AN 101 Cultural Anthropology BU

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Anthropology
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the study of human nature, human society, and the human past.
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holism
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a characteristic of the anthropological perspective that describes, at the highest and most inclusive level, how anthropology tries to integrate all that is known about human beings and their activities.
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comparison
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a characteristic of the anthropological perspective that requires anthropologists to consider similarities and differences in as wide a range of human societies as possible before generalizing about human nature, human society, or the human past.
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evolution
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a characteristic of the anthropological perspective that requires anthropologists to place their observations about human nature, human society, or the human past in a temporal framework that takes into consideration change over time.
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culture
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sets of learned behavior and ideas that human beings acquire as members of society. Human beings use culture to adapt to and to transform the world in which they live.
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biocultural organisms
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organisms (in this case, human beings) whose defining features are codetermined by biological and cultural factors.
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races
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social groups that allegedly reflect biological differences.
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racism
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the systematic oppression of one or more socially defined \”races\” by another social defined \”race\” that is justified in terms of the supposed inherent biological superiority of the rulers and the supposed inherent biological inferiority of those they rule.
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biological anthropology
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the specialty of anthropology that looks at human beings as biological organisms and tries to discover what characteristics make them different from other organisms and what characteristics they share.
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primatology
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the study of nonhuman primates, the closest living relatives of human beings.
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paleoanthropology
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the search for fossilized remains of humanity’s earliest ancestors.
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cultural anthropology
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the specialty of anthropology that shows how variation in the beliefs and behaviors of members of different human groups is shaped by sets of learned behaviors and ideas that human beings acquire as members of society-that is, by culture.
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sex
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observable physical characteristics that distinguish two kinds of human, females and males, needed for biological reproduction.
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gender
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the cultural construction of beliefs and behaviors considered appropriate for each sex.
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fieldwork
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an extended period of close involvement with the people in whose language or way of life anthropologists are interested, during which anthropologists ordinarily collect most of their data.
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informants
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people in particular culture who work with anthropologists and provide them with insights about their way of life. Also called respondents, teachers or friends.
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ethnography
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an anthropologist’s written or filmed description of a particular culture.
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ethnology
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the comparative study of two or more cultures.
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language
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the system of arbitrary vocal symbols used to encode one’s experience of the world and of others.
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linguistic anthropology
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the specialty of anthropology concerned with the study of human languages.
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archaeology
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a cultural anthropology of the human past involving the analysis of material remains left behind by earlier societies.
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applied anthropologists
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specialists who use information gathered from the other anthropological specialists to solve practical cross-cultural problems.
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medical anthropology
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the specialty of anthropology that concerns itself with human health-the factors that contribute to disease or illness and the ay that human populations deal with disease or illness.
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symbol
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something that stands for something else.
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human agency
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the exercise of at least some control over their lives by humans beings.
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coevolution
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the dialectical relationship between biological processes and symbolic cultural processes in which each makes up an important part of the environment to which the other must adapt.
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ethnocentrism
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the opinion that’s one’s way of life is natural or correct and, indeed, the only true way of being fully human.
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cultural relativism
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understanding another culture in its own terms sympathetically enough so that the culture appears to be a coherent and meaningful design for living.
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participant-observation
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the method anthropologists use to gather information by living as closely as possible to the people whose culture they are studying while participating in their lives as much as possible.
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positivism
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the view that there is a reality \”out there\” that can be known through the sense and that there is a single, appropriate set of scientific methods for investigating that reality.
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objective knowledge
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knowledge about reality that is absolute and true.
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intersubjective meanings
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the shared, public symbolic systems of a culture.
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reflexivity
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critically thinking about the way one thinks; reflecting on one’s own experience.
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multi-sited fieldwork
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ethnographic research on cultural processes that are no contained by social, ethnic, religious, or national boundaries, in which the ethnographer follows the process from site to site, often doing fieldwork at sires and with persons who traditionally were never subjected to ethnographic analysis.
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dialectic of fieldwork
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the process of building a bridge of understanding between anthropologists and informants so that each can begin to understand the other.
