What Is Culture? Development of Culture around the World Cultural Variation Role of Language Norms and Values Global Culture War Culture and the Dominant Ideology Case Study: Culture at Wal-Mart Social Policy and Culture: Bilingualism BOXES Sociology in the Global Community: Life in the Global Village Sociology in the Global Community: Cultural Survival in Brazil Sociology on Campus: A Culture of Cheating?
At a fairground in Iran, a girl enjoys a Spiderman ride. Shared learned behavior—what we call culture—can move across international borders to become part of foreign societies
Poorer families imitate the rich by applying pottery plaques to their shrine walls. While each family has at least one such shrine, the rituals associated with it are not family ceremonies but are private and secret. The rites are normally only discussed with children, and then only during the period when they are being initiated into these mysteries. I was able, however, to establish sufficient rapport with the natives to examine these shrines and to have the rituals described to me. The focal point of the shrine is a box or chest which is built into the wall. In this chest are kept the many charms and magical potions without which no native believes he could live. These preparations are secured from a variety of specialized practitioners. The most powerful of these are the medicine men, whose assistance must be rewarded with substantial gifts. However, the medicine men do not provide the curative potions for their clients, but decide what the ingredients should be and then write them down in an ancient and secret language. This writing is understood only by the medicine men and by the herbalists who, for another gift, provide the required charm. The charm is not disposed of its ceremonial aspects and assoafter it has served its purpose, but The focal point of the shrine is a box or chest which ciated philosophy are unique. is placed in the charm-box of the is built into the wall. In this chest are kept the many The fundamental belief household shrine. As these magical underlying the whole system charms and magical potions without which no native materials are specific for certain ills, appears to be that the human and the real or imagined maladies believes he could live. body is ugly and that its natuof the people are many, the charmral tendency is to debility and box is usually full to overflowing. The disease. Incarcerated in such a body, man’s only hope is to avert magical packets are so numerous that people forget what their purposes these characteristics through the use of the powerful influences were and fear to use them again. While the natives are very vague on this of ritual and ceremony. Every household has one or more shrines point, we can only assume that the idea in retaining all the old magical devoted to this purpose. The more powerful individuals in the socimaterials is that their presence in the charm-box, before which the body ety have several shrines in their houses and, in fact, the opulence rituals are conducted, will in some way protect the worshipper. of a house is often referred to in terms of the number of such ritual centers it possesses. Most houses are of wattle and daub construc(Miner 1956:503–504) Additional information about this excerpt can be found on the tion, but the shrine rooms of the more wealthy are walled with stone. Online Learning Center at www.mhhe.com/schaefer12e.
Nacirema culture is characterized by a highly developed market economy which has evolved in a rich natural habitat. While much of the people’s time is devoted to economic pursuits, a large part of the fruits of these labors and a considerable portion of the day are spent in ritual activity. The focus of this activity is the human body, the appearance and health of which loom as a dominant concern in the ethos of the people. While such a concern is certainly not unusual,
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