Patterns of Culture

Patterns of Culture

by Ruth Benedict


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Patterns of Culture by Ruth Benedict

A remarkable introduction to cultural studies, Patterns of Culture is an eloquent declaration of the role of culture in shaping human life. In this fascinating work, the renowned anthropologist Ruth Benedict compares three societies - the Zuni of the southwestern United States, the Kwakiutl of western Canada, and the Dobuans of Melanesia - and demonstrates the diversity of behaviors in them. Benedict's ground-breaking study shows that a unique configuration of traits defines each human culture, and she examines the relationship between culture and the individual. Featuring prefatory remarks by Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Louise Lamphere, this provocative work ultimately explores what it means to be human.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780395074053
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Publication date: 05/01/1973

About the Author

RUTH BENEDICT (1887–1948) was one of the twentieth century’s foremost anthropologists and helped to shape the discipline in the United States and around the world. Benedict was a student and later a colleague of Franz Boas at Columbia, where she taught from 1924. Margaret Mead was one of her students. Benedict’s contributions to the field of cultural anthropology are often cited today.

Table of Contents

IThe Science of Custom1
Custom and behaviour
The child's inheritance
Our false perspective
Confusion of local custom with 'Human Nature'
Our blindness to other cultures
Man moulded by custom, not instinct
'Racial purity' a delusion
Reason for studying primitive peoples
IIThe Diversity of Cultures21
The cup of life
The necessity for selection
Adolescence and puberty as treated in different societies
Peoples who never heard of war
Marriage customs
Interweaving of cultural traits
Guardian spirits and visions
Marriage and the Church
These associations social, not biologically inevitable
IIIThe Integration of Culture45
All standards of behaviour relative
Patterning of culture
Weakness of most anthropological work
The view of the whole
Spengler's 'Decline of the West'
Faustian and Apollonian man
Western civilization too intricate for study
A detour via primitive tribes
IVThe Pueblos of New Mexico57
An unspoiled community
Zuni ceremonial
Priests and masked gods
Medicine societies
A strongly socialized culture
'The middle road'
Carrying farther the Greek ideal
Contrasting customs of the Plains Indians
Dionysian frenzies and visions
Drugs and alcohol
The Zuni's distrust of excess
Scorn for power and violence
Marriage, death, and mourning
Fertility ceremonies
Sex symbolism
'Man's oneness with the universe'
The typical Apollonian civilization
Where ill-will and treachery are virtues
Traditional hostility
Trapping the bridegroom
The humiliating position of the husband
Fierce exclusiveness of ownership
Reliance on magic
Ritual of the garden
Disease-charms and sorcerers
Passion for commerce
Wabuwabu, a sharp trade practice
Mutual recriminations among survivors
Laughter excluded
A cutthroat struggle
VIThe Northwest Coast of America173
A sea-coast civilization
The Kwakiutl of Vancouver Island
Typical Dionysians
Cannibal Society
At the opposite pole from the Pueblos
The economic contest
A parody on our own society
Shaming one's guests
Potlatch exchanges
Heights of bravado
Investing in a bride
Prerogatives through marriage, murder, and religion
Fear of ridicule
Death, the paramount affront
The gamut of emotions
VIIThe Nature of Society223
Integration and assimilation
Conflict of inharmonious elements
Our own complex society
The organism v. the individual
The cultural v. the biological interpretation
Applying the lesson of primitive tribes
No fixed 'types'
Significance of diffusion and cultural configuration
Social values
Need for self-appraisal
VIIIThe Individual and the Pattern of Culture251
Society and individual not antagonistic but interdependent
Ready adaptation to a pattern
Reactions to frustration
Striking cases of maladjustment
Acceptance of homosexuals
Trance and catalepsy as means to authority
The place of the 'misfit' in society
Possibilities of tolerance
Extreme representatives of a cultural type: Puritan divines and successful modern egoists
Social relativity a doctrine of hope, not despair

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