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Cultural anthropology is the study of contemporary people and their cultures, (Miller 2009) but the field of cultural anthropology covers a myriad of variants. Computational anthropology deals with understanding human culture and biological processes though software modeling. The world of Synthetic Anthropology which studies the on-line world and the 'electric communities'. How computers and networks alter people's capacities to form groups, organizations and institutions and how they serve the interests of the members of the electronic world. Our text book also includes sub-sets of specialization which include economic anthropology, which attempts to explain human economic behavior using the tools of both economics and anthropology. The three main concepts of economic anthropology are formalism, substantivisim and culturalism. Psychological anthropology which studies the interaction of cultural and mental processes. Medical anthropology which studies human health and disease, healthcare systems and biocultural adaptation. Political anthropology which studies the structure of political systems within the context of a given society. Described in Miller's textbook is international development anthropology, the study of the effects and patterns of international development policies and plans in cross-cultural perspectives. (Miller 2009) Working in business I really never knew the breadth and depth of anthropology other than it being an esoteric field of academic study and something that I would vaguely notice when visiting a museum. Within the question is "what is culture?" By definition for anthropologists, culture is explained as the full range of learned human behavior patterns. Edward B. Tylor explained it in his book Primitive Culture as "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society." (Tylor 1871) Culture is broken down into three layers, the first being the body of cultural traditions that distinguish your specific society. The second being the melding of an identifiable sub-culture within a society, i.e. being from Cuba and immigrating to the United States, you assimilate parts of your new host country but retain your heritage and up-bringing. The third concept is 'cultural universes' which entail sharing learned behavior that is intrinsic to all cultures. These would include;
1. Communicating with a verbal language consisting of a limited set of sounds and grammatical rules for constructing sentences
Â 2. Using age and gender to classify people (e.g., teenager, senior citizen, woman, man)
Â 3. Classifying people based on marriage and descent relationships and having kinship terms to refer to
them (e.g., wife, mother, uncle, cousin)
Â 4. Raising children in some sort of family setting
Â 5. Having a sexual division of labor (e.g., men's work versus women's work)
Â 6. Having a concept of privacy
Â 7. Having rules to regulate sexual behavior
Â 8. Distinguishing between good and bad behavior
Â 9. Having some sort of body ornamentation
10. Making jokes and playing games
11. Having art
12. Having some sort of leadership roles for the implementation of community decisions (O'Neil 2006)
The last question is, 'what is the connection between culture and cultural anthropology.' For me, it's the intertwined study of who we are, where we've come from and how that has influenced our behaviors, our societal rules and how we co-exist with each other.
I would even argue that there is a sub-set of how extended families interact with each other and how their learned behavior influences culture. On my Mothers' side, which is Irish, my Aunt married an Italian husband and their family was raised with Italian cultural influences from the Father's side and some Irish and French Canadian influence on the Mother's side. The interesting part is when the siblings and cousins get together they influence each other in a more homogeneous way based on shared experiences and relevant cultural influences which further dilutes the initial cultural heritage influences and creates its own vein of cultural influence.
What role did culture play during the Hominin evolution? Has culture changed much in the last 12,000 years? A Hominin is what we used to call a Hominid; a species that paleoanthropologists have agreed is human or has a human ancestor. These include all of the Homo species (Homo sapiens, H. ergaster, H. rudolfensis), all of the Australopithecines (the first user of stone tools) and other earlier forms like Paranthropus and Ardipithecus. I feel if you take the rule set from the previous question you can see the aggregate concepts of societal development that make up culture. Using them as a basis of culture you would derive that the earlier species might not have manufactured tools but would have adapted 'things' into crude tools to be used. They might not have expressed themselves using language but might have had the concepts of family. As we developed from the concepts of hunter-gathers to the sedentary lifestyle that we've all become accustomed to, we've spent more time on the development of culture, based upon more forced societal interaction. I've often wondered how ingrained this process has become. Take for instance the choosing of a house (cave to our early ancestors). My wife has always wanted our home to be near everything, hospitals, schools, shopping and within close proximity of other people. Our choice of dwelling has always had to have had two stories, even when living in the desert. My choices have always been diametrically opposed to my wife's and the next home that we buy will be more to my primitive influences. I would prefer a lot of acreage, away from others in the tribe etc. This would lead me to believe that we have embedded in our DNA the cultural concepts of our early ancestor's and how they influence our base concepts of what is important to us from a family and societal point of view. Miller states in our book that post sedentism and domestication, cities and states emerged and the concept of politics' emerged that influenced cultural society as we know it. (Miller 2009) I feel we clustered together as a species from the familiar just as we do today although we're not fighting off animals and warring tribes as in the past.
What is the connection between culture and economics? How do each influence the other? Miller covers the correlation between culture and economics as including three interrelated processes production, consumption and exchange with a further split of making a living as foraging, horticulture, pastoralism, agriculture and industrialism and informatics. (Miller 2009) The primary means for most today is industrialism which means that if any of the others become an economic issue it becomes a nuisance to the industrialized individual. An example would be the cost of milk rising based in either grain costs or subsidy reduction. The collateral impact to the industrialized societies would be annoyance to the increased cost but an overall adjustment based on need or consumption adjustment. There wouldn't be any impact to the packager or the transportation associated with getting the product to market but there would be a ripple effect on the political machine attached with either that region or industry thereby influencing the local culture and milk producers. Now I'm referencing the minimal impact to the industrialized consumer based on social stratification. In other words being middle aged and middle class the impact would be reduced because we don't have any children at home and our economic status would allow us to absorb the increase. If I dropped down in economic status to either an elderly fixed income or minimally educated with multiple children, the impact would be much greater not only on the individuals involved but the society at large based on increased societal need. That impact then would be felt in the form of increased taxes for all based on the required increase in subsidization to the individuals in need.
Describe the three major theoretical approaches in medical anthropology to understanding health systems. Discuss how health, illness and healing are changing during globalization. The three major approaches break down to ecological / epidemiological anthropology which focuses on links between the environment and health. The Interpretive Approach, which focuses on studying illness in relation to healing as a set of symbols and meanings and the Critical Method which focuses on health problems and healing within a structured framework.(Miller 2009) The first is an interesting concept as my wife has had friends and family members contract breast cancer and the common thing they all had was relative location to a large industrial complex, in this case a shipyard. Although not having all of the family genetic facts this cluster of cancer seems to defy statistical modeling in relation to coincidence. The last approach is something I'm more familiar with being in the field of biopharmaceuticals. We as a company produce biologic medicines that aid, reduce or in some cases cure diseases that in the past were fatal or greatly reduced the quality of someone's life. The development of these medicines comes at a cost both in complex production and research and development which are inevitably passed on to the consumer. These have a direct correlation to society at large through who is going to pay for these therapies whether it is the patient, and insurance company or Medicare. Although in some instances the concept of compassionate use is invoked and the company themselves pays for the medicines but inevitably it is written off as a tax loss. In all of these cases the cost to the end-user is not trivial and in some cases we're talking basic needs decision making which once again affects the consumption cycle from a cultural and economic perspective.