Cultural Anthropology Essay

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Cultural Anthropology Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 708

  • Pages: 3

Cultural Anthropology

“The word anthropology is derived from the Greek words anthropo, meaning “human beings” or “humankind,” and logia, translated as “knowledge of” or “the study of.”1 Likewise, it is a study which comprises four subfields: the physical anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology and cultural anthropology or ethnology, which constitutes a broad approach to the study of humanity.2 Furthermore, “Anthropology is the exploration of human diversity in time and space.”3 Consequently, anthropology is a study or discourse of human being which deals human condition in every particular context and time, both past and present. It is a study that deals humans as biological species, as beings with culture and language present in a society, and so on.

b. Cultural Anthropology

“Cultural anthropology is the study of human society and culture, the subfield that describes, analyzes, interprets, and explains social and cultural similarities and differences.4 So, it is in this field that human beings are studied in a cultural perspective in order to identify the commonality and difference of one culture to the other. Likewise, “Cultural anthropology or ethnology is the subfield of anthropology that examines various contemporary societies and cultures throughout the world.”5 Therefore, it does not study human being individually but societally or as a group, in order to come up with a generalization of their way of life.

c. Ethnology
“Ethnology examines, interprets, analyzes, and compares the results of ethnography—the data gathered in different societies.”6 Likewise, “ethnology is the comparative science that attempts to identify and explain cultural differences and similarities, test hypotheses, and build theory to enhance our understanding of how social and cultural systems work.7 Thus, ethnology is the science in which the data gathered by the cultural anthropologist from the different societies through observation are put into analysis and examination. In other words, it is a cross-cultural study. By this, cultural anthropologists describe the similarities and differences of one culture from the other and make generalization about society and culture.

2. What are the two approaches we use in the study of Anthropology? There are two ways of developing testable propositions: the inductive method and the deductive method. In the inductive method, the scientist first makes observations and collects data. On the other hand, deductive method of scientific research begins with a general theory from which scientists develop testable hypotheses. Data are then collected to evaluate these hypotheses.

3. Why the study of Anthropology is important today?

Studying human beings, Anthropology is very important today for it examines, analyzes, compares and makes generalization about how people live and behave. In fact, it is so vital to study it these days for this field deals not only the present generation of the human kind but also even those of the past, the history and artifacts, with their way of life basically analyzed and is compared to what we have today. Likewise, it is also crucial to discuss this subject matter, especially cultural anthropology, for it gives anybody a kind of self-awareness to cultural diversity. Hence, anthropology will make us aware of cross-cultural understanding in this diverse world and appreciate the uniqueness of one culture to the other. Furthermore, studying so would give us knowledge in order to avoid ethnocentrism or superiority of one culture to the other for no culture is actually higher than the other.

On one hand, anthropology contributes to a general liberal arts education, which helps students develop intellectually and personally, as well as professionally.8 So, it is important as well to study anthropology nowadays for it tries to investigate human condition according to four perspectives, namely, the physical anthropology, archaeology, linguistic anthropology and cultural anthropology, which is needed in every career that one may take. Well, for us, seminarians, I think it is an imperative to have knowledge about this course for it enables us to develop our understanding, especially when it comes to cross-cultural one, as future missionaries to foreign lands someday.

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Cultural anthropology Essay

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Cultural anthropology Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 1884

  • Pages: 8

Cultural anthropology

Cultural anthropology is one of the most important fields of anthropology that explores cultural variation among people and promotes culture as a meaningful scientific concept. The aim of this paper is to explore the key concepts, such as subsistence practices, economic systems, issues w/social stratification, marriage practices, kinship and marital residence, political life, religion and arts, and issues w/globalization or the environment, taking, as a case in point, African culture.

Subsistence Practices In 1930s the researchers developed a better classification based on peculiarities of the subsistence practices (the methods and sources used by society to get the food and other necessary things in order to survive). This classification, being based on economic differences, was much more effective, as far as a culture is “directly related to its economy” (O’Neil, 2006).