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culture shock
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the feeling, akin to panic, that develops in people living in an unfamiliar society when they cannot understand what is happening around them.
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fact
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a widely accepted observation, a taken-for granted item of common knowledge. Facts do not speak for themselves; only when they are interpreted and placed in a context of meaning do they become intelligible.
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psychological anthropology
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the study of individuals and their socio-cultural communities.
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perception
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the processes by which people organize and experience information that is primarily of sensory origin.
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schemas
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patterned, repetitive experiences.
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prototypes
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examples of a typical instance, element, relation, or experience within a cultural relevant semantic domain.
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visuality
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the ways that individuals from different societies learn to interpret what they see and to construct mental pictures using the visual practices that their own cultural system favors.
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cognition
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1) the mental process by which human beings gain knowledge; 2) a tangle of connection between the mind at work and the world in which it works.
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elementary cognitive processes
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the ability to make abstractions, reason inferentially, categorize, and perform other mental tasks common to all normal humans.
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functional cognitive processes
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culturally linked sets of cognitive processes that guide perception, conception, reason, and emotion.
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thinking
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an active cognitive process that involves going beyond the information given.
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syllogism
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logical argument consisting of a series of three statements in which the first two statements are the premises and the last is the conclusion. For a syllogism to be sound, the conclusion must follow the premises.
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reasoning styles
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: how we understand a cognitive task, how we encode the information presented to us, and what transformations the information undergoes as we think. Reasoning styles differ from culture to culture and from context to context within the same culture.
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emotion
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the product of a dialectic between bodily arousal and cognitive interpretation, emotion comprises states, values, and arousals.
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socialization
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: the process by which human beings as material organisms, living together with other similar organisms, cope with the behavioral rules established by their respective societies.
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enculturation
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the process by which human beings living with one another must learn to come to terms with the ways of thinking and feeling that are considered appropriate in their respective cultures.
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self
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the result of the process of socialization/enculturation for an individual.
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personality
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the relative integration of an individual’s perceptions, motives, cognitions and behavior within a sociocultural matrix.
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subjectivity
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the felt interior experience of the person that includes his or her positions in a field of relational power.
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structural violence
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violence that results from the way that political and economic forces structure risk for various forms of suffering within a population.
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trauma
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events in life generated by forces and agents external to the person and largely external to his or her control; specifically events generated in the setting of armed conflict and war.
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friendship
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the relatively \”unofficial\” bonds that people construct with one another that tend to be personal, affective, and often an matter of choice.
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kinship
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social relationships that are prototypically derived from the universal human experiences of mating, birth, and nurturance.
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marriage
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an institution that prototypically involves a man and a woman, transforms the status of the participants, carries implications about sexual access, gives offspring a position in society, and establishes connections between the kin of the husband and the kin of the wife.
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descent
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the principle based on culturally recognized parent-child connections that define the social categories to which people belong.
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adoption
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kinship relationships based on nurturance, often in the absence of other connections based on mating or birth.
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capitalism
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an economic system dominated by the supply-demand-price mechanism called the market; an entire way of life that grew in response to and in service of that market. • Changed the face of Europe. • Kind of devastating to small societies because it assigned standards.
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colonialism
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cultural domination with enforced social change. • Indigenous life was forever altered. • Some people liked it, some didn’t.
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political economy
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a holistic term that emphasizes the centrality of material interest (economy) and the use of power (politics) to protect and enhance that interest.
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unilineal cultural evolution
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a 19th century theory that proposed a series of stages through which all societies must go (or had gone) in order to reach civilization. • This approach is wrong.
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social structure
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the enduring aspects of the social forms in a society, including its political and kinship systems. Anthropologists tried using this to organize their findings.
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uncentralized systems
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have no distinct, permanent institution concerned with public decision making.
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egalitarian
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relative autonomy
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band
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small social group, depend on wild food sources
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tribe
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somewhere between a band and a centralized system. Domesticated animals
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chiefdom
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fairly egalitarian
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state
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different groups have access to wealth, power, and prestige.
