Paper Example on the Study of Anthropology: Exploring Humans, Cultures & Societies

Paper Type:  Questions & Answers
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1694 Words
Date:  2023-02-23

Question 1

Anthropology is a scientific and comparative study of living humans, human behaviors, cultures, and societies. Anthropology seeks to describe, evaluate, and present a credible comparison between cultures (Sanjek, 2019). The study of anthropology explains the evolution of human beings, their distinctive characters, and how they have adapted to their contemporary environments.

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Specializations in Anthropology

There are five primary divisions of anthropology. The five specialties are cultural anthropology, which deals with the study of people and their style of life. Biological anthropology deals with studying human evolution and their biology, which relates human beings to their closest relatives in primates (Sanjek, 2019). Archaeology is also another specialization of anthropology that primarily deals with the study of historic and prehistoric human beings using their excavated remains. The fourth field of specialization under anthropology is linguistic anthropology that focuses on understanding different languages and communication techniques of people. While on the other side, applied anthropology is the utilization of anthropological perspectives, theories, data, and methods in identifying, evaluating, and solving common challenges.

Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology is the learning of cultural variation among living humans and their ways of interaction. The conventional technique used in studying cultural anthropology is ethnographic fieldwork. Ethnography is the participation and observation of a society's daily lifestyle (Sanjek, 2019). Cultural anthropology incorporates various aspects of study such as political and social organization, kinship and marriage patterns, religious beliefs, and economic patterns of the different societies.

Q2. Definition of Cultural Relativism and Ethnocentrism

Cultural relativism is the idea that people's values, practices, and beliefs must be comprehended based on their cultural traditions rather than in comparison to other individuals' criteria. Cultural relativism aims at promoting comprehension of cultural practices that are typically not part of individuals' culture. On the other hand, cultural ethnocentrism is the act of pronouncing a culture grounded on people's presumptions, which are found in the standards and values of a person's aesthetic. The cultural aspects that can be used in declaring a person's ethnocentrism incorporate language, religion, customs, and behavior. Ethnocentrism is the distinction that describes every ethnicity's cultural identity (Sanjek, 2019).

Effects of Cultural Relativism and Ethnocentrism

Being culturally relativist and ethnocentric has a variety of impacts on the comprehension of people's culture. Ethnocentrism offers assurance and confidence to the culture. It helps the selected group become centred and cohesive. On the negative side, ethnocentrism leads to arrogance and the tendency of ignoring even useful and superior knowledge that a separate group might provide.

An example is where Jared Diamond argues in his book Collapse that the Greenland Scandinavians would have survived if they adopted some of the Indian cultural aspects such as water-resistant kayaks for fishing (Sanjek, 2019). The Scandinavians failed to copy the Indians culture, which was more adapted to the ecosystem and realities of the Greenland climate. Due to ethnocentrism, the Scandinavians resisted the native Indian culture as inferior, therefore focused on running farms. In the end, the Scandinavians perished. On the other side, the positive effects of cultural relativism are that it promotes comprehension of groups as unique. Therefore, it does not judge or impose the characters of one group to another. The negative effect of cultural relativism is that if overlooks abuse or poverty (neo-racialism). The assumption may be a result of linking abuse or poverty as part of the group's culture. Cultural relativism permits anything, even actions that cause harm to people such as genocide.

Q3. Subsistence Strategies

Subsistence strategies are various techniques that different societies use in satisfying their basic needs necessary for survival. The subsistence strategies incorporate pastoralism, foraging, agriculture, production of industrial foods and horticulture (Sanjek, 2019). Foraging, which is also referred to as hunter enables gatherers involved in obtaining resources from the environment without any cultivation processes. Foragers primarily subsisted through fishing, hunting, and collection of wild plants. Horticulture involves small scale farming using simple tools, while pastoralism is the herding of domestic animals. Pastoralism is primarily practiced in regions with fluctuating rainfalls. Agriculture is the cultivation of land for production of food for the society while production of industrial foods is the use of modern machines and chemicals to produce and store foods.

How Subsistence Strategy may Change

One subsistence strategy may alternate to another due to advancement in technology or settlement in another area, which promotes a subsistence technique that is unique from the standard practices (Sanjek, 2019). The acts of socialism also encourage laziness among individuals. The surety of being provided by other people even if the individuals do not do any work breeds apathy.

Q4. Culture

Culture is a broad umbrella that incorporates social norms and behaviors within society. Culture is a way that certain people in a region behave. The beliefs and other identifying factors that are unique to a specific group can be used to describe groups' cultures (Sanjek, 2019).

