Anthropology is a branch of science that focuses on human culture, biological, social, and environmental aspects. It focuses on the past and the present of these aspects. Cultural anthropology makes up part of the broader body of anthropology that involves linguistics, biology, and archaeology. Cultural anthropologists focus on the study of the believes, cognitive, and practices of the people. They also focus on the social organization of the people. Cultural anthropologists concentrate their research on how the people share a characteristic cultural system shape and organize the social and physical world that surrounds them. They are also shaped by their ideas, physical environment, and behavior.
Culture shapes human behavior, and it is a powerful force in doing so. Culture is the attitudes and values of a social group, and these values are passed from one generation to another. It also defines the real society and its particular practices. The question of whether there is a better culture than others. It can be concluded that it majorly depends on the perspective that an individual wants to adopt. It can either take the idea of relativism and ethnocentrism.
Ethnocentrism is the idea that one sees his culture as the primary standard that other cultures are measured. It focuses on other’s cultural symbols, beliefs, and practices. For instance, when a person is ethnocentric, he sees others’ cultures as primitive and corrupt and often gets confused about other people’s cultures. These people use their culture to judge others without noticing it. An ethnocentric person considers his culture normal.
Cultural relativism is the idea that particular culture for certain people addresses specific issues and ought to be looked into in the perspective of the world that these people inhabit. It is –perspective that is utilized by the social scientists that work with the people(Bennettet al., p 78). An instance of Franz Boaz, who is a cultural relativist. She takes the idea that if a tribe paints their faces during cultural ceremonies, they have the best reason known to them for doing that. If it is symbolic, then we must ask where they come from? With these questions, they can give room to a closer examination of other cultures’ practices than being ethnocentrism.
Parallel to the different means of consumption, the two different modes can be disarranged in an unbalanced and balanced exchange. In a balanced exchange system of transfers, the target goal can be eventual and immediate. The category of the balanced exchange is made up of two subsections determined by the social relations of the two parties that are taking part in the exchange. The degree to which the return is expected also determines the category. The generalized reciprocity in the involvement of the less conscious sense of concern in the wealth gains and, in another instance, the thought of what can be earned in return(Carneiroet al. p 55). Such exchanges are accompanied by services and goods that are necessary for day to day life. The generalized reciprocity is considered the most type of exchange that involves foraging societies. It is also common in cross-culturally and closes kin members. A pure gift is one that is given freely without expecting something in return. It is an example form of extremely generalized reciprocity. It can include money donations aimed at buying food for communities that are vulnerable and for blood donations, donation of organs after death. However, some people argue that a truly pure gift does not exist because no matter the situation, there is something expected in return, even if it means good feeling for generosity.
An unbalanced exchange can be considered as a system of transfers whereby one player party tries to make a market exchange, theft, profit, or gamble. In a market exchange that takes the unbalanced form of exchange involves the purchasing of commodities in a conditions that are considered competitive and the forces of supply and demand dictate the value and the sellers strife to make profit by taking chances in a game and gamble whereby a certain item is staked with the aim of making higher profits after one wins the game.
A continuous debate in anthropology is on women as objects of exchange as far as marriage is concerned. It was proposed many years ago by Lavi-Strauss that the exchange of wives among men is a fundamental and universal form of exchange among humans. He argued using incest as taboo, which he says was a rule put in place to prevent a man from marrying his sister or mother. This is a rule that, according to him, drives the idea of the exchange of women among men(Harris et al. p 567). He argues that the fact that a man can obtain a wife is an exact point and is a consequence of a brother or father giving her up. This creates the exchange networks by men that lead to social solidarity.
Bennett, John W. The ecological transition: cultural anthropology and human adaptation. Routledge, 2017.78
Carneiro, Robert L. Evolutionism in cultural anthropology: A critical history. Routledge, 2018.55
Harris, Alfred. Description and comparison in cultural anthropology. Routledge, 2018.567
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