ABOUT CULTURE

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Culture is a key word in anthropology, but theorists emphasize different
aspects. In general terms, we can define culture as all those things that
are instilled in a child by elders and peers as he or she grows up, everything
from table manners to religion. There are several important things
to note about this definition. First, it excludes traits that are genetically
transmitted, about which more in the next chapter. Second, it is very
different to the common usage of the word to mean “high culture,”
such as elite art forms. Instead, it refers equally to mundane things such
as how to make a farm or go shopping, as well as learning right from
wrong, or how to behave towards others. Third, as these examples
show, it covers an enormous range of things that people need to learn
in each different culture, giving anthropologists an equally wide range of
things to study.

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