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Terms in this set (58)

Core of cultural materialism is the principle of infrastructural determinism. According to Harris, more often than not, culture changes first in the etic infrastructure and then reverberates through etic structure and superstructure to affect emic superstructure last. Infrastructure as primary interface between culture and nature and the place where people are obliged to start using culture to cope with nature in orderly ways. Harris took the materialism from Marx, but revised his and Engels's dialectical materialism. Cultural materialism was in league with neo-evolutionism, both were very pro-science.

*Cultural materialism promotes the idea that infrastructure, consisting of "material realities" such as technological, economic and reproductive (demographic) factors mold and influence the other two aspects of culture. The "structure" sector of culture consists of organizational aspects of culture such as domestic and kinship systems and political economy, while the "superstructure" sector consists of ideological and symbolic aspects of society such as religion. Therefore, cultural materialists believe that technological and economic aspects play the primary role in shaping a society. Cultural materialism aims to understand the effects of technological, economic and demographic factors on molding societal structure and superstructure through strictly scientific methods. As stated by Harris, cultural materialism strives to "cre ate a pan-human science of society whose findings can be accepted on logical and evidentiary grounds by the pan-human community"
1. Symbolic and Intreptive approaches to anthropology were mainly a response to structuralism and Boasian-inspired frameworks such as the culture and personality and cognitive schools of anthropology. Structuralism was critiqued for constraining people by seeing them as simply vehicles for social and psychological structures and not the other way around. Historical particularism remained equally unpalatable, mainly for its narrowness of focus and its relative lack of theory. An emerging consensus was that new ways had to be found to explain society and culture without appealing to minutely controlling social structures or to inaccessible psychological ones. In the 1960s and 1970s, this fresh interest in exploring meaning was expressed in the language of symbols.
2. The roots of what came to be called symbolic anthropology in Great Britain and interpretive anthropology in the US can be traced back (at least indirectly) to the neo-Kantian philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) and others, who helped formulate the distinction between the natural sciences, or naturwissenschaften, and social sciences, or geisteswissenschaften. According to this distinction, promulgated by Franz Boas, the natural sciences deal with entities amenable to generalizations, while the social sciences deal with "mental" entities unique to individuals and groups. To this distinction phenomenologist-philosopher Edmund Husserl (1854-1938) added the observation that natural science is unsuitable for the study of cultural life because cultural life has meaning, which is best understood subjectively as "lived experience."

3. These assertions notwithstanding, it would, finally, be difficult to argue that interpretive and symbolic anthropologists were inspired by anything less than a desire to do sound empirical research in the best anthropological tradition. What differentiates symbolic and interpretive anthropologists from their colleagues working in explicitely materialist or ecological traditions is their relentless insistence that human societies are distinctive because of their capacity for culture and that social and cultural life is held together by interpenetrating networks of symbols, each of which is a carrier of cultural meaning.
1. According to Geertz, man is in need of symbolic "sources of illumination" to orient himself with respect to the system of meaning that is any particular culture. 2. Culture is a lived experience made meaningful and understandable through shared systems of symbols, shared nature of relationships , and emphasize the webs of stories that a particular group of people tells about themselves that they keep telling.

1. Thought there was no hidden meaning 2. This was looking for the historical perspective or the uniqeness in concepts 3. Leans more towards history and more interested in social change
4. still trying to move anthropology to a mor imperical place
5. Culture is expressed by the external symbols that a society uses rather than being locked inside people's heads. He defined culture as "an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and their attitudes toward life"

