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Chapter 2 The Characteristics of Culture by pharmphresh24


									                  Chapter 2: The Characteristics of Culture
                                  Questions for Reflection

1.   Anthropologists not only try to accurately describe different cultures all across the world, but
     also wrestle with explaining them in an unbiased fashion. Why do you think their work is so
2.   Anthropological fieldwork is based on participant observation. Imagine a foreign
     anthropologist choosing your town or neighborhood for such research. Would you, your
     family, or your friends react differently to a female researcher than to a male? If so, how and
     why? And what if this male or female anthropologist came from Congo or Ireland? Which
     would play a more significant role in terms of acceptance and research finding—the
     researcher’s gender or his/her national origin?
3.   Many large modern societies are pluralistic. Are you familiar with any subcultures in your
     own society? How different are these subcultures from one another? Could you make friends
     or even marry someone from another subculture? What kind of problems would you be likely
     to encounter?
4.   Although all cultures across the world display some degree of ethnocentrism, some are more
     ethnocentric than others. In what ways is your own society ethnocentric? Considering the
     modern fact of globalization, do you think ethnocentrism poses more of a problem in today’s
     world than in the past?
5.   The barrel model offers you a simple framework to imagine what a culture looks like from an
     analytical point of view. How would you apply that model to your own community?

                                              Key Terms
         Adaptation: A process by which organisms achieve a beneficial adjustment to an
          available environment; also the results of that process the characteristics of organisms
          that fit them to the particular set of conditions of the environment in which they are
          generally found.
         Cultural pluralism: Social and political interaction of people with different ways of living and
          thinking within the same society.
         Cultural relativism: The thesis that one must suspend judgement on other peoples' practices
          in order to understand them in their own cultural terms.
         Culture: The values, beliefs, and perceptions of the world shared by members of a society,
          that they use to interpret experience and generate behavior, and that are reflected in their
         Enculturation: The process by which a society's culture is passed from one generation to the
          next and individuals become members of their society.
         Ethnocentrism: The belief that the ways of one's own culture are the only proper ones.
         Ethnohistory: The study of cultures of the recent past through oral histories; accounts left by
          explorers, missionaries, and traders; and analysis of such records as land titles, birth and
    death records, and other archival materials.
   Ethnologist: An anthropologist who studies cultures from a comparative or historical point of
    view, utilizing ethnographic accounts.
   Ethnoscientists: Anthropologists who seek to understand the principles behind native idea
    systems and the ways those principles inform a people about their environment and help them
   Gender: The elaborations and meanings assigned by cultures to the biological differentiation
    of the sexes.
   Pluralistic societies: Societies in which there exist a diversity of cultural patterns.
   Social structure: The rule-governed relationships of individuals and groups within a society
    that hold it together.
   Society: A group of interdependent people who share a common culture.
   Subculture: A distinctive set of standards and behavior patterns by which a group within a
    larger society operates.
   Symbols: Sounds or gestures that stand for meanings among a group of people.

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