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Culture Change 14

Culture Change 14

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Published by lp3893
chapter 14
chapter 14

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: lp3893 on Mar 15, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/20/2010

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 1
Overview 
 
All cultures change through time. No culture is static. However, most cultures are basically conservative in that they tend to resist change. Some resistmore than others by enacting laws for the preservation and protection oftraditional cultural patterns while putting up barriers to alien ideas and things.For example, the French government has forbidden the commercial use ofEnglish words for which there are French equivalencies. This is a reactionparticularly to the widespread use and popularity of terms such as "sandwich"and "computer" among young people. More recently, Starbucks has found itvery difficult to become established in France despite the fact that it isbecoming successful elsewhere in Europe. In contrast, some cultures areextremely open to some kinds of change. Over the last two decades, thePeoples Republic of China has been rapidly adopting western technology andculture in everyday life. This can be seen in their wide acceptance ofeverything from cell phones to American television shows and fast food.McDonald's has already established 560 of their restaurants in China andsoon will be adding 100 more. KFC fried chicken franchises have been evenmore popular. There are 1000 KFC outlets throughout the country with morethan 100 in Beijing alone. Taco Bell, A & W, and Pizza Hut are not farbehind. In 2003, the Chinese government made the decision to require allchildren in their country, beginning with the 3rd grade of elementary school, tolearn English. This will very likely accelerate westernization.China is far from being unique in experiencing a revolutionary rate ofchange. It is now abundantly clear that we are in an accelerating culturechange period all around the world regardless of whether we try to resist it ornot. It is driven by the expansion of international commerce and especiallymass media. Ultimately, what is driving it is our massive human populationexplosion. The number of people in the world now doubles in less than half acentury.
 
What Actually Changes When Cultures Change?
 
 
 2
When analyzing the transformation of aculture, it is clear that differentunderstandings are gained depending onthe focus. Anthropology began its study ofthis phenomenon, during the late 19thcentury, largely from the perspective oftrying to understand how manufacturedthings, such as tools, are invented and modified in design over time. Itbecame apparent that there rarely are entirely new inventions. Most often,only the function, form, or principle is new, but not all three. For instance, ourmodern jack, used for lifting up the side of a car, is usually based on theprinciples of the lever and/or the screw. Those principles were well known tothe ancient Greeks more than 2,000 years ago.
 
By the 1940's, anthropologists began to realize thatideas, tools, and other artifacts generally are notinvented or changed in isolation. They are theproduct of particular cultural settings. Cultures areorganic wholes consisting of interdependentcomponents. Inventions often occur in response toother cultural changes.Likewise, inventions potentially can affect all cultural institutions. Beginning inthe 1950's, for instance, televisions in American homes affected how andwhen members of families interacted with each other. Less time wasavailable for direct conversation. The size of houses in more affluent areas ofthe U.S. are now usually 2-3 times larger than they were in the 1950's. As aconsequence, family members often have their own rooms and become evenmore isolated from each other.
 
Similarly, the introduction of new, effective birth controlmeasures, mostly beginning in the early 1960's, allowedpeople to easily limit the number of children they had andto space their births. This affected the relationships ofchildren with their parents and siblings. When there arefewer children, parents can give more attention to eachone. Likewise, more money per child is available forclothes, entertainment, gifts, and education. Potentially,there is also more money and leisure time for parentswhen there are fewer children in their family.
 
21st century jack based on principlesof physics known to the ancient Greeks
 
Parents with few childrencan give more personalattention to each of them
 
 
 3
The interrelated nature of cultural institutions can also beseen in the effects of changing roles for American womensince the mid-20th century. As they have increasinglymoved into the work force outside of the home, it hasgiven them financial independence and has alteredtraditional roles within the family. Men are less essentialas bread winners and less accepted as patriarchs.They have begun to take on more child rearing and otherdomestic household responsibilities previously defined as"women's work." Divorce has become an economicallyviable alternative for women in unhappy marriages.There also has been a marked decrease in the frequency of mother-childinteraction. American children have increasingly been raised by non-familymembers in child care centers and schools.
 
By the early 1960's, it was evident to someanthropologists that cultures do not exist in isolation.When cultures change, they can have major impactson the environment. Similarly, when the environmentchanges, there are likely to be impacts on culture.For example, global warming at the end of the last iceage, 10,000 years ago, very likely was amajorcontributing factor leading to the invention ofagriculture. This technological innovation allowed forsuch immense increases in human populations thatwe began to rapidly alter the environment by depleting resources. In thevicinity of ancient cities, forests often were cut down for construction materialsand fuel and wild animals were hunted to near extinction for food.
 
Since 1985, the average number of people living together in a household hasbeen dropping in the 76 richest nations due to increased affluence and othersocial changes. Extended and joint family households are less popular.Divorce rates have gone up usually resulting in the establishment of newhouseholds by one or both former marriage partners. There also are largernumbers of unmarried adults who establish their own households. For aquarter century there has been a demand for housing that is significantly overwhat would be expected from the population growth in these nations. As aresult, the need for lumber and other construction materials has caused adramatic increase in the exploitation of forests. This in turn makes itincreasingly more difficult to maintain global biological diversity.
 
North American fatherin a non-traditional role:caring for his child whilehis wife works elsewhere
 
Culture and the naturalenvironment are interrelatedin complex ways
 

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