Anthropology Cultural Changes

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Anthropology ・APA ・1 Sources

 Anthropology is an interdisciplinary non-referential study that focuses on all aspects of both the past and present human societies. Culture is a way of life that a given particular community leads. Cultural anthropology thus is a subset of anthropology which focuses on culture in all aspects through the use of approaches, and concepts as well as the analysis of people’s diversity (Park, 2013). Both Mary Douglas and Marvin Harris as anthropologists have analyzed culture through different approaches.

 Mary’s plan is the fact that ideas guide the behavior. Mary uses her approach through classification of the world as primitive, bounding with objects which are sacred, feared, and full of taboos which different communities worship differently (Park, 2013). Mary Douglas emphasized on the symbolic roles of various cultural practices. The functions of most of the acts aim at conforming to people’s assumptions of the world (Park, 2013).

 Mary’s approach is that taboos exist as a way of preserving holiness which requires that both individuals and animals only conform to each class to which they belong and that no confusion shall arise from the different categories (Park, 2013).

 Marvin Harry’s approach, on the other hand, was based on cultural materialism also known as the primacy of infrastructure. Harris’ approach states that the both the production and reproduction (infrastructure) modes influence political and domestic structure which then determines the mental and behavioral superstructure (Park, 2013).

 Marvin’s approach tends to clarify both the stability and social change. Changes are conventional thinking which depends on earlier changes in behavior patterns which are due to prior infrastructural changes.

 Marvin proposes various reasons such as ethical, moral and functional for the dietary restrictions which drawn from Leviticus. Harris applies the cost-benefit analysis when keeping certain animal species (Park, 2013).Harris asserts that it is better for people to feed on plants than animals due to reduced energy loss through the food chain. Harris insists that it is better feeding on plants instead of feeding plants to the animals to get meat.

 Mary Douglas, on the other hand, applies her approach to the biblical dietary laws which she also draws from Leviticus.  Douglas insists that creatures often conform to each of their class failure to which they become unholy and thus unclean. Human beings should thus not feed on such unholy creatures hence dietary restrictions. Both Harris and Douglas, though have different approaches, have applied their methods on the dietary restrictions thus contributing immensely to cultural change in anthropology.


Park, (2013). Introducing Anthropology: An Integrated Approach, (6th Ed). McGraw-Hill Learning Solutions

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