The fifth edition of Cultural Anthropology continues to focus on the text's two major objectives. First, it presents a holistic view of sociocultural systems, and secondly, the text provides a unified theoretical framework for explaining these systems. It also remains faithful to the belief that anthropologists must routinely deal with facts and theories that are crucial to informed decisions regarding issues of enduring relevance. The cultural approach used throughout furnishes students with a framework for explaining how the parts of sociocultural systems are interrelated and how they change over time.
The text also continues in its effort to identify the many causal strands that help explain the process of sociocultural change. It tries to make sense of the many seemingly irrational or arbitrary customs and institutions in small, technologically simple societies as well as complex nations.