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146.101

Introduction to Social Anthropology

TermDefinition
Acclimatization Reversible physical change during an individual's lifetime
Acculturation The process of culture change, usually selective and partial, and sometimes forced, in one population that has come into contact with another
Applied anthropology Working for or against change through collaboration with a client or community
Public anthropology Working for or against change through collaboration with a client or community
Artifact An object that humans have made, altered or invested with a cultural purpose
Ascribed status A social status given to an individual at birth
Authority The right recognised by the culture and granted by the group to exercise power
Balanced reciprocity The more or less even exchange of goods and services in the nonmarket transaction of reciprocity
Band In societies without states or other formal organisation, a loosely structured and semistable group of fifteen to sixty people, usually members of related nuclear family households, who reside together and travel together
Bio-cultural Interaction of culture, human biology and the biophysical environment
Biological adaptation Changes in anatomy or physiology in a population as a response to environmental stimuli
Biological anthrolpology The subfield of anthropology that studies human physical variety, maturation, the primates, environmental adaptation, and human evolution
Biological evolution Genetic change over generations in a population
Causal relationship Related as cause and effect, perhaps mutually causative; in cultural anthropology, the impact of an idea, and event on the outcome of another
Chiefdom A form of political organisation based on membership in descent groups such as lineages or clans, whose leaders are arranged in a hierarchy of power and authority such that some chiefs have inherited substantial influence over their kinfolk and otherchief
Civilisation A complex society supported by intensive food production and organised around large urban centres providing administrative, commercial, artistic and religious leadership
Clan A kin group whose members claim descent from mythical beings
Class A social group in a hierarchy of groups distinguished on the basis of privileges made possible by control over valuable resources, such as wealth
Commercialisation The process of assigning a market price to an increasing amount of the goods and services that a people once exchanged outside the market by gifts, barter, and ceremonies
Contextual relationship Related to an act, idea or event to the broader institution, region, or history of the which it is a part
Corporate lineage A large, formal social structure based on kinship and collective control of income-producing property
Corroboration Approaching a research subject from more than one angle, informant, or type of evidence and reconciling the results for a better rounded or more valid finding
Triangulation Approaching a research subject from more than one angle, informant, or type of evidence and reconciling the results for a better rounded or more valid finding
Cosmopolitanism Attitudes and behaviours expressive of being a citizen of the world rather than of a specific culture or nation
Cross-sectional analysis Studying culture change by comparing the variation within some population or region at one point in time
Cultural adaptation Changes in learned behaviour and thought processes by a population in response to environmental stimuli
Cultural anthropology The description and explanation of the similarities and differences in thought and behaviour among groups of humans. Also, the interpretation of and appreciation of other people's ways of life
Cultural presuppositions The background knowledge assumed on the part of the speakers and listeners in a communicative act
Cultural relativism A way of thinking that acknowledges differences in cultural values and standards and treats them as a subject for study rather than as an obstacle to interaction
Culture The learned, shared understandings among a group of people about how to behave and what everything means
Culture shock The dysfunctional, phychosocial symptoms of stress from prolonged, constant interaction with another culture
Developmental adaptation Irreversible physiological changes in individuals during their lifetime
Dialogic Describes how anthropologists conduct research and report on cultures in a manner like a dialogue, highlighting the conversational nature of discovery and the role of the informant in creating cultural descriptions
Dialogue Conversation with people of culture with the intent to treat them as research collaborators rather than objects of study and to permit them to speak more for themselves rather than to speak for them by rephrasing, reinterpretting, or explaining them
Diffusion The borrowing or migration of a cultural practice or idea from one social group to another
Direct diffusion Diffusion conducted with the intent to introduce new cultural matter to the receiving culture
Drift The long term gradual cultural change, sometimes not perceived by members of the society
Ecological economics The study of the way economic systems and ecosystems influence each other
Economic anthropology The study of the way that economic ideas and practices are linked to the rest of a culture
Egalitarian Describing a social relationship in which there are few status or authority differences between individuals except generation and gender
