How do anthropologists define the concept of culture? 

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In anthropology, the definition of culture has three aspects to it.  Let us look at the definition and then at each of the three elements or components that make it up.

For anthropologists, culture can be defined as “everything that people have, think, or do as part of a culture.  Each of these verbs corresponds to one aspect of culture.  That is, there is a material aspect to culture (what people have), a mental aspect (what they think) and a behavioral aspect (what they do).  A culture can only be properly described if all three of these components are addressed.

For example, part of our culture in the United States is defined by the fact that we have huge numbers of material goods.  Our culture, with its cell phones and computers, is very different in material terms from a culture in which people have very few possessions.  As another example, we in the United States think that women and men should both be able to move around in public on an equal basis.  This is an attitude or a belief that separates us from, for example, the culture of Saudi Arabia in which people think that women should generally stay out of public places.  Finally, in our culture, people play many sports.  Our culture differs from Indian culture, for example, because we play baseball while they play cricket.

There are many other potential examples of how our culture differs from others.  The main idea here is that culture is made up of what people have, what they think, and what they do.  

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