*Geertz argues that social Anthropology is based on ethnography, or the study of culture. Culture is based on the symbols that guide community behavior. Symbols obtain meaning from the role which they play in the patterned behavior of social life. Culture and behavior cannot be studied separately because they are intertwined. By analyzing the whole of culture as well as its constituent parts, one develops a "thick description" which details the mental processes and reasoning of the natives Thick description, however, is an interpretation of what the natives are thinking made by an outsider who cannot think like a nativebut is made possible by anthropological theory
Political economy is an anthropological perspective that came to prominence in the 1970s, viewing sociocultural form at the local level as penetrated and influenced by global capitalism. The first incarnation of "political economy" dates to the 18th century and was originally devised by Enlightenment-era social theorists in their investigation of the origin and nature of, and relationships between, nation-states and their colonial holdings around the world. By way of definition, in his work A Discourse on Political Economy (1755), Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) distinguished between the terms "particular economy," which signified "the wise and legitimate government of the house for the common good of the whole family," and "general" or "political" economy, which extended the particular meaning to "that great family, the State."
In the 20th century, as the political and economic disparities between the "developed" and "underdeveloped" worlds grew following the breakup of colonialism following WWII, Andre Gundar Frank (b.1929) and Immanuel Wallerstein (b.1930) began critiquing modernization and put forth development and underdevelopment theory and world-system theory. Frank believed that underdevelopment was not a product of local conditions, but the result of progressive capitalist exploitation. Wallerstein expounded on this by introducing to world-systems theory the core (nations like Europe and America) and periphery (the rest of the world). Wallerstein understood the proletariat ot be trapped in a world-system of unequal exchange in which Euro-American society penetrated, politically subjugated, and economically exploited external populations and their produce.

In contrast to world-system theory, however, anthropologists working within this perspective remained resolute in their commitment to understanding the autonomy and integrity of local societies and cultures, especially in the non-Western world. These, it was argued, were not culturally fragile communities that could (or should) be simply dissolved by the imperialist policies and agendas of global capitalism. They argued there was not one world-system, but many. Explicit in this research objective was the idea that the effects of capitalism did not constitute a one-way street and that local peoples and cultures exercised a degree of agency in accepting, transforming, or even rejecting the expanision of market economies.
*Karl Marx was concerned with means of production and how sytems of production structured society into certain groups. Political Economy looked at how groups within a particular system or two, and how the modes of productuin structured society into certain groups.

*The political economic tradition within anthropology has viewed culture as being shaped in the context of unequal access to wealth and power. This perspective drawing as it does on Marxist assumptions about conflict between social and economic groups, may be thought of as meaterialist because the material conditions of human existance are understood to condition the character of social relations.

1. Political economy, like structural Marxim, has considered the material conditions giving rise to these as being grounded in ideology. Because ideologies are constructed systems of ideas, they reflect and perpetuate the specific interests of their authors 2. Interests are inscribed in the ways a society differentiates itself according to socioeconomic class, gender, and ethnicit, to name but a few prominent criteria. Whoever controls the means of producing wealth and power, it is argued, also controls conditions for the production of knowledge itself. 3. When knowledge about the world is taken for granted, or unquestioned , it loses its arbitrary character and comes to be seen as "natural." 4. Ideology at this stage ceases merely to embody the interests of one group within society and becomes a dominant perspective of the society; it it taken for granted by the powerful and powerless alike.
* Poststructuralism's goal was to try and "deconstruct" this structure levi-strauss had created and identify the the role of human agency. Interested in 'power relations'

1. Post-structuralism believed that culture was not "bounded" and its difficult to place these boundaries anywhere around it. Culture is not fluid. 2. Human action or "practice" produces and reproduces culture and the particular nature of social organization in any context. 3. Culture lies in the relations (or relationships) between people. Focusing on culture as a group of people that share interactions w/ eachother. Values and practices shared among people. 4. Essentially culture is looked at as a person being "dipped" in a vat of culture, so your walking around "doing it" without thinking (culture is habit forming, you don't have to think about it)

1. "Society" is created and reproduced through discourse, or narratives, that circulate about "who" we are and "what we do" 2. Discourses are grounded in the actions and interactions of real people. Thus, they are always embedded in power relations and give only a partial view of reality. 3. Society is made up of forms of capital (Financial, Cultural and Social Capital)

1. Power isn't something that comes from the topdown or necessarily institutional . Power derives from how knowledge is produced and who has control over access to power.
2. "Discourse" controls all people/subjects (The narratives people tell about how the world works effectivley creates tha world and how reality is constructed)
3. There is not really one truth, only counter discourse.
4. worked to try and discredit science, saying that it was not "more fundamentally right" (people started looking at science as simply a method of discourse)