30 Introduction: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology

As we move forward into Module Three, we will learn about important areas that help us to understand the cultures we are studying:

  • Economics

    Economic anthropology offers us a unique view into our own and other cultures! Explore the characteristics of the three modes of production: domestic, tributary, and capitalist. Consider the ways humans use reciprocity, redistribution, and market modes of exchange. Reflect on the significance of general purpose money for economic exchange, and the ways in which commodities become personally and socially meaningful. Go further afield as a global citizen, and use a political economy perspective to assess examples of global economic inequality and structural violence.
  • Subsistence

    Subsistence: How do you put food on the table?! Delve into the four modes of subsistence and explore the major activities associated with obtaining food in each system. Think about how subsistence is related to private property, wealth differences, and gender roles. How has human intervention in the environment made it difficult to separate the “natural” from the human-influenced environment?

  • Political Anthropology

    Explore the characteristics of the four levels of sociocultural integration (band, tribe, chiefdom, and state). Learn about systems of leadership around the world: Examine egalitarian and non-egalitarian societies; look at how tribes and chiefdoms to achieve social integration and encourage connections between people; and take a deeper look at the benefits and problems associated with state-level political organizations. Lastly, examine the extent to which the Islamic State meets the formal criteria for a state-level political organization.


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