What Is Culture?

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What is culture?

* Culture is learned through experiences, observations, listening, talking, interacting with others, etc. * Our own cultural learning depends on the uniquely developed human capacity to use symbols, signs that have no necessary or natural connection to the things they stand for or signify. * Anthropologist Clifford Geertz defined culture as ideas based on cultural learning and symbols. * Sometimes culture is taught directly. (ex: parents tell their kids to say thank you) * Culture also is transmitted through observation.

* Culture is absorbed unconsciously.
* Anthropologist Leslie White defined culture as : dependent upon symbolling…culture consists of tools, implements, utensils, clothing, ornaments, customs, institutions, beliefs, rituals, games, works of art, language, etc, * Symbols are often linguistic.

* All humans posses the abilities on which culture rests—the abilities to learn, to think symbolically, to manipulate language, and to use tools and other cultural products in organizing their lives and coping with their environments.

Culture is Shared

* Culture is transmitted in society.
* Enculturation is the process by which a child learns his or her culture. * Enculturation unifies people by providing us with common experiences. * American culture individualism itself is a distinctive shared value. * Individualism is transmitted through hundreds of statements and settings in our daily life. * People become agents in the enculturation of their children, just as their parents were for them. * Culture constantly changes, but there are still some beliefs, values, and other traditions that endure through generations.

Culture and Nature

* Culture takes the natural biological urges we share with other animals and teaches us how to express them in particular ways. * People have to eat but culture teaches what, when, and how. * Habits are cultural traditions that have converted natural acts into cultural customs.

Cultural Is Integrated

* Cultures are integrated, patterned systems. If one part of the system changes other parts change as well. * Cultures are integrated not simply by their dominant economic activities and related social patterns BUT also by sets of values, ideas, symbols, and judgments. * A set of characteristic core values (key, basic, central values) integrates each culture and helps distinguish it from others.

Culture Is Instrumental, Adaptive, and Maladaptive

* Culture is the main reason for human adaptability and success. * Humans also adapt biologically—for example, bye shivering when we get cold, or sweating when we get hot. We change the temperature in the thermostat. * People use culture instrumentally, that is to fulfill their basic biological needs for food, drink, shelter, comfort, and reproduction. * People also use culture to fulfill their psychological and emotional needs, such as friendships, companionship, approval, & being desired sexually. * People seek informal support—help from people who care about them. * People also seek formal support—from associations and institutions. * On one level, cultural traits (A.C) may be called adaptive if they help individual cope with environmental stresses. But on a different level, such traits can also be maladaptive.

Culture’s Evolutionary Basis

* Most closely related to human beings in an anatomy way are the African great apes: chimpanzees and gorillas. * Hominidae is the zoological family that includes fossil and living humans, as well as chimps and gorillas. * Hominids a primate member of a family that includes humans and their fossil ancestors. A primate belonging to a family of which the modern human being is the only species still in existence. Family: Hominidae * Hominins is a term used to describe all the human species that ever have existed, including the extinct ones, but excluding...
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