Essay on Anthropology: Cultural Aspect

In: Popular topics June 23rd, 2017

Our world is the world of contrasts. All people are beautiful because of their differences and that what makes our life many-sided, meaningful and interesting to explore. One of the most captivating studies of our life is anthropology. This cultural anthropology essay is destined for you to get more information about peculiarities, aims, and philosophy of this science. If you have to do your paper on anthropology and cultural aspects of life, hire our paper writer to assist you.

In fact, the word “anthropology” first appeared as a historical term. This study belongs to the class of relatively young as it was founded only in 1902. That year, a man named Marvin Harris triggered the advent of the Anthropological approach. Consequently, anthropology includes a complex of studies related to human and societies. In general, it has everything to do with our lives as human beings from physical, social, cultural, genetic, linguistic point of view. Anthropology has ties with such disciplines as anatomy, linguistics, sociology, history, culture sciences, psychology, philosophy and even technology studies. Many anthropological pieces of research seek to the problem of education in different countries. We have prepared the essay on educational goals for the readers who concern themselves with the topic of education and personal achievements.

In addition, there is still no distinct line between anthropology and ethnic sciences. These two disciplines closely intertwine. We deem anthropology to be the broader notion because it regards all aspects, which are suitable to the word ‘mankind’. The sciences studying ethnicity fit under the concepts of anthropology. In such a way, the main task of ethnology lies in comparing the features of various peoples around the world. A separate part of ethnology called ethnography emphasizes territorial belonging in its investigations and provides the data about material and mental values of different ethnicities as well as their household activities.

An essential part of studying anthropology for every student consists in the fact that it is not only the way to discover new aspects of living in the world. It is also a path, which one must go through in self-cognition. By these words, I mean that perceiving others helps one perceiving oneself. Our essay writers are very experienced in questions of cultural and personal correlation. So, do not be shy to try our student essay services.

Some ethnographical essays in cultural anthropology describe indivisible tie between cultural anthropology and associated studies. Before discussing the peculiarities of cultural anthropology, let us briefly figure out some other branches of this science:

1. Physical (or biological) anthropology

Physical anthropology studies physical nature of a human. It was founded in the second part of the 19 century as a specific branch of anthropological science. Some historical and scientific events contribute to its formation. Among those events are Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, findings made by archeologists (parts of skeletons of first primitive people and cultural artifacts, which they used), development of genetics and implementing of variation statistics that made data processing of anthropological methods possible. In order to enquire earlier development of biological anthropology and evolutionism, you can read our Charles Darwin theory of evolution essay.

Actually, physical anthropology is concerned with the constitution of human body and a great variety of its forms. This specific knowledge gave birth to the term “anthropological attribute”. Anthropological attributes embrace any features of a certain state of a body, which allows outlining similarities and differences between individuals. The scientific description and explanation of our biological variety and finding the reasons for that variety constitute the main goals of the study.

Throughout the years, the study progressed faster and faster. Thus, the scientists have distinguished its three major subdivisions:

  • Human morphology observing diversity in the structure of organs and systems, age changes in human organism and its development;
  • Hominization (anthropogenesis) contemplating human morphology and geological factors;
  • Knowledge of races (or ethnicities) comparing common and distinct features of associated human populations; It is regarded on the scale of the historical time and space or, in other words, around the globe.

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2. Psychological anthropology (or anthropological psychology)

Some people can confuse this branch of the knowledge with psychology. The point is that psychology itself deals with neural activity and perceptivity of a person. To be more precise, it is the science of personality. By psychological anthropology, we consider not only the neural system of a person but his or her behavioral pattern in society. It is all about the cultural environment and the way it affects a person. To some extent, this helps to define why people do some actions in the same track as our ancestors. It has close ties with human ethology, which concentrates on the evolutionary importance of human behavior and significance of adaptation processes (compared to other species).
Due to this area of anthropological knowledge, we have obtained such notions as “national identity”, “national spirit”, “ethnic stereotype”. Let us note that national psychological pattern highly depends on the history of a nation. After reading the essay on American history, for instance, you will understand how some historical events affected the minds of Americans.

In 1930-1950-s the American school of thought developed the idea that psychological anthropology is identified with the neo-Freudian theory of culture and personality. The theory postulates that the features of national character are obtained from so-called “basic” or “modal” personality. This type of personality, in its turn, was associated with typical methods of a child bringing up typical for certain culture.

