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Patterns of Culture

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  841 ratings  ·  37 reviews
"Unique and important . . . Patterns of Culture is a signpost on the road to a freer and more tolerant life." -- New York Times

A remarkable introduction to cultural studies, Patterns of Culture is an eloquent declaration of the role of culture in shaping human life. In this fascinating work, the renowned anthropologist Ruth Benedict compares three societies -- the Zuni of
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Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 25th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published 1934)
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Ann
Culture and Personality Paradigm:
Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture

In her book Patterns of Culture Ruth Benedict presents ethnographic accounts of three unique cultures, the Pueblo (Zuni) Indians of the Southwest, the Dobu of eastern New Guinea and the Kwakiutl of the Pacific Northwest coast between Washington and British Columbia. Benedict employs use of these cultures to demonstrate her theory of culture as “personality-writ-large.” The book starts out with two sections, largely theoretical;
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Will Kaufman
Jul 26, 2007 Will Kaufman rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction
Probably the most interesting and compelling introduction to anthropology you could ever hope for. Ruth Benedict lays out some basic principles - that anyone who's ever wondered about the society they live in should read - backed up with explorations of three incredibly fascinating cultures. This is a very profluent book, so I feel I can safely recommend it to people who have never read non-fiction before.
Patterns of Culture is a book that will change the way you see the world.
Kmorgenstern
This book was a very interesting read. It helped me put into perspective cultural values that we take for granted as 'universal'. There are no universal values or ethics - every culture shapes reality according to their own value priorities. Thus it put a large question mark on my mind as to how to solve certain problems that we face as a species - how are we ever going to find a common ground from which to tackle these? I found the perspective of analysis interesting - Apollonian versus Dionysi ...more
David Haws
Successful societies reproduce excessively as a hedge against the death (accidental or purposeful) of those intended to fill necessary positions in the coming generation. An upper-class redundant (the unneeded lesser son of a noble family) can move down a notch (fill some ranked position in the church, government, or military). A merchant’s second son might start a new business, become a craft apprentice, or descend to the less-protected ranks of labor (depending on the good graces of the inheri ...more
Cleiton
Eu gostei muito desse livro. A edição em pt-br só foi lançada ano passado, e um livro tão antigo! É importante porque traça uma discussão na relação entre indivíduo e sociedade, que para a autora não há conflito, ambos se relacionam muito bem e são interdependentes. Ela pontua três sociedades indígenas que ficam na Columbia Britânica nos EUA, discorrendo sobre eventos e costumes sociais em que mostra os indivíduos agindo e sendo formados pela cultura.
Laura
I think all my texts from degree #1 were intriguing. But this is a straight text book and I suppose even I don't often pleasure read anthropology essays. However, I think this is the one that has the references to some of my favorite "Did you know somewhere in the world there are people who..." references from the BA days.
Valerie
I remember this for the basic dichotomy of 'Apollonian' and 'Dionysian' cultures. I suspect Benedict chose the case studies she did because she felt they best represented polar forms of this dichotomy. Real societies, of course, aren't neatly cut in two--so she tended to exaggerate a bit betimes, probably.
Sunny
I liked this book overall. It talks about different cultures in three different parts of the world – the pueblos of new Mexico, the Dobu of Papua New Guinea and the Kwakuitl of Northwest America. the book contrasts some of the norms we take for granted around what constitutes a moral action. Ruth looks at the science of custom, the diversity of cultures, its integration, the nature of society and the individual and patterns of society. To be honest there were some very interesting bits in the mi ...more
Walter
Patterns of Culture is a seminal work in the field of Anthropology, written in 1936 by Ruth Benedict, the Columbia University Professor of Anthropology, student of Franz Boas and mentor of the famous anthropologist Margaret Mead. In fact, Margaret Mead wrote the preface to Patterns of Culture.

