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IB Anthropology Key Terms Resources

RESOURCE: IB Anthropology Key Terms Resources


Achieved status

is acquired through talents, efforts and accomplishments, rather than ascription (have to work for it)


refers to biological and cultural traits that improve opportunities for individuals of a population to survive, and reproduce


designates the existence of a universal human capacity for an emotionally charged response of appreciation and pleasure when art is successful


refers to relatedness through marriage


refers to relatedness through marriage


is the act of maintaining the well being of an individual’s close relatives and their offspring to ensure their survival so that their genes will be continued in the next generation

Ambilineal descent

the reckoning of kinship through either maternal or paternal links, depending on which kin group provides greater opportunities

 anthro4  IB Anthropology Key Terms Resources anthro4


Postmarital residence in which a married couple elects to stay on a relatively permanent basis with either the wife’s or the husband’s domestic group


is a hysterical reaction in which young men attack other people and destroy their property


is the belief in diffuse impersonal power that people can control under certain conditions


is the belief that humans share the world with a population of extraordinary, mostly invisible beings

Anorexia Nervosa

an obsessive-compulsive disorder characterized by an unrealistic appraisal of one’s body as overweight, resulting in self-starvation to achieve a more slender look

Anthropological linguistics

the study of the great variety of languages spoken by human beings

Applied anthropology

refers to problem-oriented research in which anthropologists use their skills and knowledge to discover and explain factors that influence human behavior and solve practical problems


examines the material remains of past cultures left behind on or below the surface of the earth

Ascribed status

is determined for a person at birth


First hominids on our ancestral line who appeared around 4 million years ago

Avunoculocal residence

maintains a male fraternal interest group in the residential core of the matrilineal descent group.

Big man

a local entrepreneur who successfully mobilizes and manipulates wealth on behalf of his group, in order to host large feasts that enhance his status and rank relative to other big men in the region. He is a man of prestige and renown, but has no formal authority or power, nor does he have more wealth

Bilateral descent

reckoning of kinship evenly and symmetrical along maternal and paternal links in ascending and descending generations through individuals of both sexes


postmarital residence in which a married couple elects to stay for short intervals between rather short intervals between shifts of residence between wife’s kin and husband’s kin.


refers to medicine based on the application of the principles of the natural sciences, especially biology and biochemistry.

Bride Service

compensates the bride’s family for the loss of a daughter. The groom moves in with the bride’s family and works in exchange for his marital rights.


compensates the bride’s group for the loss of her labor and the children she bears, who become full members of the husband’s group


is associated with a change from production for use value to production for profit value

Carrying capacity

the upper limit on production and population in a given environment under a given technology, without degrading the resource base


closed, endogamous, and stratified descent groups


results when people on welfare lose their entitlements as a result of a real or inaccurately recorded failure on their part to comply with bureaucratic requirements


a group whose members possess similar amounts of power within a stratified society

Code Switching

the practice among multilingual language speakers of selectively alternating between languages or dialects within a single conversational segment

Cognatic descent rules

those in which both male and female parentage are used to establish any of the above-mentioned duties, rights, and privileges (refer to pg.142).


is a process that makes capital accumulation the primary objective and leads to the production of great inequalities of wealth and power

Communal cults

use rituals to strengthen group continuity by communicating socially constructed meaning signifying the continuity of the group


is an intense community spirit, a feeling of social solidarity, equality, and togetherness that is achieved through liminality

Cognatic lineages

are all the descendants of an apical ancestor or ancestress reckoning descent through any combination of male or female links


refers to relatedness through descent

Corporate group

is a unified entity that holds common property and it lives on it even though some of the members die out.

