Adaptation. Culture and Nature: Interacting with the Environment

  • Created by: Heather
  • Created on: 19-12-16 16:47
What does culture allow humans to do in terms of adaptation?
Culture allows humans to adapt to an enormous range of environments- Including extra-terrestrial ones,
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How does culture allow humans to adapt?
Via changes in learned behaviour, rather than by genetic changes through evolution,
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How long is biological evolution?
It is a very slow process,
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Why do humans have a distinct adaptive advantage over other species?
Due to their ability to change learned behaviour rapidly in the face of new challenges,
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What is part of humans adaptation to varied environments?
Technology e.g. Manufacture of foods, tools, clothes,
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How does technology protect us?
it protects us from potentially harmful elements in the environment e.g. the Cold, extreme heat and predatory elements,
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Why do we exploit technology?
For our own benefits,
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What are two major way in which humans interact with their environment?
By harnessing or capturing 1) Energy, such as fuel and food, 2) Raw materials, such as wood, stone and metals,
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Humans can be thought of as an integral part of what?
An ecosystem
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However, what do many anthropologists struggle to think about humans?
They struggle to think of humans as only a part of some larger system rather than the entire focus of study
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What are other anthropologists, particularly what kind, interested in?
e.g. cultural ecologists, -Interested in the differences in the ways in which different groups interact with their environments and how they mentally map out these environments in their heads
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How, In what country, did traditional Aboriginals exploit the land?
-Australia, -Through hunting and gathering,
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How do Europeans exploit the Australian environment?
Via farming
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What is the affect of these differences in how human populations interact with their environment?
It has a knock on effect in other areas of culture,
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Give an extreme example of different cultures in Australia interacting with their environment differently?
-White ranchers in Australia think about their environment, -Native Australian Aboriginals think about what is actually the same environment,
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Why do they consider different aspects important?
As they exploit the environment in very different ways for different reasons,
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Where do anthropologists start when studying the interrelations of humans and their environment?
They begin from the point of view of ecology and the ecosystem concept,
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What is an ecosystem? Where does basic energy in all ecosystems originate?
A set of energy-transfers, -The Sun,
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What does the food chain therefore consist of based on energy?
It consists of the various ways in which different species capture energy and other nutrients or minerals- water, nitrogen,
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How are humans the same as other organisms based on energy?
Humans are just the same as other organisms: they must capture energy, and other nutrients, to survive,
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However, what category of food supply consumption are women under?
They are omnivorous- They can consume a wide range of plant and animal foods,
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This gives them the ability to do what rapidly?
it gives them the ability to change rapidly, so they can switch from one food source to another when necessary,
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How does the flexibility of the human diet compare to the ant eater?
The ant eater has a highly restricted dietary range of ants and termites,
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However, while this is the biological and evolutionary background, what are anthropologists more interested in based on edible foods?
The ways in which different cultures define different potentially edible foods as either consumable or not consumable
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For example, what foods aren't eaten in Britain whereas in others they are?
-In Britain, horse and dog aren't eaten, -Across the English Channel horse is eaten and in other societies dog is a perfectly acceptable food,
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In addition, in Britain what do the majority of people eat while who doesnt?
-The majority of people eat beef and cheese, -Hindus don't eat beef and in many oriental societies cheese is not eaten,
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What have some anthropologists argued about food avoidance?
They have sound practical explanations
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Give an example with Jews and Muslims?
The ban on eating pork for Jews and Muslims was a way of avoiding health risks,
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Give another example with Indians?
Sacred cows were of more use to poor Indians while alive than while dead,
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However, what doesn't these practical explanations explain about Hebrews?
This doesn't explain large numbers of prohibited foods other than pork listed in Hebrew scriptures,
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What also doesn't this explain about alcohol?
It doesn't explain hy Jews and Christians allow the consumption of alcohol, but it is banned in strict Islamic societies,
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Why aren't environmental explanations obvious?
As all three types of society can be found close together in the Near East,
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While part of humans' adaptation is via technology, what also does a great deal of human adaptation involve?
our abilities to work co-operatively as part of a group to achieve goals,
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What is living and working in groups part of and what does it allows?
-It is part of our biological heritage, -Allows the organisation of different individuals to do different tasks
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Therefore, it also allows the achievement of tasks requiring what?
A considerable number of individuals doing much the same thing,
