Culture, Theory, Ethnocentrism - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


PPT – Culture, Theory, Ethnocentrism PowerPoint presentation | free to view - id: 9848b-OTQxM


The Adobe Flash plugin is needed to view this content

Get the plugin now

View by Category
About This Presentation

Culture, Theory, Ethnocentrism


a desireable quality we can acquire by attending a sufficient ... Culture is located and ... Anthropology (1996): Post-modernism is defined as an ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

Number of Views:1554
Avg rating:3.0/5.0
Slides: 37
Provided by: linda527


Write a Comment
User Comments (0)
Transcript and Presenter's Notes

Title: Culture, Theory, Ethnocentrism

Culture, Theory, Ethnocentrism
  • How anthropology began awareness of cultural
  • Definitions of culture
  • a desireable quality we can acquire by attending
    a sufficient number of plays and concerts and
    visiting art museums and galleries
  • a set of learned behaviors, beliefs, attitudes,
    values, and ideals that are characteristic of a
    particular society or population
  • Enculturation is the process by which a child
    learns his or her culture.

Culture is Shared
  • Culture is located and transmitted in groups.
  • 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.
  • Subculture - commonly shared customs of a group
    within a society (e.g. Russian-American customs)
  • Western culture - example of commonly shared
    customs of some group that includes different
  • Society - A group of people who occupy a
    particular territory and speak a common language
    not generally understood by neighboring peoples.
  • Variation

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
  • Subcultures 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)

Levels of Culture
Levels of culture, with examples from sports and
Culture is Learned
  • For something to be cultural, it must be both
    learned and shared.
  • hair color ? culture
  • what, where, when people eat culture
  • 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.
  • Symbols are signs that have no necessary or
    natural connection with the things for which they
  • Symbols are very important in language.

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 capacities.
  • However, this doctrine asserted that all human
    populations share the same capacity for culture.

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 abilitiesto learn, to
    communicate, to store, to process, and to use
    symbols. (Example teaching a child to avoid a

Individual Variation
  • A culture is a system changes in one aspect will
    likely generate changes in other aspects.
  • There is variation in culture, in behavior.
  • 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.
  • Norms - Standards or rules about what is
    acceptable behavior.
  • Cultural constraints - direct and indirect
  • Can be found out through observation or

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 natives.
  • 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.

Discovering Cultural Patterns
  • Statistics
  • modal response - most often stated response
  • frequency distribution, modal pattern bell
  • random sampling

Culture is Adaptive and Maladaptive
  • Culture is an adaptive strategy employed by
    hominids, a cultural version of natural
  • Adaptive only with respect to a specific physical
    and social environment.
  • 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
  • Example Kwashiorkor and pregnancy in tropical

Culture is Integrated
  • Elements or traits that make up that culture are
    not just a random assortment of customs but are
    mostly adjusted to or consistent with one
  • Culture is generally adaptive.
  • Traits of a culture are attitudes, values,
    ideals, and rules for behavior

Culture Universal
  • Cultural universals are features that are found
    in every culture, those that distinguish Homo
    sapiens from other species.
  • Biological infant dependency, sexuality, brain
    that enables us to use symbols, languages, and
  • Psychological ways in which humans think, feel,
    and process information.
  • Social incest taboos, life in groups, families
    (of some kind), and food sharing.

Culture General
  • Cultural generalities include features that are
    common to several, but not all human groups
    certain practices, beliefs, and the like that may
    be held commonly by more than one culture, but
    not universal.
  • Diffusion and independent invention are two main
    sources of cultural generalities. (Definitions
  • The nuclear family is a cultural generality since
    it is present in most, but not all societies.

Culture Change Diffusion
  • Diffusion is the spread of culture traits through
    borrowing from one culture to another. It has
    been a source of culture change throughout human
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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 an example.

Culture Particularity
  • Cultural particularities are features that are
    unique to certain cultural traditions.
  • That these particulars may be of fundamental
    importance to the population is indicative of the
    need to study the sources of cultural diversity.
  • Birth control in tropical areas to prevent

Theory in Cultural Anthropology
  • 19th Century Evolutionism
  • Historical Particularism
  • Functionalism
  • Cognitive and Symbolic Approaches
  • Postmodernism

19th Century Evolutionism
  • Premise That culture generally develops (or
    evolves) in a uniform and progressive manner.
  • It was thought that most societies pass through
    the same series of stages, to arrive ultimately
    at a common end.
  • The sources of culture change were generally
    assumed to be embedded within the culture from
    the beginning, and therefore the ultimate course
    of development was thought to be internally
  • Divided the ethnological record into evolutionary
    stages ranging from the most primitive to the
    most civilized based on Darwins work and new
    cross-cultural, historical, and archaeological
    evidence--savagery, barbarism, civilization
  • Main forces of cultural evolution
  • psychic unity among all peoples that explained
    parallel evolutionary sequences in different
    cultural traditions (different societies often
    find the same solutions to the same problems
  • simple diffusion
  • Leading figures Lewis Henry Morgan, Edward

Historical Particularism - 1900s to 1930s
  • While cultural evolution offered an explanation
    of what happened and where, it was unable to
    describe the particular influences on and
    processes of cultural change and development.
  • To accomplish this, an historical approach was
    needed for the study of culture change and
    development to explain not only what happened and
    where but also why and how.
  • Main forces of cultural change
  • Diffusionism (psychic unity of mankind)
  • Culture circles (Venn diagrams)
  • Leading proponent Franz Boas
  • Believed that one had to carry out detailed
    regional studies of individual cultures to
    discover the distribution of culture traits and
    to understand the individual processes of culture
    change at work. In short, Boas sought to
    reconstruct their histories.
  • Boas stressed the meticulous collection and
    organization of ethnographic data on all aspects
    of many different human societies. Only after
    information on the particulars of many different
    cultures had been gathered could generalizations
    about cultural development be made with any
    expectation of accuracy.

