Sunday, January 1, 2012

clyde kluckhohn

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Men, like animals, live in more or less organized clusters, which we shall call societies. Members of human societies always share a number of distinctive modes or ways of behaving that, taken as a whole, constitute their culture. Culture is based on the uniquely human capacity to classify experiences, encode such classifications symbolically, and teach such abstractions to others. It is usually acquired through enculturation, the process through which an older generation induces and compels a younger generation to reproduce the established lifestyle; consequently, culture is embedded in a person’s way of life. Culture is difficult to quantify, because it frequently exists at an unconscious level, or at least tends to be so pervasive that it escapes everyday thought. This is one reason that anthropologists tend to be skeptical of theorists who attempt to study their own culture. Anthropologists employ fieldwork and comparative, or cross-cultural, methods to study various cultures.

One person who had made studies on culture was Clyde Kay Maben Kluckhohn. Clyde Kluckhohn was born in 105 in LeMars, Iowa. Clyde chose the profession of a cultural anthropologist based on his interest in psychology while at the same time expressing his interest in cultural diversity. He felt that diversities of authentic cultures must be represented in personality psychology. For him, psychoanalysis, by revealing the unconscious assumptions of a given people could expose hidden relationships between culture and the individual personality. Kluckhohn even suggested that young students of anthropology be psychoanalyzed in order to better understand themselves and others. Kluckhohn displayed the fundamental importance of cultural anthropology as a source of information about human nature.

Clyde Kluckhohn defined culture as consisting of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for, behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional (i.e., historically derived and selected ) ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the other hand, be considered as products of action, on the other as conditioning elements of further action. Culture, as historically created designs for living, explicit and implicit, rational, irrational, and non-rational, which exist at any given time as potential guides for the behavior of men, helps to understand human behavior. The diversity of human behavior is clarified by this concept when we realize that each human society has a distinctive culture.

There are specific ways of behaving that is part of a given culture. We call these ways of behaving as ‘patterns’. Kluckhohn suggested that ideal patterns may be classed in five categories compulsory, preferred, typical, alternative, and restricted. Church laws and those laws which are stipulated in the Constitution are categorized under compulsory ideal patterns. An example of a preferred ideal pattern would be that on courtship. Young men nowadays would tend to invite a girl out on a date and with the influx of technology, would just court a girl through ‘text’ or ‘chat’ on the computer. Although these are already acceptable, the traditional way of visiting a girl in her place would still be highly preferred. In countries like Canada, same sex marriage is already acceptable for some members of a society but not for the society as a whole. Such is an example of a restricted ideal pattern. Ideal patterns therefore represent ways of behaving held to be desirable by the members of a given society. They are the imperatives (musts) and optatives (shoulds) of a particular culture, and they differ to a greater or lesser extent from behavioral patterns, derived from the observation of what people actually do in meeting particular situations.

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Kluckhohn also pointed out that the patterns and themes that make up a culture range from an extreme called explicit or overt to the opposite extreme of implicit or covert. Patterns in general belong to explicit culture in that they are readily abstracted from behavior and are more or less easily verbalized by the participants in the culture. Themes, on the other hand, tend to be implicit in behavior; they must usually be dissected out by an intensive analysis of the overt patterns that carry or express them. Participants in a culture often find themes difficult to verbalize; the themes tend to operate very largely on the unconscious level.

Kluckhohn wrote two cultural works. The first was a book entitled, Mirror for Man in 15 and Culture A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions). In his first work, Mirror for Man, Kluckhohn wrote about the relations between biology, culture, ethnocentrism, and cultural relativism. Relating to personality psychology, Kluckhohn felt that people think their own cultural beliefs and practices are normal and natural, and those of others are strange or even inferior. Kluckhohn’s belief that we are the product of a strange and interesting mix of biology and culture is highly applicable to both psychology and anthropology.

Clyde Kluckhohn was the son of Clyde Clofford, a real estate and insurance broker, and Caroline Maben. Tragically, his mother died at birth and the young man at the age of five was adopted by his maternal uncle, George Wesley Kluckhohn. A man of broad intellectual interests, he got Kluckhohn interested in the customs and language of the Navajos. It was then that Kluckhohn went to study the Navajo culture and personality.

The forced imposition of white culture on Indians leads to a disintegration of Indian culture. The results of this imposition have been described for the nation’s largest tribe by the anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn Navajo culture is becoming an ugly patchwork of meaningless and unrelated pieces, whereas it was once a finely patterned mosaic. Kluckhohn has suggested for the Navajo that the underlying cause of their problems in adjusting to American society is that

Certain major Navajo value premises are essentially incompatible with certain major value premises of our American culture. If those who propose to alter Navajo culture were more clearly aware of and could make more explicit to the Navajo what these basic divergencies really are and what they actually entail, the transition would at all events be eased.

Education is communication, and what really needs to be communicated to Indians are not the facts of white culture but the idea that Indians can learn from whites without committing psychological or ethnic suicide. What is learned in high school, or for that matter anywhere at all, according to Edgar Z. Friedenberg, depends far less on what is taught than on what one actually experiences in the place. If the Indian child experiences the school as something foreign, which he certainly has in the past, then he is defensive and apprehensive from the start. If at least some of the teachers are Indian and he sees them socially outside of school dealing as equals with his parents, then the school is less alien. If the curriculum of the school includes some Indian literature and history, the school is even less foreign. Once Indian teachers are able to incorporate the best of tribal and non-Indian values in their schools, they can change in a matter of years what otherwise might either take a matter of centuries or never take place at all. Every community, Kluckhohn felt, tends to resent outside interference, and change will be less disturbing and more permanent if it grows from within and is promoted by natural leaders of the community

Kluckhohn has suggested that the real solution to the conflict between cultures,

. . . might better be sought by reference to a scale of cultural value assumptions that, from a broadly human standpoint, is both more ultimate and more nearly universal. To see that peoples all over the world, speaking different languages (in both a literal and figurative sense), actually have and are aware of the selfsame needs and that they value the same fundamental objects and objectives, is to prove that one has seen beneath the superficial cultural veneer into the very heart of the human problem.

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