Is Culture And Personality ' A False Dichotomy As Melford Spiro Maintained?

1554 Words Oct 17th, 2016 7 Pages
Is 'culture ' and 'personality ' a false dichotomy as Melford Spiro maintained?

How does a person become a member of their culture? Psychological anthropology, emerging in the 1930s, questioned the relationship between the individual and society. This question became a key theme of research of so-called 'culture and personality ' theorists – a question still present within the subdiscipline today (LeVine, 2010). In positioning anthropological analysis along the two theoretical points – 'culture ' and 'personality ' – these anthropologists sought to enable a basis for cross-cultural study and a way to describe differences in human behaviour as a product of their culture. This essay will explore to what extent these categories have been contrived due to issues with both methodology and theory using three ethnographic examples which maintain a 'culture and personality ' approach. Whilst it would be difficult to maintain that 'culture ' and 'personality ' are 'false ' categories, the essay will establish that to put them in a simple dichotomous relationship with one another is no longer suitable for anthropological work today. What emerges is not a retelling of how this direction 'died ' in the 1950s (Levine, 2010; Lindholm, 2007), but an understanding of how this direction has continued until more recently to shape psychological anthropology.

Arguably the most exemplar text in the culture and personality movement was Benedict 's (1934) Patterns of Culture. Her…

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