‘Anthropology Enables Cross-Cultural Comparisons to Be Made About How People Live Their Lives and Challenges Our Common Sense Reactions to Cultural Differences’. Explore This Argument Using Material from at Least Three Lecture Topic Areas.

‘Anthropology enables cross-cultural comparisons to be made about how people live their lives and challenges our common sense reactions to cultural differences’. Explore this argument using material from at least three lecture topic areas.

“Social life is essential to human existence. We remain in the company of other people from the day we are born to the time of our death” (Spradely and McCurdy 2000:191). Anthropology seeks to understand this phenomenon by actively engaging with other cultures through methods such as ethnographic fieldwork. A crucial purpose of this social science is to try “to account for the social and cultural variation in the world” (Eriksen 2001:1). By examining other cultures in such close detail an anthropologist aims to understand them from a completely different perspective to that of an ordinary citizen. As Eriksen (2001:6) states “A society or a culture… must be understood on its own terms”. This implies we must view a culture in an indifferent and objective manner rather than via our personal opinions, which are subject to cultural bias.

One aspect of life commonly researched in anthropology is family relations, which is often understood in terms of kinship and how this contributes to the family’s structure and dynamics. Spradely and McCurdy (2000:191) define kinship as “the complex system of culturally defined social relationships based on marriage…and birth”. Whilst we all possess our own view of what constitutes a ‘normal family’, the term ‘normal’ itself does not really exist in anthropological literature. As Podelefsky and Brown (2007:255) state, “diverse cultures have many different ways of organizing families”. Thus it would be ethnocentric for any culture to believe that their formation of family relations is either right or superior to that of others. Instead what anthropology encourages us to do is consider these different models across cultures without passing judgement on them.

Kinship links may be formed in a...