Embeddedness The degree to which a human activity is simultaneously part of more than one cultural institution, such as kinship, politics, religion or economics
Emic Taking the participant's perspective, the insider or cultural participant's view; highlighting that which is significant to the participants in their own terms
Enculturation The process of learning a culture
Entree Permission from the authorities and the studied community to enter the scene to conduct research
Ethical relativism The strong doctrine of relativism that claims there is no moral benchmark outside of culture by which to judge other cultures
Ethnic flags The cultural differences that some ethnic group members may intentionally display to distinguish themselves from other groups
Ethnic group A group within a society that maintains a subculture based on religion, language, common origin, or ancestral tradition
Ethnicity One's identification with or participation in an ethnic group
Ethnocentrism Judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one's own culture, opposite of cultural relativism
Ethnographic present The cultural anthropologist's practice of always referring to some culture as it existed at at a specific time in the past
Ethnography A written description of a culture, usually a descriptive narrative based upon participant observation
Ethnohistory The study of the history of a culture over a certain period in time, or the reconstruction of a past culture at some point in time
Etic Taking the comparativist's perspective in observing or describing a culture; highlighting that which is interesting from a cross-cultural perspective and discussing it in a developed cross-cultural vocabulary
Foraging economy An economy based upon gathering undomesticated plants and hunting undomesticated animals; sometimes called 'hunting and gathering'
Formal social structure A social structure with relatively stable and precisely specified statuses and role relationships among them
Genealogy The research activity of collecting information and constructing diagrams of kin relationships
Generalised reciprocity A charitable gift of goods and services or one that does not expect a return directly linked to it
Globalisation The change process in which societies are drawn into greater interaction through trade, communications, corporate and bureaucratic structures, and travel
Glocalisation The culture change process undertaken by a group reshaping, reinterpreting, resisting, or attempting to control the local manifestations of globalisation
Indigenisation The culture change process undertaken by a group reshaping, reinterpretting, resisting, or attempting to control the local manifestations of globalisation
Going native For an individual in a cross-cultural situation, disconnecting from one's home or native culture and identifying with the culture of one's hosts
Hierarchical social structure A social structure in which some members have more status and power than others
Holism Cultural anthropology's treatment of ideas and behaviours as interrelated elements of larger cultural systems, such as a culture, or even a community of interacting cultures
Holistic Conceiving of the phenomena being studied as interrelated parts of a larger system or process, institution, region, culture, or historical trend
Horticultural economy An economy based on hand-cultivation of crops of domestic plants; may include some domesticated animals and some foraging
Humanistic approach to cultural anthropology Striving to understand, engage with, and sometimes celebrate, defend, evaluate, or protect another way of life rather than to explain it
Hypodescent The cultural rule specifying that a child is the same race as the parent of the race of lower status
Implicit culture Cultural aspects or elements of which a culture's participants are not usually aware
Interpretive In anthropology, describes the study of meaning expressed through human acts, utterances, and artifacts
Inverted ethnocentrism The attitude that one's culture is inferior to that of one's hosts
Iteration Repetition of observation to acquire reliably consistent results, thus increasing confidence in the validity of a finding
Key informants The very knowledgeable individuals who have a knack for explaining their own culture and a willingness to share with the fieldworker
Key scenario Typical events and characters in myth, folklore, and speech that form actions considered culturally correct, important or effective
Longitudinal study Repeatedly visiting a society and comparing the resulting ethnographic 'snapshots' to reveal trends, losses, and gains in the people's practices and ideas
Metaphorical relationship From the holistic perspective, being the type of link that transfers meaning from one symbol to another
Methodological relativism The attitude that good scientific method requires keeping moral judgments separate from empirical/factual claims
Myth A narrative, often involving supernatural beings actions, or events, that express popular ideas about nature and society
Natural experiment A spontaneously arising research situation that permits systematic control of variables, which is not usually possible without intervention by the observer
Naturalistic Describes the anthropologist's preference for studying cultures by observing people with minimum interference in their activities, opposite of experimental
Negative reciprocity The cheat or shrewd deal, in which one party to the exchange benefits at the other party's expense, opposite of generalised reciprocity
Objectivity Knowledge of reality without distortions caused by individual and cultural background
