Cultural system

In systems, a cultural system is a volume or number of people delineated by a characteristic culture. The term is used significantly in anthropological thermodynamics.

In his 1964 book Cultural and Social Anthropology, American anthropologist Peter Hammond attempt to understand cultural systems in terms of thermodynamics: [1]

“To understand man in particular we must understand living material systems in general; cultural systems, like biological systems, expend energy that is captured [by the sun]; in performing a ritual, playing a game, regarding a churinga with awe, or breathing a silent prayer, the event is an expression of energy expended.”

American anthropologist Leslie White also argued that a cultural system is a thermodynamic system, beginning in 1969. [2] As discussed in his 1975 book The Concept of Cultural Systems, White explains that: [3]

Cultural systems, like all material systems, are thermodynamic systems. Their existence and operation require energy. Every cultural event involves the expenditure of energy.”

He also explains that this is a relatively untouched conception:

“In the application of the laws of thermodynamics to cultural systems we have one of the most illuminating and profound interpretations of cultural systems that is currently available to us. The extent to which the laws of thermodynamics have been applied to cultural systems is so far very limited and not well understood.”

His first views on culture as a thermodynamic system are found in his 1969 book The Science of Culture: [4]

“The primary function of culture is to harness and control energy so that it may be put in man’s service. Culture thus confronts us as an elaborate thermodynamic mechanical system.”

1. Hammond, Peter B. (1964). Cultural and Social Anthropology (cultural thermodynamics, pgs. 26-30). MacMillan.
2. (a) Erickson, Paul A., Murphy, Liam D. (2008). A History of Anthropological Theory (Leslie White, pgs. 142-). University of Toronto Press.
(b) Wallace, Thomas P. (2009). Wealth, Energy, and Human Values: the Dynamics of Decaying Civilizations from Ancient Greece to America (pg. 102). AuthorHouse.
3. While, Leslie A. (1975). The Concept of Cultural Systems (pg. 3-10). Columbia University Press.
4. White, Leslie A. (1969). The Science of Culture (pg. 367-68). Doubleday.

External links
‚óŹ Cultural systems – Wikipedia.

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