Social Anthropology and Culture

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Enrolled: 98 students
Lectures: 99
Level: Beginner

Anthropology teaches us about the complex structure of human beings. How do we have inner thoughts and can communicate those thoughts with others through language and culture? Why do we have a lot in common and equally a lot of diverse differences? These are the questions we try to answer in anthropology, and it takes us to look at the individual, the family unit, the society, the nation, and the global community in which we live, making comparisons in looking for similarities, differences and what we produce from our endeavor.

Anthropological investigation and theory are defined by their adherence to two broad questions underlying human complexity: What is it that binds people and groups together? What is it that separates them, or underwrites their diversity? As a result, a comparative approach serves the entire range of anthropology. Social anthropology on the other hand is more concerned with social anthropology which is the study of the social lives of humans. It is wide and touches on every social aspect or endeavor of people.

For example, why do members of the same family or clan help each other more than they would to others? What constitutes a clan or family anyway or why don’t they detach after birth and go their separate ways as some animals do? And why do we distinguish between people because of race, tribe, or ethnicity? Are men more deserving than women; where do these beliefs come from? Are they biological determined or are they socially constructed? Why is it that we put our fate in a God, while some alternatively pit theirs in science or witches and witchcraft? Is one system of belief necessarily superior to the other? One of the key aims of social anthropology is to understand the social and cultural practices of other people and in so doing, to better understand the cultural meanings of social organization in our social world.

We are inclined to be familiar with our own culture and may find other cultures strange or more exciting than ours. By doing this course, we might end up finding out that what we thought was strange is more interesting than what we are familiar with. At the end of this course, we will understand what makes us different from others, and what we have in common and, be able to determine looking through an anthropological lens, if we can challenge our preconceptions in the way we might discriminate against race, sexuality, religion, tribe, age, or anything socially connected to the way we live or even forgive others who do not see things the way we now do.
It is a fascinating journey as we go through topics like primitive society, witchcraft, rituals, and rite of passage, kinship, and family life, gift exchange, reciprocity, culture, feminism, ethnicity, globalization, war and conflict, our interactions with the environment with particular relation to African society. You will be able to see why things are the way they are and share in that rich diversity of human life on this amazing planet.

Anthropology up to the late 20th century was a crucial element in understanding societies, analyzing the difference between them, and explaining their economic and political development. In this course, we will be looking at culture as an explanatory variable that impacts the economic, social, and political evolution of any group, society, or nation and if it is an obstacle to development.

It will help us explore ways of being more productive, analyze why some societies are more productive than others by looking at the ways we interact which others with a focus on the impact our behaviors put together becomes our culture.

1. Comparison and Context

1
Unit 1.1: Definition and Outline of the Subject
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Unit 1.2: The Commonalities and Particularness
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Unit 1.3: The Problem of Ethnocentrism
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Unit 1.4: A brief History of Anthropology
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Unit 1.5: Boas; Cultural Relativism, Malinowski, Mauss
6
Unit 1.6: Evolutionism, Functionalism, Structuralism
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Unit 1.7: Fieldwork, Theory, Data – Culture, Society, Identity, Primitive

After Intro

1
Unit 2.1: An Introduction; Understanding Kinship and its Importance
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Unit 2.2: Key Ideas and Terminology
3
Unit 2.3: Corporate Groups; the Politics of , Inheritance and Succession
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Unit 2.4: Bilateral Descent, Patrilineal Descent and Matrilineal Systems
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Unit 2.5: Clans and Lineages, Biology and Kinship – Marriage and Relatedness
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Unit 2.6: Descent and Alliance Theory – Kinship, Nature, and Culture
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Unit 2.7: Kinship, Bureaucracy and Gender
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Unit 2.8: Wombs for Rent and Dead Sperm, New Reproductive Technologies and Kinship

1
Unit 3.1: The Social Character of Humanity
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Unit 3.2: Nature and Society
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Unit 3.3: Social Structure and Social Organization
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Unit 3.4: Social Systems
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Unit3.5: Culture and Ecology, and its Contrast
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Unit 3.6: Interaction and Actors
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Unit 3.7: Statuses and Roles – Switching Between Roles
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Unit3.8: Power and Social Life – The Self, Public and Private Life
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Unit 3.9: The Duality of Structure – Case Study; The Gahuku Gama
10
Unit 3.10: The Person and Human Rights (UN Declaration of Human Rights)

Witchcraft Religion & Science-Is a Belief in Witchcraft any Less Rational than a Belief in Science?

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Unit 4.1: The Rationality Debate
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Unit 4.2: The Mental Unity of Humanity
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Unit 4.3: Case Study; Witchcraft and Knowledge Among the Azande People
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Unit 4.4: Winch’s Criticism
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Unit 4.5: How Natives Think
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Unit 4.6: Witchcraft and Misfortune; How do We make Sense of Misfortune
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Unit 4.7: Knowledge and Power
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Unit 4.8: Scientific rationality and the Rationality of Witchcraft
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Unit 4.9: The Structural Function of Witchcraft as a Belief System.