In such a way, the world cultures were divided into four types according to the subsistence practices: foraging (gathering wild plants and hunting), pastoralism (herding domesticated animals), horticulture (low intensity farming), and intensive agriculture (large scale farming). Intensive agriculture is the primary subsistence practice of such large-scale, populous society like Africa. Moreover, three fifth African citizens are subsistence farmers. Africa has a well-developed agricultural sector that provides for the most domestic needs. In addition, the country exports wool, corn, tobacco, peanuts, sugar, and other important farm products.

Economic System Different types of culture have different economic systems, not only in terms of the scale (e. g. isolated, small-scale economies vs. large-scale economies), but also in terms of their systems of production (the subsistence practices), distribution and exchange. African economic system consists of industry, trade and resources of the nations of African countries. Africa is considered to be the poorest inhabited continent in the world. Its poverty is partially rooted in its history due to uncertain transition from colonialism.

Being the country with poor economy, Africa has no complex market exchange system. African agricultural sector employs approximately sixty per cent of the country’s inhabitants. The most important exports are petroleum and minerals. Investment and banking is very problematic due to the country’s uncertain economy. Issues w/social stratification People are social human beings; and, having a need in social contact they live in isolation quite rarely. Social institutions and social groups have their own specific functions, which may overlap and are interconnected in multiple complex ways.

Manifest functions are obvious, while latent functions are more difficult to discover and are less apparent. In all social groups people have a social status and a certain role to fulfill. Status is a “relative social position within a group” (O’Neil, 2006), while a social role is “the part our society expects us to play in a given status” (O’Neil, 2006). Alike other countries, Africans achieve statuses in two basic ways: the achieved social status is one the person acquires by doing something, whereas the ascribed status is the “result of being born into a particular family or being born male or female” (O’Neil, 2006) (e.

g. some casts in African indigenous tribes). Social groups in Africa are organized on a basis of age, gender, common interest (e. g. avocation (fraternal organizations), vocation (trade unions), common residence (neighborhood organizations), religious belonging (membership in a certain church), past experience (veterans clubs), political beliefs (political parties), to mention a few. Marriage practices Marriage is “the socially recognized union of two or more people” (O’Neil, 2006), which functions as a glue in the organization of society.

It is generally referred to as an efficient way to regulate heterosexual intercourse by determining “who is socially accepted as a sexual partner and who is not” (O’Neil, 2006). After the marriage, all other people, except of the souse, are treated as off limits for sexual access. Different societies have different views on sexual access restrictions, and, therefore, have different marriage practices. For example, in Africa marriage partner selection to a great extent depends on complex rules, which vary significantly from region to region.

In addition, the concepts of beauty are also considerably different in different cultures (e. g. African countries consider large and pump bodies to be attractive, while European countries prefer slim women). Ttraditionally, African marriage is a kind of alliance between the kin groups. As well as in other countries, marriage partner selection restrictions in Africa imply two basic categories: exogamy and endogamy rules. Exogamy rules insist that marriage should occur outside of a certain social group (e. g.

family) (in other words, exogamy explains who the person cannot marry), while endogamy rules require that the marriage should be “within some larger group, such as the local community” (O’Neil, 2006) (in other words, endogamy explains who the person is recommended to marry). For example, in Zambia a woman is not allowed to seek for marriage (it is a taboo). Pre-colonial marriage in Africa was a kind of transaction between the two kin groups, where the bridewealth was paid to the bride’s family. During the period of colonialism polygyny (the marriage of more than one spouse at a time) was a common practice.

Nowadays, the vast majority of African countries have serial monogamy (a “marriage to multiple spouses but only one at a time”) (O’Neil, 2006) Kinship Kin groups are very important part of African culture. Kinship is a culturally determined relationship between the people who are “commonly thought of as having family ties” (O’Neil, 2006). African culture uses kinship to classify people and to form social groups. Yet, as with other cultural practices, kinship patterns and rules are different for different types of country’s region.

