions do not have to result in horrible events such as genocide or war. In order to avoid conflict over culture practices and beliefs, we must all try to be more culturally relative.
Ethnocentrism is one solution to the tension between one cultural self and another cultural self. And anthropologists increasingly find themselves working not with fellow anthropologists of another field but with members of entirely different scientific or humanistic specialties.
For example, cultural anthropologists interested in the relationship between cultural practices and the natural environment may be obliged to pay closer attention to agronomy or ecology than to linguistics. Physical anthropologists interested in the relationship between human and protohuman fossils may, because of the Importance of teeth in the fossil record, become more familiar with dentistry journals than with journals devoted to ethnography or linguistics.
Cultural anthropologists interested in the relationship between culture and individual personality are sometimes more at home professionally with psychiatrists and social psychologists than with the archaeologists in theIr own university departments.
Hence, many more than four fields are represented in the ongoing research of modern anthropology. The specialized nature of most anthropological research makes it Imperative that the general significance of anthropological facts and theories be preserved.
This is the task of general anthropology. General anthropology does not pretend to survey the entire subject matter of physical, cultural, archaeological, and linguistic anthropology. Much less does It pretend to survey the work of the legions of scholars in other disciplines who also study the biological, linguistic, and cultural aspects of human existence. Rather, it strives to achieve a particular orientation toward all the human sciences, disciplines, and fields.
Perhaps the best word for this orientation is ecumenical. General anthropology does not teach all that one must know in order to master the four fields or all that one must know in order to become an anthropologist. Instead, general anthropology teaches how to evaluate facts and theories about human nature and human culture by placing them in a total, universalist perspective.
In the words of Frederica De Laguna, Anthropology is the only discipline that offers a conceptual schema for the whole context of human experience. It is like the carrying frame onto which may be fitted all the several subjects of a liberal education, and by organizing the load, making it more wieldy and capable of being carried.
The previously mentioned disciplines are concerned with only a particular segment of human experience or a particular time or phase of our cultural or biological development. But general anthropology is systematically and uncompromisingly comparative. Its findings are never based upon the study of a single population, race, "tribe," class, or nation. General anthropology insists first and foremost that conclusions based upon the study of one particular human group or civilization be checked against the evidence of other groups or civilizations under both similar and different conditions.
In this way the relevance of general anthropology transcends the interests of any particular "tribe," race, nation, or culture. In anthropological perspective, all peoples and civilizations are fundamentally local and evanescent. Thus general anthropology is implacably opposed to the insularity and mental constriction of those who would have themselves and none other represent humanity, stand at the pinnacle of progress, or be chosen by God or history to fashion the world in their own Image.
Therefore general anthropology is "relevant" even when It deals with fragments of fossils, extinct civilizations, remote villages, or exotic customs. The proper study of humankind requires a knowledge of distant as well as near lands and of remote as well as present times.
Only in this way can we humans hope to tear off the blinders of our local life-styles to look upon the human condition without prejudice. Because of Its multidisciplinary, comparative, and diachronic perspective, anthropology holds the key to many fundamental questions of recurrent and contemporary relevance.
It lies peculiarly within the competence of general anthropology to explicate our species' animal heritage, to define what is distinctively human about human nature, and to differentiate the natural and the cultural conditions responsible for competition, conflict, and war.
General anthropology is also strategically equipped to probe the significance of racial factors in the evolution of culture and in the conduct of contemporary human affairs. General anthropology holds the key to an understanding of the origins of social inequality - of racism, exploitation, poverty, and underdevelopment. Overarching all of general anthropology's contributions is the search for the causes of social and cultural differences and similarities. What is the nature of the determinism that operates in human history, and what are the consequences of this determinism for individual freedom of thought and action?