• The process by which children acquire their culture
  • We learn the culture into which we are born and raised

o Born weak as a species (cant walk, cant talk, highly dependant)

o Large brain relative to body size - large part of our survival as a species relies on learning

o Mature slower, but live longer - longer time to learn

  • Enculturation takes place in an informal, non-explicit means
  • Enculturation continues throughout life (life long process)


  • A similar process to enculturation that emphasizes social factors/norms rather than cultural factors in learning ones culture

The Process of Enculturation:

  • Becoming a human being

o When does human life begin?

  • Considered human a few days/weeks after birth
  • Wait to make sure the baby survives

o Social birth

o Naming practices

  • Child rearing

o Feeding and weaning

o Sleeping

o Physical and social stimulation

  • Implicit: learning by observation, listening and watching culture

Informal and Formal Learning:

  • Imitate and observe their elders
  • Informal:

o Skills

o Cultural values

o Behavioural expectations

  • Formal:

o Socialization

o Rites of passage

o Schooling

  • Spiritual and religious education

Learning Skills and Values:

  • Cultural values: norms, attitudes, ethics

o Abstract

  • Skills: using tools, economic roles

o Things we can do

  • Both learned through observation, direct instruction and folklore


  • Texts that relate traditional stories, the exploits of cultural heroes, and characters handed down from generation to generation

Learning Behavioural Expectations:

  • Appropriate behaviour
  • Rules of authority and deference
  • Learning through:

o Observation

o Trial and error

o Corrections, reprimands, praise

Age and Gender Socialization:

  • Social status
  • Age

o Restricted rights and limited control (children, because of their age)

  • Children should be seen and not heard

o Lack of power

  • Gender

o Gender identity

  • Boys: blue
  • Girls: pink, names

o Differential treatment

o Ex: boys vs. girls

  • Boys: play outside, public, breadwinners
  • Girls: play inside, domestic, care takers

Rites of Passage:

  • Life transitions

o Birth

o Marriage

o Death

  • Initiations rites

o Transition from childhood to adulthood

3 Stage Model (Van Gennep 1909):

  • Separation from the familiar
  • Transition from old state to new state (called liminality - means "between")
  • Reintegration into original social structure


  • Formal setting

o Educational institutes

o Only elites were schooled in a formal setting

  • Explicit instruction

o Designated teachers

Psychological Anthropology:

  • The study of the psychological motivations of behaviour and the personality types prevalent in a society
  • Culture and personality traits

o Personality: a constellation of behavioural traits and dispositions

o Cooperation and competition (among children)

o Public self and private self

  • Culture and self-concept

o Self-concepts

  • Independent self - don't need anybody else, independent
  • Interdependent self - interacting with other people determines who you are and how you behave

o National character

  • Deviance and abnormal behaviour in cross-cultural perspectives

o Cultures responses to "mental illness”

o Culture specific psychological disorders

  • ADHD - mostly in Western industrialized countries
  • Latah
  • Amok - Southeast Asian disorder
  • Anorexia and bulimia - mostly in Western industrialized countries
  • Pibloktoq - Arctic hysteria
  • Windigo
  • Koro - Asian men
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