Cultural Anthropology, 11th Edition

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9780131116368: Cultural Anthropology, 11th Edition

This comprehensive volume reflects recent anthropological research and controversial developments, while integrating features in each chapter to spark and maintain reader interest. A focus on applied anthropology discusses the history and types in the United States and shows how the work of applied anthropologists is playing more of a role in the planning of possible solutions to various global social problems—including AIDS, disasters, homelessness, crime, family violence, and war. This book offers an introduction to anthropology, cultural variation, and using applied anthropology and medical anthropology to address global social problems. For individuals interested in exploring the far-reaching aspects of anthropology.

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About the Author:

Carol R. Ember started at Antioch College as a chemistry major. She began taking social science courses because some were required, but she soon found herself intrigued. There were lots of questions without answers, and she became excited about the possibility of a research career in social science. She spent a year in graduate school at Cornell studying sociology before continuing on to Harvard, where she studied anthropology primarily with John and Beatrice Whiting.

For her Ph.D. dissertation she worked among the Luo of Kenya. While there she noticed that many boys were assigned "girls' work;" such as babysitting and household chores, because their mothers (who did most of the agriculture) did not have enough girls to help out. She decided to study the possible effects of task assignment on the social behavior of boys. Using systematic behavior observations, she compared girls, boys who did a great deal of girls' work, and boys who did little such work. She found that boys assigned girls' work were intermediate in many social behaviors, compared with the other boys and girls. Later, she did cross-cultural research on variation in marriage, family, descent groups, and war and peace, mainly in collaboration with Melvin Ember, whom she married in 1970. All of these cross-cultural studies tested theories on data for worldwide samples of societies.

From 1970 to 1996, she taught at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She has also served as president of the Society of Cross-Cultural Research and was one of the directors of the Summer Institutes in Comparative Anthropological Research, which were funded by the National Science Foundation. She is now executive director at the Human Relations Area Files, Inc., a nonprofit research agency at Yale University.

After graduating from Columbia College, Melvin Ember went to Yale University for his Ph.D. His mentor at Yale was George Peter Murdock, an anthropologist who was instrumental in promoting cross-cultural research sand building a full-text database on the cultures of the world to facilitate cross-cultural hypothesis testing. This database came to be known as the Human Relations Area Files (HRAF) because it was originally sponsored by the Institute of Human Relations at Yale. Growing in annual installments and now distributed in electronic format, the HRAF database currently covers more than 370 cultures, past and present, all over the world.

Melvin Ember did fieldwork for his dissertation in American Samoa, where he conducted a comparison of three villages to study the effects of commercialization on political life. In addition, he did research on descent groups and how they changed with the increase of buying and selling. His cross-cultural studies focused originally on variation in marital residence and descent groups. He has also done cross-cultural research on the relationship between economic and political development, the origin and extension of the incest taboo, the causes of polygyny, and how archaeological correlates of social customs can help us draw inferences about the past.

After four years of research at the National Institute of Mental Health, he taught at Antioch College and then Hunter College of the City University of New York. He has served as president of the Society for Cross-Cultural Research and has been president since 1987 of the Human Relations Area Files, Inc., a nonprofit research agency at Yale University.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Ethnographic fieldwork is the basis of most theory and research on human culture. To emphasize its importance, we have added "Portraits of Culture" as a box feature in this edition. We introduce the new set of boxes in the first chapter, and every other chapter has an extract from a "portrait" of a different culture. These extracts come from a series of original ethnographic articles that we specially commissioned for supplementary reading. The entire series, with other specially commissioned series (on "Research Frontiers in Anthropology" and "Cross-Cultural Research for Social Science"), is now available from Prentice Hall on a CD-ROM (see Supplements). Other major changes in this edition include expanded coverage of globalization and its consequences (see the revised chapter, now called "Culture Change and Globalization") and a new section on terrorism in the chapter on global social problems. Other changes are outlined below in the description of each chapter. In updating the book, we try to go beyond descriptions, as always. We are interested not only in what humans are and were like; we are also interested in why they got to be that way, in all their variety. When there are alternative explanations, we try to communicate the necessity to evaluate them logically as well as on the basis of the available evidence. Throughout the book, we try to communicate that no idea, including ideas put forward in textbooks, should be accepted even tentatively without supporting tests that could have gone the other way.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CHAPTERS

PART I: INTRODUCTION TO ANTHROPOLOGY

CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS ANTHROPOLOGY?

Chapter 1 introduces the student to anthropology. We discuss what we think is special and distinctive about anthropology in general, and about each of its subfields in particular. We outline how each of the subfields is related to other disciplines such as biology, psychology, and sociology. We direct attention to the increasing importance of applied anthropology. There are four boxes. The first three focus on an individual anthropologist and her or his work. The fourth box highlights an entirely new series of boxes that are found in all subsequent chapters. Called "Portraits of Culture," these new boxes include extracts from original ethnographic portraits that we commissioned for a series titled with the same name. Although we cannot here include all of the portraits in the series, the entire series is on a CD-ROM that can be obtained from Prentice Hall (see Supplements).

