What is the Anthropological Perspective? What is Culture?. Anthropology

❖    Explanations of the Human Condition
o Dualism: human nature made up of different but equal sources
o Idealism: "cogito ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am), ideas that the mind creates
o Materialism: activities of our physical bodies make us in the material world
o Determinism: human nature determined by our mind or determined by the material world - determined by the causal force of physical matter
What is the Anthropological Perspective?
❖    Anthropological Perspective
I.    Cultural Relativism
■    Ideas or beliefs that people learn in a society determines their behaviours
■    Argues AGAINST reductionism*/ determinism
(To a single point culture, ex. Canada = hockey. Nothing more)
■    How does it improve our understanding of cultural practices?
(Ex. genital cutting, rituals) Does culture force us to do things?
■    Rights of passages: legal age, graduating, birthday, license, etc.
Cultural Relativism vs. Ethnocentrism
Viewing other society's ideas within the context of society's problems and opportunities - relativism
Judging other societies ideas in context with one's own culture (reductionist) - ethnocentrism - try to avoid it
II.    Participant Observation
■    Fieldwork
■    Gain insight by: participating with informants* in social activities, observing activities as outsiders - participant NOT considered as a subject
(Informants: people who work WITH anthropologists to provide them with insight about their culture.)
III.    Holism
■    Whole is the sum of its parts
o Parts and whole mutually determine each other and co-evolve
■    Objects and environments interpenetrate and define each other
IV.    Cross Cultural Comparison (ethnology)
■    Consider the similarities and differences in a wide range of human societies before generalizing human nature, society or history
■    Wide range of beliefs and how they work individually
*Social groups should all deserve equal respect*
Ethnology vs. Ethnography
Compare societies, basis for developing generalizations about humans different activities (ex. religion, bonds (kinship), etc.) - cross cultural comparison (analogy) Study of small groups in large scale societies, collect data through participation and interview - individual study (participant observation)
How do Anthropologists define Culture?
❖    Culture: definitions
o Edward Burnett Tylor
■    Culture includes knowledge, belief and morals acquired by man in a society o Franz Boas (1930)
■    Culture embraces all manifestations of social habits
■    The product of human activities
o Wendell Bennett (1964)
■    Culture develops by engaging in activities
o Lewis Binford (1968)
■    Culture enables man to adapt
o James Spradley (1984)
■    People use culture to interpret their world and generate social behaviour called culture
■    Trying to fulfill others needs
❖    Humans as Bicultural Organisms
o Recognizes dialect between biology and culture
o Interacting with the world - physically and symbolically
❖    Richard Potts: Foundation of Culture
1.    Transmission (ex. children learning by watching adults, waving)
2.    Memory - remembering the behaviours that we've learned
3.    Reiteration - replicating behaviours that we have learned
4.    Innovation - modify/ invent new behaviours (ex. fist bump instead of wave)
5.    Selection - deciding on which innovation we want to keep (ex. fist bump in, while waving out)
6.    Symbolic Coding - ability to make and use symbols (ex. drawing trees)
7.    Complex Symbolic Representation - not bringing in a real tree but drawing
8.    Institutional Development - political, social organizations
* All 8 foundations have to interact to have meaning. You have to put all the blocks together in order to create something* the last 3 were added at a later time
What is Culture?
❖    Culture is...
o Learned
■    Enculturation (socialization) - we learn from our surroundings
■    Our way of learning is not always formal (ex. from friends or parents)
o Shared
■    Groups share the same culture
o Transmitted
■    This is the way that culture is passed on and taught
■    Learning style is influenced by how a culture interacts with children and people
o Adaptive
■    Adapted to particular environments
o Patterned
■    Knowing the correct behaviour at a place or time (ex. classroom expect.)
■    Allows us to have consistency by knowing what to do
o Always Changing
■    (Ex. fashion is constantly changing, before yearly and now seasonal)
❖    Tacit Culture?
o Tacit Culture
■    Parts of culture that are directly observable
■    Are shared, patterned
■    They are not formally "taught" (ex. knowing to keep a distance from people)
o Culture shock - consequence of differences
■    People holding hands on the street but not dating is not normal here
■    When outside of the country people may sit closer to you rather than keeping a certain distance, being close is more respectful there