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Cultural Anthropology


Cultural Anthropology A tool for understanding what makes people and cultures different and what makes them the same. What is Culture? Culture is defined as: A ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Cultural Anthropology

Cultural Anthropology
  • A tool for understanding what makes people and
    cultures different and what makes them the same.

What is Culture?
  • Culture is defined as
  • A specific set of learned behaviors, beliefs,
    attitudes, values, and ideals that are
    characteristic of a particular society or

Culture as a Learned Characteristic
  • Culture is learned and passed down from previous
  • This is also called Enculturation
  • It is not something an individual is born with.

Culture as an agent of Environmental Adaptation
  • The material objects and customs produced by a
    group of people are influenced by the environment
    around them.
  • For example
  • The types of tools and the materials that they
    are manufactured out of are determined by what is
  • No stone? Then your tools will be made out of
    wood, bone, or antler.
  • This is a problem for archaeologists.

Two Components of Cultural Anthropology
  • Ethnography
  • and
  • Ethnology

  • This is the most visible and most widely used
    research tool in cultural anthropology.
  • Two main components of ethnography
  • Fieldwork
  • Published results
  • Excellent example of an ethnography is
  • Lewis H. Morgan
  • League of the Ho-dé-no-sau-nee Or Iroquois
  • Ill post the PDF on the Wiki for anyone who is

  • Process by which data is gathered from the study
  • This can be as far away as Australia or as close
    as your local delicious and refreshing Starbucks

  • Without this part of the anthropological process
    the rest of the research is wasted.
  • Why do the fieldwork and record the data if no
    one will ever even have the chance to read it?

  • This is a comparative study and analysis of the
    worlds cultures.
  • Uses the ethnographic accounts recorded in the
    field to formulate broader anthropological
    theories that help to explain why cultures are
    different or similar.

So whats the difference between Ethnography and
  • Ethnography
  • Detailed description of a culture based on field
  • Ethnology
  • Comparing different cultures to try and discover
    broader patterns that extend across many cultural

Methodology in the Field
  • Participant Observation
  • Associated with Ethnography
  • This is an anthropological technique used to
    understand groups of people by interacting with
    them in their own environment.
  • An anthropologist will go and live with a certain
    group of people for an extended period of time
    and this allows for a more complete view of the
    culture being studied.
  • Informants
  • These are individuals who assist the Ethnographer
    in interpreting certain aspects of the culture
    being observed.

Bronislaw Malinowski
  • Born 1884
  • Died 1942
  • First anthropologist to truly use the Participant
    Observation technique.

The Importance of Symbols in Culture
  • Symbols are extremely important to every culture
    in the world.
  • Symbols can be defined as
  • Signs, emblems, and other things that can have a
    meaningful representation of something else that
    may or may not be related to the physical
    structure of the symbol itself.
  • Symbols are given meaning by the culture that
    creates them.

Does Culture Change?
  • Definitely!!
  • Thats what makes it so exciting to study!
  • For example
  • In what ways has American society changed from,
    say, the 1940s to the year 2008?
  • This means that the work is never done for
  • Each culture that is studied should be revisited
    in order to ascertain how it has changed over a
    certain period of time.
  • Not always possible but it is the ideal situation.

Cultural Change
  • The ways in which cultures provide for their
    people and respond to threats from both outside
    and within their society is extremely important
    for understanding the culture as a whole.
  • There is a delicate balance within every culture
  • The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the
    few, or the one.

Ethnocentric Attitudes
  • This is related to the topic of Cultural
    Relativity that was previously discussed.
  • This is a common problem among both the general
    population and anthropologists as well.
  • Ethnocentrism is the idea that one persons
    culture is superior to other cultures.
  • Everyone, anthropologists included, must
    constantly try to keep this in check and ensure
    that attitudes such as this do not pollute the
    interpretations of any culture being studied.
  • Eliminating these attitudes is one of the primary
    goals of anthropology in general

Wrap It Up!
  • Any questions about anthropology in general?
  • About possible careers or opportunities?
  • Other questions about the course?
  • Anything at all? The weather? Brett Favre playing
    for the Jets?
  • ???