Franz Boas

The mind of primitive man

New York: The Free Press. 1938 [1911]

Culture may be defined as the totality of the mental and physical reactions and activities that characterize the behavior of individuals composing a social group collectively and individually in relations to their natural environment, to other groups, to members of the group itself and of each individual to himself. It also includes the products of these activities and their role in the life of the groups. The mere enumerations of these various aspects of life, however, does not constitute culture. It is more, for its elements are not independent, they have a structure (p. 149).

A constant relation between loosely connected or entirely disconnected aspects of culture is improbable when the differences between the activities are great and different groups of individuals participate in the activities involved. (p. 167)

In my blog entry for May 26, 2012, I have used this quote as a pre-figuration of a renewed critique of "culture of poverty" style explanations for the individual behavior of aggregated people


May 26 2012, [1999]