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The Complexity of Culture in Persons

  • Claudia Strauss
Chapter
Part of the Culture, Mind, and Society book series (CMAS)

Abstract

Public culture both creates and depends upon encultured minds. Nonetheless, culture in persons is not simply a mirror of public culture. In this chapter, Strauss draws upon research with Americans from diverse socioeconomic and racial groups to argue that culture in persons is complex. There are six reasons for this complexity: (1) People may internalize conflicting schemas; (2) differing schemas create divergent interpretations of shared experiences; (3) actors’ views are shaped by their self-image, emotion triggers, and motivations; (4) meanings are not the same as schemas; (5) beliefs are internalized in different ways (explicit or implicit, evoking conscious assent or creating an automatic, out-of-awareness association); and (6) beliefs vary in their meta-recognition as being cultural. Thus, cultural models (Holland and Quinn in Cultural Models in Language and Thought. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 3–40,1987) and “the native’s point of view” (Geertz in Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology. Basic Books, New York, 1983; Malinowski in Argonauts of the Western Pacific. E.P. Dutton, New York, 1961) take different forms. Anthropologists should not be reluctant to acknowledge that culture is both inside and outside persons (cf. Handler in Am. Anthropol. 106: 488–494, 2004) if they recognize these complexities.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am grateful for comments from Richard Handler, Naomi Quinn, and an anonymous reviewer for Palgrave. The research on unemployment reported here was funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1230534 and by the Wenner-Gren Foundation. The North Carolina research was funded by a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia Strauss
    • 1
  1. 1.Pitzer CollegeClaremontUSA

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