Yellow - Clovis Pink - Mousterian Green -
Oldowon Purple - Acheulean Blue - Bamboo tools
Functionalism - 1920s to 1950s
  • Premise Underlying functionalist theory is the
    fundamental metaphor of the living organism, its
    several parts and organs, grouped and organized
    into a system, the function of the various parts
    and organs being to sustain the organism, to keep
    its essential processes going and enable it to
    reproduce. Similarly, members of a society can
    be thought of as cells, its institutions its
    organs, whose function is to sustain the life of
    the collective entity, despite the frequent death
    of cells and the production of new ones.
  • Functionalist analyses examine the social
    significance of phenomena, that is, the purpose
    they serve a particular society in maintaining
    the whole.
  • Functionalism was an attempt to move away from
    the evolutionism and diffusionism that dominated
    American and British anthropology at the turn of
    the century. There was a shift in focus from the
    speculative nature of anthropology to the study
    of social institutions within current societies.
  • Main proponent Bronislaw Malinowski
  • Suggested that individuals have physiological
    needs and that social institutions develop to
    meet these needs--uniform psychological responses
    are correlates of physiological needs.
  • Four basic "instrumental needs" (economics,
    social control, education, and political

Cognitive and Symbolic Approaches
  • Premise Cognitive anthropology focuses on the
    study of the relation between human culture and
    human thought. In contrast with some earlier
    anthropological approaches to culture, cultures
    are not regarded as material phenomena, but
    rather cognitive organizations of material
    phenomena. Cognitive anthropologists study how
    people understand and organize the material
    objects, events, and experiences that make up
    their world as the people they study perceive it.
    Cognitive anthropology posits that each culture
    orders events, material life and ideas, to its
    own criteria. The fundamental aim of cognitive
    anthropology is to reliably represent the logical
    systems of thought of other people according to
    criteria, which can be discovered and replicated
    through analysis.
  • Example Proverbial idea that Eskimos have 50
    words for snow.
  • Premise Symbolic anthropology views culture as
    an independent system of meaning deciphered by
    interpreting key symbols and rituals.
  • Beliefs, however unintelligible, become
    comprehensible when understood as part of a
    cultural system of meaning
  • Actions are guided by interpretation, allowing
    symbolism to aid in interpreting ideal as well as
    material activities.
  • Traditionally, symbolic anthropology has focused
    on religion, cosmology, ritual activity, and
    expressive customs such as mythology and the
    performing arts as they key to understanding

Postmodernism - 1980s to present
  • Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology (1996)
    Post-modernism is defined as an eclectic
    movement, originating in aesthetics --
    architecture and philosophy.
  • Postmodernism espouses a systematic skepticism of
    grounded theoretical perspective.
  • Applied to anthropology, this skepticism has
    focused from the observation of a particular
    society to the observation of the observer.
  • Postmodernists are suspicious of authoritative
    definitions and singular narratives of any
    trajectory of events.
  • Post-modern attacks of ethnography are based on
    the belief that there is no true objectivity.
  • Scientific method is not possible.
  • What does the anthropologist feel about this
    culture? Can he separate himself from his job,
    his culture, his own beliefs in order to
    chronicle another culture?

  • Ethnocentrism is the use of values, ideals, and
    mores from ones own culture to judge the
    behavior of someone from another culture.
  • Ethnocentrism is a cultural universal.
  • Ethnocentrism contributes to social solidarity.
  • Ethnocentrism hinders our understanding of the
    customs of other people and, at the same time,
    keeps us from understanding our own customs.
  • Miners The Nacirema

10-Minute Break
  • Ethnocentrism
  • Activity - Whats happening in this picture?
  • Read pages 219-220
  • Cultural Relativism
  • Activity - Discussion
  • Read pages 220-222, including blue box on page 221

Ritual and Culture
U.S. - Virginia, 2000
Happy anniversary to me ?
Ritual and Culture
Great Britain - 1966
Ritual and Culture
Guinea Bissau, Africa
Ritual and Culture
The Americas
Ritual and Culture
The Netherlands
Ritual and Culture
Ritual and Culture
Tibet, 1997
Ritual and Culture
Mexico - November 1
Cultural Relativism
  • 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. A societys customs and beliefs
    should be described objectively.
  • Strong form - there are no wrong cultures or
    aspects of culture.
  • Weak form - strive for objectivity and dont be
    quick to judge
  • Current Issues Discussion
  • Are we, as Westerners, trying to force our
    customs onto the rest of the world?