The modern study involves the following standalone approaches:

  • Comparative approach with cross-cultural investigations of ethnic psychophysiological peculiarities, cognitive and memory processes, emotions, speech and so forth;
  • Investigations on cultural aspects oriented on figuring out features of symbols and values of the folk culture. They are inextricably bound up with ethnography, the study of folklore, and art history. By the way, our art history essay will help you sort out this particular approach in details;
  • Ethnic basis of national conscious and self-consciousness which borrows conceptual framework from and methods from the respective subfield of social psychology (including the theory of group relationship, social attitudes etc.);
  • Investigations on psychological and ethnical characteristics of children upbringing and socialization. It goes hand in hand with the sociology of raising and aging.

Yet, the methodology of psychological anthropology is quite complicated. Such situation is caused by the gap between cultural and psychological approaches. All the statements concerning ethnical peculiarities assume some kind of comparison. To avoid possible ethnocentric moods, this area is subject to consideration and correction. We propose you to order English thesis writing on psychological issues as the topic gives vast space for an effective investigation.

3. Linguistic anthropology.

This particular subfield of anthropology aims at showing the relation between language and social life of a person. It is grounded in the thought that things we say and hear define our identity, cultural preferences, socialization pattern and so on. The study covers the idea that language is some kind of genetic code, which regulates our interaction with the outer world. What puzzles the scientists the most is the questions how language appeared itself, whether some linguistic concepts have formed in our brains from the very beginning of a human appearance or we have learned how to speak it in the course of time. The study also discloses such notions as the freedom of speech and censorship, which you can analyze due to this post: http://smartwriters.org/blog/essay-on-censorship-is-it-possible-to-oppress-free-speech. There is also an assumption that people who learn languages thoroughly obtain those manners of native-speakers and even sound different. Another thought supposes that it is more important to learn culture first rather than the language.

In 1911, an anthropologist Franz Boas brought the role of functional linguistics to the forefront. He said that it would help understand how aboriginals think. In his works, he outlines that the syntax of a certain language is an unconscious cognitive factor, as most people do not really know the syntactical system of the language they speak. Another scientist who proposed the “emic” and “etic” theory was S. Frake. In short, the “emic” approach focuses on cultural analyses based on authentic thinking. The “etic” approach is grounded in structural models appropriate to the specific culture. These ideas gave a push to “analyzes of components” within the linguistic framework. Analyzing the components of meanings in words and syntactical structures peculiar for aboriginals leads to the valid understanding of culture in general.
Linguistic anthropology explores structural characteristics of words and sentences. For instance, prefixes and suffixes represent their own meanings in the word structure. Thus, some simple prefixes can express repetition of the action (re-), represent uncertainty, negativity, unwilling of doing an action (un-, in-, dis-) and so on. Certain rules are applicable to suffixes as well. They show levels of approximation (-ish), presence (-ful) or absence (-less), gradation (-er, -est) etc.

If we take into consideration the structure of sentences in English, we can see that the Subject forms the core of any sentence. The order of parts of the sentence is usually fixed and the fact that the Subject comes first suggests that people in English-speaking countries pay more attention to the individuality from the psychological point of view. This assumption is also supported by usage of the pronoun “I” which is always a capital letter in formal speech. In our blog, you will also find the essay about American exceptionalism, which asserts the importance of expressing individuality and exclusiveness on the cultural level.

Physical, psychological and linguistic anthropology deal with our body, soul, and mind respectively. The next branch of anthropology can be called comprehensive as these three constituents are regarded altogether in it. If you want to buy college essay on linguistic anthropology, our service will be the best choice.

4. Philosophical anthropology.

Philosophy started its movement in the direction of anthropology because of changes happening in social and mental life in the world, especially during World War I, when the need to re-think our life emerged. The area of philosophical anthropology represents the study of human nature and essence. It comprises diverse and often opposed philosophical schools concentrated on the problem of a human such as personal idealism, pragmatism, religious philosophy, existentialism, phenomenology and so on. It develops scientific concepts on metaphysics of a person and interpersonal relationships. On this site you will also find the essays on archetype, if the question of personality and its philosophical side interests you the most.

One of the prominent founders of philosophical anthropology is Max Scheler. He believes that human thinking and will are peripheral parts of being and the central aspect here is love. The fundamental principle here is the idea that any adoption of value involves “participation” in life through love. Our sense, will, thinking and love altogether represent the personality, providing uniqueness of each person. Scheler also claims that the State is considered to be “collective personality” with its own form of consciousness. The good example here will be the famous concept of the American Dream, which is described here: http://smartwriters.org/blog/is-there-the-need-to-write-american-dream-essay.

