A holistic approach to the study of human beings integrates multiple models. Culture anthropology is a social science discipline that does so. It brings together various areas of research to form a whole picture of human exchange.
Culture anthropology is the study of human beings, particularly human exchange. No one aspect of human behavior adequately represents the whole. For example, Marvin Harris suggested that cultural materialism assumes the simple premise that human social life is a response to the practical problems of earthly existence. Harris understood that human similarities and differences ultimately lay in the material conditions of human life (See The Rise of Anthropological Theory by Marvin Harris). Obviously, this is one model and there are arguments to support it in empirical research.
However, what constitutes the material world? The indigenous tribal people along the Sepik River of Papua New Guinea would include personal spirit beings and impersonal spiritual forces. In fact, they would not distinguish the seen and unseen worlds. The two are one in the same. Therefore, a model that only represented the material conditions of human life may miss the all more important sector of unearthly life for people of PNG.
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