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structural-functional theory
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how certain social forms work from day to day to reproduce the traditional structure of society.
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power
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transformative capacity; the ability to transform a given situation.
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political anthropology
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the study of social power in human society.
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free agency
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the freedom of self-contained individuals to pursue their own interests above everything else and to challenge one another for dominance.
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ideology
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a worldview that justifies the social arrangements under which people live.
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domination
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coercive rule.
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hegemony
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persuading subordinates to accept the ideology of the dominant group by mutual accommodations that nevertheless preserve the rulers’ privileged position.
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governmentality
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the art of governing appropriate to promoting the welfare of populations within a state.
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resistance
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the power to refuse being forced against one’s will to conform to someone else’s wishes.
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consensus
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an agreement to which all parties collectively give their ascent.
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persuasion
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power based on verbal argument.
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anomie
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a pervasive sense of rootlessness and normlessness in a society.
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alienation
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a term used by Karl Marx to describe the deep separation that workers seemed to experience between their innermost sense of identity and the labor they were forced to perform in order to earn enough money to live.
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essentially negotiable concepts
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culturally recognized concepts that evoke a wide range of meanings and whose relevance in any particular context must be negotiated.
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subsistence strategies
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the patterns of production, distribution, and consumption that members of a society employ to ensure the satisfaction of the basic material survival needs of humans.
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food collectors
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those who gather, fish, or hunt for food.
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food producers
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those who depend on domesticated plants or animals for food.
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extensive agriculture
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a form of cultivation based on the technique of clearing uncultivated land, burning the bush, and planting the crops in the ash-enriched soil, which requires moving farm plots every few years as the soil become exhausted.
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intensive agriculture
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a form of cultivation that employs plows, draft animals, irrigation, fertilizer, and such to bring much land under cultivation at one time, to use it year after year, and to produce significant crop supplies.
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mechanized industrial agriculture
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: large-scale farming and animal husbandry that is highly dependent on industrial methods of technology and production.
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economic anthropology
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\”the part of the discipline [of anthropology] that debates issues of human nature that relative directly to the decisions of daily life and making a living\” (Wilk 1996, xv).
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institutions
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stable and enduring cultural practices that organize social life.
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production
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the transformation of nature’s raw materials into a form suitable for human use.
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distribution
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the allocation of goods and services.
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consumption
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the using up of material goods necessary for human survival.
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neoclassical economic theory
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a formal attempt to explain the workings of capitalist enterprise, with particular attention to distribution.
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modes of exchange
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patterns according to which distribution takes place: reciprocity, redistribution, and market exchange.
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reciprocity
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the exchange of goods and services of equal value. Anthropologists distinguish three forms of reciprocity: generalized, in which neither the time nor the value of the return are specified; balanced, in which a return of equal value is expected within a specified time limit; and negative, in which parties to the exchange hope to get something for nothing.
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redistribution
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a mode of exchange that requires some form of centralized social organization to receive economic contributions from all members of the group to redistribute them in such a way that ever group member is provided for.
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market exchange
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the exchange of goods (trade) calculated in terms of a multipurpose medium of exchange and standard of value (money) and carried on by means of a supply-demand-price mechanism (the market).
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labor
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the activity linking human social groups to the material world around them; from the point of view of Karl Marx, labor is therefore always social labor.
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mode of production
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a specific, historically occurring set of social relations through which labor is deployed to wrest energy from nature by means of tools, skills, organization, and knowledge.
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means of production
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the tools, skills, organization, and knowledge used to extract energy from nature.
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relations of production
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the social relations linking the people who use a given means of production within a particular mode of production.
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ideology
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those products of consciousness-such as mortality, religion, and metaphysics-that purport to explain to people who they are and to justify to them the kinds of lives they lead.
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ecology
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the study of the way in which living species relative to one another and to their natural environment.
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ecozone
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the particular mix of plant and animal species occupying any particular region of the earth.
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affluence
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the condition of having more than enough of whatever is required to satisfy consumption needs.

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