Cross cousins

are the children of ego’s father’s sister or mother’s brother who are regarded as potential marriage mates


takes place when listeners miss or misinterpret cues in communication

Cultural anthropology

deals with the description and analysis of cultures- the socially learned traditions of past and present ages

Cultural configuration

refers to the unique social patterns that a culture has standardized

Cultural materialism

is a research strategy which holds that the primary task of cultural anthropology is to give scientific causal explanations for the differences and similarities in thought and behavior found among human groups

Cultural relativism

stipulates that behavior in a particular culture should not be judged by the standards of another. Yet, it is evident that not all human customs or institutions contribute to the society’s overall health and well being, nor should they be regarded as morally or ethically worthy of respect

Cultural takeoff

occurred once the capacity for language and language assisted thought developed. A vast number of cultural differences and similarities appeared independently of changes in genotype.

Culture of poverty

depicts the poor as fearful, suspicious, apathetic toward major intuitions, and present time oriented. It assumes that some groups remain poor because certain cultural features that perpetuate poverty and that are passed down from one generation to the next cripple them.


refers to the learned, socially acquired traditions of thought and behavior found in human societies. It is a socially acquired lifestyle that includes patterned, repetitive ways of thinking, feeling, and acting.

Culture shock

is the feeling of anxiety and disorientation that develops in an unfamiliar situation when there is confusion about how to behave or what to expect


exhibits primary symptoms such as depressive mood, insomnia, and lack of interest in one’s social environment. The illness may be accompanied by secondary symptoms are culturally shaped.


refers to parentage from a common ancestor


takes place when culture contact leads to borrowing and passing on of cultural traits


refers to a pattern of language use in a bilingual community, where two languages or dialects are used according to social circumstances

Direct infanticide

involves deliberate killing- starvation, dehydration, smothering, placing a child in a dangerous situation, or excessive physical punishment.

Direct systematic behavior observations

refer to the study of activity patterns that show patterns of action and interaction of the people we study


refers to the ability to send or receive a message without direct sensory contact with the conditions or events to which the message refers


is a transfer of goods or money from the bride’s family to the groom. It represents compensation for the future support of the woman and her future children and is found in societies where women contribute relatively little to subsistence

Early Homo

is the hominid group from which modern humans were probably descended

Ecclesiastical art

generally interprets the world in conformity with prevailing state ideologies that justify inequities and exploitation

Ecclesiastical religion

is found in highly centralized political systems


refers to the choices people make they believe will provide the greatest benefit to them

Egalitarian society

lacks formalized differentiation in access to and power over, basic resources among its members


describe culture from the participants’ viewpoint. The observer uses concepts and distinctions that are meaningful and appropriate to the participants


is a partially conscious and partially unconscious learning experience whereby the older generation invites, induces, and compels the younger generation to adopt traditional ways of thinking and behavior


is the rule that requires an individual to take a spouse from a group in which he or she is a member (marrying in)

Energy-capturing technology

refers to how people apply human labor and technology to natural resources

In Eskimo terminology

the nuclear family stands out as a separate and functionally dominant productive and reproductive unit. Separate kin terms are used for nuclear family members that are not extended to any other kin type.

Ester Boserup

proposed an alternative view that holds that food production tends to rise to the level demanded by population growth. As population expands, and the point of diminishing returns is reached, people invent or adopt new a more efficient modes of food production.


is the period in the sexual cycle of female primates, during which they are in heat i.e., sexually receptive and likely to conceive


is the belief that one’s own patterns of behavior are always natural, good, beautiful. or important, and that strangers, to the extent that they live differently, live by savage, inhuman, disgusting, or irrational standards


is the destruction of a people’s way of life


is a firsthand description of a living culture based on personal observation

Ethnography of speaking

is the study of speech interaction in different cultures and of the interrelationships between language and other aspects of culture.


is a study of a particular topic or problem in more than one culture, using a comparative perspective


aims to understand the health-related beliefs, knowledge, and practices of cultural groups


describe culture from the observer’s perspective


is the rule that forbids an individual from taking a spouse from within a prescribed local group in which they are both members. (marrying out)


entails the rejection of a theory because the prediction is not supported by teh data

Features of the environment

consist of sunlight, rainfall, soil quality, forests, and mineral deposits

Feminization of poverty

refers to the growing number of female heads of household and the greater impact that poverty has on women (Ex. In search of Respect)


are the data collected by anthropologists


refers to the firsthand experience with the people being studied. It involves integration into a community through long-term residence and knowledge of the local language and customs, while maintaining the role of the observer.


are traditional narratives from the deep past that reflect social situations that play on ordinary human fears and desires.

Forensic Anthropology

uses anthropology to help solve crimes


designates a set of restrictions on how the art play is to be organized in time and space- the rules of the game of art

Fossil fuels

consist of materials such as coal, petroleum and natural gas derived from decomposed remains of prehistory organisms over a period of hundreds of millions of years


refers to the learned cultural and psychological attributes


is the physical extermination of a defined category of people

Ghost Dance

It was believed, would place dancers in contact with the spirit world and would hasten the time when people would be reunited with their dead ancestors and this meant that they would outnumber the whites and hence be more powerful

Green Revolution

was designed to increase grain yields, through the use of miracle seeds, as a key to ending world hunger

In Hawaiian terminology

the same term is applied to people inside and outside the nuclear family; a single term is used for all relatives of the same sex and generation.


unlike such specialists as king, president, or dictator, is a relatively powerless figure incapable of compelling obedience


is a stratified social order in which subordinate groups internalize the ideology of the dominant group and accept the dominant ideology as natural and inevitable


refers to the use of multiple “dialects” or language styles based on the social setting (e.g., formal, casual, professional) and social context (status and role relationships) of the speakers


is an approach that assumes that any single aspect of culture is integrated with other aspects, so that no single dimension of culture can be understood in isolation

Humanistic approach

aims to describe and interpret each culture on its own terms; it believes comparisons distort the unique qualities of a given culture


medicine conceives the universe as made of opposing qualities-hot and cold, wet and dry- and sees health as a matter of balance between these opposites


refers to the fact that the world has now become more (not less) industrial, extending mass-production into new areas such as services and information processing


is a proposition or tentative explanation of the relationship between certain phenomena that can be validated (or invalidated) by evidence collected according to explicit procedures

Image of limited good

everything is perceived as finite: land, wealth, health, love, friendship, honor, respect, status, power, influence, safety, and security. Because everything is scarce, success is viewed as a zero sum game; successful individuals take more than their fair share from a common pool, thereby excelling at the expense of other people

inbreeding avoidance

refers to behavioral patterns in which individuals avoid sexual contact with people who could be sexual partners were it not for their relatedness

Incest taboo

refers to cultural beliefs prohibiting sexual relations or marriage with a close relative

Indigenous people

are those who live in countries with populations composed of different ethnic groups who are descendants of the earlier populations which survive in the area, and who do not, as a group, control the national government of the countries within which they live

indirect infanticide

begins with neglect and underinvestment- inadequate feeding, withholding emotional support, and careless and indifferent handling, especially when the infant is sick

Individualistic cults

all people are their own specialists


are people through whom the anthropologist learns about the culture through observation and by asking questions


consists of the technologies and productive and reproductive activities that bear directly on the provision of food and shelter, protection against illness, and the satisfaction of sexual and other basic human needs and drives


refers to an increase in labor output (i.e. using more people, working longer hours or working faster), to produce greater yields without expanding the amount of land used


rely entirely on research subjects as sources of knowledge

Iroquois terminology

distinguishes between cross and parallel cousins and cross and parallel aunts and uncles


consists of ego’s close bilateral relatives who form a group that comes together for such occasions as when ego is born, marries, gives a feast, etc.

Kula ring

is a system of exchange in the Trobriand Islands, where trading partners from different islands take risky voyages to exchange shell ornaments around the ring of islands; white cowrie shell armbands are traded in a counterclockwise direction, red shell necklaces are traded clockwise

Lactation amenorrhea

(disruption of the menstrual cycle) is a typical accompaniment of breast-feeding and serves as another form of birth control


Assigns birth status to the child, legally entitles the child and/or mother to the husband’s property upon his death, and determines who is responsible for the child and who controls the child’s future

Leopard skin chief

is an outside mediator, believed to have supernatural powers, who is called upon to resolve disputes between kin groups and prevent the escalation of hostilities

Liminal phase

is a temporary ritual state during which the individual is cut off from normal social contact to demarcate a contrast from regular social life

Lineage segmentation

allows closely related lineages to unite to oppose a threat from more distantly related lineage segments (ex. possibly Yanomamo)


refers to a practice intended to manipulate supernatural forces to achieve a specific result. Magic is less spiritual and less ethical than religion

maintenance system

consists of the basic customs surrounding the nourishment, sheltering, and protection of its members. It includes the mode of production and the organization of domestic and political life, as it affects how adults raise their children.

male supremacist complex

is a by-product of male monopoly over weapons, training of males for combat, bravery and other male centered institutions


believed that population would always increase more rapidly than food supplies; in fact, population growth would tend to rise faster than any conceivable rise in productivity, thereby dooming a large portion of humanity to perpetual poverty, hunger, and misery


is the possession of concentrated animatistic force that gives certain objects, animals, and people extraordinary powers independent of power derived from souls and gods.


refers to a hypothetical social system in which domestic and political authority is wielded solely by women

Matrilineal descent

requires ego to follow the ascending and descending links through females only

Matrilocal residence

is associated with long distance trade or external warfare

Maximum sustainable yield

which may be defined as a level of production immediately prior to the point of diminishing return

Medical anthropology

studies the interaction between culture, disease, and health care


is a medium of exchange that has standard value. It is used as a means of payment for goods and services in a wide range of transactions where trade is well developed and economizing is a guiding principle.


the smallest part of an utterance that has a definite meaning

Multinational corporations

are not economically tied to or dependent on any single country. They have manufacturing plants in several countries and move their facilities in search of cheaper labor, lower taxes and favorable government regulation.


are sacred tales in which deities appear to explain issues of human existence

National character

refers to the personality configuration of members of a cultural group or nation characterized by consistent attitudes and behavior over time.

Natural selection

refers to changes in the frequencies of certain genetic traits in populations due to the differential reproductive success between individuals


refers to free enterprise, or “the rule of the market.” It believes that an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone


differs form both bilocality and ambilocality in not establishing residence with kin groups at all

Nomadic pastoralism

is often associated with migrations that follow established routes over vast distances

Oedipus complex

refers to the emotional attachment and desire that a boy has for his mother and feelings of rivalry and guilt that he feels toward his father.

Electra complex

female counterpart of the Oedipus complex, which refers to a similar attraction of a daughter to her father and rivalry toward her mother.

Open-class systems

people can move up or down their hierarchy as in modern Western democracies (as opposed to closed-class systems such as castes)

Optimal foraging theory

predicts that hunters or collectors will pursue or harvest only those species that give them the maximum energy return for the time spent foraging

Parallel cousins

are the children of ego father’s brother or mother’s sister and are regarded as brothers and sisters

Participant observation

places the ethnographer at the scene where a combination of direct observation and interviews provide the evidence from which ethnographic accounts are constructed


or rule by father or male authority, assumes that women are naturally subservient to their fathers and husbands. Although widespread, patriarchy exists in different forms and degrees.

Patrilineal descent

requires ego to follow the ascending and descending genealogical links through males only

Patrilocal residence

is associated with internal warfare


are people who use nonindustrial technologies to to cultivate land in state societies and pay rent and or taxes in the form of cash, crops, or services to elite groups for the use of the land


like culture, refers to patterned ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, but the focus is on the individual

Phonemic differences

are derived from patterns of sounds that are meaningful to native speakers


sound patterns represent occurrences. They occur due to variations in the location of the tongue and lips and the stress, pitch and tone of the sound. They can be observed and identified in speech without having to question the speaker


is the study of the phones or “individual” sounds that native speakers make

Physical anthropology

(also called biological anthropology) connects the other anthropological fields to the study of animal origins and the biologically determined nature of Homo sapiens.

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