Other specialists in the field of philosophy and anthropology think that a person has no harmonic connection with his or her environment. It urges a person to the activities resulting in the artificial world of culture. A. Gehlen turns to the analytic investigation of person’s social existence, exploration of social institutions, which allow a person to reshape reality. As a result, one learns how to simplify one’s existence, define personal motivations, and set oneself free from the need of constant decision-making process, as the principle patterns are already present in these institutions.

Visit our English writing website if you are in need of high-quality essay on culture. The thing is, in anthropology essays, when it comes to giving a definition to cultural anthropology, a writer is obliged to encounter such notion as “culture”. As a rule, culture represents features and specific knowledge of a particular group of people, identified by language, faith, social habits, cuisine, music, and arts also represented by certain coloring.

In fact, cultural anthropology pursues the following objectives:

  • The detailed description of biological differences between the representatives of different cultures including racial ones the main goal of which is to show that those differences are faint. It is not a secret that some people think that there is a superiority of one race over others. However, we consider it unacceptable. We offer you our what is racism essay, if you are interested in this topic;
  • Archeological and historical examination of written artifacts the main goal of which is proving the uniqueness of each culture;
  • Observations of cultural rituals, familial relationships, myths, arts and other cultural peculiarities of peoples and studying distinct features in languages.

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Theoretical schools presented in cultural anthropology essays

Cultural anthropology counts six schools of thought representing the knowledge. One of the earliest is called cultural evolutionism. In the 19th century, the bright minds of anthropology made their attempts to adopt the laws of biological evolution to their studies. They put emphasis on exploring culture using methods of natural sciences.

This school of thought is associated with the name Edward Burnett Tylor. He expressed the idea that all cultural phenomena including material objects, traditions, and beliefs, are classified on species, similar to plant or animal ones, and evolve one from another. Tylor assumed that it is necessary to organize cultural phenomena in evolutionary order and keep an eye on their progress. At that, species that are more progressive substitute the primitive ones. He points out that there is a unity of humankind and a unity of its culture at similar stages of its development. All peoples and cultures altogether form the continuous and progressive evolutionary order.

Thereat, animism, fetishism, and totemism became prominent models in religious life. Animism is a religious belief in souls and spirits. Dreams, hallucinations, cases of lethargic sleep, false death and other inexplicable things served as the background for animism. They work as proofs for the presence of special substance inside people that can leave our bodies, which we call a soul. Fetishism has ties with supernatural powers of some inanimate objects. Frequently, a random object could become a fetish. If the owner of a fetish had luck in his life, a fetish was considered as magical. Otherwise, people changed their fetishes for other ones. In the modern world, we have amulets presenting the modern form of old fetishes. Totemism represents a system of religious beliefs related to mysterious relationships between a group of people and mythic ancestor, typically, an animal or plant. The basis for totemic relationships is blood ties. What is curious, a human notices similar ties in his or her own environment and understands the nature through blood relationships of all things. After centuries of evolution, most peoples lost totemic thinking. Primitive people treated their totems as protectors rescuing from hunger, cold, diseases and death. Killing, abusing or eating a totemic animal or a plant is a taboo. It is necessary for modern people to protect animals, as they are still our protectors and friends. Get more information in stop animal abuse essay.

Despite drawing the line between historical periods in cultural processes (savage, barbarism, and civilization), evolutionism provides the evidence of historical and cultural unity in the world. For example, modern gambling games appeared because of cartomancy to which the savage people turned.

The second notable school is diffusionism. Diffusion means spreading of the definite culture around the world. The school adverts to liaising between cultures and exploring achievements of other cultures, which gives the opportunity to skip some stages of social and cultural development. The crucial part of that spreading are wars, conquests, colonization, trade, migration, or voluntary emulation of culture etc. Diffusionism gave rise to the approach supporting the idea that spreading of culture comes from so-called “cradle of civilization”.

