Anthropology Essay Example

The Theoretical Orientations of Culture

 As A Way Human Beings Adapt to the World

The concept of culture has a rich theoretical background.  Its definition, framework, interpretation and application differ according to perspective.  Diversity in culture is eminent and is closely evaluated in terms of their impact and effect on health care.  It is in this regard that this essay aims to present what the concepts of culture are as a means for human beings to adapt to changes in the environment through spans of time.  Further, this paper would delve into the theoretical orientations this concepts have to perceptions of marriage and family.

In a book written by Soliven, (2006), culture is defined in its narrow and broad senses. In its narrow sense, culture is “a system of knowledge shared by a relatively large group of people. It is a collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another” (p.18). In its broadest sense, culture “refers to the totality of a person’s learned, accumulated experiences, which are socially transmitted. It consists of his values, sentiments, and aspirations” (ibid). Jocano (1990, p.IX) explains culture as the people’s “commonly shared ways of thinking, believing and doing things”. It is according to Spencer (1974) a “way of life” in the social environment and includes the method of living, eating, dressing and searching for happiness and following rules of living” (p. 368).

All culture shares the following characteristics, to wit: (1) it is an adaptive mechanism, (2) it is learned, (3) it is cumulative, (4) it changes, (5) it is shared and transmitted, (6) it is gratifying, and (6) it is social.

In examining the concepts of marriage and family, cultural diversity definitely should be taken into account. The family is one institution of society that is most important to an individual.  It is a system of relationships, which determines what a person is and what one will become. As society develops, the complexity in family classifications emerge giving in to stem and blended family types in addition to the traditional ones. However, depending on the cultural orientation of a person, the type of family is adapted or applied.

For example, Westerners usually stick to the nuclear family as their ultimate type. When a child reaches the age of 18, it is expected that he/she is severed from the parents and would start to live on his/her own. This is not the case in Asian families where the family type usually accommodates the stem and blended type due to cultural orientation of affiliation, respect and support.

In terms of marriage, different cultures have diverse customs, beliefs, values and practices. Marriage is considered a sacrament in predominantly Catholic cultures where it is supposed to be a permanent, exclusive, non-revocable contract.  In some Western cultures, marriage is viewed as a contract which can be revoked when one of the terms or conditions is breached.

All cultures in the world project similarities usually found in speech and language, art, cooking, eating and courting, among others. All cultures develop out of shared human activities centering on common needs or problems.

Despite uniformities in culture all over the world, there is also a wide range of disparity in various aspects of culture, like marriage and family. Culture, therefore, has profound meaning within its cultural setting and people who study its theoretical orientations should be aware of its concepts of diversity and relativism in order for human beings to adapt to this world.

Works Cited

Soliven, A.G., Subida, M.D., Villanueva, A.A.,, Pacayra, E.E., Caburol, E.I, Dela Cruz,

D.C., Santonia, J.F. and Chico, R.A. (2006). Sociology – Anthropology. Central

Escolar University, Philippines.

Jocano, F. Landa (1990). Management By Culture. Punlad Reseach House. Quezon City,


Spencer, Matta. (1974). Foundations of Modern Sociology. 2nd ed. Prentice Hall, Inc.

New Jersey.

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