Culture by asharab


Tylor's definition of “culture: that
  complex whole which includes,
  knowledge, belief, arts, morals, law,
  custom, and any other capabilities
  and habits acquired by man as a
  member of society.”
 Enculturation is the process by
  which a child learns his or her
Culture is Learned
 Cultural learning is unique to humans.
 Cultural learning is the accumulation of
  knowledge about experiences and
  information not perceived directly by the
  organism, but transmitted to it through
     Symbols are signs that have no necessary or
      natural connection with the things for which they
     Geertz defines culture as ideas based on cultural
      learning and symbols.
Culture is Learned
 Culture is learned through both direct
  instruction and through observation (both
  conscious and unconscious).
 Anthropologists in the 19th century
  argued for the “psychic unity of man.”
       This doctrine acknowledges that individuals vary
        in their emotional and intellectual tendencies and
       However, this doctrine asserted that all human
        populations share the same capacity for culture.
Culture is Shared
 Culture is located and transmitted in
 The social transmission of culture
  tends to unify people by providing us
  with a common experience.
 The commonalty of experience in
  turn tends to generate a common
  understanding of future events.
Culture is Symbolic
 The  human ability to use symbols is the basis of
  culture (a symbol is something verbal or nonverbal
  within a particular language or culture that comes to
  stand for something else).
 While human symbol use is overwhelmingly linguistic,
  a symbol is anything that is used to represent any
  other thing, when the relationship between the two is
  arbitrary (e.g. a flag).
 Other primates have demonstrated rudimentary ability
  to use symbols, but only humans have elaborated
  cultural abilities—to learn, to communicate, to store, to
  process, and to use symbols.
Culture and Nature
 Humans interact with cultural
  constructions of nature, rather than
  directly with nature itself.
 Culture converts natural urges and
  acts into cultural customs.
Culture is All-Encompassing
 The anthropological concept of
  culture is a model that includes all
  aspects of human group behavior.
 Everyone is cultured, not just
  wealthy people with an elite
Culture is Integrated
 A culture is a system: changes in
  one aspect will likely generate
  changes in other aspects.
 Core values are sets of ideas,
  attitudes, and beliefs which are basic
  in that they provide an organizational
  logic for the rest of the culture.
People Use Culture Creatively
 Humans have the ability to avoid,
  manipulate, subvert, and change the
  “rules” and patterns of their own cultures.
 “Ideal culture” refers to normative
  descriptions of a culture given by its
 “Real culture” refers to “actual behavior
  as observed by an anthropologist.”
 Culture is both public and individual
  because individuals internalize the
  meanings of public (cultural) messages.
Culture is Adaptive and
 Culture is an adaptive strategy employed
  by hominids.
 Because cultural behavior is motivated by
  cultural factors, and not by environmental
  constraints, cultural behavior can be
 Determining whether a cultural practice is
  adaptive or maladaptive frequently
  requires viewing the results of that
  practice from several perspectives (from
  the point of view of a different culture,
  species, or time frame, for example).
Macro and Micro Culture
   Macroculture - Culture that all humans share in a
    general way - crosses local boundaries, may
    exist among groups internationally (global
    consumer culture that pervades upper-class
    groups transnationally
   Microculture - local culture - patterns of learned &
    shared behavior and ideas in localized regions,
    among particular groups - ethnic groups, racial
    groups, genders, and age categories.
Levels of Culture
   National culture refers to the experiences, beliefs,
    learned behavior patterns, and values shared by
    citizens of the same nation.
   International culture refers to cultural practices
    which are common to an identifiable group
    extending beyond the boundaries of one culture.
   Subcultures (microcultures) are identifiable
    cultural patterns existing within a larger culture .
   Cultural practices and artifacts are transmitted
    through diffusion.
     Direct diffusion occurs when members of two or more
      previously distinct cultures interact with each other.
     Indirect diffusion occurs when cultural artifacts or
      practices are transmitted from one culture to another
      through an intermediate third (or more) culture.
Levels of Culture
  Levels of culture, with examples from sports and food.

      Level of              Sports                 Food
      Culture              Examples              Examples
     Internation           Basketball              Pizza
      National             Monster-              Apple Pie
     Subculture              Bocci              Big Joe Pork
Levels of Culture
                                      This Roman
                                      Catholic prayer
                                      vigil in Seoul,
                                      Korea helps to
                                      illustrate the
                                      international level
                                      of culture.

