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Title: Social & Cultural Anthropology Author: Brian Petschauer Last modified by: Diane Created Date: 9/11/2011 9:09:09 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Social

Social Cultural Anthropology
  • AIM Why study Social and Cultural Anthropology?

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The Breadth of Anthropology
  • Anthropology is the broadest of the social
  • Social sciences have generally attempted to
    develop scientific methods to understand social
    phenomena in a generalizable way.
  • Anthropologists study both past and present
  • in all parts of the world, languages and
  • human biology
  • A major trend within Anthropology has been
  • a methodological drive to study peoples in
  • societies with more simple social
  • organization, sometimes called primitive,
  • but without any connotation of inferior.
  • Today, Anthropologists use terms such as less
  • complex societies or refer to specific
    modes of
  • production, such as pastoralist,
    forager, etc.

What is Anthropology?
  • Anthropos (human beings) logia (study of)
  • The discipline of anthropology studies humankind
    in its entirety and aims to produce useful
    generalizations about the behavior of people
    around the world and throughout time.
  • Anthropology follows the holistic perspective,
    meaning that through cross-cultural comparison we
    can recognize both the great diversity between
    people as well as the human characteristics that
    unite us all.

  • Study of a culture by looking at all the parts of
    the system and how those parts are interrelated

  • Anthropology the systematic study of humankind.
  • What do we mean by systematic?
  • Scientific Method
  • Empirical based on observation and experiment
  • Positivism - only authentic knowledge is that
    which is based on sense, experience and positive
  • Concept a cognitive unit of meaning, an
    abstract idea or a mental symbol
  • Variable logical set of characteristics of an
  • Hypothesis
  • Theory

Other Sciences that study human behavior?
  • Sociology study of society
  • Political Science - study of the state,
    government and politics
  • Economics analyzes the production,
    distribution, and consumption of goods and
  • Psychology study of human behavior and mental

The Five Main Specializations within Anthropology
  • Cultural Anthropology the study of ways of life
    (culture) throughout the world by direct
  • Archaeology studies material remains in order to
    describe and explain human behavior
  • Linguistic Anthropology studies the origin and
    social context of speech and languages and their
    relationship with culture
  • Biological Anthropology the study of human
    evolution and contemporary human diversity
  • Applied Anthropology the use of anthropological
    knowledge for solving problems of social

Cultural Anthropology
  • Knowledge about those aspects of humanity which
    are not natural, but which are learned / acquired
  • All anthropologists rely on fieldwork.
  • The characteristic form of fieldwork in Cultural
    Anthropology is called Participant Observation.
  • Our research is holisticit examines how each
    part of culture influences all other parts.

  • Comparative study of cultural and social life.
    Its most important method is participant
    observation, which consists in lengthy fieldwork
    in a specific social setting.
  • Anthropology compares aspects of different
    societies, and continuously searches for
    interesting dimensions for comparison.
  • Ethnology comparative study of contemporary
    cultures to determine cultural similarities and
  • Ethnographic fieldwork a thorough, close-up
    study of a particular social and cultural
    environment, where the researchers are required
    to normally spend about a year. (Participant
    observation empirical analysis)
  • Tries simultaneously to account for actual
    cultural variation in the world and to develop
    theoretical perspectives on culture and society.

  • How does an anthropologist's ethnographic
    fieldwork experience differs from a tourist's
    experience traveling in a foreign land among
    "exotic" peoples?

Important defining features of Anthropology
  • Comparative and empirical (based on observation
    and experiment).
  • Fieldwork is its most important method of data
  • Global focus (looks at all societies).
  • Studies society as it is being enacted.
  • Stresses social and cultural context of speech
    when looking at language.
  • Must understand a society from the inside.
  • Cultural Relativism understanding the ways of
    other cultures and not judging these practices
    according to one's own cultural ways.

The Cultural System
  • All cultures included beliefs and feelings that
    guide how those who share it adapt to and survive
    within an environment.

  • Culture can be defined as a society's shared and
    socially transmitted ideas, values, and
  • An individual cannot invent a culture in
  • Culture has two main characteristics. It is
    learned, and it is shared.
  • It is both a system for understanding life and,
    simultaneously, a set of rules for living.
  • Culture is a shared system. However, it is not
    shared homogeneously.
  • All cultures change.
  • The central core of any culture are the shared
    beliefs and shared feelings that, by consensus,
    are regarded as normal or typical within a

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Cultural Universals
  • Anything common that exists in every human
    culture on the planet yet varies from different
    culture to culture, such as values and modes of
  • Biologically based universals
  • Examples
  • Male preference for youthful attractiveness
  • Female preference for high male status
  • Gendered division of labor that prioritizes males
    for dangerous occupations and females for work
    that demands endurance
  • Universals that arise from cultural adaption
  • Examples
  • Urbanization and increased specialization due to
    population growth

  • Can you think of any cultural universals?

Some Cultural Universals
  • Personal Names
  • Units of time
  • Males more aggressive, more prone to lethal
    violence, more prone to theft
  • Incest
  • Territoriality
  • Abstraction in speech and thought
  • Taboos
  • Norms
  • Beliefs about death
  • Conflict
  • Rites of Passage (birth, marriage, death, etc)
  • Shelter
  • Control of Fire
  • Cooking
  • Weapons
  • Containers

Cultural Diversity
  • The specific characteristics of each way of life
    are influenced by
  • Its environment and their resources
  • Its technology
  • Its history (including its interaction with other

Intercultural Influences
  • Neighboring societies often borrow from one
  • When two societies interact intensively, the
    changes are referred to as acculturation.

  • Society group of people related to each other
    through persistent relations, or a large social
    grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual
    territory, subject to the same political
    authority and dominant cultural expectations.
  • Social Reproduction The maintenance and
    perpetuation of society beyond mere childbearing,
    including enculturation and teaching of members
    to take their place in society and day-to-day
    activities to allow members of the society to
    perform their specified tasks.

Feudal Society Clergy, Knight, Peasant
Culture vs. Society
  • Culture refers to acquired, cognitive and
    symbolic aspects of existence, whereas society
    refers to the social organization of human life,
    patterns of interaction, and power relationships.