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What is one thing that fascinates anthropologists based on the organisation?
The often very diverse ways in which different human groups organise these cultural e.g. learned aspects of human adaptation,
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What does every society do, no matter how small scale and egalitarian?
They allocate different tasks to different people within it,
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What is one of the most fundamental categories for organisation of what?
-Gender, -Division of labour,
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What is another organising principle?
Age- Children aren't expected to do the same tasks as adults,
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However, how does this organising principle of age vary between societies and culture?
The age at which children become 'adult' is very different in different societies, and may have little relationship to biological factors such as puberty
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For example, many people have the status and role of parents to their own children at the same time as they are what?
At the same time they are also children to their own parents,
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What do do to fit the different statuses and roles we have?
We have different behaviours which we change,
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Therefore, what has to be learned by children as they grow up?
These complex interplays of different statuses and roles, and the behaviours associated with them,
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Do people continue to learn this?
Yes- People continue to have to learn how to fulfil their changing statuses and roles throughout life,
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In our society, what are people's roles and statuses also associated with?
The incredibly complex division of labour,
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What is the complex division of labour necessary for in our society?
It is necessary to jeep our highly complex society functioning,
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What do anthropologists concentrate on about how societies 'make a living'?
They concentrate on how different groups organise their personnel to achieve their aims in adapting to and exploiting their environment,
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For example, in the traditional American barn raising, what would anthropologists concentrate on?
They would focus on how the group work was assembled, cultural divisions of labour, different statuses in the families,
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What do most hunting/ gathering groups have to cope with?
Seasonal periodicities in their environments e.g. winter/summer, wer and dry season,
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The different periods during the year are associated with differencs in what?
The availability of food,
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However, how does this compare to our society?
Most people don't grow their own food- they have other jobs and the main harvest of crops happens only at one point in the year,
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How do we tackle the fact that most people are non-producers of food?
By allocating specialists to produce large quantities of surplus food for others to consume,
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How is this surplus of food created?
With highly complex and expensive machines,
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How does our society tackle the problem of seasonal periodicites in food supply?
By ensuring plenty of storage and transportation from distant places if necessary,
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How does our society deal with seasonal periodicities in local food supplies?
By developing complex technologies associated with a range of specialist producers and distributors,
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However, what approach have traditional hunter-gatherer groups not taken?
A technological approach,
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Instead how have they ensured adequate food supplies?
By moving themselves to different areas where food is still available,
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If necessary, what will they do in certain circumstances based on redefining?
If necessary redefining foods otherwise deemed "inedible" as "edible"
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In addition, what do hunter and gatherer systems often do based on sizing?
The personnel of the group split up or recombine into smaller or larger groups,
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Why do they change their group sizes?
AS different sized groups are able to take advantage of different food availability situations during the year,
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What does our society clearly define about people's rights and the environment?
They have different statuses e.g. occupation,
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Do all human groups have the same ideas of ownership as ourselves?
No- Hunter/gatherer groups generally have poor ideas of 'ownership; in terms of exclusive rights over something,
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Instead, what are their complex rules about?
There are complex rules relating to 'rights to use' something, often connected to kinship,
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Therefore, what does kinship allow in these societies if a person can demonstrate a relationship with someone?
They can automatically have use-rights oneself,
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At the other end of the scale, how can people have access to land?
They hand over a portion of their produce (rent)- sometimes up to 50% in some cases- to others (landlords) for the right to farm an area of land,
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To summarise, what has allowed increasingly complex interrelations between human?
Increasing levels of technological sophistication,
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However, do anthropologists focus on the technology?
They pay decreasing attention to the technology,
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Instead what do they concentrate on?
The relationships between different sub-grops of humans and the effects of different statuses and roles of individuals interacting within their societies,
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Other cards in this set

Card 2


How does culture allow humans to adapt?


Via changes in learned behaviour, rather than by genetic changes through evolution,

Card 3


How long is biological evolution?


Preview of the front of card 3

Card 4


Why do humans have a distinct adaptive advantage over other species?


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


What is part of humans adaptation to varied environments?


Preview of the front of card 5
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