5. Religion and Ritual -Rites of Passage

1
Unit 5.1: Introduction; Is Understanding Religion Compatible with Believing? Oral and Written Religions
2
Unit 5.2: The Kanguru Tribe and God; An Oral Religion in Africa
3
Unit 5.3: The Afterlife – The Logic of Ancestral Cults
4
Unit 5.4: Rituals; Religion in Practice
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Unit 5.5: The Multivocality of Symbols
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Unit 5.6: Understanding the Inherent Complexity of Rituals
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Unit 5.7: Political Rituals in State Societies
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Unit 5.8: Football as a Ritual of Modernity
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Unit 5.9: Circumcision; Rites of Manhood and Coming of Age
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Unit 5.10: – Case Study; The Ndembu – Discussion; Your Own rites of Passage

6. Gift Exchange

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Unit 6.1: The Economics of Consumption in Anthropology
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Unit 6.2: The Economy as Part of a Social Totality
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Unit 6.3: Understanding the Structure of Gift Exchange
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Unit 6.4: Forms of Integration
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Unit 6.5: The Inalienable
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Unit 6.6: An Interdisciplinary Perspective
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Unit 6.7: Gifts as Total Social Phenomena
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Unit 6.8: Reciprocity and Power
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Unit 6.9: Forms of Distribution; Money, Economic Spheres Among the Tiv
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Unit 6.10: The Meaning of Artefacts
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Unit 6.11: Case Study; Malinowski and the Kula Ring of the Trobriand Island
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Unit 6.12: Consumption and Globalisation

7. Political Anthropology: Power Authority & Patterns of Social Organisation

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Unit 7.1: Why Do We Need Government?
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Unit 7.2: Can Society Exists Without the State?
3
Unit 7.3: Power and Choice – Powerlessness and Resistance
4
Unit 7.4: Ideology and Legitimation – Understanding the Politics of your Society
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Unit 7.5: Anthropological Perspective of Power and Political Organization
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Unit 7.6: Case Study; The Nuer and Melanesia
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Unit 7.7: Integration and Conflict In Kinship Based Societies
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Unit 7.8: Segmentary Oppositions, Maximisation or Class Struggle
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Unit 7.9: Politics and Strategic Action; How Do Actors Go About Maximising Political Power
10
Unit 7.10: The Post-Colonial State – Tacit Acquiescence
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Unit 7.11: Political Violence – Build your own Political Structure

8. Nationalism and Minorities

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Unit 8.1: Nationalism as an Identity
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Unit 8.2: Nationalism Resulting from Industrialization
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Unit 8.3: The Nation State
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Unit 8.4: Nationalism and Tribalism
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Unit 8.5: Minority and Majority – Power Asymmetries
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Unit 8.6: Non-Tribal Nations
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Unit 8.7: Segregation, Assimilation, and Integration
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Unit 8.8: The Fourth World; What Does the Term ‘Indigenous People’ Mean?
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Unit 8.9: Tribal Revitalization
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Unit 8.10: The Grammar of Identity Politics

9. Tribalism (Ethnicity) and Globalisation

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Unit 9.1: Tribalism and Globalisation; Defining the Terms
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Unit 9.2: The Contemporary Ubiquity of Ethnicity
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Unit 9.3: Communication Cultural Differences
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Unit 9.4: Social Classification and Stereotypes
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Unit 9.5: Situational Ethnicity – Ethnic Identity and Organisation
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Unit 9.6: Ideological Uses of the Past
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Unit 9.7: The Paradox of Globalisation for Anthropologists
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Unit 9.8: Dimensions of Globalisation
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Unit 9.9: Local Appropriateness of Global Processes
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Unit 9.10: Migration and Cultural Identity – Some Consequences for Anthropology
11
Unit 9.11: The Indigenisation of Modernity
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Unit 9.12: A Seamless World; Homogenisation and Differentiation

10. Culture Matters and Behavioral Value Systems in Africa

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Unit 10.1: Cultural Intelligence – Society and the Individual
2
Unit 10.2: What Role Does Culture Play in Development
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Unit 10.3: Behavioral Value Systems in Africa
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Unit 10.4: The Effects of Cultural Values on Economic Development
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Unit 10.5: Case Study; Creating China-The Republican Period to the Present
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Unit 10.6: Max Weber; The Spirit of Capitalism and Economic Determinism
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Unit 10.7: Culture Barriers to Prosperity-The Case of Greece
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Unit 10.8: Cross Cultural Context, Content and Design
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Unit 10.9: What Makes Development Happen?
10
Unit 10.10: Daniel Etounga-Manguelle; Does Africa Need A Cultural Adjustment Program?
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Textbooks can be expensive costing between £50 - £150 for some courses. They are also difficult to get delivered to some locations in the world, especially in Africa. We have taken this into account and will provide you with all the textbooks and reading material for all of our courses
There is only one prerequisite for this course. The Critical Reasoning, Logic and Epistemology
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