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- Created 2012-02-15
is the branch of comparative
(not to be confused with
) that seeks to define the
In the 19th century, "
" was used by some to refer to a wide array of
activities, and by others as a synonym for "
". In the 20th century,
began theorizing about culture as an object of scientific analysis. Some used it to distinguish human
from the largely
ive adaptive strategies of
s, including the adaptive strategies of other
s and non-human
s, whereas others used it to refer to symbolic
and expressions of human experience, with no direct adaptive value. Both groups understood culture as being definitive of
According to many
that have gained wide acceptance among anthropologists, culture exhibits the way that humans interpret their
. According to this point of view, culture becomes such an integral part of human existence that it
the human environment, and most cultural
can be attributed to human adaptation to
. Moreover, given that culture is seen as the primary adaptive mechanism of humans and takes place much faster than
human biological evolution
, most cultural change can be viewed as culture adapting to itself.
Although most anthropologists try to define culture in such a way that it separates human beings from other animals, many human traits are similar to those of other animals, particularly the traits of other primates. For example,
s have big
s, but human brains are bigger. Similarly,
s exhibit complex
, but human beings exhibit much more complex
. As such, anthropologists often debate whether
is different from
in degree rather than in kind; they must also find ways to distinguish cultural behaviour from sociological behaviour and
Acceleration and amplification of these various aspects of culture change have been explored by complexity economist,
W. Brian Arthur
. In his book,
The Nature of Technology
, Arthur attempts to articulate a theory of change that considers that existing technologies (or material culture) are combined in unique ways that lead to novel new technologies. Behind that novel combination is a purposeful effort arising in human motivation. This articulation would suggest that we are just beginning to understand what might be required for a more robust theory of culture and culture change, one that brings coherence across many disciplines and reflects an integrating elegance.
from Wikipedia (last updated: 04 December), licensed under
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W. Brian Arthur
Dual inheritance theory
Popular culture studies
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