What Things Mean: Chapter 6: Cultural Theory and Material Culture

Jennifer Wilhite
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Jennifer Wilhite
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What objects mean arthur asa berger

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What Things Mean: Chapter 6: Cultural Theory and Material Culture
  1. Anthropology: scientific study of the physical, social, and cultural development of [people] (101)
    1. cultural (or social anthropology, which deals with the analysis of social life and the relationship that exists between culture and personality (101)
      1. Linguistic anthropology that focuses upon languages (101)
        1. archaeology is a branch of anthropology that studies the past, often the very distant past , by using ancient artifacts and other materials
          1. all theories of the past rely implicitly upon some concept of human nature
            1. why humans behave the way we do, and how our behavior relates to our social and physical environment (100)
              1. like the body, material things are a medium through which we create ourselves and understand other people, and hence an inescapable element of social reproduction (100)
                1. artefacts are a key to social relations and frames of mind (100)
                  1. agents?
                    1. technology
                      1. use of everyday things to communicate subtle political meanings (100)
                      2. the contextual use of material things to redefine or contest inherited meanings (100)
          2. 'cultural turn' in the social and human sciences... especiall in cultural studies and the sociolgy of culture, has tended to emphasize the importance of meaning to the difintions of culture (102)
            1. Culture: it is argued, is not so much a set of things...as a process, a set of practices ... primarily, cultue is concerned with the production and exchange of meanings...between the members of a society or group" (103)
              1. culture is now o major importance in the social and huma sciences and points out that what is important is tha twe focus on the meanings that peple give to objects (102)
                1. meanings that are varied, can change in time and should be studied by many different disciplines (102)
                2. Clotaire Rapaille: The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do
                  1. culture can be thought of as a series of codes that we learn while we grow up and that shape our behavior in many different areas (103)
                    1. imprints: combination of experiences and accompanying emotions...one children receive and imprint... shapes their attitudes towards food, artifacts etc...(103)
                      1. Clotaire Rapaille: The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Live and Buy as They Do
                        1. Jung/Freud + cultural unconscious
                          1. Why different cultures 'code' differently
                        2. Rapaille: the different imprints when put together create a reference system that people living in these cultures use without being aware of it. these reference system guide different cultures in very different ways (103)
                  2. Mary Douglas: Grid-Group Therapy
                    1. the objects and services we buy and possess (as gifts, inheritances, and so forth) are culturally defined and best understood as being tied to our lifestyles. (105)
                      1. Life Styles:
                        1. hierarchical elitist
                          1. individualist
                            1. egalitarian
                              1. fatalist
                                1. elitist and individualist: hegomony
                                  1. egalitarian: exist to critique the shortcomings of these two groups and attempt to raise up the fatalists from their lowly position (105)
                                  2. shapes our behavior as consumers (105)
                                    1. the basic choice that a rational individual has to make is the choice about what kind of society to live in (108)
                                      1. consumption behavior is continuously and pervasively inspired by cultural hostility (108)
                                        1. culture itself is the result of myriad of individual choices, not primarily between commodities but between kinds of relationships (108)
                                          1. commodities are chosen because they are not neutral; they are chosen because they would not be tolerated in the rejected forms of society (108)
                                      2. Hostility is implicit (108)
                                        1. Shopping is a struggle to define not what one is but what one is not (108)
                                      3. who are you? what should you do?
                                        1. what life style and will you comply? (106)
                                      4. Myth and Material Culture
                                        1. narratives that shape cultural values and behavior (110)
                                          1. Mircea Eliade
                                            1. many things that people do in contemporary society are actually camouflaged or modernized versions of ancient myths and legends (112)
                                            2. many of the things we do are based ultimately on what Eliade described as camouflaged myths (115)
                                            3. Mark Gottdierner On Cultural Studies
                                              1. Postmodern Semiotics: Material Culture and the Forms of Postmodern Life
                                                1. analysis of mass culture involves a three-way relationship (115)
                                                  1. industrial objects
                                                    1. institutions that produce and distribute objects
                                                      1. Collective or social group that use objects (115)
                                                    2. powered by advertising: 116
                                                  2. the anthropological perspective on artifacts focuses on the role culture plays in their creation and use (116)
                                                    1. Rapaille: culture codes found in different countries and subgroups that shape our attitudes
                                                      1. Mary Douglas: four hostile lifestyles and shape behavior and consumption- not our personal taste (116-7)
                                                        1. myths: there are camouflaged and modernized versions of myths that can be found in many of our behaviors and that can be linked to many of the artifacts we use. (117)
                                                          1. every culture values objects differently
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