Week 4 - History of Cultural Theory

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Information about Week 4 - History of Cultural Theory
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Published on January 30, 2016

Author: adams.1238

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Next Time: History of Cultural Theory Next Time: Assignments Short Response Essay – Due February 7 th No readings Discussion posts Continue observations Next Time: Outline Lecture: History of Cultural Theory Basic terms and concepts Late 19 th century Early 20 th century Mid 20 th century Anthropological Theory – Modern Divisions Scientific Approaches Humanistic Approaches Next Time: Theory Before Anthropology Biological Determinism Differences between social groups are due to biological differences Social Darwinism Certain races are superior because they are more “evolved” Stages of cultural “progress” Basis for eugenics Next Time: Anthropological Theory – Late 19 th Century Unilineal Evolution - similar sequence of stages in development Societies evolve in a single direction Next Time: Anthropological Theory – Late 19 th Century E.B. Tylor & Lewis Henry Morgan Culture evolved from simple to complex Different starting points/speeds along continuum Savagery  Barbarism  Civilization Living fossils ( ‘ Survivals ’ ) E.B. Tylor Lewis Henry Morgan Next Time: Unilineal Summary Positive C omparative perspective Anthropology as separate discipline Negative Ethnocentric Individuals are passive Justified colonialism Ignored Uniqueness Supports bio determinism Discourages history Next Time: Historical Particularism -Early 20 th Century All cultures unique products of their own historical development Few Generalizations Franz Boas: Father of American Anthro Holistic approach Biology  Culture Rejected biological determinism Next Time: Changing Anthropological Methods Early anthropologists = “ armchair ” anthropologists Boas = Ethnographic fieldwork ‘ Objective ’ observations C ultural relativism Better descriptions Next Time: Identity and Personality School Ruth Benedict & Margaret Mead Influenced by Freud How do psychological factors explain culture? Ruth Benedict Margaret Mead Next Time: Identity and Personality School Patterns of Culture (1934) “ Culture is the personality writ large ” Zuni = Apollonian Kwakiutl = Dionysian Next Time: Anthropological Theory – Early 20 th Century  British Functionalism – social/cultural features explained by their useful functions to society Cultural features explained by functions Two Main Figures Bronislaw Malinowski A.R. Radcliffe-Brown Next Time: Functionalism Bronislaw Malinowski Culture functioned to fulfill basic biological and psychological needs Next Time: Problems with Malinowski Biological needs cannot explain why cultures differ  why? Instead: Human groups vary in the types of cultures they develop to fulfill these needs Next Time: Structural Functionalism A.R. Radcliffe-Brown Culture functioned to maintain structure of society Societies stable over time Example: Religion Next Time: Functionalism Positive Emphasized how different aspects of culture relate to one another Negative Individuals own will Normally - change and conflict DO occur Does not explain how/why change or conflict occurred Next Time: Anthropological Theory – Mid 20 th Century (1940-1970) Reassessing unilineal theories Divided evolutionary approaches: Unilineal (19 th century, E.B. Tylor ) Universal Multilinear Two Main Figures Leslie White Julian Steward Next Time: Neo-Evolutionism Leslie White Scientific approach to culture change Energy (E) X Technology (T) = C Technology produces cultural change More advanced technology = more control over more energy = cultural expansion and change Next Time: Cultural Ecology Julian Steward Culture functioned as adaptation to one’s environment Similar environments → Similar cultures Multilinear evolution Next Time: Anthropological Theory – Modern Divisions Scientific Approaches Humanistic Approaches Next Time: Anthropological Theory – Modern Divisions Main components of Scientific Approaches Explain cultural differences and similarities Emphasize environment & the place of humans in it Field methods emphasize observation and quantification Two major frameworks: Sociobiology Cultural Materialism Next Time: Anthropological Theory – Modern Divisions Scientific Approaches Goal: explain cultural differences and similarities Emphasize environment Patterns discoverable by observations Humans similar due to shared evolutionary past Field methods: observation and quantification Next Time: Basic Theoretical Perspectives Empiricism: We can observe, measure, and experiment on natural phenomena Positivism: Universal, objective truths can be discovered through rational, scientific means Next Time: Anthropological Theory – Modern Divisions Humanistic Approach – Rejects attempts to explain culture in general in favor of empathetic understanding of particular cultures Two theoretical orientations: Interpretive Anthropology Postmodernism Next Time: Anthropological Theory – Modern Divisions Humanistic Approaches Goal: to describe and interpret particular cultures Humans are unique Individual cultures complex People differ in behaviors based on culture Field methods: participation and interaction Next Time: Rethinking Anthropology Marxist anthropology Cultures are not stable Focus on social conflict Culture change due to inequality Feminist anthropology Role of women in culture Reduce male bias Next Time: Anthropological Theory – Agreement Cultural Anthropology – lacks a comparable set of general principles Lack of Agreement – Why? 1. Our subjects 2. Cannot perform experiments 3. Lack of complete objectivity 4. Broad scope of the field Next Time: What to make of it all? What trends do you see in the history of anthropological theory? How does the focus of the research change over time? Is it a good or bad idea to have so many theoretical orientations? Next Time: Next Time Language & Communication Read chapter 4 in textbook Quiz 3 – due 2/11 Read Rapport-talk and Report-talk Discussions (due 2/12 and 2/14)

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