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If we assume that the understandings, patterns, and rules of other cultures are the same as our own, then the actions of other people may seem incomprehensible. What we learn from Anthropology: Understanding Human Differences. Ethnocentrism.

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If we assume that the understandings, patterns, and rules of other cultures are the same as our own, then the actions of other people may seem incomprehensible.

ethnocentrism
Ethnocentrism
  • The notion that one’s own culture is superior to any other
  • Other cultures should be measured by the degree to which they live up to our cultural standards
    • The American tourist with a handful of Italian Lire says “how much is this in real money?”
  • Military and industrial technology has led Western societies to impose their beliefs on other, less technologically advanced societies – they provide goods that other people quickly learn to want
    • Thus Westerners believe their social institutions (education, economy) are superior to those of other cultures
  • Acts a glue to hold a society together
    • Culture does not lose value if you believe it to be superior to others
  • A short hop, skip and jump away from racism
human biological diversity
Human Biological Diversity
  • Low levels of skeletal and blood type diversity
  • Wide diversity in human form – height, skin colour, eye colour, slight and husky builds
cultural construction of race
Cultural Construction of Race
  • No agreed upon, consistent system of racial classification has ever been developed
  • Most anthropologists agreed that race as a biological characteristic of humans does not exist
    • No group of humans has ever been isolated long enough from other humans to make it different from others
    • Racial classification are therefore a social issue and not a biological issue
  • There is no way to weight the importance of any trait in determining racial classification
    • Why should blood type be more or less important than lactose tolerance or hair shade?
  • Physical features such as: skin colour, eye shape, nose shape, and hair texture are typically chosen as “racial characteristics” because they are easily visible and make the assignment of one individual to a race simple.
  • Lactose intolerance, dry or wet earwax as determinants of race are useless because they are not socially useful – you can’t see them.
racism and racialsim
Racism and Racialsim
  • Racism – contempt for people who have physical characteristics different from your own
  • Racialism – an ideology based on the following suppositions:
    • There are biologically fixed races
    • Different races have different moral, intellectual, and physical characteristics
    • An individual’s aptitudes are determined primarily by his or her race
    • Races can be ranked
    • Political action should be taken to order society so that it reflects this hierarchy
  • Tends to be weak scientific reasoning mixed with a political or social agenda
anthropology and cultural relativism
Anthropology and Cultural Relativism
  • People’s values and customs must be understood in terms of the culture of which they are a part
  • Every culture has a logic that makes sense to its own members – it is the anthropologist’s job to understand that logic, even if the anthropologist does not approve of it or wish to participate in that culture for themselves
  • Key element of anthropology
emic and etic approaches to culture
Emic and Etic Approaches to Culture
  • Emic Perspective – provide an insider’s view of culture, the native’s point of view
    • Use concepts and distinctions that are meaningful to members of the studied culture
    • How does that culture look from the inside and what must one know to think and act as a member of that culture?
  • Etic Perspective – outsider’s view
    • Analysis of data in a way that might not be part of the native’s cultural awareness
    • Help cultural outsiders gain a sense of what it might be like to be a member of the culture described
    • Generate useful scientific theories
a class divided
A Class Divided
  • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/