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Contribution to Book
Chapter 05 : Theories of culture and cultures
Law and Anthropology - Outlines, Issues, Suggestions (2008)
  • Wolfgang Fikentscher
Inclusive online updates jan10. Chapter 5 on the attributes of culture and cultures is structured according to the influence of the axial age. The term has already been mentioned in Chapter 1 II. 4. and Chapter 3 III, IX. 2., above.What does axial age mean, and how is it related to other theories of cultural development? A new approach is offered as to the role of time concepts for the distinctions between cultures. By sketching circles of cultures (in particular the modes of thought that shape cultures) some modern issues find discussion, for example the question of whether in view of recent developments it is still appropriate to speak of “East and South Asian cultures”, why Islamic difficulties with the concepts of time and unit interconnect, and why identity as a concept of cultural anthropology is so important. The forms of cultural neighborhood – peaceful or hostile -, culture change, minorities, and migration present interesting novel issues. On acculturation, in view of some disrespect that concept is encountering today, a modernized conceptualization is on offer. Law (primarily), economics, religion, and politics furnish the examples So far, culture has been defined (in Chapter 3 I 1 and 2, in relation to other definitions) as the attribute of a society that refers to the patterns of conduct of its participants – traditional but open to change – in contexts concerning knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom or other mentally reflected activities or states. The present Chapter 5 is devoted to the anthropological attributes of culture. While concerned with themes around culture and relating to culture from an anthropological point of view, it does not amount to a complete theory of culture. Rather, various aspects are discussed as important contributions to the content of culture or as influenced by it. The inventory of these aspects is certainly not complete. While future developments may demand a study of additional or different cultural themes, the following culture-related subjects are considered below, nmainly for pragmatic reasons.will receive mention: (I) Structures of cultures; (II) Surveys on culture and cultures. Human Relations Area Files (HRAF). Axial age, the modes of thought, and the law; (III) The theory of culture and cultures. Cultural holism and pluralism. Cultural time concepts. (IV) Person. Individualiy, Identity. Culture personality. Vita research; (V) The circles of culture, based on the modes of thought (pre-axial age; East and South Asian; Tragic Mind; Judaism, Christianity; Islam; Modern-totalitarian);: (VI.) Acculturation; (VII.) Culture change; (VIII.) Culture transfer.Receptions. Transplants. Internalization. Legal families of law; (IX.) The anthropology of borders, corridors, trails; and trading routes; (X.) Forms of cultural neighborhood (in situations of national borders, enclaves, and “mixes” or“melting pots”.(XI.) The anthropology of minorities. (XII) Migration; section XIII sums up these aspects by several lines on cultural justice with a preview on Chaopters 7 and 16, and section XIV. contains a bibliography. The sequence follows partly moving from the more general to the more specific, as well as from the advantage of using known concepts in later contexts
  • Overt themes,
  • covert themes,
  • HRAF,
  • axial age,
  • theory of culture,
  • time concepts,
  • cultural holism and pluralism,
  • person,
  • identity,
  • culture personality,
  • neolithic and urban revolution,
  • tragic cultures,
  • judaism,
  • islam,
  • totalitarian cultures,
  • culture transfer,
  • acculturation,
  • culture change,
  • culture transfer,
  • anthropologies of borders,
  • cultural neighborhood,
  • minorities,
  • migration
Publication Date
Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, C.H. Beck in Kommission
Citation Information
Wolfgang Fikentscher. "Chapter 05 : Theories of culture and cultures" MunichLaw and Anthropology - Outlines, Issues, Suggestions (2008)
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