Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Review of World Cultures: Analyzing Pre-Industrial Societies In Africa, Asia, Europe, And the Americas by James T. Shea

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Genre = History

Watch Short Review


What is culture, and where does it come from? “Culture” refers to the traits that define groups of people.  The concept has its roots in animal behavior; humans sometimes think of themselves as “above” animals, but in many ways human behavior is merely a more complex and organized version of what animals do.” – James T. Shea, Chapter I: Introduction, Page 12

“”Values” refer to the things that a culture considers important, which informs things like morality, purity, and right-vs-wrong.  Values establish the criteria by which all other aspects of a culture are shaped and judged.” – James T. Shea, Chapter II: Cultural Values, Page 18

“The most basic elements of human society are centered around the family.  However, when society gets larger, “family ties” often won’t cut it.  A large culture requires interaction and cooperation between lots of people who lack family ties; instead, people are held together by common values and ideals, as well as the authority of a central figure or council.” – James T. Shea, Chapter IV: Social Structure, Page 77


Is This An Overview?

Culture is group traits.  Cultures have values that they propagate.  A set of ideas to be passed down and shared with others.  A culture influences how everyone behaves in society, economics, warfare, and the arts.  Cultural values provide the standard by how every other aspect of culture are to be judged.  No culture is absolute for deviation is normal, but limited.  The closer the deviation is to the core values, the more normal and acceptable they are.  Finding unacceptable the ideas that deviate too much, and shunning those who share them. 


Family ties are not enough in a society of strangers.  Culture’s common values enable people to interact and cooperate without family ties.  Governance is needed as well, with cultures influencing who takes leadership of the government.  Influencing how much power a government has over others.  Art reflects cultural values and beliefs. 



This is a book that is composed of a very diverse set of examples.  Examples of diverse cultures and how their cultural traits are expressed.  How culture influences group behavior.  There is not much of systematic analysis on the cultural traits.  Although there is a lot of diverse examples, they are all short.  To understand any specific culture, would require more research. 

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•What are cultures?
•What are cultural values?
•What do cultures influence?
•What are cultural deviation?
•Are family ties enough?
•What is art?
•What king of government? 
•Do animals have culture?

Book Details
Publisher:             James T. Shea
Edition ISBN:      2940154242773
Pages to read:       250
Publication:          2017
1st Edition:           2017
Format:                 eBook 

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall          3