Anthropology Terms

Adaptation
processes by which organisms cope with environmental forces and stresses, such as those posed by climate

Anthropology
the study of the human species and its immediate ancestors

Applied Anthropology
the application of anthropoligical data, perspectives, theory, and methods to identity, assess, and solve contemporary social problems

Archaelogical Anthropology
reconstructs, describes, and interprets human behavior and cultural patterns through material remains

Biocultural
the inclusion and combination of both bilogical and cultural perspectives and approaches to comment on or solve a particular issue or problem

Biological Anthropology
human biological diversity in time and space

Cultural Anthropology
the study of human society and culture, the subfield that describes, analyzes, interprets, and explains social and cultural similarities and differences

Cultural Resource Management
decides what sites need saving, and to preserve significant information about the past when sites cannot be saved

Culture
traditions and customs, transmitted through learning, that form and guide the beliefs and behavior of the people exposed to them

Ethnography
provides an account of a particular community, society, or culture

Ethnology
examines, interprets, analyzes, and compares the results of ethnography

Food production
the cultivation of plants and domestication of animals

General Anthropology
the academic discipline of anthropology, which includes the subfields sociocultural, archaelogical, biological, and linguistic anthropology

Holism
refers to the study of the whole of the human condition: past, present, and future; biology, society, language, and culture

Linguistic Anthropology
studies language in its social and cultural context, across space and over time

Natural Selection
the process by which the forms most fit to survive and reproduce in a given environment do so in greater numbers than others in the same population do

Phenotype
refers to an organism’s evident traits

Racial Classification
the attempt to assign humans to discrete categories based on common ancestry

Science
a systematic field of study or body of knowledge that aims, through experiment, oberservation, and deduction, to produce reliable explanations of phenomena, with reference to the material and physical world

Sociolinguistics
investigates relationships between social and linguistic variation

Tropics
a belt extending about 23 degrees north and south of the equator, between the Tropic of Cancer, and the Tropic of Capricorn

Complex Societies
large and populous societies with social stratification and central governments

Cultural Consultant
refers to individuals the ethnographer gets to know in the field, the people who teach him or her about their culture, who provide the emic perspective

Emic Approach
investigates how local people think

Etic Approach
shifts the focus from local observations, categories, explanations, and interpretations to those of the anthropologist

Genealogical Method
a well-established ethnographic technique

Informed Consent
the agreement to take part in research, after having been so informed

Interview Schedule
when an ethnographer talks face to face with people, asks the questions, and writes down the answers

Key Cultural Consultants
people who, by accident, experience, talent, or training, can provide the most complete or useful information about particular aspects of life

Life History
a recollection of a lifetime of experiences

Longitudinal Research
the long-term study of a community, region, society, culture, or other unit, usually based on repeated visits

Participant Observation
taking part in the events one is observing, describing, and analysing

Random Sample
a survey type in which all members of the population have an equal statistical chance of being chosen for inclusion

Sample
a manageable study group

Survey Research
involves sampling, impersonal data collection, and statistical analysis

Variables
attributes that vary among members of a sample or population

Acculturation
the exchange of cultural features that results when groups have continuous firsthand contact

Core Values
key, basic, central values

Cultural Relativism
the viewpoint that behavior in one culture should not be judged by the standards of another culture

Cultural Rights
include a group’s ability to preserve its culture, to raise its children in the ways of its forebears, to continue its language, and not to be deprived of its economic base by the nation in which it’s located

Diffusion
borrowing of traits between cultures

Enculturation
the process by which a child learns his or her culture

Ethnocentrism
the tendancy to view one’s own culture as superior and to apply one’s own cultural values in judging the behavior and beliefs of people raised in other cultures

Generalities
features that are common to sevaral but not all human groups

Globalization
encompasses a series of processes, including diffusion, migration, and acculturation, working to promote change in a world in which nations and people are increasingly and mutuall dependent

Human Rights
include the right to speak freely, to hold religious beliefs without persecution, and not to be murdered, injured , or enslaved or imprisoned without charge

Independent Invention
the process by which humans innovate, creatively finding solutions to problems

