Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Patterns of Culture

The term pattern is used for those arrangements or systems of internal relationship which give to any culture its coherence or plan and keep it from being a mere accumulation of random bits.The total system or the ideology of patterning is called a configuration.Kroeber has distinguished two major kinds of pattern:

1. Basic or Systemic Pattern- These are those that have persisted for years and years as coherent organization of traits  with functional value ( agriculture,monotheism)

2.Secondary Pattern- These are those that are subject to a great variety and instability( formal social organization,system of thought).

Early Human Ancestors

The critical factor that differentiates humans and apes is bipedal locomotion. Comparative studies of fossils of humans and animals show differences in the structure of skulls and pelvis. Bipedalism freed the hands of our ancestors allowing them to carry loads and make tools. Apart from bipedalism particular aspects of tooth number, size, shape and enamel of teeth are of value in tracing human ancestry.

The earliest fossil evidence supporting the evolution of a creature ancestral to humans was found in Kenya. The fossil a single jawbone has been dated to be 5.5 million years old. More substantial evidence was found in mid 1990s in northeastern Ethiopia where the remains of more than 40 individuals who lived about 4.4 million years ago were unearthed.

Marxism and Anthropology

Karl Marx was a socialist and a revolutionary thinker of the 19th century. He was influenced by the works of Lewis Henry Morgan a lawyer who turned his attention to ethnographic study of native people. The notes prepared by Marx were used by Engels to bring out the book – The origin of the Family, Private Property and the State.

Marxist anthropology provides a typical 19th century model of social evolution in which contemporary ethnographic evidence could be fitted into appropriate positions. The positions were recognized in the movement from the primitive through the ancient and the feudal to the capitalist and finally the communist stage. Economic base received primary focus in Marxist anthropology and religion, law or sociology.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Emic and etic have become terms in anthropology, for an ‘‘insider’’ versus an ‘‘outsider’’ view of a particular social world. For example, an outsider view of an economic exchange might hold that a seller’s goal is to maximize profit. An insider view from people actually involved in the exchange might show that profit was not the concern.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Urban Revolution

The urban revolution refers to the emergence of urban life and the concomitant transformation of human settlements from simple agrarian-based systems to complex and hierarchical systems of manu- facturing and trade. The term also refers to the present era of metropolitan or megalopolis growth, the development of exurbs, and the explosion of primate or mega-cities. 


Tradition is generally understood as a body of values, beliefs, rules, and behavior patterns that is transmitted generationally by practice and word of mouth and is integral to socialization processes. Connoting fixity, stability, and continuity, it guides daily behavior and justifies shared beliefs and practices. In small-scale societies, where tradition offers the dominant blueprint for acceptable behavior, its status is that of sacred lore. Where orally transmitted, however, tradition is always open to variation, contestation and change, and becomes a model ofpast practices rather than a passively and unreflec- tively inherited legacy.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Population Genetics

Population Genetics is concerned with the determination of the genetic structure of human population and the analysis of the factors that maintain or alter their genetic structure.The web of genetic relationships among allele frequencies,consanguinity,matting patterns,gene flow  and natural selection are all significant in the study of population.

A human population is found generally in a particular place and is a coherent entity mainly because it is geographically bounded.Further human populations are also defined by other important factors such as economic and even psychological boundaries.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Recombinant DNA Technology

The structure of DNA was explained by a model created by Watson and Crick.The DNA helix has two strands  .Each strand is formed by numerous nucleotides.A nucleotide is formed by a nitrogenous base ( Adenine,Thymine,Guanine or Cytosine) with a 5 carbon sugar and a phosphate.Many nucleotides form a string or  strand called a polynucleotide which is known as gene.The various features or characters of an organism and its internal chemistry are decided only by these genes.

Genetics and its Relevance to Physical Anthropology

According to A.J Kelso physical anthropology attempts to explain human evolution.Genetics provides a basis for investigating similarities  and differences between parent and offspring generations.Evolution  may be defined as the accumulation of genetic changes over generations.

Physical anthropology attempts to describe and explain man's  biological variation.Genetics have made it possible  to employ a distinctive set of traits,inherited ones in describing and analysing man's variation and these may be analysed in ways that other traits cannot.