CHAPTER 2: THE CONCEPT OF CULTURE

This chapter introduces the concept of culture. We first try to convey a feeling for what culture is before dealing more explicitly with the concept and some assumptions about it. A section on cultural relativism puts the concept in its historical context and discusses recent thinking on the subject. We discuss the fact that individual behavior varies in all societies and how such variation may be the beginning of new cultural patterns. The first box, which is new, describes an ethnographer's initial shock at finding out that same-sex public affection in her place of fieldwork has completely different meanings from what it has in North America. The second box, which asks whether Western countries are ethnocentric in their ideas about human rights, incorporates the debate within anthropology about cultural relativism. The third box discusses an applied anthropologist's view of why Bedouin are reluctant to settle down.

CHAPTER 3: THEORY AND EVIDENCE IN CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY

In this chapter we focus first on those theoretical orientations that remain popular in cultural anthropology. Then we discuss what it means to explain and what kinds of evidence are needed to evaluate an explanation. We end with a discussion of the major types of study in cultural anthropology—ethnography, ethnohistory, within-culture comparisons, regional comparisons, and worldwide cross-cultural comparisons. We have expanded the discussion of fieldwork by showing how an ethnographer can select knowledgeable informants to help understand a culture. The first box explores the differences between scientific and humanistic understanding and points out that the different approaches are not really incompatible. The second box uses a research question about the Abelam of New Guinea to illustrate how different theoretical orientations suggest different types of answers. In the third bob, we have two purposes. One is to give a feeling for the experience of fieldwork; the second is to use the Mead-Freeman controversy to explore the issue of how we can know that an ethnographer is accurate. The last box, which is new, discusses how an ethnographer did historical research on the Miskito of Nicaragua.

PART II: CULTURAL VARIATION

In most of the chapters that follow, we try to convey the range of cultural variation with ethnographic examples from all over the world. Wherever we can, we discuss possible explanations of why societies may be similar or different in regard to some aspect of culture. If anthropologists have no explanation as yet for the variation, we say so. But if we have some idea of the conditions that may be related to a particular kind of variation, even if we do not know yet why they are related, we discuss that too. If we are to train students to go beyond what we know now, we have to tell them what we do not know, as well as what we think we know.

CHAPTER 4: COMMUNICATION AND LANGUAGE

We begin by discussing communication in humans and other animals. After an updated discussion of human nonverbal communication we describe the debate about the degree of difference between human and nonhuman primate language abilities. We discuss the origins of language and how creoles and children's language acquisition may help us understand the origins. Then we move on to descriptive linguistics and the processes of linguistic divergence. After discussing the interrelationships between language and other aspects of culture, we end with the ethnography of speaking and the differences in speech by status, gender, and ethnicity. We have expanded the discussion of interethnic or intercultural communication, indicating how linguists can play a role in helping people improve their cross-cultural communication. The first box, which is new, deals with Haitian Creole. The second discusses the problem of language extinction and what some anthropologists are doing about it. To stimulate thinking about the possible impact of language on thought, we ask in the third box whether the English language promotes sexist thinking.

CHAPTER 5: GETTING FOOD

Chapter 5 discusses how societies vary in getting their food, how they have changed over time, and how such variation seems to affect other kinds of cultural variation—including variation in economic systems, social stratification, and political life. We include a discussion of "market foragers" to emphasize that most people in a modern market economy are not in fact producers of food. The first box deals with the change from "Man the Hunter" to "Woman the Gatherer," and we raise the question of whether either view is accurate. Although it is commonly thought that industrialization is mainly to blame for negative developments in the environment, our second box deals with the negative effects in preindustrial times of irrigation, animal grazing, and overhunting. Our third box, which is new, explores how the agricultural Han Chinese adapted to moving into drier land more suited to pastoralism.

CHAPTER 6: ECONOMIC SYSTEMS

Chapter 6 discusses how societies vary in the ways they allocate resources (what is "property" and what ownership may mean), convert or transform resources through labor into usable goods, and distribute and perhaps exchange goods and services. We have expanded and updated the discussions of land use amongst pastoralists, we discuss the effects of political systems (including colonialism) on land ownership and use, and we have expanded the discussion of food sharing. There is a discussion of why children in some foraging societies do more work than in others. The first box addresses the controversy over whether communal ownership leads to economic disaster. The second box, which is new, discusses the distribution of work among the Yanomamo. After the discussion of commercialization, the third box illustrates the impact of the world-system on local economies, with special reference to the deforestation of the Amazon.

CHAPTER 7: SOCIAL STRATIFICATION: CLASS, ETHNICITY, AND RACISM

This chapter explores the variation in degree of social stratification and how the various forms of social inequality may develop. We discuss "race," racism, and ethnicity and how they often relate to the inequitable distribution of resources. We have added new material on how egalitarian societies work hard to prevent dominance, and on the controversy about whether pastoral societies with individual ownership of animals are egalitarian. We have extensively revised the boxes and text to provide up-to-date information on the degree of inequality in the world as well as in the United States. The first box, which is new, discusses social stratification in a foraging society—the Tlingit of southern Alaska. The second box discusses social stratification on the global level—how the gap between rich and poor countries has been widening, and what may account for that trend. The third box discusses possible reasons for disparities in death by disease between African Americans and European Americans.

CHAPTER 8: SEX, GENDER, AND CULTURE

In the first part of Chapter 8 we discuss how and why sex and gender differences vary cross-culturally; in the second part we discuss variation in sexual attitudes and practices. We explain how the concepts of gender do not always involve just two genders. We emphasize all the ways women contribute to work, and how conclusions about contributions by gender depend on how you measure "work." We include new mate...

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