Culture (Ethnographic)

Each unit (collection) in eHRAF World Cultures usually represents a culture, by which is commonly meant the learned behaviors, ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and values typically shared by a society. A society usually refers to group of people who speak a language not usually understood by neighbors who occupy some contiguous (or at least some core) territory. Our list of culture units comes largely from the Outline of World Cultures (Murdock 1983) which we update where needed. However, note that some eHRAF World Cultures collections consist of more than one cultural unit. Sometimes this is because the ethnographic literature describes people speaking different languages within a usually small territory and therefore we have no choice but to consider them together. And sometimes peoples speaking the same language are so widespread (such as Arab speakers) that ethnographers describe different geographical regions as having different cultures. HRAF takes the position that all cultures will have subcultural differences and change over time; therefore, we try to include information about different communities or regions at different time periods. We recommend that when researchers collect information they focus on a community or region at a particular point in time.