In classifying man's variation ,physical anthropology have relied heavily on racial classification that basically are pre-Darwinian or non evolutionary in outlook.Genetics in the development of its theory of population structure has laid the foundations  for classifying human variation into categories with clearer evolutionary unity and thus with clearer biological meaning than traditional racial classification simply.


The term Genetics is derived from the Greek word gen which means to become or to grow into.It is the science of inheritance which tries to explain how charactors are transmitted through generations.

Genetics is the scientific study of the laws of inheritance.By inheritance is meant the transmission of biological characteristics from one generation to another generation.Inheritance has two main components.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Functional Theories on Primitive Religion

Functional theories explaining the evolution of primitive religion were propounded by Malinowski and Radcliffe- Brown.Malinowski cites the example of Trobriand Islanders  whose religion is associated with various emotional states of tension. 

The magical and religious practices  of the islanders surround fishing expeditions. The emotional states of tension experienced by the islanders are born out of fear of disasters overtaking them while on fishing expeditions. Various institutions in the lives of the people  give rise to tensions based on anger,hate and greed.These states leading to tension continue for long,frustration set in,work suffers and  zest for life goes down. An emotionally upset state of life is not conducive to bring out the best in an individual.Religion helps to get rid of stress and strain paving way for attaining mental equipose and stability.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Biological Adaptation

In genetic evolution physiological  and behavioural  changes result in increased chances of survival in a given environment. In the biological sense adaptation means  individual responses  which act to maintain  homeostatis as also evolutionary change  over generations towards attaining  increased fitness to live and thrive.The concept is also applied to human behavior and socio-cultural evolution.

Evolutionary change in the genetic composition of a population may represent  either progressive adaptation to constant environmental  conditions or adjustment  to changing environmental conditions.

Macroevolution  is broadly similar to adaptive radiation. Through this process diversification of an initial  stock into smaller stocks takes place  and each becomes adapted  to its own environment.Adaptive radiation in biological  sense is most strikingly illustrated  among invertebrates  in groups showing rapid diversification above the species level.

During evolution change in relative growth of different  parts of the  body of a species  may give rise to different physical  proportions. Changes  relatively  gradual through time may account for adaptation to environment.

In the concept of pre adaptation animals must already possess characters capable of being modified if they have to adapt to new environments.

Religion, Magic and Science

Human beings face problems and perplexities throughout life. It would have been similar experience with the primitive people as well. The primitive man when faced with an insurmountable problem would have prayed and offered worship making a religious approach. He would have tried to coerce a superior unseen power into service      through magic. The two kinds of approaches would have been made to tide over difficult situations.

Frazer based on world wide studies arrived at two laws in classifying magic. The first law known as law of similarity includes homoeopathic and imitative or mimetic magic. The second law named law of contact is associated with contagious magic.

Homoeopathic magic is known among some tribes in Chota Nagpur and in the Ho tribe. The tribes of Chota Nagpur believe that thunder with its rumbling noise causes rains .In order to cause rains they imitate thunder by flinging down rocks and boulders down hills with the hope that rains will follow. The Ho tribe lights huge bonfires from which smoke curls up and hope that rains will follow.

Belief in natural and super natural phenomena in primitive people possibly developed side by side independently. The powers of two needed to be controlled through religion and magic. Religion is communal and has a congregated character and magic is surrounded by secrecy. While people respect the religious priest the magician is feared. The benign quality of religion is ostensibly the reason for religion to take deep roots in society.

Mechanistic procedures are involved in the pursuit of both science and magic. The difference is that the scientists deal with the natural world and the magician is concerned with the supernatural.

According to Fraser religion, science and magic are in principle similar but magic is based on wrong assumptions regarding causal relations. Magic has an element of amazement, expectation and uncertainty. In science there is expectation based on observations,experiment and analysis  of the data obtained  from experiment.Failure in science  may be due to inadequate knowledge and so continued  research on right lines may lead to success.Failure in magic may be the result of errors in performing  rituals.
In certain situations skills and capabilities possessed by people are of no avail and so religion or magic may be used as tools to gain what is desired. In magic certain objects are considered to possess powers which help people to get over difficulties. The sheer anchor of religion is faith and faith makes one to pray to His benediction.


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