Characteristics of Culture

Culture has five primary aspects. Culture can be learned, transmitted, or shared. Culture is also social and continuous. Learned culture is the practice that has been acquired from a person due to close interaction. Learned culture includes the influence of wearing of miniskirts by an individual who previously wore long dresses (Sanjek, 2019). Transmitted culture is a practice that is passed from one generation to another. An example includes the communication skills of society. Shared culture is the practice of using a common belief by individuals in a territory. Culture is social; therefore, it can not be possessed by an individual but a whole society. No individual can own religion, and it requires a group for a practice to be recognized as a culture. Culture is also accumulative. Before a method is declared culture of a particular group, the group must have or still be practicing the act for at least one year and above. The practice has to be consistent and of similar steps.

Q5. Definition of Communication

Communication is the process of transferring or exchanging information between individuals. Communication involves the use of systematic means such as signs, symbols, or images. Effective communication facilitates mutual understanding within a community. There are numerous techniques of communication originating from our ancestors up to the current technology generation. Previously, the ancestors primarily used signs to communicate with neighboring communities due to the use of different languages, which hindered understanding (Sanjek, 2019). Currently, people have mastered different languages apart from their mother-tongues. The availability of language translating apps has also modified communication.

Evolution of Non-Verbal Communication

When comparing the first communication methods and the current techniques, there is a significant evolution. The emergence of bipedalism and hominins facilitated the development of sophisticated techniques of gesturing among primates other than the immediate ancestors. Communication evolved from the use of simple gestures among gorillas to the use of facial expressions among human beings. Nonverbal communication further developed, leading to the use of oculesics. Oculesics is the combination of the eye movement and gaze (Sanjek, 2019).

Q6. Ethnography

Ethnography is a qualitative process of recording and evaluating society's culture by relying on the participant-observation technique. The methods of data collection under ethnography comprise of interviews, documentary data, and observation to provide comprehensive data regarding the societal behavior of a group under study (Sanjek, 2019). Ethnography results in a written account of places, people, or institutions. Ethnography texts facilitate excellent insight into how anthropologists work in their unfamiliar environments to provide useful data in combatting challenges within society.

Application of Ethnography in the US

Ethnography can be used in the USA to design a program that can identify, record, and facilitate analysis of the social challenges facing the state. Ethnography will facilitate a comparison of the identified problems and provide possible solutions for combating the challenges (Sanjek, 2019).

Q7. Definition of Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is a theory of linguistic which the semantic arrangement of a language condition or restricts how the speaker conceptualizes the world. The argument is named after linguistic anthropologist Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf. The theory is also referred to as the theory of linguistic determinism or relativity (Sanjek, 2019).

Challenges in Using Sapir-Whorf Theory

The primary problem of Sapir-Whorf theory originates from its idea that in case a language of person lacks a word for a specific concept, then the individual will fail to comprehend that concept. The above Sapir-Whorf rule is untrue and misleading. Contemporary, languages do not limit a person's understanding or emotional response to an idea (Sanjek, 2019). The second challenge is the chicken egg theory. It is humans who invent and hone languages. The fact that speakers of different languages think uniquely does not prove that language shapes an individual.

Q8. Roles of Technology in Culture

Technology is modifying every element of our culture. The availability and access to technology have significantly influenced the way people interact and communicate. Technology is breeding a unique culture among youth from different societies globally through social media apps. Technology has also facilitated the spread and copying of foreign cultures globally. The sharing of pictures that depict how other communities practice their cultural practices are copied and practiced in different regions (Sanjek, 2019). The western culture has been spread to Africa and other areas due to technology. The influence of technology on cultural changes will soon wipe out indigenous cultures may replace it with a uniform culture. Currently, some minor cultural groups are extinct.

Q9. Types of Economic Systems that Exist in Cultures

Different societies have different wants. In managing an economic system, the community needs to identify priority items. The identification will facilitate the proper allocation of scarce resources to different areas of need. The four primary economic systems include the traditional financial scheme, economic command structure, mixed and market economic system.

Economic Traditional System

Ethos shapes the conventional economic system. The traditional financial system revolves around people; therefore, it is the livelihood of the individuals within a society that determines the types of products and services offered. The traditional economic system was primarily practiced by the ancestors who produced goods according to their needs. The role of each person assigned a task in the community was defined by the elders and divided according to gender. The primary technique of exchanging products under the traditional economic system was through barter trade. A common currency was unavailable. The central financial activities involved hunting, fishing,...

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Paper Example on the Study of Anthropology: Exploring Humans, Cultures & Societies. (2023, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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