Intellectual Property Rights
concept that says that a particular group may determine how indigenous knowledge and its products may be used and distributed and the level of compensation required

International Culture
a level of culture that extends beyond and across national boundaries

National Culture
a level of culture that embodies those beliefs, learned behavior patterns, values, and institutions that are shared by citizens of the same nation

Particularities
features that are unique to certain cultural traditions

Subcultures
different symbol-based patterns and traditions associated with particular groups in the same complex society

Symbols
signs that have no necessary or natural connection to the things they stand for, or signify

Universal
features that are found in every culture

Black English Vernacular
the relatively uniform dialect spoken by the majority of black youth in most parts of the US today

Call Systems
the natural communication systems of other primates

Daughter Languages
languages that descend from the same parent language and that have been changing separately for hundreds or thousands of years

Descriptive Linguistics
scientific study of a spoken language

Diglossia
applies to high and low variants of the same language

Displacement
the ability to talk about things that are not present

Focal Vocabulary
specialized sets of terms and distinctions that are particularly important to certain groups

Historical Linguistics
the longer-term change of contemporary variation in speech

Kinesics
the study of communication through body movements, stances, gestures, and facial expressions

Lexicon
a dictionary containing all its morphemes and their meanings

Morphology
studies the forms in which sounds combine to form morphemes – words and their meaningful parts

Phoneme
a sound contrast that makes a difference

Phonemics
studies the significant sound contrasts of a given language

Phonetics
the study of speech sounds in general

Phonology
the study of speech sounds

Linguistic Productivity
to use the rules of a language to produce entirely new expressions that are comprehensible to other native speakers

Protolanguage
the original language from which a daughter language diverges

Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis
states that different languages produce different ways of thinking

Semantics
a language’s meaning system

Sociolinguistics
investigates relationships between social and linguistic variation

Style Shifts
when speech is varied in different contexts

Subgroups
Languages within a taxonomy of related languages that are most closely related

Syntax
the arrangement and order of words in phrases in sentences

Domestic-Public Dichotomy
a strong differentation between the home and the outside world

Extradomestic
outside the home; within or pertaining to the public domain

Gender Roles
the tasks and activities a culture assigns to the sexes

Gender Stereotypes
oversimplified but strongly held ideas about the characteristics of males and females

Gender Stratification
describes an unequal distribution of rewards between men and women, reflecting their different positions in a social hierarchy

Patriarchy
a political system rules by men in which women have inferior social and political status, including basic human rights

Patrilineal-Patrilocal Complex
consisting of patrilineality, patrilocality, warfare, and male supremacy

Sexual Dimorphism
refers to differences in male and female biology besides the contrasts in breasts and genitals

Sexual Orientation
refers to a person’s habitual sexual attraction to, and sexual activities with, persons of the opposite sex (heterosexuality), the same sex (homosexuality), or a lack of attraction to either sex (asexuality)

Assimilation
describes the process of change that a minority ethnic group may experience when it moves to a country where another culture dominates

Cultural Colonialism
refers to internal domination by one group and its culture or ideology over others

Descent
to assign social identity on the basis of ancestry

Discrimination
refers to policies and practices that harm a group and its members

Ethnic Group
a group that shares certain beliefs, values, habits, customs, and norms because of their common background

Ethnicity
identification with, and feeling part of, an ethnic group and exclusion from certain other’s groups because of this affliation

Ethnocide
when a dominant group tries to destroy the cultures of certain ethnic groups

Genocide
the deliberate elimination of a group through mass murder

Hypodescent
automatically placing the children of a union between members of different groups in the minority group

Majority Groups
superordinate, dominant, or controlling group

Minority Groups
subordinate with inferior power and less secure access to resources

Multiculturalism
the view of cultural diversity in a country as something good and desirable

Nation
an independent, centrally organized political unit, or a government

Nation-State
refers to an autonomous political entity, a country

Nationalities
ethnic groups that one had, or wish to have or regain, autonomous political status

Phenotype
an organism’s evident traits – it’s physiology and anatomy, including skin color, hair form, facial features, and eye color

