Concept of Culture in Anthropology

Uploaded by eLearningCentralia on 15.06.2010

>> Hello, this is Mary Ann
and I wanted to talk about an important concept
that you will remember was on the quiz.
And it's on the quiz because of how significant it is
for our understanding of what we're doing in this course.
Outside of the classroom or outside of studying in college,
when we use the term culture, we often don't distinguish it
from the concept of society.
And when you study sociology and anthropology, you really do need
to distinguish between the two.
Society, you'll remember,
is a group of people that share a culture.
And what I want you to do now is to think
about the concept of culture.
It permeates our whole existence.
Everything we do is related to culture
because humans are a culture-sharing species.
So, what you see here is rice,
one of the most common basic foodstuffs of humans.
What you see here are potatoes, again, a very common foodstuff,
one dear to my heart because potatoes are originally
from South America.
It was from South America that they went to Europe,
including to Ireland, which was devastated by the potato blight,
which led to the Irish potato famine, which created lots
of population to migrate to the New World.
And then, since that time, you and I have probably eaten many,
many potatoes from McDonald's.
Well, my question to you is, how do we know that rice is a food?
How do we know that my beloved potatoes are a food?
That leads us to the question, culture is -- .
So, around the world, there are many different types
of foodstuffs.
What do we think is appropriate for food?
Food can be pretty, but that's not what tells us
that that is something that we should eat.
How we know what food is is that we learn it.
So culture is learned.
We learn what food is.
Later in our lives, we might think that what we ate
as a baby is not a very attractive foodstuff.
Our ideas about what food is are ideas -- are shared.
So, wherever we are, when we are eating,
we share to some degree the concepts of what food should be.
There are times when it's not what we wish it was.
But, we have ways of thinking, learned and shared ways
of thinking, that tell us what food is.
Again, a delicious hamburger is only delicious
for some members of our society.
Not everyone shares the cultural ideal
of a diet that includes meat.
But it is probably one of the most stereotypical foods
of the society of the United States.
Other societies have food that we might question
as to its edibility because we haven't learned
to share the idea of that particular item as a food.
The everything bagel is not appealing to everyone.
Not only do we learn and share ideas, but we also learn
and share ways of behaving.
So Thanksgiving is the typical time that we share food.
What the food should be is a communal meal,
usually involving turkey, no matter -- the food turkey --
no matter where we are.
As people from the society in the United States,
we share this cultural idea
that Thanksgiving food should contain certain items.
Sweets are very popular.
These are young quote, unquote,
Indians in Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
They're eating spun sugar or -- I guess that's what we call it.
Cotton? Sugar cotton?
Here I am, not remember what the name of it is.
But, this is something that we consider fair food.
The Louis County Fair is a place where you can buy it.
Many carnivals that we attend have it.
It is a specialized food for certain circumstances.
Oysters. Well, he's got the behavior down,
how you eat oysters.
Again, whether oyster is a --
whether an oyster is food depends somewhat
on the culture that we have learned.
This is dog food.
Generally, we have learned that dog food is not food
for human consumption.
Not only do we learn what food is, but we learn how to eat.
It takes a while to learn how to eat, and it is something
that humans in all societies do, learn how to eat.
So there you have it.
Culture, learned and shared ways of thinking and behaving.
And in spite of the wishes of many of us, life is not a box
of cherries -- a box of candies?