Culture: The Anthropologists' Account

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Harvard University Press, 1999 - Social Science - 299 pages
2 Reviews

Suddenly culture seems to explain everything, from civil wars to financial crises and divorce rates. But when we speak of culture, what, precisely, do we mean?

Adam Kuper pursues the concept of culture from the early twentieth century debates to its adoption by American social science under the tutelage of Talcott Parsons. What follows is the story of how the idea fared within American anthropology, the discipline that took on culture as its special subject. Here we see the influence of such prominent thinkers as Clifford Geertz, David Schneider, Marshall Sahlins, and their successors, who represent the mainstream of American cultural anthropology in the second half of the twentieth century--the leading tradition in world anthropology in our day. These anthropologists put the idea of culture to the ultimate test--in detailed, empirical ethnographic studies--and Kuper's account shows how the results raise more questions than they answer about the possibilities and validity of cultural analysis.

Written with passion and wit, Culture clarifies a crucial chapter in recent intellectual history. Adam Kuper makes the case against cultural determinism and argues that political and economic forces, social institutions, and biological processes must take their place in any complete explanation of why people think and behave as they do.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kant1066 - LibraryThing

As Kuper states, “The core of this book is … an evaluation of what has been the central project in postwar American cultural anthropology” (x). More explicitly, in the first part of the book, he ... Read full review

Culture: the anthropologists' account

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Kuper (social anthropology, Brunel Univ., U.K.) takes a penetrating look at the concept of culture, moving from antecedents in 18th- and 19th-century thought to focus on its meaning within post-World ... Read full review

Contents

French German
23
Talcott Parsons
47
Culture as Religion
75
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

Adam Kuper is a Fellow of the British Academy.

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