Major Theories Discussed
- acculturation - change resulting
from contact between cultures
- core-periphery - the relation between urban centers and rural communities
- distributive justice - how cultures distribute well-being and the
- evolution - changes in the form of culture
- What are the characteristics of a foraging culture?
- How have cultures changed in form through time? bands,
- nature-nurture - impact of
biology versus culture (environment) on behavior
- social networks - how people organize themselves in family and
nonfamily units. The relations between kith and kin
- theory of culture,
also cultural determinism -
- How do we know about culture?
- Does culture affect what we know?
- concepts etic-emic, ideal-real,
status - old/young, chief/commoner, rich/poor, male/female
To develop a theory determine the domain to which the theory applies.
Identify the concepts and propositions that are critical for the
Most theories are referred to with a name, e.g., the theory of a
foraging culture or the theory of evolution. The nature-nurture debate is
Theories structure how we look at facts and what facts we look for.
The elements of theory include the domain, concepts, and propostions.
- Domain of Inquiry -
the situation that one is interested in studying.
e.g. cultural anthropology, explanations for how people
behave, the impacts of contact between cultures
- Concept - a way of thinking about a
situation. Also referred to as
concepts, e.g., values, economy, social networks,
community, governance, nonviolence, identity, forager,
patterns of decision making, maritial residence, political philosophies,
patterns of distributive justice
- Proposition -
makes a claim about a situation. Also referred
to as hypotheses. A proposition or hypothesis typically describes the
relationship between two or more variables.
- The Tasaday are stone-age people.
- The Tasaday are a hoax?
- foraging cultures are small in
size, nomadic, and
use stone tools
- Foraging cultures
are close to nature,
- Egalitarianism decreases as cultures develop hierarchical social
- Striking children teaches them violence.
- People who have a strong cultural identity have
a stronger personal identity.
- A theory is several related propositions that
explain similar situations.
- The characteristics of a foraging society
as less violent, small in number, closer to
nature, organized based on family ties, use
stone and bone tools, do not farm, and
making decisions by concensus.
- nature-nurture explanations of violence and
how the ideal and real interact, people tend
to see what they want to see
- Fact - Facts are used to support or refute theories. A fact is a
description about some aspect of a situation. Typically what is fact is
dependent on some theoretical structure. Anthropological theories do not
measure temperature, pressure, or molecular weights. These are concepts
that are relevant to other theories. For the anthropological social
networks theory ego, status, role, node, relation are important
concepts. For the theory of evolution, facts about the nature of a
culture at specific times is important.
Origins of Anthropology - 19th Century
1842, Ethnological Society of New York
Smithsonian (1846) & Ethnographic Surveys
Lewis Henry Morgan's, League of the
E. B. Tylor's, Primitive Culture (1871)
Updated:Wednesday, 11-Jul-2001 15:30:37 PDT
Court Smith, Oregon