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Cultural Ecology - Lesson Summary

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Culture in essence can be understood as the system of shared ideas and meanings, explicit and implicit, which people use to interpret or make sense of the world, and which serves to pattern their behavior.

Cultural Ecology is the study of human adaptations to social and physical environments. Human adaptation refers to both biological and cultural processes that enable a population to survive within a given or changing environment. It represents a 'better fit' to specific, local environments. 

Since Cultural Ecology directs our attentions to those aspects of the culture most related to making a living, anthropologists or if not sociologists need to understand the economic systems.

All societies:

• Produce the things they need.
• Exchange things with each other and people of other societies.
• Consume things. 

An increase in the size of a society produces an increase in the structure of that society, which in turn produces differences in power and in the roles of it's members. Different members or groups of members then have to play specialized roles. 

The quest to meet human basic needs is central to understanding social life. Sociologist have concluded that once those basic needs are met, humans create more needs and that "Men and Women are perpetually dissatisfied animals." Some Sociologist conclude that industrialization and capitalism are one of the main reasons for the Ecological Crisis of today. 

Cultural Ecological Theory is a theoretical approach that attempts to explain similarities and differences in culture in relation to the environment. 

Infrastructure:

• The principal interface between a socio-cultural system and its environment.
• It is through the infrastructure that society manipulates its environment by modifying the amount and type of resources needed.
• Made up of the Mode of Production and Reproduction.