African kinship is “the most important social organizing principle along with gender and age” (O’Neil, 2006), because it “provides a means for transmitting skills and property from generation to generation” (O’Neil, 2006). No wonder that inheritance rights are predominantly based on kinship ties. Marital Residence Alike the vast majority of societies, African newly married couples rarely establish their own residence. Instead, they generally become a part of compound household occupied by relatives or a part of existing household. There are several types of residence in Africa:

Patrilocal residence (when a couple establishes their home not far from or in the groom’s father’s house). It is the most common type of marital residence followed by the vast majority of African population; Matrilocal residence (when a newly married couple establishes their home not far from or in the bride’s mother’s house); Avunculocal residence (a couple establishes their home not far from or in the groom’s maternal uncle’s house); Ambilocal residence (when a newly married couple establishes their home not far from or in the bride’s or groom’s house);

Neolocal residence (when a newly married couple establishes their home independent of both sets of relatives). Other types of marital residence (e. g. virilocal, uxorilocal, and natolocal) occur very rarely in African culture. Political life Alike all other countries, Africa has some sort of political system, because the politics is a “competition for power over people and things” (O’Neil, 2006). The simplest type of political systems can be presented in bands and tribes (in Ancient Africa and some modern African indigenous tribes).

These kinds of societies are acephalous (Greek – without a head) (with no leader in the sense we commonly expect) (O’Neil, 2006). Tribes are a little bit more complicated system, compared to the band. Nowadays, modern Africa has plenty of political structures organized into bureaucracies of positions. Each of them has different levels of power, responsibility and authority. African Union (AU) consists of all Africa’s states except Morocco. African Union has a parliamentary government (the AU Government) and consists of judicial, legislative and executive organs.

It is headed by the Head of State and the AU President Gertrude Ibengwe Mongella. Religion Generally, religion is a system of beliefs that usually involves the worship of supernatural beings and/ or forces. Religion plays an important role in African culture, as far as it introduces a kind of order “in what might otherwise be seen as a chaotic existence” (O’Neil, 2006) and provides the meaning and understanding for inexplicable things and events. African religious people define religious beliefs as the core of their world views. Sub-Saharan African traditional religion revolves around ancestor worship and animism.

Indigenous African religion divides the ancestor spirits into two categories: helpful and harmful and involves the performance of rituals (a stylized and repetitive act that occurs at a set time and location and involves the use of symbolic words, objects and actions). African religion has psychological and social functions. It helps people confronting and explaining death, fears, and anxiety about the unknown and supernatural. They can “provide a basis for common purpose and values that can help maintain social solidarity” (O’Neil, 2006).

In addition, there are many other religions in Africa, such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, to mention a few. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, about 46. 5% of all Africans are Christians and another 40. 5% are Muslims with about 11. 8% of Africans following indigenous African religions. African Art African culture enjoys a rich tradition of crafts and arts, such as brass, leather art works, woodcarvings, paintings, sculpture, pottery, religious and ceremonial headgear and dress, to mention a few.

As far as Africans devote much attention to personal appearance, jewelry is the most important personal accessory. Traditionally, Africans make jewelry from cowry shells. The art of making masks is one of the most important aspects of African culture. There are several themes widely used in African art and craft. Couple theme is one of the most interesting, because, unlike in European cultures, the couple theme rarely expresses the intimacy between man and woman. Instead, the couples are most likely to represent married couple, ancestors, twins, and community founders, etc.

Mother’s or woman’s theme is the second most important theme in African art. It embodies the woman’s desire to have a child, and may symbolize mother earth. The depiction of the man with the weapon or depiction of animals traditionally symbolizes power and honor. Issues w/globalization or the environment Africa is the country solely dependent on rains, global warming may cause devastating effect on the country by worsening the food supply and, consequently, exacerbating the widespread poverty in the entire African continent.

Moreover, it is assumed that the reality of globalization for African continent is dramatically environmentally destructive and the human influenced environmental catastrophe in Africa is worsened by the impact of globalization that may result in further devastation of the continent. References O’Neil, D. D. (2006, November 30). Cultural Anthropology. Retrieved May 24, 2007, from http://anthro. palomar. edu/tutorials/cultural. htm

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Cultural Anthropology Essay

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Cultural Anthropology Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 965

  • Pages: 4

Cultural Anthropology

1. How does a culture’s physical environment shape the type of subsistence pattern they practice? How does subsistence impact a culture’s degree of social stratification? How is the degree of social stratification mirrored in religious systems?

