Custom «Cultural Anthropology» Essay Paper Sample

Cultural Anthropology

Culture is described as behaviors and believes practiced by a certain group of people in the community. Culture is learned by accumulating knowledge over a long period. People learn culture through the observation and direct instruction. Moreover, communities pass culture from one generation to the other. However, the features of a culture can change before reaching the next generation. Cultural practices are transmitted through the groups of individual who can be identified through their unique practices and values.

Universality, Particularity and Generality

People can learn and practice different types of culture. Even though the idea of culture varies for different people, they share some common culture at some point. Certain cultural, social, psychological, and biological features are common in every culture, and, thus, they are termed as universal. Other characteristics are only common to some categories, but not in all groups. Such traits are referred to as generalities (Kottak, 2011). Some other cultural features are unique and only practiced by a particular group of people in the society. They are called particularities. Universality in the culture is mutual to all groups of human nature. Universalities are those practices that differentiate humankind from other species (Kottak, 2011). As compared to other species, human beings have a common way of thinking. The way people process information and feel different from other creations is important. The culture of living as a family is a good example of a universality. Every human being believes in having a family and living collectively.

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Generalities exist in certain groups, but are not attributable to everyone. For example, most societies believe in the family and living together as husband, wife and children. Most people believe in living together as a family, but not all groups share this belief. For instance, Americans believe in living as a nuclear family composed of the spouses and children. However, this is not the case for the Nayar community in India, where spouses do not live in the same house. This particularity is unique and is not prevalent. For example, a particular type of clothing is worn by a certain cluster of people, or a certain type of food can be found only in a particular community. Some events such as marriage, death, birth, and puberty are universal among different groups in the society. However, there are differences in how each community handles the ceremony.

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Language Diversity Extinction

According to the estimates, the world’s linguistic diversity is reducing drastically. It reduced by half in the last 500 years, and it is expected that the remaining half will disappear during the current century. There are many attributes that have led to the language diversity extinction. It may include globalization, acculturation, and viewing of mother tongue as a primitive language. There exists a pressure that pushes individuals from their native language to more dominant languages, such as English, French, and Spanish. Social and economic benefits of speaking dominate languages are more prevalent than the use of native language. Due to the globalization, individuals are expected to learn international languages to be able to interact effectively. Linguistic diversity is important, since it helps to maintain the self-identity. If a person cannot speak his/her native language, it becomes hard for him/her to learn the culture.

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Learning of the native language also helps in learning other languages. For instance, a Korean kid can apply the skills gained while learning the Korean language to learn the international language, such as English. Students studying abroad also need to learn their natural language, because at some point in their lives they will be required to return to their home country. When such kids fail to learn their language, they are unable to interact with their grandparents and other family members, who can only speak their native language.

Cohen’s Adaptive Strategies

Cohen provides five economic adaptive approaches. The first strategy is foraging, which includes the use of hunting of wild animals and gathering wild fruits for food (Kottak, 2011). The early men used these method of searching for food. The following communities are widely known of using The San strategy: the Australian aboriginals, Mbuti, and native populations of California (Kottak, 2011). Foraging stage took place until 10,000 B.C., after which human beings started cultivating crops. The man started domesticating plants and animals. People cultivated crops, and foraging continued only in the places with arid and not favorable conditions for crop production. Horticultural approach involves harvesting that does not use land, capital, labor, and equipment (Kottak, 2011). In the horticulture strategy, cultivation is done in a small scale. At this point men used modest tools such as hoes, hands, and sharp sticks. Another feature is the use of shift cultivation, where a farmer would leave land for some time before embarking on it.

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Maximization of Material Benefits

Not all people in the society work to maximize material benefits. Some of them work to satisfy a goal that is different from material gain. People work to achieve self-actualization in life, become who they want to be, and do what they like most (Kottak, 2011). Other people work to satisfy a social need or passion. As children grow up, they develop a passion that drives their interests and their future career. For instance, someone might have a passion for helping the poor people, who have low standards of living. Others will have a passion for community development. Therefore, they will not focus on material gains, but rather on attaining their goals.

Anthropologists do not believe that profit maximization is universal, unlike economists who believe that people are only driven by the quantifiable gain. Profit maximization is not important in all communities. For example, there are other methods used in the allocation of production, rather than maximizing material gain. Factors such as land are distributed to other members of the family through various methods, for example, inheritance. If a person inherits land from a member of his family, the family does not maximize profits through the transfer of ownership of this land. I tend to think that even though anthropologists do not believe profit maximization is universal, they should consider such issues as regulation of resources that requires maximization of materials. For instance, in the manufacturing of sugarcane, all factors of production should be maximized to get the end product, which is sugar.

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