This book is a study of three diverse cultures - the Zuni indians of the American Southwest, another tribe of the Pacific Northwest and a people of the Pacific Islands of Micronesia. In this work, Benedict
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Michelle
In her book Patterns of Culture, Ruth Benedict examines the concept of cultural relativity by examining three indigenous groups in different areas around the world. These groups are: the Zuni, the Dobu and the Kwakiutl of the pacific northwest of North America. Written in 1934, the book reveals is age by the seemly derogatory terms by today’s standards. However, within the confines of the book, it appears as though Benedict is looking at the margins of the culture area for patterns which are bey ...more
Leslie
After schlepping it around for 40 years, I finally read it.
Wish I'd done it earlier, but oh what a treat!
The relativity of cultures had entered our legal system in LA: Parents from SE Asia "cup" their children in disease situations and are put in jail for it. Dear, dear.
Roberta McDonnell
In Patterns of Culture, renowned anthropologist Ruth Benedict reveals many wonderful ideas and examples of how humans as individuals and groups carve out the meanings and practices of their lives. As well as demonstrating a robust method for understanding cultural phenomena within historical and social contexts, Benedict shows how the self and the social world are like two sides of the one coin, each shaping the other in an ongoing dynamic (as I argued in my thesis (2006), quoting Benedict liber ...more
Dragos C.
A timeless, well written classic and Benedict's quintessential opus Patterns of Culture is quite dated nowadays but still a great insight into the minds of one of the great anthropologists of the 20th century and her theory of cultures.
monika
Read for a Cultural Theory class, but as engrossing as if I had picked it up on my own. Benedict, an obvious student of Franz Boas, argues that all cultures could be traced back to a basic core principal, she calls them "intellectual mainsprings," which one can find embodied in a culture's many manifestations, like marriage customs, religion, trading partners-- a pattern if you will. She includes three short ethnographies which highlight some of her points, so there is a bit more application tha ...more
Chrisl
First read in 1960s for an anthropology class, and subsequently reread, being one of the few social science books that left a lasting impression.

For a novel look at Salmon Culture social life, I recommend Houston's Eagle Song.

Eagle Song: An Indian Saga Based on True Events
Alissa
Oct 21, 2012 Alissa added it
I've read bits and pieces of this before, but I finally had to read the entire thing for school. Benedict's writing style is very fluid and digestible and I found the book to be an easy read. Cultural relativism was crucial to the formation of anthropology as we know it and, therefore, this is an important piece for students to read; I find, however, that I'm way more interested in the much juicer theory that pops up much later down the road.
Eli Jacobs
this book does ethnography of 3 distinct groups of people, but it is very superficial and ethnographic data seems distorted by benedict's attempts to make each culture fit the pattern she picks for them. it is valuable as a historical account of american cultural relativism and benedict's method.
Galen
Another good read for anthropology, I really liked learning all kindsa wacky stuff different tribes do, bizarre nature of humans never ceases to amaze because normality is culturally defined and equally bizarre in every culture.
Dana
Oct 23, 2007 Dana rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: someone who wants to know the history of Anthro.
This book suprisingly escaped me in college, and I found it in a garage sale after I moved to Chicago. This book was exactly what I had planned for and was satisfying none the less.
Saskia
I was surprised when I learned it was written in the early 1920s! Definitely some problem areas, but still quite resonant with today etc.
Nshwah
I loved this book. It inspires the reader to think and compare Bendict's theories to modern society today.
Endelea
Prompted me to keep reading other books of anthropology and study of culture.
Nana
This book adding my knowledge to understanding values of anthropology.
Sharon
I re-read this book many, many times as a child. Preface by Margaret Mead.
John Rivera
Little dry but one of the better anthropology works I've read.
Josie
Important classic in the tradition of cultural relativism
Noelle
Interesting view on what culture really is and means.
Risa
Patterns of Culture by Ruth Benedict (1989)
Suzanne
Learned to think. Had alot of "aha" moments.
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Ruth Fulton Benedict (June 5, 1887 – September 17, 1948) was an American anthropologist and folklorist.

She was born in New York City, attended Vassar College and graduated in 1909. She entered graduate studies at Columbia University in 1919, where she studied under Franz Boas. She received her Ph.D and joined the faculty in 1923. Margaret Mead, with whom she may have shared a romantic relationship
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More about Ruth Benedict...
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