Socio-Cultural Primer

Socio-Cultural Anthropology

This is my area of expertise.
More accurately, I am interested in the following areas:

1. Ethnohistory and Ethnography
2. Ethnic groups formation and survival in society
3. Religious Sociology
4. AIMS Model
5. Self-Marginalization
6. Immigrant Groups

First is my primer on the subject, below that is my stuff.

1. Ethnohistory and Ethnography

Ethnohistory is defined as: The study of cultures of the recent past through accounts left by explorers, missionaries, and traders, and through the analysis of such records as land titles, birth and death records, and other archival materials.

Ethnography is defined as: The systematic description of a culture based on firsthand observation.

Some ethnographic examples: (These aren't my links, so use your browser's back button to return here.)

a. Social Organization in a Turkish Village  - "Paul Stirling's 1965 monograph, Turkish Village, has long stood as a classic account of social organization in a traditional peasant community."

b. The Sami People in Sweden - About the Sami people.

c. Ethnicity and Nationalism - "It takes at least two somethings to create a difference." Gregory Bateson

2. Ethnic groups formation and survival in society:

Canada is a multicultural society that allows citizens to maintain their ethnic heritage while enjoying citizenship as Canadians. How this policy has translated into today's modern society provides ample examples of ethnohistory in the Canadian paradigm.

a. Multiculturalism in Canada - The Canadian Government's own statement on Multiculturalism.

b. Multicultural Stories - In 1994, Glass Co. Inc. produced Our Stories, a series of thirteen half-hour biographies featuring Canadians from a variety of experiences and heritages.

c. Across the Generations: The History of the Chinese in Canada - "The history of the Chinese in Canada is the history of a people who were powerless and discriminated against, a people who persevered against hardship  and humiliation. "

3. Religious Sociology.

Religion is a fascinating study by itself. Mankind's connection to the supernatural and the natural through spirituality and belief pervades every society on earth. Though religions and mythologies seem so isolated, they all do have some interesting parallels as well as commonalities.

a. Urban Legends - "An urban legend:
*    appears mysteriously and spreads spontaneously in varying forms
*    contains elements of humor or horror (the horror often "punishes" someone who flouts society's conventions).
*    makes good storytelling.
*    does NOT have to be false, although most are. ULs often have a basis in fact, but it's their life after-the-fact (particularly in reference to the second and third points) that gives them particular interest."

b. Myth and Legend from Ancient Times to the Space Age - "Myths are stories, usually, about gods and other supernatural beings (Frye). They are often stories of origins, how the world and everything in it came to be in illo tempore (Eliade). They are usually strongly structured and and their meaning is only discerned by linguistic analysis (Lévi-Strauss). Sometimes they are public dreams which, like private dreams, emerge from the unconscious mind (Freud). Indeed, they often reveal the archetypes of the collective unconscious (Jung). They are symbolic and metaphorical (Cassirer). They orient people to the metaphysical dimension, explain the origins and nature of the cosmos, validate social issues, and, on the psychological plane, address themselves to the innermost depths of the psyche (Campbell). Some of them are explanatory, being prescientific attempts to interpret the natural world (Frazer). As such, they are usually functional and are the science of primitive peoples (Malinowski). Often, they are enacted in rituals (Hooke). Religious myths are sacred histories (Eliade), and distinguished from the profane (Durkheim). But, being semiotic expressions (Saussure), they are a "disease of language" (Müller). They are both individual and social in scope, but they are first and foremost stories (Kirk)."

c. The World's Religions - A nice introduction to not only different religions, but also their texts.

4. AIMS Model:

The AIMS model is based on two important questions. The answers of “yes” or “no” describes an attribute of acculturation. The figure below illustrates the model.

1. Is it considered to be of value
to maintain cultural identity and
YES                                       NO
2. Is it considered to be of value to|  YES| Integration                  Assimilation
maintain relationships with            |       |
other groups?                                |   NO| Separation              Marginalization

Figure 1. The AIMS Model of acculturation, based on the answers to two key questions. (source: Berry, Kim, Power, Young and Bujaki, 1989)

5. Self-Marginalization:

The idea that a person or a people would choose to live on the margins of society is unthinkable. However, there are people who do choose this route. The following article explores one religious group who did go to the margins. It almost led to the complete destruction of the group.
6. Immigrant Groups:

Immigrants develop like behaviour as well as culturally specific behaviour when moving to a new culture. Settlement behaviour tends to be universal, but interactive behaviour moves from predictable to unpredictable and culturally specific. There are many factors that lead to the decision to emigrate from one's country and these factors and other issues affect decisions.

Smamainstay of a pluralistic society.