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Topics in Cultural Anthropology

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1) How can the recent decline in participation in all types of common-interest associations in North American be explained?

2) In what ways can the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and other areas of the world be seen as revitalization movements? Are there other terms that could apply to this phenomenon? What would anthropologists say about such movements?

3) With regard to the Swazi, is the "healing" practiced by a shaman fraudulent or therapeutic? What about a shaman practicing "alternative medicine" in Toronto? How relativistic should we be as a society about the practice of medicine?

I am just looking for a clearer understanding of these ideas.

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Dear Student,
Hello. Please review a work I have done for you with regards to the Sangomas for additional detail on the practice of faith healing. Good luck & thank you for using Brainmass!

OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

Social Capital, Fundamentalism & Traditional Healing

1) How can the recent decline in participation in all types of common-interest associations in North America be explained?

There are many ways in which one can go about answering this question and they will always come from a viewpoint. First, we must discuss social capital. According to Lyda Judson Hanifan (1920), social capital are 'those tangible substances [that] count for most in the daily lives of people'. The cultivation of goodwill, fellowship and social association within the social capital is what creates a 'social unit' out of a diverse at times randomly put together grouping of people. It is what allows for a sense of community to happen. By the time the 60's and the 70's rolled out, social capital has become an integral part of community-making that towns and urban centers as well as socio-cultural institutions (i.e. universities, military bases) with their own inherent populations became abuzz with common-interest associations that promoted social capital and community making. Organizations borne out of common-interest bear a myriad of purposes and focus from faith to hobbies. Via cooperation, communities innovate and create a dynamic shared culture and collectively, all these groups become integral social units that help in solving social problems faced by members of their emergent communities. Via bonding, bridging and linking, various social interest groups and organizations interweave and intertwine individuals and groups creating that social dynamics/ social landscape we know as 'society'. The decline of social capital was of great interest to sociologist Robert Putnam for it indicated a fundamental shift in social connectedness. Indications include low voter turn-out, with voting, electoral turn-out and political trust in question. Informal social ties (friendships) are also declining and the 1998 numbers show a lot more people have chosen to not participate in any socio-civic activities due to a decline in trust and more focus on the challenges of work and profession. Additionally, while more Americans according to Putnam have become tolerant, they trust one another less. This is evidenced by the boom in the increase of law enforcement officers as well as court cases as the number of lawyers increased per capita ratio today than it was in the 1970's as in the last few decades, people have increasingly turned to the courts and to law enforcement to settle disputes. The 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center as well as ...

Solution Summary

The solution is in the form of a Q&A narrative presented in a 1,668-APA-format essay discussing varied topics in cultural anthropology including decline of participation in common interest associations in North America, revitalization movements and Islamic fundamentalism and the fraudulence/therapeutic debate on the methods used by Swazi Shamans in relation to relativism and medicine. References are listed (web and print) to allow students room for further research.

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Anthropology multiple choice questions

1. Which of the following is characteristic of the anthropological approach?
a. an emphasis on biological explanations of cultural variation
b. ethnocentrism
c. an emphasis on shared customs and institutions
d. an emphasis on the individual
e. all of the above

2. Anthropologists generally consider cultural elements to be __________ in nature.
a. technological
b. artistic
c. material
d. symbolic
e. innate

3. The attempt to evaluate and understand a custom in the context of the meaning system and morality of the culture in which it is present is called:
a. ethnocentrism
b. ethnography
c. cultural ecology
d. cultural relativism
e. the etic approach

4. The practice of understanding and evaluating a custom in the context of one's own culture is called:
a. ethnocentrism
b. ethnography
c. cultural ecology
d. cultural relativism
e. the etic approach

5. Which statement about the relationship between environment and human behaviour best summarizes the anthropological approach
a. Human behaviour can be understood as a biological conditioned response to environmental stimulate
b. Human behaviour can be understood as a direct response to environmental conditions and stimulae.
c. Human behaviour can be understood as a culturally conditioned response to environmental stimulae.
d. Human behaviour can be understood without any reference to environmental conditions at all.

6. Which statement about human races best summarizes anthropological findings?
a. Popular racial categories are biologically significant units of anthropological analysis
b. Popular racial categories need to be further refined to formulate biologically significant units
c. Popular racial categories are socio-cultural constructs of no potential biological significance.
d. Popular racial categories have no biological or socio-cultural significance.

7. Which statement about the evolution of culture and the human brain is the most accurate
a. Evidence of cultural behaviour does not appear until human brain size attained its current dimensions
b. Evidence of cultural behaviour appears soon after an initial spurt in brain size growth.
c. Evidence of cultural behaviour appears immediately before an initial spurt in brain size growth
d. Human brain sizes can be expected to increase dramatically in the wake of the recent "information revolution."

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