Today, there are numerous evidence that such cultural phenomena as life-sustaining technologies, symbolic systems and social organization take place independently one from another in time and space. The concept also considers cognitive, religious, aesthetic forms of the world to be borrowed, not self-developed. Thus, Buddhism appeared in the 6th century B.C. in India. In 1th century A.D. it “migrates” to China and then to Japan. The art of flower arrangement, tea ceremony and rock garden in Japan has developed under Buddhism. The principles of land use and agricultural activities are also conveyed in various cultural areas. Do not hesitate to acquire more about agriculture: http://smartwriters.org/blog/agricultural-revolution-essays-the-progress-of-humanity

Functionalism, the third approach in cultural anthropology, claims that culture should be regarded as an independent integral system with a definite set of functional elements. The functionalists state that the differences between peoples do not concern the nature of mind but the motivation. The divergence in motives, feeling, and behavioral habits explains the differences between systems of values in cultures. In such a way, the scientists should refrain from estimation based on their own culture. Franz Boas rejects the idea of superiority of Europeans and establishes the concept of relativism. As the name suggests, relativism admits the relativity of all cultural values. By the way, our team of professional writers will prepare essays homework help on relativism for you, if this topic is what you need.

Another notion that characterizes functionalism is acculturation. It covers all results of cultural contacts around the globe. The cultural contacts affect us even in the way we eat and wear clothes. Fashion is also the constituent of culture. In this article, for example, the compelling facts about women fashion in 1920s are given: http://smartwriters.org/blog/roaring-twenties-essay-uniqueness-of-women-fashion. You can compare it with the tendencies we have now.

Due to acculturation, we can discover the process of urbanization. The acculturation presumes the following features of cultural contacts:

  • Estrangement. By this term, the scientists mean the loss of a definite culture under the influence of foreign one.
  • Formation of new cultural targets. Among those targets may be even eating habits. For instance, learn what is a mediterranean diet from our blog;
  • Attempts to revive or restore definite aspects of “lost”culture by the society;
  • The inception of the cultural features, norms, and institutions never found before in any culture.

The theory of cultural areas goes after the functional theory. The cultural area is a definitely limited territory where the significant part of similar cultural elements is concentrated. The part presuming the highest concentration of the elements is called cultural center and the marginal area indicates mixed features in adjoining areas. The crucial point at which the combination of all cultural elements is the most convenient for the rise of different types of culture is known as the climax. This theory is also related to immigration issues, so, we advise you to check this persuasive essay on immigration to get more information.

Each culture reaches the climax according to its system of values. Then, the transformation of cultural models come. It is obvious that cultures cannot extinct, they are usually featured by “peaks” in their development. In that way, we can exemplify those “peaks” in the advent of folk music and tell you about songwriters of all times: http://smartwriters.org/blog/top-10-modern-indie-folk-songwriters

Modern science accepts the grounds of neo-evolutionism. Leslie White made the greatest contribution to the anthropological science. He was the first to talk about cultural science. Cultural science studies such cultural elements as rituals, traditions, institutions, codes, technologies, ideologies and so forth. Hence, cultural science has a focus on matters of social life.

White believed culture to be a complex system with representative subsystems within it. Those relatively independent subsystems include technological, historical (ideological) and social one. The technological subsystem of culture comprises tools, equipment and other material means of life, arms and protective devices, building materials. This one demonstrates relations between a human and the external world. The social subsystem comes up with interpersonal relationships and types of individual demeanor and behavior in the society. The social area of exploration deals with the reasons of love, hate, enmity, and friendship. Pay attention to this article about the role friends and enemies in our life: http://smartwriters.org/blog/what-is-friendship-essay-who-is-a-friend The ideological subsystem is characterized by knowledge, ideas, and beliefs. White claims that all the areas mentioned above are correlated, however, technological part determines social and ideological elements. The anthropologist put an emphasis on prevalence of technologies because people satisfy their primary needs above all. If you support the idea that technology plays a major role in our life, you will be captivated by this artificial intelligence essay we prepared for you.

What is more interesting, there is an assumption that culture does not exist at all, however, during investigations the scientists encounter definite unique culture. The recent approach in cultural anthropology offers regarding various symbolic systems that define the symbolic meaning of person’s behavior. Basically, the approach is called the symbol interpretation. Thus, a person lives in the “web of meanings” which represents the culture.

Something of a contradiction exists when a person of one cultural tradition tries to figure out another culture. On the one hand, to understand some culture fully, a person must be a representative of this culture. On the other hand, the interpretation of any culture requires observation from the foreigner’s point of view. However, the conclusion is clear. Culture is what makes all peoples unique but we all belong to one unity regardless of our psychological, ideological, cultural diversity and differences in looks. We are ready to share our ideas with you on cultural issues and make a reflective essay concerning this topic.

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