The Cultural Spectrum

  • Mark E. Clark


Culture! Westerners often use this word to mean a taste for the fine arts, music and other aesthetic matters. But it has a much broader meaning, namely, the shared values, language and traditions that define a particular group of people, be they Australian aborigines, black Americans, or the ancient Greeks. Culture is learned as a child, and as children we each learned from those around us a particular set of rules, beliefs, priorities and expectations that moulded our world into a meaningful whole. That is our culture. It tells us what is correct, expected, normal and right. It explains the world for us. It gives meaning and purpose to our lives. Culture is the socially determined mental framework in which we live. It is our Weltanschauung, our worldview, our abstract conception of reality.


Cultural Change Pluralistic Society Human Animal Cultural Character Wife Beating 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. †.
    Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934) p. 21. Benedict’s insights are still immensely valuable.Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    M. Midgley, Beast and Man (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1978) p. 332.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    W. Durant, quoted by J.L. Christian in Philosophy: An Introduction to the Art of Wondering (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1977) p. 384.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    R. Graves, The White Goddess, 3rd edn, (London: Faber & Faber, 1953) p. 27.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    E.R. Service, ‘The Ghosts of Our Ancestors’, in Primitive Worlds: People Lost in Time (Washington, DC: National Geographic Society, 1973) pp. 816Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    R. Benedict, ‘The Diversity of Cultures’, Chapter 2 in Patterns of Culture (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934, 1959) pp. 21–44.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Most of the following discussion is based on this source, but see also, A. Gennep, The Rites of Passage (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960) especially p. 84 f.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    K. Birket-Smith, Primitive Man and His Ways (New York: Mentor Books, New American Library, 1963) pp. 45–48.Google Scholar
  9. 7.
    R.E. Leakey and R. Lewin, Origins of Mankind (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1977) p. 242.Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    J.C. Goodale, ‘An Example of Ritual Change among the Tiwi of Melville Island’, in A.R. Pilling and R.A. Waterman (eds), Diprotodon to Detribalization: Studies of Change among Australian Aborigines (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1970) pp. 350–66.Google Scholar
  11. 9.
    R. Benedict, Patterns of Culture, pp. 188–211; quote is from p. 211.Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    R.B. Lee and I. DeVore (eds), Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers: Studies of the !Kung San and Their Neighbors (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976). This book contains summaries of most of the work that had been written before 1976 on these people.Google Scholar
  13. 11.
    R.B. Lee, ‘Eating Christmas in the Kalahari’, Natural History (December 1969) pp. 14–22, 60–63.Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    A.H. Maslow and J.J. Honigmann, compilers, ‘Synergy: Some Notes of Ruth Benedict’, American Anthropologist, 72 (1970) pp. 320–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 13.
    Reported in L.S. Stavrianos, The Promise of the Coming Dark Age (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1976) pp. 154–5.Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    Benedict, Patterns of Culture, pp. 130–72.Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    N. Chagnon, Yanomamö: The Fierce People (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1968).Google Scholar
  18. 16.
    Chagnon, Yanomamö, p. 48.Google Scholar
  19. 17.
    Chagnon, Yanomamö, p. 118.Google Scholar
  20. 18.
    Chagnon, Yanomamö, p.91.Google Scholar
  21. 19.
    Benedict, Patterns of Culture, pp. 57–239.Google Scholar
  22. 20.
    Benedict, Patterns of Culture, p. 89.Google Scholar
  23. 21.
    Personal communication, Barton A. Wright, ethnologist, 4143 Gelding St, Phoenix, AZ, 85023.Google Scholar
  24. 22.
    Benedict, Patterns of Culture, p. 103.Google Scholar
  25. 23.
    L. Sharp, ‘Steel Axes for Stone Age Australians’, Case 5 in E.H. Spicer (ed.), Human Problems in Technological Change (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1952) pp. 69–90. A similar disruption from the introduction of steel implements into New Guinea has been blamed for increased warfare. See reference 46 in Chapter 5.Google Scholar
  26. 24.
    C.M. Turnbull, The Mountain People (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972).Google Scholar
  27. 25.
    Turnbull, The Mountain People, p. 282. For a concise statement of how aid can be utterly destructive of a way of life, read pp. 281–2.Google Scholar
  28. 26.
    F.M. Lappé and J. Collins, Food First: Beyond the Myth of Scarcity revised edn (New York: Ballantine Books, 1978) p. 141. See pp. 134–64 for the total extent of the impact of the Green Revolution.Google Scholar
  29. 27.
    For a comprehensive description, see M. Mead (ed.), Cultural Patterns and Technical Change: A Manual Prepared by the World Federation for Mental Health (Paris: UNESCO, 1953).Google Scholar
  30. 28.
    Lappé and Collins, Food First, pp. 61–6; 330–5; 336–8.Google Scholar
  31. 29.
    M. Mead, New Lives for Old: Cultural Transformation — Manus, 1928–1953 (New York: William Morrow, 1966).Google Scholar
  32. 30.
    M.C. Bateson, Chapter X in With a Daughter’s Eye (New York: Washington Square Press, Simon & Schuster, 1984) pp. 174–96.Google Scholar
  33. 31.
    T. Kochman, ’“Rapping” in the Black Ghetto’, Transaction, 6 (February 1969) pp. 26–34.Google Scholar
  34. 31.
    K.R. Johnson, ‘The Vocabulary of Race’, in T. Kochman (ed.), Rappin’ and Stylin’ Out (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1972) pp. 140–51. See also other articles in this book.Google Scholar
  35. 32.
    Benedict’s views in this area are to be found in her book Patterns of Culture and more especially in the notes from her lectures at Bryn Mawr, compiled by Maslow and Honigmann, ‘Synergy’.Google Scholar
  36. 33.
    J. Jaynes, The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982). I cannot subscribe to Jaynes’s thesis that primitive people regularly had auditory hallucinations that they believed were gods speaking to them, however.Google Scholar
  37. 34.
    J.H. Bodley, Anthropology and Contemporary Human Problems (Menlo Park, CA: Cummings, 1976).Google Scholar
  38. 34.
    quote is from R.L. Heilbroner, The Great Ascent: The Struggle for Economic Development in Our Time (New York: Harper & Row Torchbooks, 1963) p. 53.Google Scholar
  39. 35.
    Bodley, Anthropology, pp. 22–3. See also R.B. Lee and I. DeVore (eds), Man the Hunter (Chicago: Aldine, 1968).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mark E. Clark 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark E. Clark
    • 1
  1. 1.San Diego State UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations