Alrighty, here’s a drinking game: let’s try to map the major schools of Cultural Anthropology to social media. Every time we’re able to draw a plausible comparison, we do a shot of MGD and Jägermeister. Please note that I’ve been studying* this subject for 8 days now, and am 100% talking out of my derière.
Boas’ view that cultures can’t be compared, must be viewed as products of unique historical conditions, & culture traits understood as articulated to an integrated meaning system.
See: iPhone vs. Blackberry/Android/whatever isn’t an iPhone wars. No phone is intrinsically better than the others, except the iPhone.
Emile Durkheim’s theory that people’s values and behaviours are determined by their role in society.
See: ass kissing on Twitter by those who fall on the wrong side of the followers-to-following ratio.
See: Twitter Charity auction for the honour of having a Kardashian retweet you.
See: the existence of Empire Avenue, the Whuffie Bank, and everywhere else you’re told you can trade on your “influence”.
The idea that culture is a symbolic system, and people’s behaviour acts out those meanings, communicating them to each other.
See: The Facebook ‘like’ (content liking, not Page). A pictogram of a thumb, singled out for its connotations of approval, transmits social acceptance and stands in for phatic and grooming behaviours.
The notion that language serves to classify experience into universal categories, denoting cultural meaning.
See: “retweet” (social acceptance), “fail whale” (a frustrating act of god), “pwnage” (loss of social status due to naivete or mental insufficiency)
The classification of cultures on the basis of technologies, especially in regards to vital resource production.
See: 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, 90 million tweets per day (srsly), and 30 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook monthly. Social media content is the new food.
The theory that culture is an adaptation to the local environment.
See: half of Canadians prefer meeting online to meeting in the frigid outdoors.
The feeling that people manipulate the dictates of culture to achieve their own ends. Individual people have agency to change culture.
See: Mark Zuckerberg.
The idea that culture is controlled by the people who have the means to produce wealth, and that they use this position to maintain their elite status.
See: Steve Jobs.
*Real Anthropologists: I apologize for mangling your discipline. If you note anywhere that I’ve grossly misunderstood the above theoretical frameworks, please educate me in the comments.
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