Impact of Culture on Health

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Catherine Anne Heywood
October 12, 2012
Impact of Culture on Health

STUDY GUIDE: EXAM 1

Chapter 2 – The Starting Point: Defining Culture, Defining Health

* What do we mean by culture?
* Culture is one of those concepts that most people seem to intuitively grasp, yet cannot define clearly. * The process of categorizing groups of people as others (other than one’s own group) is a common feature of the way human beings think, and it forms a part of the whole phenomenon we think of as culture. * There other uses of the term culture that can confuse the situation – for example, saying someone is more cultured than the other, referring to some concept of high/elite culture, expressed through personal manners, education and knowledge, involvement in or familiarity with artistic activities such as opera, modern art, calligraphy, dance or theater – that is contrasted to pop culture. * Definitions they share the basic components, existing as a kind of whole and links many kinds of aspects of life and social structure within a group or society; it refers to the relationship between what people know and believe and what they do; it is acquired and shared, more or less, among members of the group or society and transmitted to members of the group/society over time. * The Classic Definition: Cultures is said to be that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society (E.B Taylor, 1871) * The Symbolic Definition: Human culture is a kind of symbolic text, in which behavior, objects, and belief interact together in a kind of ongoing dramatic production that represents issues and concepts of meaning fr a particular society * Members act as characters in this grand drama and what goes on (plot) only makes sense in reference to an underlying interpretive framework. * Culture as an Ideology: Equate the concept of culture to a kind of dominant ideology or to beliefs, social institutions, practices, and media representation associated with particular configurations of power. * Discourse at any point is linked with a configuration of power and the rules for interpreting what is or is not a valid statement. * Culture Materialist Definitions. Viewing culture primarily as a system of belief, practice, and technology directly tied to economic activity or to the adaptation of a people to a particular physical environment. * Linguistic Definition: thinking of a culture as a type of language. Speakers of the language may use differently, to create slang, irony, humor, or even poetry OR they make break the rules to create a particular effect. BUT it is still the same language and underneath the language is some shared base of understanding about the nature of existence and day-to-day life. * Mental or Cognitive Definitions: Construct of culture as something primarily in the mind of people within a particular group, a kind of shared conceptual framework that organizes thought and behavior. From this perspective, culture is not so much about what people do, but about what they think and how that determines what they do. * Culture and Biocultural: Think of culture in relation to the human condition is to understand humans as biocultural. It is something that is imposed on the biological world by a society or group of people who have, over many years, developed a system of beliefs and practices. * How can we define the people who share a particular culture? * Is it a political definition? (most cases no) Is it a geographic boundary? A social boundary? Is it religion? * Culture is not fixed but evolves as people from one society or group come into contact with other people or as they change over time, their culture changes. * What do we mean by health?

* Free of disease – absence of pathogens and...
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