Ostentatious consumption Displaying possessions as a method of announcing and acquiring social status
Overconsumption Acquiring goods and services in quantities and at rates that natural resources are depleted and waste disposal becomes difficult
Overdetermined An effect for which more factors were involved than were necessary to cause it
Participant observation A research method of joining in the daily life of the studied community as much as possible, to acquire a sense of how things are done, or said, and how the various aspects of life fit together
Political economy The study of the way economic behaviour and power relationships influence each other
Politicisation Shifting power from local and regional social groups to centralised bureaucracies
Power The ability to influence the ideas and actions of others, to set the agenda for the group, and to control human and other resources with or without authority
Processual relationship From the holistic perspective, the type of link that connects cultural features involved in a culture change process
Q-mode analysis Comparison of cultures by the number of traits that they have in common
Race Culturally constructed categories used to divide humans into separate groups based upon an arbitrary selection of physical characteristics
Racism The belief that actual or alleged differences between racial groups indicate the superiority of one of them
Rank Differences in social status without significant differences in power
Rapport A degree of mutual understanding between the ethnographer and the studied community as to who the ethnographer is and what she or he is doing in the community
Reciprocity Distributing goods and services as gifts or trade rather than a market exchange
Reductionism The process of simplifying a problem to account for only those factors or variables that can be observed or controlled
Reflexive Describes a self-conscious attempt to understand oneself and one's culture as influencing as well as being altered by the process of studying others and their culture
Reinterpretation A culture change process that involves borrowing and then changing ideas
Relativistic Restraining judgement of another culture to learn about it. Acknowledging that other cultures should be judged only in terms of their own circumstances and history. At the extreme, denying that there are culture-free standards by which to judge cultures
Response effects The impact on interview data of the interaction of the respondent, the researcher, and the setting
Rite of passage A ritual event that transforms the participants and confers then upon a new status
Ritual Formal behaviour composed of symbolic acts, utterances, and objects that express belief in important truths
R-mode analysis Comparison of culture traits by identifying the cultures in which they co-exist
Roles The duties or guidelines for behaviour in a specific status, and specifications for how to interact with persons in other social statuses
Scientific approach to cultural anthropology Treating information as a test of explanations of cultural phenomena in terms of general principles
Scientific method The process of linking carefully structured tests of empirical testable propositions, called hypotheses, to broad explanatory generalisations, or theories
Secondary ethnocentrism Acquiring the prejudices of one's hosts
Social structure The more or less stable arrangement of roles and statuses in a social group
Social-structural Pertaining to the enduring pattern of relationships specified by the social roles and statuses in a group
Society A group of people organised into social relationships to perform certain tasks such as feeding and defending themselves and raising children
Socio-natural system Describing a cultural ecological system in which a human population adapts to a 'nature' of its own
State A form of political organisation based on a powerful central government, which may or may not be kin based but has authority to wield power over most aspects of its members' lives
Statuses The positions in the social structure defined in terms of authority, privileges, duties, and sometimes prestige and a title
Stimulus diffusion Diffusion when only the idea migrates, not its practitioners, and the recipients build the practice from that idea
Subculture That particular mix of shared understandings held by groups within a larger society
Subjectivity The interpretation of reality from personal or cultural points of view
Symbol A sound, object, idea, image or action to which its users assign an arbitrary meaning
Syncretism A borrowing that rearranges elements and combines them with other features of the culture, perhaps selectively dropping elements and shifting emphasis
Systemic relationship A web of feedback interactions among parts in a system
Tempocentric Treating one's historical time period as 'normal' or best or as timeless; failing to conceive how the past or future might differ from the present
Temporal In anthropology, describes the arrangement and explanation of events in time, a historical or evolutionary perspective
Thematic relationship From the holistic perspective, the type of link that connects practices or ideas around a common theme in content, form or values
Tribe A social organisation comprised of as many as thousands of individuals organised by village residence and membership in large descent groups
Values The shared understandings of what is good and right to do and to be, as well as what is bad and wrong. Cultural standards that define appropriate behaviour and goals of life
Created by: molum