Friday, January 20, 2012

The Integration of Culture by Ruth Benedict

The significance of cultural behavior is not lost as we know that it is local and man made and variable.It tends to be integrated.A culture is a more or less consistent pattern of thought and action.Within each culture there are characteristic purposes  not necessarily shared by other types of society.Each people further and further consolidate its existence and in proportion to the urgency of these drives the heterogeneous items of behaviour take more and more congruous shape.Taken up by a well-integrated culture the most ill-assorted acts become characteristic of its peculiar goals often by the most unlikely metamorphoses.The form that these acts take we can understand only by understanding first the emotional and intellectual mainsprings of that society.

Cultures are more than the sum of their traits.The distribution of a tribe's form of marriage,ritual dances and puberty initiations and yet understand nothing of the culture as a whole which has used these elements to its own purposes.This purpose selects from among the possible traits in the surrounding regions those which it can use and discards those which it cannot.other traits it recasts into conformity with its demands.

This integration of cultures is not in the least mystical.It is the same process by which a style in art comes into being and persists.All the miscellaneous behaviour directed toward getting a living,mating,warring and worshipping the gods is made over into consistent patterns in accordance with unconscious canons of choice that develop within the culture.

The study of cultural behavior can no longer be handled by equating particular local arrangements with the generic primitive.Anthropologists are turning from the study of primitive culture to that of primitive cultures and the implications of this change from the singular to the plural have become evident. 


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