Sociology / Anthropology 121

SOCY 121/ANTH 121



Catalog Entry


SOCY 121/ANTH 121. Understanding Cultures. Three hours lecture (3).


Introduction to the ways anthropologists view human behavior and the methods they use. Cultures past and present and around the world explored to study diverse adaptations humans have made. This course has been approved for credit in the Social/Behavioral Studies Area or in the Global Perspectives Area of the Core Curriculum.



Detailed Description of Content of Course


The content may include:


I. Introduction to Anthropology

            A. What is Anthropology?

            B. What is Culture? Cultural Relativism & Ethnocentrism
            C. What is Language?

            D. What are Humans?

                        1. Do non-human animals have culture?

                        2. Do non-human animals have culture which is transmitted by language?

            E. What Do Anthropologists Do? The Anthropological Method

                        1. Single-case analysis--Ethnography Participant Observation Ethics

                        2. Cross-Cultural Studies

II. Cultural Variation

            A. Various Adaptive Strategies & Their Correlates

                        1. Food-getting strategies: hunting & gathering, pastoralism, horticulture, agriculture, industrialism

                        2. Settlement patterns

                        3. Social/political organizations

                        4. Economic systems

                        5. Social stratification

            B. Social Organization (Marriage, the Family, Kinship)

            C. Religion

III. Culture Change

IV. Anthropological Explanation

            A. Theories in Cultural Anthropology

            B. Explaining Cultural Variation by a Culture's:

                        1. Place on an evolutionary scale

                        2. Adaptation to environment

                        3. Expression of an internal pattern

                        4. Examples of variation in cultural patterns:

                                    a. individual vs. communal social structure

                                    b. lineal vs. non-lineal perception


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course


A lecture, discussion, and writing format is used to introduce the students to the core social science concepts of culture and to give them practice in using them.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Students will understand how individual, social, or cultural factors influence human behavior and shape reciprocal relationships between people and society.

Students will be able to:
a. explain the social or cultural factors that shape individuals' ideas and behaviors
b. explain how individual and collective behaviors shape societies and cultures
c. explain social or behavioral science concepts
d. use social or behavioral science concepts to interpret real-world problems, including the underlying origins of such problems

Students will also understand how social and cultural forces shape experiences in the global setting.

 Students will also be able to:
a. compare and contrast different perspectives used to explain the world or international issues
b. use material studied to explain cross-cultural issues in the world
c. evaluate differences and similarities among world cultures that affect perceptions, beliefs, or behaviors, and thus relationships between those cultures


Assessment Measures        

Graded and checked assignments may include in-class or take- home examinations and quizzes, homework assignments, in-class writing and in-class discussions. Journals may be required and checked periodically. Formal oral presentations may be required.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval        

DATE ACTION REVIEWED February 2009 Reviewed Dr. Paula Brush, Chair, Department of Sociology