M. Herskovits on socialization and inculturation. - Social anthropology

M. Herskovits about socialization and inculturation.

Special attention to the problems of inculturation and socialization is given in the concept of cultural relativism M. Herskovitsa.

In accordance with the American anthropological tradition, M. Herskovitsi separated the concept of "culture" from the concept of society & quot ;: culture - this is the way of people's lives, and "society" acts as an organized aggregate of interacting individuals leading a certain lifestyle. Thus, the society consists of people, and the culture can be defined as "the sum of the behavior and habitual way of thinking of people forming this society"; . In this case, each individual culture acted as a unique unique model, determined by a constant - characteristic for this culture - tradition. In fact, culture acts as a human-created environment for its existence.

One of the main concepts of M. Herskovits in his cultural and anthropological concept is "inculturation" (from English, enculturation cultivation), by which he understood the occurrence of an individual in a specific form of culture. This concept was introduced by him in 1948. Around the same time, K. K. M. Clackhon introduced a similar in meaning term "culture" Since the term "socialization" that existed by that time, did not cover the processes of mastering the cognitive aspects of culture (knowledge, beliefs, values, etc.).

Assimilation of the activity side of culture, as well as various aspects of spiritual culture in the process of inculturation M. Herskovits considered the main link of his concept. Inculturation , from his point of view, must be distinguished from socialization. Socialization is the process of mastering the universal mode of life in childhood, this acquisition by a person of that social experience that turns out to be necessary for execution specific social roles. In the system of social relations and socialization (as the development of general cultural), and inculturation (as the development of specific cultural) coexist and develop simultaneously. Thus, socialization characterizes the process of the formation of man precisely as man , and inculturation - as a representative of specific culture.

A number of researchers also distinguish the notion of "resocialization" (or "re-socialization", "socialization again"), which means that deliberate influences come from outside of one's own culture.


In studies of socio-cultural anthropology, there are several options for understanding how inculturation occurs. Beginning in childhood with the acquisition of skills in eating, speech, behavior and t., The process of inculturation, in the understanding of M. Herskovits, continues in the form of improving skills in the adult state. Therefore, in the process of inculturation, he singled out two levels - childhood and maturity. With the help of these levels, he seeks to uncover the mechanism of changes in culture through a harmonious combination of stability and variability.

• The first level of inculturation - childhood - is a mechanism that ensures the stability of culture. The main task for a person at the first level is to assimilate cultural norms, etiquette, traditions, religion; to master the previous ethno-cultural experience. According to Herskovits, a person in his childhood is more a tool , than a player , since adults, using a system of punishments and rewards, limit his right to choose or to evaluate himself.

Peculiar axis process of inculturation is located between two poles:

a) Accurate and unconditional mastery of culture by the new generation, when behavioral and semantic differences between parents and children are almost invisible (this result corresponds to post-figurative cultures, according to Mead's classification):

b) a complete failure in the transfer of cultural values ​​of the previous generation, when the children are absolutely not like their parents (this result corresponds to the ііrefigurative cultures).

• The main feature of the second level of inculturation - maturity - is that a person has the opportunity not to accept or deny any cultural phenomena. Realization of this possibility allows to make appropriate changes to the culture.

At this stage, inculturation is not holistic, but is intermittent, sometimes - point process, because it includes ("lets in") only individual fragments, artifacts of culture: inventions, discoveries, new artifacts, ideas formed in the spiritual world of the society, etc. This level of inculturation provides the person with alternative possibilities and "opens the doors" for the emergence of a new in behavior and thinking, creating opportunities for creativity, and not just a blind repetition of existing activity algorithms. Thus, according to Herskovitsu, inculturation is a process , which ensures the reproduction of the "cultural man" and includes a mechanism for implementing changes.

Expert opinion

"To admit that right, justice, beauty can have as many manifestations as cultures, it means not nihilism, but tolerance" (Melville Herskovits).

The concept of inculturation in the case of Khrskovitsa, the core of the principle of cultural relativism. Thus, through the prism of inculturation, the ideas of time, distance, weight, size and other "realities" are mediated in each particular culture. For example, the perception of time in Western and Eastern cultures differs significantly.

The views of M. Herskovits on the process of inculturation are similar to the ideas of another supporter of cultural relativism - R. Benedict, who sought to describe the culture as "psychological integrity" and proceeded from the assumption of the extraordinary plasticity of human nature: the social and cultural environment can fashion out anything from your personality. Personality becomes, as it were, a part of culture: "Human society must create for itself some everyday patterns. It approves strictly defined methods of reaction to the situation and certain ways of judging them. Members of this community see in such decisions the basis of the universe. & lt; ... & gt; A certain degree of continuity is required, or the whole scheme breaks up into parts .

The end result of the process of inculturation is a person competent in the symbolic worlds of culture: in language, in rituals and traditions, in values, etc., mastering the algorithms of behavior adopted in a given culture in specific situations.

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