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A Cognitive Theory of Cultural Meaning

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Overview

"Culture" and "meaning" are central to anthropology, but anthropologists do not agree on what they are. Claudia Strauss and Naomi Quinn propose a new theory of cultural meaning, one that gives priority to the way people's experiences are internalized. Drawing on "connectionist" or "neural network" models as well as other psychological theories, they argue that cultural meanings are not fixed or limited to static groups, but neither are they constantly revised or contested. Their approach is illustrated by original research on understandings of marriage and ideas of success in the United States.
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Editorial Reviews

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"Strauss and Quinn's impressive book sets out a theory of culture that is both highly plausible and easily accessible to linguists. This is due in large part to the fact htat its approach is consistently synthetic, both in that it seeks to find common ground among different anthropological approaches to the much contested concept of culture, and in that the authors hope to build bridges between anthropology and other disciplines concerned with human thought and behavior...it constitutes a fascinating variant in the recent explosion of interdisciplinary research on the mind and brain. Linguists (and anyone else) with a broad interest in culture, cognition, or meaning will find the book well worth reading...the book is clearly written, well argued, and solidly supported by often fascinating micro-analyses of American culture." Anthropolological Linguistics
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Part I. Background: 1 Introduction; 2. Anthropological resistance; 3. Schema theory and connectionism; 4. Two properties of cultures; 5. Three further properties of culture; Part II. Practice and Possibilities: 6. Research on shared task solutions; 7. Research on the pschodynamics of shared understandings; 8. Research on cultural discontinuities; 9. Beyond old oppositions.
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