What is Material Culture?

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Material Culture

Material culture refers to a study discipline that looks into the relationship that exists between people and the things they own. It looks at the making, preservation, interpretation and history of objects. It is the philosophy and history of objects and countless relationships that people have with things. Material culture draws heavily from the practice and theory of disciplines such as archaeology, history, anthropology, historic preservation, museum studies and folklore. The discipline considers anything ranging from architectural elements, jewelry, bubbles to buildings as material culture. Material culture holds that the things made by people often reflect their beliefs and the things around them affect how people understand the world. There is therefore a continuing cycle that shows of a circle and more of a moving wheel. Material culture seeks answers to questions such as what matter is and how it generates meaning, yields uses and constitutes the world. It looks into the state of things, their meanings and associations as they are performed successively.

Significance of Material Culture

Material culture studies involve all objects that belong to human beings, anything that can be felt or touched and that has the ability and features of an item. A study of physical object that consist culture gives people a better appreciation and understanding of the complex lives lived by those who interacted with the objects. Material cultures gives insight of the non-material culture including beliefs, ideas, values and habits of people. Though an object appears to be just a physical item, it represents a symbolic non-material element of culture. For instance, soda symbolizes obesity as an epidemic for some but for other, it is seen as a pleasurable and fun drink. Early archeologists, historians, museum directors and anthropologists presented material culture in ways that reflected their ethnocentrism, which is a situation where one culture perceives itself to be more superior to the other.