Cultural Studies Concept of Culture and How Essay

  • Length: 6 pages
  • Subject: Anthropology
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #72162949

Excerpt from Essay :

Cultural Studies

Concept of Culture and How it Assists Anthropologists in Their Study and Understanding of People and Societies

The concept of culture assists anthropologists in their understanding and study of people and societies.

The word culture is derived from the Latin word 'cultura' that is derived from the verb 'colo' that means, "to tend, to cultivate, and to till." (Sage Publishers, n.d., p.10) The expression of the word would be a reference to the "cultivation of the human character." (Sage Publishers, n.d., p.10)


Culture, to the cultural anthropologist is stated to be "neither secure, nor a residual. It is a social phenomenon that manifests itself quite clearly." (Sage Publishers, n.d., p.10) White (2007) states that by culture, what is mean is "an extrasomatic, temporal continuum of things and events dependent upon symboling." (p. 3 cited in Sage Publishers, n.d., p.10) Kluckhohn (1951) is cited as stating as follows:

Culture consists in patterned ways of thinking, feeling and reacting, acquired and transmitted mainly by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievements of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e. historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values. (p. 86, no. 5)

Hofstede (2001) states that culture is "shared mental software, the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another." (Sage Publishers, n.d., p.11) It is important to define a culture's boundaries and contents in order to avoid confusion. The concept of culture includes such as behaviors, beliefs, morals, ethics, and is inclusive of the various areas of that cultures religious, economic, political, and societal systems all of which have their own symbolism and historical basis for such beliefs and behaviors.

II. Conceptualization of Culture

It is reported that Rohner (1984) emphasized two distinctions in the conceptualization of culture and specifically stated is: (1) there is a contrast between culture as a system of behaviors vs. A culture as a set of meaning; (2) there are scholars called realists who attribute an independent existence to culture vs. others, call nominalists who view it as a subjective human construct. (Sage Publishers, n.d., p.12)

Summary and Conclusion

The information reviewed in this study has demonstrated that the concept of culture is based on the culture's specific systems of belief, commerce, spirituality, and political aspects as well as the symbolism that is historically and traditionally embedded in that culture. The understanding of a specific culture by the anthropologist is key in their ability to understand that culture and in their study of that culture. Only by understanding how a culture derived their belief and behavior system can the anthropologist can a solid understanding of the culture.

Works Cited

The Concept of Culture (n.d.) Sage Publishers. Retrieved from:

Which Groups Are More and Less Likely to Engage In Trade with Other Members of Society: Traditional Foraging or Traditional Pastoral Group

Statement of Thesis

The traditional pastoral Culture is more likely to engage in trade with other members of society than is the traditional foraging culture.


The pastoral culture and the foraging culture are two different types of cultures in that one exists by moving with their herd of animals while the other exists by foraging for what they need to exist.

I. The Foraging Society

The oldest manner of subsistence among the human race is that of foraging. Foragers are those who gather wild plants and hunt animals within what is known as their home range. Foragers do not raise crops and do not raise animals other than domesticated dogs. Three types of foraging societies exist: (1) pedestrian; (2) equestrian and (3) aquatic. (Hower, 2006, p.1)

Pedestrian foraging is the oldest of all types and involves the foragers traveling within their home range on foot. The home ranges of the pedestrian foragers are smaller and this culture is characterized by the members of the society owning few material possessions. Equestrian foragers are those who traveled within their home ranges on horseback. Aquatic foraging is reliant on the resources located in water for food with the settlements of the aquatic foragers being located on the edge of the ocean, seas, or lakes. Aquatic foragers have more material possessions than do pedestrian or equestrian foragers. (Hower, 2006, paraphrased)

Foraging societies are nomadic societies who exist in temporary settlements and who are constantly on the move to various locations to acquire local resources. Foragers sometimes have seasonal camps and they travel from one seasonal to another seasonal camp throughout the year. The foraging society is characterized by few material possessions since their constant travel limits the amount of possessions that they can carry about with them as they travel. It is reported that the foraging society is characterized by a 'band', which is comprised by several families. Foraging societies are characterized by having few possessions.

II. The Pastoral Society

The pastoral culture is characterized by the raising and breeding of animals. Various animals include horses, sheep, goals, and camels. Pastoral societies follow the herd's migratory pattern. There are two types of pastoral cultures: (1) nomadism and (2) transhumance. The pastoral culture varies a great deal in their self-sufficiency level and many if not all pastoral groups are reported as dependent "upon the specialized abilities of non-pastoralist peoples, such as farmers, merchants, and city dwellers, for goods and services." (Hower, 2006, p.8)

Summary and Conclusion

The information presented in this study clearly shows that the pastoral culture is the group rather than the foraging culture that is more likely to participate in trade with other cultures and society.

Works Cited

Hower, S. (2006) Subsistence Strategies. Retrieved from:

Richard Lee Presented A Gift To His Friends or Hosts Among the Dobe (Kung) What Was His Gift, Why Did He Give It and How Did They React?

Statement of Thesis

The giving of gifts among those in the Dobe or !Kung culture is driven by need, therefore, gift-giving in the Dobe culture is based on that which the receiver is in need of and the gift given will be of the nature that fulfills the need of the receiver.


The Dobe culture is focused on reminding those within the culture that there are "many hungry folks in the village, and those who are lucky enough to find themselves strong and healthy should be devoted to providing for those who cannot at this stage of their life provide for themselves, kin, or otherwise." (Howell, 2010, p. 190) Howell (2010) reports that the understanding of scrounging in the Dobe society is that of the need of the recipient which is the driver of encouraging of the requests for gifts in that gifts within this culture may be either asked for, demanded or stolen. Asking for what they need among the Dobe society is very common and it is reported by Howell that "this is performed with good humor, wit, charm, and grace by many, and with desperation by a few." (Howell, 2010, p. 190)

I. Dobe (Kung) Culture

Lee (1978) reports that that leveling devices are commonly used in the Kung culture and that these devices are utilized in "minimizing the size of others' kills, downplaying the value of others' gifts, and treating one's own efforts in a self-depreciating way." (p.888) The Kung hardly ever makes use of the phrases please or thank you but instead are reported to make use of "rough humor, back-handed compliments, put-downs, and damning with faint praise." (Lee, 1978, p. 888) This culture as well, seeks to outdo one another in their tales of "misfortune, cold, pain, thirst, hunger, hunting, failure and other hardships" stated to be representative of "conversational gold." (Lee, 1978, pp. 888-89)

II. The Principle of Generalized Reciprocity

According to Lee (1978)

"the principle of generalized reciprocity within the camp, the…

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