Franz Boas

Clark Wissler and the Normative Aspect of Culture

Clark Wissler and the Normative Aspect of Culture

On September 18, 1870, American anthropologist Clark David Wissler was born. Wissler devised the age-area concept which held that the age of cultural traits could be found by correlating the diffusion of those traits throughout their associated area. He was the first anthropologist to perceive the normative aspect of culture, to define it as learned behavior, and to describe it as a complex of ideas, all characteristics of culture that are today…
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Ruth Benedict and Cultural Anthropology

Ruth Benedict and Cultural Anthropology

On June 5, 1887, American anthropologist and folklorist Ruth Fulton Benedict was born. Benedict’s theories had a profound influence on cultural anthropology, especially in the area of culture and personality. Her major contribution to anthropology, compares Zuñi, Dobu, and Kwakiutl cultures in order to demonstrate how small a portion of the possible range of human behaviour is incorporated into any one culture. “A man’s indebtedness … is not virtue; his repayment is. Virtue…
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Alfred L. Kroeber and the Nature of Culture

Alfred L. Kroeber and the Nature of Culture

On June 11, 1876, American cultural anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber was born. His primary concern was to understand the nature of culture and its processes. He developed the concept of cultures as patterned wholes, each with its own style, and each undergoing a growth process analogous to that of a biological organism. Kroeber also made valuable contributions to the archaeology of New Mexico, Mexico, and Peru. “Anthropology is the most humanistic of…
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