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Anthropological Terms Study Guide

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Updated on Jul 15, 2011

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Anthropological Terms Practice Exercises

Have you ever just sat and watched people—in a casually interested way, not in a stalker, worrisome kind of way? It can be fascinating to observe hairstyles, clothing choices, and behavioral differences. (The bigger the city, the more bizarre this experience can be.)

Anthropologists are people who study other people as a career. Most of them study cultures of the distant past, but there are some who keep an eye on the most modern of us, too. Here are some terms anthropologists use in their field. They're words you should learn so when you're people-watching, you'll know the words that apply to what you're seeing. This will also make you appear a little more professional and a little less like a stalker—just in case someone else is people-watching you!

DEFINITIONS

  • acculturation culture change due to contact between cultures
  • affinal members of one's relatives who are related through marriage
  • anthropocentric the idea that humans are the most important beings in the universe
  • anthropology the study of humanity, often divided up into physical anthropology, archaeology, ethnology, and anthropological linguistics
  • assimilation when one ethnic group absorbs another, so that the cultural traits of the assimilated group become indistinguishable
  • deviance not following the norms of society
  • diffusion the spread of a cultural pattern from one culture to another where no directed change agent is apparent
  • domestication human interference in the breeding patterns of plants and animals
  • ethnography description of a culture, usually based on the reports and research of someone who participates and observes the lifestyle
  • genealogy a family tree of relationships traced through parents and children
  • gentrification the rehabilitation of a deteriorated neighborhood by new residents, with an overall increase in value
  • horticulture the science and art of growing flowers, fruits, vegetables, or ornamental plants
  • kinesics body, facial, hand, and arm movements that are used to communicate
  • matriarchy culture in which a mother figure and the women have authority
  • multiculturalism stressing the importance of different cultures, races, and ethnicities
  • paralanguage the use of accent, cadence, pitch, and tone to convey meaning
  • socialization the process by which culture is learned, also called enculturation
  • stereotype an idea that many people have about a thing or group, which may be untrue or only partially true
  • subsistence the way by which a culture obtains its food
  • urbanization the process by which more and more people come to live in cities

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Anthropological Terms Practice Exercises

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