                    Photo Credit: Kim Newton/Woodfin Camp &Assoc.
Ethnocentrism & Cultural
   Ethnocentrism is the use of values, ideals,
    and mores from one’s own culture to
    judge the behavior of someone from
    another culture.
       Ethnocentrism is a cultural universal.
       Ethnocentrism contributes to social solidarity.
   Cultural Relativism asserts that cultural
    values are arbitrary, and therefore the
    values of one culture should not be used
    as standards to evaluate the behavior of
    persons from outside that culture.
Human Rights
 The idea of universal, unalienable,
  individual human rights challenges
  cultural relativism by invoking a moral and
  ethical code that is superior to any
  country, culture, or religion.
 Cultural rights are vested in groups and
  include a group’s ability to preserve its
  cultural tradition.
 Cultural relativism does not preclude an
  anthropologist from respecting
  “international standards of justice and
Human Rights
                                      This is an example
                                      of the study of
                                      ethnomedicine in
                                      Papua New Guinea.
                                      The notion of
                                      Property Rights has
                                      emerged to help
                                      preserve each
                                      societies cultural
                                      base, which may
                                      have commercial

               Photo Credit: Ripoll/Association Kutubu/ Gamma Liaison
Culture: Universal and Particular
 Cultural universals are features that
  are found in every culture.
 Cultural generalities include features
  that are common to several, but not
  all human groups.
 Cultural particularities are features
  that are unique to certain cultural
 Cultural universals are those traits that
  distinguish Homo sapiens from other
 Some biological universals include: a long
  period of infant dependency, year-round
  sexuality, and a complex brain that
  enables us to use symbols, languages,
  and tools.
 Some psychological universals include
  the common ways in which humans think,
  feel, and process information.
 Some social universals include: incest
  taboos, life in groups, families (of some
  kind), and food sharing.
 Certain practices, beliefs, and the like may
  be held commonly by more than one
  culture, but not be universal; these are
  called “generalities.”
 Diffusion and independent invention are
  two main sources of cultural generalities.
 The nuclear family is a cultural generality
  since it is present in most, but not all
 Cultural practices that are unique to
  any one culture are “cultural
 That these particulars may be of
  fundamental importance to the
  population is indicative of the need
  to study the sources of cultural
 Diffusion—defined as the spread of
  culture traits through borrowing from one
  culture to another—has been a source of
  culture change throughout human history.
 Diffusion can be direct (between to
  adjacent cultures) or indirect (across one
  or more intervening cultures or through
  some long distance medium).
 Diffusion can be forced (through warfare,
  colonization, or some other kind of
  domination) or unforced (e.g.,
  intermarriage, trade, and the like).
 Acculturation is the exchange of features
  that results when groups come into
  continuous, firsthand contact.
 Acculturation may occur in any or all
  groups engaged in such contact.
 A pidgin is an example of acculturation,
  because it is a language form that
  develops by borrowing language elements
  from two linguistically different
  populations in order to facilitate
  communication between the two.
Independent Invention
 Independent invention is defined as the
  creative innovation of new solutions to old
  and new problems.
 Cultural generalities are partly explained
  by the independent invention of similar
  responses to similar cultural and
  environmental circumstances.
 The independent invention of agriculture
  in both the Middle East and Mexico is
  cited as an example.
Convergent Cultural Evolution
 Cultural convergence is the
  development of similar traits,
  institutions, and behavior patterns by
  separate groups as a result of
  adaptation to similar environments.
 Julian Steward pointed to instances
  of cultural convergence to support
  the hypothesis that cultural change
  is governed by scientific laws.
 Globalization encompasses a series of processes
  that work to make modern nations and people
  increasingly interlinked and mutually dependent.
 Economic and political forces take advantage of
  modern systems of communication and
  transportation to promote globalization.
 Globalization allows for the domination of local
  peoples by larger economic and political systems
  (these may be based regionally, nationally, and
 Recognizing the breadth and nature of changes
  wrought through globalization carries the
  concomitant need to recognize practices of
  resistance, accommodation, and survival that
  occur in response to same.

                These men in a coffee
                shop in Cairo, Egypt are
                using a laptop computer
                and smoking traditional
                hookahs (pipes).

                       Photo Credit: Barry Iverson
         Theoretical Debates

• Biological Determinism vs. Cultural
• Interpretivism vs. Cultural Materialism
•Individual Agency vs. Structurism

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