Plural Society
a society combining ethnic contrasts, ecological specialization, and the economic interdependence of these groups

Prejudice
devaluing a group because of its assumed behavior, values, capabilities, or attributes

Race
an ethnic group that is assumed to have a biological basis

Racism
discrimination against a race

Refugees
people who have been forced or who have chosen to flee a country, to escape persecution or war

Social Races
groups assumed to have a biological basis but actually defined in a culturally arbitrary, rather than a scientific, manner

Stereotypes
fixed ideas about what the members of a group are like

Agriculture
nonindustrial system of plant cultivication characterization by continuous and intensive use of land and labour

Balanced Reciprocity
applies to exchanges between people who are more distantly related than are members of the same band or household

Band
basic unit of social organization among foragers that includes fewer than one hundred people

Correlation
an association between two or more variables such that when one changes, the other also changes

Economy
a population’s system of production, distribution, and consumption of resources

Generalized Reciprocity
principle that characterizes exchanges between closely related individuals

Horticulture
nonindustrial system of plant cultivation in which plots lie fallo for varying lengths of time

Market Principle
profit-oriented principle of exchange that dominates in states, particularly industrial states

Means of Production
land, labor, technology and capital – major productive resources

Mode of Production
way of organizing production – a set of social relations through which labor is deployed to wrest energy from nature by means of tools, skills, and knowledge

Nomadism, Pastoral
movement throughtout the year by the whole pastoral group with their animals

Pastoralists
people who use a food-producing strategy of adaptation based on care of herds of domesticated animals

Peasant
small-scale agriculturalist living in a state, with rent fund obligations

Potlatch
competitive feast among Indians on the North Pacific Coast of North America

Reciprocity
one of the three principles of exchange that governs exchange between social equals

Redistribution
major exchange mode of chiefdoms, many archaic states, and some states with managed economies

Transhumance
one of two variants of pastoralism; part of the population moves seasonally with the herds while the other part remains in home villages

Achieved Status
social status that comes thrrough talents, actions, efforts, activities, and accomplishments, rather than ascription

Age Set
group uniting all men or women born during a certain time span

Ascribed Status
social status that people have little or no choice about occupying

Big Man
figure often found among tribal horticulturalists and pastoralists, who occupies no office but creates his reputation through entrepreneurship and generosity to others

Caste Systems
closed, hereditary system of stratification, often dictated by religion

Chiefdom
form of sociopolitical organization intermediate between the tribe and the state; kin-based with differential access ro resources and a permanent political structure

Conflict Resolution
the means by which disputes are socially regulated and settled

Differential Access
unequal access to resources

Fiscal
pertaining to finances and taxation

Law
a legal code, including trial and enforcement

Office
permanent political position

Open-Class System
stratification system that facilitates social mobility, with individual achievement and personal merit determining social rank

Power
the ability to exercise one’s will over others

Prestige
esteem, respect, or approval for acts, deeds, or qualities considered exemplary

Slavery
the most extreme, coercive, abusive, and unhumane form of legalized inequality

Sociopolitical Typology
classification scheme based on the scale and complexity of social organization and the effectiveness of political regulation

Pantribal Sodality
a non-kin based group that exists throughout a tribe, spanning several villages

State
complex sociopolitical system that administers territory and populace with substantial contrasts in occupation, wealth, prestige, and power

Status
any position that determines where someone fits in society

Stratification
characteristic of a system with socioeconomic strata

Subordinate
the lower, or underpriviledged, group in a stratified system

Superordinate
the upper, or priviledged, group in a stratified system

Tribe
form of sociopolitical organization usually based on horticulture or pastoralism

Vertical Mobility
upward or downward change in a person’s social status

Village Head
leadership position in a village that has limited authority; leads by example and persuasion

Wealth
all a person’s material assets, including income, land, and other types of property

Bridewealth
a customary gift before, at, or after marriage from the husband and his kin to the wife and her kin

Clan
unilineal descent group based on stipulated descent

Descent Group
a permanent social unit whose members claim common ancestry

Dowry
a marital exchange in which the wife’s group provides substantial gifts to the husband’s family

