respose to read

Mon, 24 Jan 1994 13:37:00 PST

Vance writes:

"A scientific anthropology should focus on culture as the
expectations that people have of events, especially the behavior
of other people toward the goal of identifying what expectations
are intrinsic to a group of people and are different from the
expectations of other groups of people such that a group can be
identified as a "culture" an entity consisting of a group of
people with common expectations of events."

As I recollect, this was, roughly, the goal of the ethnoscientists. (e.g.,
Frake's How to ask for a drink.... type of work). But to say that culture =
expectations leads one to asserting that culture = predictive model and that
easily leads to inclusions of things that should not be included. It seems
that "expectations" are a conseqeunce, not a distinguishing feature, of what
constitutes culture. We might, nonetheless, distinguish between two kinds of
expectations: those that are the consequence of extrinsic factors (i.e., can
be studied solely using etic references) versus those that arise by virtue of
"culture" (i.e., require emic input for their analysis). But is this not
just another way of saying that through culture meanings are created that are
not intrinsic to the thing/action itself? This brings us back to the
starting point: What constitutes a theory of such meaning creation?

D. Read