Anthropology Papers

Anthropology Papers

The Importance of Cultural Anthropology in Understanding Human Society

1. Introduction

“An understanding of the nature and objectives of cultural anthropology is critical to the development of a thorough comprehension of the relationships and processes that connect and influence human societies. This is in opposition to the inherent inclination of contemporary Westerners to view the physical and cultural characteristics and lifestyles of human groups as diverse, complex, and often bizarre responses to exogenous factors. Yet the notion of exogeneity, a belief that a given kind of process or entity whose source or force must be sought from outside a specific context, often clouds the true purpose and significance of cultural anthropology in establishing realities about the external forces that manipulate and regulate behavior and thought processes among societies – including our own.”

2. The Basics of Cultural Anthropology

After different actors have contributed to shaping today’s society, the article shifts attention to discussing the basics of cultural anthropology. It is explained that cultural anthropology focuses on studying the customs, traditions, and beliefs of different human societies, with the aim of understanding human culture. Moreover, this section provides a detailed overview of the main elements of culture, which include symbols, language, values, and norms. The importance of understanding cultural relativism, which is the idea that a person’s beliefs and values should be understood based on that person’s own culture, is also highlighted. This is because cultural anthropology emphasizes the importance of considering that different societies have different ideas and ways of behaving which should be respected – knowledge to help bring about positive social change and a better world. Next, the article delves into the principle research methods of cultural anthropology. The first method discussed is fieldwork, which involves spending a year or more in a society in which the cultural behaviors of interest are really different from our own and the study really focuses on living and learning its daily life, language, and social relationships. Another method called ‘participant observation’ is also introduced. This is when we do research in a community of people as well as studying it and it involves methods such as street interviews, informal conversation, and making participant observation. Besides, the advantages of fieldwork and participant observation are mentioned to illustrate the usefulness of these methods in helping to gain a deep and rich understanding of cultural behaviors. The article concludes that understanding and gaining insights into different cultural systems around the world equip people with the knowledge to influence the social changes necessary to help make a better and more equal world for everyone. It can also help one to better understand the history and root of disagreement. These insights demonstrate the value of cultural anthropology and the impact it can have when studying different aspects of human society.

3. The Role of Cultural Anthropology in Society

Cultural anthropologists study how people who share a common cultural system organize and shape the physical and social world around them. This can include law, social structures, foods, religion, and many other aspects of culture. If we can start to agree on a core set of social issues, we can start to change the world and make it better. Social policy has not always kept up with the changing social world. But, some cultural anthropologists work towards using their understanding of culture to inform public policy and social change. For example, applied anthropologists can be employed by local government in public health, social services, and other capacities. These cultural experts can help stimulate social development by reviewing and developing policy. This role is becoming more and more necessary as societies change at a rapid pace, as technology opens up new ways for humans to interact, creating a globalized world in which people and information move across nations. But, with this outbreak of globalization, the world looks set to destroy various local ways of living and being. As cultures crash together, fears of global homogenization could see the destruction of priceless cultural diversity. But, in understanding others and ourselves, cultural anthropology holds the key to a much more tolerant world. Cultures and societies are vast and varied, and it may seem impossible to understand them all. However, even the smallest insight into the core of another culture’s worldview goes a long way and can make all the difference, whether it’s helping to understand progress around the world, falls in understanding between societies, or just helping individuals to come to terms with their own society. For example, the food we eat and the way we cook that food is a ritual act that many cultures have developed in incredibly unique ways. Students of cultural anthropology will come to find that methods of cooking are methods of culture in themselves. By examining what people eat and how it’s prepared, served, and consumed, in the light of different methods around the world, we can start to understand far more about the social ties and values of other cultures.

4. Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology

Crank begins his book with a discussion of sorcery and social cohesion in a Dyula community in Agnack. He starts by laying out what he sees as the low level of social cohesion in contemporary America, particularly urban America with its high technology and impersonal social relations. He discusses how most people are really isolated from others in spite of the high population in American cities. He tries to make the point that most Americans are very independent and their independence is due to the reliance on the high level of technology and the increase of social repositioning. However, from his perspective, the urban America culture of high technology and the social power of sorcery in Agnack are alike instead of being different. Through his field work in Agnack, he observes the social life in the rural, technologically undeveloped Agnack and describes how the sharing of work and money, as well as the maintenance of good social relations in Agnack are affected by the traditional belief in sorcery. He explains how the fear of sorcery and social repositioning in Agnack had created an atmosphere of insecurity and frustration among the villagers. He sees the belief in sorcery as a very effective way to maintain social order and cohesion in Agnack. He upholds that the people who are accused of using sorcery are either people who refuse to contribute to public wealth or people who are not integrated into the community. The practice of sorcery, according to Crank, serves as a justification for collective opinion against negative deviance. He thinks that for the community as a whole, the accusations against sorcery and the subsequent proving of the accused as sorcerers is a very articulate way for the society to motivate and persuade people to abide to the common good. Finally, he says that the practice and fear of sorcery are something that most people in Agnack engaged in and stress about. He challenges the early anthropological theory of sorcery, which sees the practice of sorcery as a result of a high level of social pressure or population in a given area. He voices that his research shows the practice of sorcery as a method of maintaining a certain level of social cohesion and collective security. He adds that by having a certain level of constant fear of sorcery, people in Agnack reach a kind of social equilibrium in terms of work distribution and wealth sharing. However, for me as a reader who knows the full understanding of the cultural and social diversities between America and Agnack, I think Mr. Crank has either over generalized the situation in Agnack or he has overlooked some essential variables in urban America. Cultures and societies in different places may share some similarities but it does not denote that they function in the same way or under the same circumstances.

5. Conclusion: The Value of Anthropological Insights

Most importantly, it is useful to note that the anthropological perspective is the most scientific and the most humanistic of all the ways of looking at man, because it is the most methodically self-conscious and the most eloquent about the whole breadth of the human story. Unlike many of the other social sciences, the anthropological researches do not dominate our department of government or make front-page headlines every day. It is not always clear in the news or in the body politic that the four fields of anthropology can make any kind of real difference in the conduct of the world. Anthropologists may not have the final word on every issue, but they can offer insights in public debates, for example, by making clear the potential hazards of trying to reshape a society too quickly and by documenting the destructive impact of slum clearance on the people forced to leave their homes. They often have been successful as expert witnesses in such diverse fields as asylum law, social security and personal injury law suits, by offering locally and temporally specific evidence that runs counter to the received or assumed wisdom. Such knowledge and transparency can only ever be a good thing; as such, it is absolutely vital that the importance of anthropology in the present day is recognized and safeguarded for the future. Just as with museum collections and heritage sites, care must be taken to ensure the proper management of potentially beneficial anthropological research; some of the most illuminating works done have come from the reevaluation of ‘lost’ or ‘forgotten’ records of previous studies, or from the application of new technologies to recorded observations. Only by maintaining an open dialogue in the wider public and academic sphere, and by supporting the work of creative and innovative thinkers, can the full potential of anthropological research come to fruition. Even within the discipline itself, it is often the case that findings from one field may be just as much use in shedding light on contemporary concerns in another; no method or approach should ever be discounted. In conclusion, the book is an attempt to provide an introduction to the history and methods of Anthropology, designed primarily around UK-based courses, but also of use as a good general introduction to the subject for the uninitiated or the curious. It has been written and edited for a modern and increasingly ‘digitally native’ audience, with both online and offline content provided at every step of the way. The content of the book is crafted so as to show a student not just the area of study itself – with its historical background and current debates – but also what is studied and the context in which it is examined. By sharing ideas and presenting in-depth topics in a structured and clear format, the exploration of Anthropology as a subject and an exercise in critical, forward thinking and knowledge-based discovery is made not just possible but actively enhanced. The conclusion emphasizes the importance of anthropological insights and their relevance in today’s world.

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