Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Time According to Shore..

I enjoyed this week’s reading more so than the text from last week. I thought Shore did a much better job in explaining connectionism than Strauss and Quinn when it comes to cultural knowledge. He explained it on such a different level that I felt connected with what Prof. Syverson has mentioned in class several times that really made it click for me, “..connectionist models have an ecological character, modifying themselves in response to changing conditions.” (348) Cultural models are always changing. The cultural knowledge that we gain is socially constructed and is internalized and externalized on a continuous cycle in our daily lives.

I felt though that Shore really should have had Chapter 14 earlier in the book – he even mentions reading Chapters 13 and 14 before the case studies in his introduction. I did follow his advice and read these two chapters first which gave me a good foundation to understanding the case studies and examples he gave throughout the book. But I still feel that he should have moved the chapter and the concepts discussed earlier in the book so that his concluding chapters could be devoted to how future studies or research could be done in this area.

Throughout the text, I felt Shore had a strong animosity toward his cohort of anthropologists and how they have looked at cultural models and their lack thereof. It’s a strong text that effectively argues how much anthropology should reconsider how culture and cognition are understood and analyzed. Of all the case studies that Shore details in his book, I found the baseball and the dreamtime chapters the most useful in helping me to understand how cultural models are created and how different they can be from individual to individual.

In another class I am taking we are discussing the concept of time in groups and how this impacts the communication between individuals in groups. I started thinking about this as it relates to Shore’s text and how from a cultural model standpoint, he mentions temporal models that can help structure examples of how we view time. The example of the Wawilak sisters and how the myth that is described in that chapter touches upon time and life stages was an interesting way of showing this concept of time culturally.

It made me wonder how much of our time is culturally constructed depending on the life stage we are at (graduate students now) to when we all go into academia as professors later. I also was wondering how much the concept of time is influenced by our experiences from meeting deadlines for research to the way the institutions have structured our time (by semester) and how much this may change over time. Shore mentions that cultural models are socially distributed and contextually distributed so if that is the case, what does everyone think of the idea of the virtual academy from a distance learning standpoint? Since in some cases distance learning programs are not as finite in timing with some having self-paced courses and the idea of the group being remote and not together – how do you think time could be crafted or constructed from a cultural standpoint? I am curious what everyone thinks about this….


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