Cultural Values and Cultural Change: How Anthropologists Think

SS123
Fall 21

Cultural values are everywhere crucial aspects of social life. Many anthropologists have come to recognize the importance of cultural values in social life, while others have taken note of the fact that rapid value and cultural change is a condition of life in many societies in the contemporary world. This course explores knowledge of Anthropology’s engagement with cultural values, value change, and related value concerns encountered in social life. It centers on the cross-cultural exploration of cultural values, value change, and selfhood, their expression in social life, and the fundamental roles they play in situations of social and cultural change. The course begins with a review of the history, the definition, and the subjective/objective problems of values. Subsequent lectures consider a series of emergent questions, theories and research in the anthropological literature, such as the ontology of values, value hierarchy, value judgement, monism and pluralism, and the structure of value relations, which might be construed as fundamentally shaping societies’ understandings of moralities, ethics, beliefs and action, and cultural change. This course explores the contributions these theories made or are making to our understanding of human societies and identify ways that they can be applied to explain particular cases or situations today. This course expects students to critically examine how cultural values are formed and contested in situations of social change and in a globalizing world. It further provides students with theoretical tools for analyzing and understanding social and ethical life in many societies. These areas of learning will enable students to think about societies past and present and about lives lived within these societies from a new perspective. Students will also perhaps learn about how to think about their own life and values in a deeper and more conscious way.

Juan CHEN

Juan CHEN

Juan Chen has received her PhD in Anthropology and Education from University of Cambridge.