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Social and Cultural Anthropology Cheat Sheet by


Social­iza­tion- the lifelong social experience by which indivi­duals develop their human potential and learn culture.
Person­ality- A person’s fairly consistent patterns of acting, thinking, and feeling.
Behavi­orism- A theory that holds that behavior is not instin­ctive but learned. Rooted in the nurturing we receive (not from nature).
Suppre­ssing Develo­pment- Humans raised in isolation fail to develop into humans
Feral Children - Human child who has lived isolated from human contact from a very young age, and has no (or little) experience of human care, loving or social behavior, and, crucially, of human language. (Genie Wiley)


Radically changing a person’s person­ality by carefully contro­lling the enviro­nment

Agents of Social­ization

Research suggests, nothing is more likely to produce a happy, well-a­djusted child than being in a loving family.
Schooling enlarges children’s social worlds to include people with backgr­ounds different from their own. School teaches children a wide range of knowledge and skills, and also conveys lessons that value success and compet­ition. The school day runs on impersonal rules and a strict time schedule. Schools also socializes children into gender roles.
A social group whose members have interests, social position, and age in common.
Impersonal commun­ica­tions aimed at a vast audien­ce.C­on­ser­vative critics charge that the television and film industries are led by a liberal “cultural elite.” Another concern charges that the mass media involves too much violence.


Patril­ineal Descent
A linear system without females and following only the male's side of the kinship system.
Matril­ineal Descent
Not the opposite of Patril­ineal, as the men still hold political and economic power, but the kinship diagram is based around the mother's lineage, and her mother and her mother. However, the men have another kinship system. The men still hold the power, but lineage is traced through the females.


Consan­guineal kin
Blood Kin

On the Run

Alice Goffman
Group Studied
Inner City poor black men in Philad­elphia
Theore­tical Perspe­ctives
Agency- Men have little choice in their everyday activities due to their circum­sta­nces. Conflict-
African Americans were gained full civil rights in the 1960's and 70's. However there are still a large disparity in wealth in inner-city neighb­our­hoods. The people in these neighb­our­hoods are esentially prisoners in the country of the Free.



Socially transm­itted, often symbolic, inform­ation that shapes human behavior and that regulates human society so that people can succes­sfully maintain themselves and reproduce. Culture has mental, behavioral and material aspects; it is patterned and provides a model for proper behavior. (Bodley)
A society’s shared and socially transm­itted ideas, values and percep­tions – which are used to make sense of experience and generate behavior and which are reflected in behavior. (Haviland, p.32)


The practice of regarding one’s own cultural group as the centre of everything and scaling and relating all others with reference to it.

Etic vs. Emic

Etic interp­ret­ations
Cultural meanings derived from inside a given culture and presumed to be unique to that culture. (Inside the culture)
Emic interp­ret­ations
Cultural meanings as translated for cross cultural compar­ison. (Outside the culture)


Theore­tical Perspe­ctives

Agency is the capacity of human beings to act in meaningful ways that affect their own lives and those of others. This term implies that indivi­duals have the capacity to create, change and influence events. Feminist and Marxist theories
Cohesion and consensus are central to the proper functi­oning of society and culture. The idea that society could only function properly if its members experi­enced “solid­arity,” that is, a moral duty to work for the mainte­nance of society.
Confli­ct-­centred perspe­ctives focus on social relations as being based on competing interests of groups and indivi­duals. Society consists of criss-­cro­ssing identi­ties, loyalties, and strains which ultimately nullify each other, resulting in harmony and integr­ation. Feminist and Marxist theories
A diachronic approach is one that analyzes the evolution of something over time, allowing one to assess how that something changes throughout history.
A synchronic approach on the other hand, analyzes a particular something at a given, fixed point in time. It does not attempt to make deductions about the progre­ssion of events that contri­buted to the current state, but only analyzes the structure of that state, as it is.
Emphasize humans as part of nature Subject to natural selection in the same way as other animals. Must adapt to the conditions in their natural enviro­nment. Culture = one of the ways in which humans adjust to the enviro­nment.
Emphasize objective reality. Cultural differ­ences exist mainly because of the ways popula­tions exploit the resources in their enviro­nments. Cultural evolution and variation can be explained using scientific methods and analysis.

Death Without Weeping

Nancy Schepe­r-H­ughes
Group Studied
Mothers in a Shantytown in Brazil
Theore­tical Perspe­ctive
Agency- They can NOT control their choices and therefore have no agency. Confli­ct/­Mar­xist- Nancy Schepe­r-H­ughes has previously said that she is a Marixist, and it is clear in her writing. It is conflict because the people are put into these circum­stances because of poverty. Poverty, by it's very defini­tion, is something that is out of the hands of the people involved and due to many dispar­ities in wealth.
Mothers, and surrou­nding social instit­utions such as the Catholic church, expect babies to die easily. Mothers concen­trate their support on babies who are “fighters” and let themselves grow attached to their children only when they are reasonably sure that the offspring will survive. The article also provides an excellent illust­ration of what happens to kinship systems in the face of poverty and social disloc­ation
There is an indiff­erence as a cultural response to high rates of infant death due to poverty and malnut­rition.
Field Work
Schepe­r-H­ughes notes that political changes in Brazil since the 1980s have led to improved health for mothers and babies. Mothers have fewer babies and no longer give up on offspring who in the past would have seemed destined to die.

Parts Unknown

Nancy Schepe­r-H­ughes
Group Studied
Organ Donors around the world
Theore­tical Perspe­ctives
Materi­alism- Organs are like every other material good in some places, and organs are used as a way to make money. Conflict- There are different approaches taken in this article, and when Schepe­r-H­ughes writes about the poor men who must sell their kidneys to survive, she takes a conflict style approach.
An idiosy­ncratic multi-­sited research project exploring the illegal and covert activities surrou­nding the traffic in humans and their body parts by outlaw surgeons, kidney hunters and transplant tourists engaged in ‘back-­door’ transp­lants in the global economy.

Factory Girls

Leslie T. Chang
Group Studied
Female factory workers in China
Theore­tical Perspe­ctives
Agency- The girls find ways to increase their agency and make the most of their lives. They do everything to gain agency in their factories.
Factory Girls demons­trates how the mass movement from rural villages to cities is remaking individual lives and transf­orming Chinese society, much as immigr­ation to America’s shores remade our own country a century ago.


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