Understanding Culture Essay

832 words - 3 pages

Culture, is defined by Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, as "the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon man's capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations." People learn about culture through interaction rather than through the memorization of a text. To become fluent in any one culture you have to experience it and become involved. There are many ways that a culture can be shared among people without them being fluent in it such as through: food, customs, clothing, language, beliefs, and behaviors. With the increase of technology and new discoveries about the world developing daily it makes it impossible for cultures to remain stagnant; therefore, they must learn how to adapt in order to survive. Some people argue that complete cultural fluency in more than one culture is impossible. However, culture is a learned behavior therefore people should be able to learn and become fluent in more than one.

Culture is distinctly human and is transmitted through learning traditions and customs that govern behavior. Cultural anthropologists study human society and culture through describing, analyzing, interpreting and explaining social and cultural similarities and differences. To study and interpret cultural diversity they engage in two activities which are ethnography and ethnology. Ethnography is based on fieldwork while ethnology is based on cross-cultural comparisons of the information collected through ethnography.

The studies done on culture can be shared in two ways: first through theoretical or academic anthropology and second through practical or applied anthropology. An example of academic anthropology, which teaches us about culture, is a textbook such as the book written by Kottak. An example of applied anthropology, which helps to solve practical problems, is the study done on medical anthropology. Various societies and ethnic groups recognize different illnesses, symptoms, and causes. Each group develops different treatments and health care strategies, which can be passed on and applied in different cultures.

Cultures can't always stay the same; therefore, they undergo a process called adaptation. The process of adaptation refers to an organism coping with the environmental forces and stressors. Animals use biological means of adaptation, but humans are unique in also having a means of cultural adaptation. As cultural anthropologist study human history the importance of adaptation has been revealed. Humans have formulated ways of coping with the range of environments they have occupied in time and space. An example of the...

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