The amount of sunlight and rainfall and the types of soil, forests, and mineral deposits all have an effect on the type of subsistence pattern a particular society develops. For example, In the U.S society people have different choices to obtain their food such as obtain their food from a fast-food restaurant or obtain their food for cooking from a grocery store or supermarket; other societies have different ways to obtain their food supplies. Which lead us to different type of life practices to get food such as people who live close to sea do fishing practices and people who live near to a desert obtain their food by hunting. The specific biome and environmental conditions may limit the development of certain types of subsistence patterns. For example, Arctic conditions are not conducive to agricultural activities, nor are arid regions suitable for rice production. In some societies of wealth, power and prestige are linked with ownership of land or the number of animals acquired.

2. Describe economic exchange among band societies and it purpose. How does this type of exchange change with different societal types and why?

The major form of economic system with band societies is called reciprocal economic system; the system is based on exchanges among family groups as a means of distributing goods and services throughout the society. One of the main reasons for this system of reciprocal exchange is that food and other resources must usually be consumed immediately. There are three types of reciprocity: generalized, balanced, and negative. The most used one among societies is called generalized reciprocity (Own Group), an immediate return is not expected and that the value of the exchanges will balance out in the long run. For example, in our society parents take care of their kids, so you take care of them in their old age.

Another one is balanced reciprocity (Other Groups); this type is more direct with immediate return. For example, in our society change money for someone, such as change a dollar for someone to four quarter to use the snick machine. The last one Negative Reciprocity (Rare), it is the attempt to get something out of nothing. For example, in our societies people who go to the car dealer try to take the car for the cheapest price they can and the dealer try to take more money from the buyer. Both of them are negative reciprocity which means try to get something out of nothing. They do them because it makes the life for them easier and without the sharing between them life would be barder and less pleasant. The greater predictability and concentration of resources within a particular region, the more pronounced the conceptions of private ownership and exclusive rights to territory among foragers in comparison to territorial rights among different hunter-gathers.

3.What are some ways in which the higher degree of mobility affects the technologies, subsistence behaviors, and social organization of pastoralists versus horticulturalists? Higher degree of mobility affects the group to maintain a certain number of people in the group to keep it effective to move to another place. To do so, they use this mean called, Fissioning, moving of people from one group to another. Another means of population control is infanticide, the deliberate abandonment or killing of infants, and geronticide, the killing of old people. Higher degree of mobility also affect the technologies. In this case, technology does not refer to just tools or artifacts, but it also includes the cultural knowledge that has to be maintained by the society.

All foraging peoples have an extensive knowledge of their environmental conditions and of the appropriciate means of solving technological problems in these environments. Different from horticulturalists, foragers need to know where to find the plants, when to find them during different seasons, which plants are edible, and so on since they need to move during different seasons to pursue game and other resources. Inuit created an extremely complex foraging technology. Because of the weather conditions and the environment, they developed sophisticated techniques for curing hides from caribou and seals to make boots, parkas, and snow goggles.

4. Marriage is a human universal. In what forms does marriage exist and why? What is the function of endogamy and exogamy? How do forms of marriage exchange vary and how does each function to serve society?

Marriage provide a systemic form of social mobility for the entire society. Endogamy is a type of marriage between people of the same social group or category. Endogamous marriages are carefully arranged so as to maintain genealogically appropriate kinship bonds and descent relations in the top-ranking descent group. Exogamy is a type of marriage between people of different social group or categories. Having this type of marriage gives significant benefit to the one side of kinship, which does not have as power as the another kinship, because they can share the power once one get married. Most agricultural states practiced some form of marital exchange. The most common type of exchange was dowry- goods and wealth paid by the bride’s family to the groom’s family. Dowry appears to be to the groom’s family exchanges wealth for the bride. The dowry was used as a social exchange between families to arrange a marriage contract.

