How much do you know about Material Culture Studies?

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What is material culture?

What is the scholarly analysis of material culture called?

What is gift-giving?

What is the difference between material culture and symbolic culture?

What is the heritage industry?

What is the field of archaeology?

What is the relationship between material culture studies and anthropology?

What is the goal of waste reduction advocates within environmentalism?

What disciplines does material culture studies draw on?


Material culture is the aspect of social reality grounded in the objects and architecture that surround people. It includes the usage, consumption, creation, and trade of objects as well as the behaviors, norms, and rituals that the objects create or take part in.

The scholarly analysis of material culture, which can include both human made and natural or altered objects, is called material culture studies. It is an interdisciplinary field and methodology that tells of the relationships between people and their things.

Researchers have found that people infuse objects they own with a higher value than they do if they do not own the object. An object can mediate messages between time or space or both between people who are not together. Gift-giving is a universal phenomenon that holds emotional meaning using material culture.

Material culture studies as an academic field grew along the field of anthropology and so began by studying non-Western material culture. The field of material culture studies as its own distinct discipline dates to the 1990s.

Archaeology is the study of humanity through the inferential analysis of material culture to ultimately gain an understanding of the daily lives of past cultures and the overarching trend of human history.

In studying a human culture, an anthropologist studies the material culture of the people in question as well as the people themselves and their interactions with others.

Museums and other material culture repositories, by their very nature, are often active participants in the heritage industry. The industry is fueled by a cycle of people visiting museums, historic sites, and collections to interact with ideas or physical objects of the past.

Some observers advocate intentionally altering the material cultures created by current civilizations. For example, waste reduction advocates within environmentalism advocate teaching design approaches, such as cradle-to-cradle design and appropriate technology.

Material culture studies draw on both theory and practice from the social sciences and humanities such as art history, archaeology, anthropology, history, historic preservation, folklore, archival science, literary criticism and museum studies, among others.

Material culture is contrasting to symbolic culture, which includes nonmaterial symbols, beliefs, and social constructs.

The social aspects in material culture include the social behavior around it: the way that the material is used, shared, talked about, or made. An object cannot hold meaning in and of itself.


Test your knowledge on material culture studies with this enlightening quiz! From the definition of material culture to the interdisciplinary fields it draws from, this quiz will challenge your understanding of the relationships between people and their objects. Explore the history and theories behind the study of material culture, and discover the social behaviors and emotional meanings that are intertwined with material objects. With questions on anthropology, archaeology, museums, and more, this quiz is perfect for anyone interested in the fascinating world of material culture.

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