Monday, October 19, 2009

Anthropology: Symbols


Today in ANT 160 we discussed the use of symbols in real life.

In anthropology the question that helps the anthropologists analyze cultures and information is 'What does this mean?'. Anthropologists interpret,translate, compare, and explain the information that they gather.

Culture is largely expressed through symbols.


-Are learned/not universal/ arbitrary(random)
-Are conventional/negotiated/ the norm/ habitual
-Guide our actions.
-Can be secular (not religious) or sacred.
-Are often complex.
-Aren't always agreed on.
-Encourage negotiation and dialouge.
-Are reinforced in rituals.


-Is a collection of symbols.
-Is about learning the meaning/ context.
Literal VS connotation


-Can be extended with metaphors or metonyms-context is essential.
-Metaphors=Something is like something else
-Metonyms=Substituting part for a whole
Ex. the crown=royal


-Symbolic action/formal behaviour. (Acts, utterances, and objects)
-Condenses meaning (
-Not always religious, but always associated with belief.
-Highly formalized.
-Equalizes situations.
-Involves change.
-Social conciousness achieved.
-Worldview=Set of ideas and assumptions about the way the wrold works.
-Key scenarios=Action considered correct and successful. (note~ this is subject to perspective.) Ex-OCD

Interesting things

-Women in malaysia have key scenarios such as the Latah and semangat.
-referent- the thing or idea that a symbol, word, or phrase refers to.
-Paralanguage- supports language (ex. gestures and facial expressions)

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