Endogamy
marriage between people of the same social group

Exogamy
mating or marriage outside one’s kin group

Extended Family Household
extended household including three or more generations

Family
a group of people who are considered to be related in some way

Family of Orientation
nuclear family in which one is born and grows up

Family of Procreation
nuclear family established when one marries and has children

Incest
sexual relations with a close relative

Levirate
custom by which a widow marries the brother of her deceased husband

Lineage
unilineal descent group based on demonstrated descent

Matrilineal Descent
unilineal descent rule in which people join the mother’s group automatically at birth and stay members throughout life

Matrilocality
Customary residence with the wife’s relatives after marriage, so that children grow up in their mother’s community

Neolocality
postmarital residence pattern in which a couple establishes a new place of residence rather than living with or near either set of parents

Patrilineal Descent
unilineal descent rule in which people join the father’s group automatically at birth and stay member’s throughout life

Patrilocality
customary residence with the husband’s relatives after marriage, so that children grow up in their father’s community

Plural Marriage
marriage of a man to two or more women or marriage of a woman to two or more men at the same time

Polyandry
variety of plural marriage in which a woman has more than one husband

Polygyny
variety of plural marriage in which a man has more than one wife

Progeny Price
a gift from the husband and his kin to the wife and her kin before, at, or after marriage

Sororate
custom by which a widower marries the sister of the diseased wife

Unilineal Descent
matrilineal or patrilineal descent

Domestic-Public Dichotomy
contrast between women’s role in the home and men’s role in public life, with a corresponding social devaluation of women’s work and worth

Extradomestic
outside the home; within or pertaining to the public domain

Gender Roles
the tasks and activities that a culture assigns to each sex

Gender Stereotypes
oversimplified but strongly held ideas about the characteristics of males and females

Gender Stratification
unequal distribution of rewards, reflecting their different positions in a social hierarchy

Patriarchy
political system ruled by men in which women have inferior social and political status, including basic human rights

Patrilineal-Patrilocal Complex
an interrelated constellation of patrilineality, patrilocality, warfare, and male supremacy

Sexual Dimorphism
marked differences in male and female biology besides the contrasts in breasts and genitals

Sexual Orientation
a person’s habitual sexual attraction to, and activities with persons of the opposite sex (heterosexuality), the same sex (homosexuality), or both sexes (bisexuality)

Animism
belief in souls or doubles

Cargo Cults
postcolonial, acculturative, religious movements common in Melanesia that attempt to explain European domination and wealth and to achieve similar success magically by mimicking European behavior

Communal Religions
communal cults in which people organize community rituals such as harvest ceremonies and rites of passage

Communitas
intense community spirit, a feeling of great social solidarity, equality, and togetherness; characterisic of people experiencing liminality together

Leveling Mechanism
customs and social actions that operate to reduce differences in wealth and thus to bring standouts in line with community norms

Liminality
the critically important marginal or in-between phase of a rite of passage

Magic
use of supernatural techniques to accomplish specific aims

Mana
sacred impersonal force in Melanesian and Polynesian religions

Monotheism
worship of an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent supreme being

Olympian Religions
religions that develop with state organization that have full-time religious specialists

Polytheism
belief in several deities who control aspects of nature

Religion
beliefs and rituals concerned with supernatural beings, powers, and forces

Revitalization Movements
movements that occur in times of change, in which religious leaders emerge and undertake to alter or revitalize a society

Rites of Passage
culturally defined activities associated with the transition from one place or stage of life to another

Ritual
behavior that is formal, stylized, repetitive, and stereotyped, performed earnestly as a social act

Shaman
a part-time religious practitioner who mediates between ordinary people and supernatural beings and forces

Taboo
prohibition backed by supernatural sanctions

Bourgeoisie
one of Karl Marx’s opposed classes; owners of the means of production

Capital
wealth or resources invested in business, with the intent of prodcuing a profit

Capitalist World Economy
the single world system, which emerged in the 16th century, committed to production for sale, with the object of maximizing profits rather than supplying domestic needs

Colonialism
the political, social, economic, and cultural domination of a territory and its people by a foreign power for an extended time

communism
a social system in which property is owned by the community and in which people work of the same common good