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Cultural Anthropology Essay

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Cultural Anthropology Essay
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  • University/College:
    University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Words: 986

  • Pages: 4

Cultural Anthropology

I have read and understand the section in the syllabus (page 6) relating to IWU’s Honesty/Cheating Policy. By affixing this statement to the title page of my homework submission, I am certifying that I have not cheated or plagiarized in the process of completing this assignment. If it is found that cheating and/or plagiarism did take place in the writing of this paper I understand the possible consequences of the act which could include expulsion from Indiana Wesleyan University.

The results of any form of bullying is troubling, the effects on victims and those family members in some cases lead to catastrophic outcomes or a change in which a victim conducts his or her life. In any case, to change the way you live or stop participating in your favorite activities because of who is waiting for you down the street or in school is the best way to fuel and promote the negative behavior of any bully. All bullies feed off of one factor, fear. If they know they control your lifestyle and places fear or shame in your heart then they have accomplishes just what they have been trying to do, control you.

What is cyber bullying? Cyber bullying is a new form of aggressions sought out by those individuals looking to embarrass or harm the victim across the World Wide Web by use of social networks, blogs, email, and other devises use for internet reading and sharing. The outcome of this form of bullying is the same as physical bullying, both with their share of outcomes with negative impact. The anthropology process of this study comprised of various groups of young adult grouped by age, gender and sexuality. The number of participants was 20,000 students from the second wave of the Metro West Adolescent Health Survey.

This survey is important because it address one of the main areas concerning all parents of victim child suicide. Here are some facts “15. 8% of students reported cyber bullying, and 25. 9% reported school bullying in the past 12 months. The overlap between cyber bullying and school bullying was substantial: 59. 7% of cyber bullying victims were also school bullying victims, and 36. 3% of school bullying victims was also cyber bullying victims. Non-heterosexually identified youths were far more likely than were heterosexually identified youths”.

What is most alarming with these facts are the following. 37. 8% of victims of either cyber or school bully committed self-injury to themselves, 15. 2% had suicide attempts, 30% had thoughts of suicide while 6. 6% suffer an attempt of suicide with medical treatment. It appears that once a child become victim of bullying he/she fails to speak to adults, thus leading to the child feelings of despair that could trigger an emotional psychological breakdown. It becomes increasingly important for parents to play a strong role in their child’s life.

We have to become aware of the surroundings that our children choose to associate as hobbies, friends and media networking. Also communication is a strong asset, share with them that it is ok to tell an adult if they are bullied or threaten in any manner. Sexual orientation plays a role in traditional and cyber bullying as well. It statics show that if a child lives a homosexual lifestyle or is bisexual they have a higher risk at becoming victims to both cyber and traditional bullying. The thoughts of suicide also are a bit higher within this lifestyle.

Regardless of the ethnicity the numbers are staggering. The authors in this article have several main points that they want to stress, the first of many is to bring about awareness to this world-wide epidemic of bulling that’s taking the lives of our youth. Secondly, to focus on which age groups are mostly the centers of attacks. Thirdly, to find a solution to combat the practices of bullying in our schools and neighborhoods, their intentions are to educate the general public. They wanted to depict differences between cyber bullying and its relationship to school bullying.

Understanding the differences between the two could help facilitate and developed a school prevention systems that could aid those that are victimize of this despicable act of behavior. When taking a look at the length of investigative approaches performed by the authors that conduct this study, it obvious to learn of the great effort put forth to gather such information. In the field of anthropology all cultural anthropologists rely on one scientific method for gathering information while studying cultural, fieldwork.

Field work is the characteristic of all the anthropological sub disciplines and is a main source for gathering information that deal with different cultures and ethnicities. To have hands on approach and the study of any giving topic the foundationally foot work starts with an investigative approach in all subject matter, ultimately ending with a solid conclusion that is not just opinionated but scientific truth. In conclusion, the authors of the article try to identify a world-wide epidemic that is affecting our children’s social stability and academic performance.

By researching the effects of bullying (rather cyber or school-yard) it allows parents to absorb the harsh realities of what their child could endure as an adolescent under extreme pressure. Children of all ages are taking their own lives as a result of being out-casted by peers of the same group, neighborhood, age, sex, and ethnicity. The real question is why? How far does a child have to be push before his/her mind is made up to commit suicide? We as parents need to beware and actively involved with all social activities and friends that our children consider part of their lives.

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