Communism
a political movement and doctrine seeking to overthrow capitalism

Core
dominant structural position in the world system

Imperialism
a policy od extending the rule of a nation or empire over foreign nations and of taking and holding foreign colonies

Indigenous Peoples
the original inhabitants of particular territories; often descendants of tribespeople who live on as culturally distinct colonized peoples, amny of whom aspire to autonomy

Industrial Revolution
the historical transformation of traditional into modern societies through industrialization of the economy

Intervention Philosophy
guiding principle of colonialism, conquest, missionization, or development; an ideological justification for outsiders to guide native peoples in specific directions

Neoliberalism
revival of Adam Smith’s classic economic liberalism, the idea that governments should not regulate private enterprise and that free market forces should rule

Periphery
weakest structural position in the world system

Postcolonial
referring to interactions between European nations and the societies they colonized

Semiperiphery
structural position in the world system intermediate beteen core and periphery

Working Class (Prolerariat)
those who must sell their labor to survive

World-System Theory
argument for the historic and contemporary social, political, and economic significance of an identifiable global system, based on wealth and power differentials, that extends beyong individual countries

Anthropology and Education
anthropological research in classrooms, homes, and neighborhoods, viewing students as total cultural creatures whose enculturation and attitudes toward education belong to a larger context that includes family, peers, and society

Applied Anthropology
the application of anthropological data, perspectives, theory, and methods to identify, assess, and solve contemporary social problems

Curer
specialized role acquired through a culturally appropriate process of selection, training, certification, and acquisition of a professional image

Development Anthropology
the branch of applied anthropology that focuses on social issues in, and the cultural dimension of, economic development

Disease
an etic or scientifically identified health threat caused by a bacterium, virus, fungus, parasite, or other pathogen

Health Care Systems
beliefs, customs, and specialists concerned with ensuring health and preventing and curing illness; a cultural universal

Illness
an emic condition of poor health felt by individual

Equity, Increased
a reduction in absolute poverty and a faired distribution of wealth

Medical Anthropology
unites biological and cultural anthropologists in the study of disease, health problems, health care systems, and theories about illness in different cultures and ethnic groups

Overinnovation
characteristic of development projects that require major changes in people’s daily lives, especially ones that interfere with customary subsistence pursuits

Scientific Medicine
a health care system based on scientific knowledge and procedures, encompassing such fields as pathology, microbiology, biochemisty, surgery, diagnostic technology, and applications

Underdifferentiation
planning fallacy of viewing less developed countries as an undifferentiated group; ignoring cultural diversity and adopting a uniform approach for very different types of project beneficiaries

Urban Anthropology
the anthropological study of life in and around world cities, including urban social problems, differences between urban and other environments, and adaptation to city life

Agency
the active role that individuals play in interpreting, using, making and remaking culture

Antimodernism
the rejection of the modern in favor of what is perceived as an earlier, purer, and better way of life

Cultural Imperialism
the rapid spread or advance of one culture at the expense of others, or its imposition on other cultures, which it modifies, replaces, or destroys – usually because of differential economic or political influence

Diaspora
the offspring of an area who have spread to many lands

Essentialism
the process of viewing an identity as established, real, and frozen, so as to hide the historical processes and politics within which that identity developed

Hegemonic Reading
the meaning of a text as defined by its creators or other elites

Hegemony
a stratified social order in which subordinates comply with domination by internalizing its values and accepting its naturalness

Hidden Transcript
the critique of power by the oppressed that goes on offstage in private where the power holders can’t see it

Indigenized
modified to fit the local culture

Postmodern
describes the blurring and breakdown of established canons, categories, distinctions, and boundaries

Postmodernism
a style and movement in architecture that succeeded modernism

Postmodernity
condition of a world in flux, with people on the move, in which established groups, boundaries, identities, contrast, and standards are reaching out and breaking down

Public Transcript
the open, public interactions between dominators and oppressed – the outer shell of power relations

Text
something that is creatively read, interpreted, and assigned meaning by each person who receives it

Westernization
the acculturative influence of Western expansion on other cultures