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In older anthropology texts and discussions, the term "primitive culture" is used to refer to a society that is believed to lack cultural, technological, or economic sophistication/development. For instance, a culture that lacks a written language might be considered less culturally sophisticated than cultures with writing systems; or a hunter-gatherer society might be considered less developed than an industrial capitalist society. It was used by many Western authors, such as anthropologists and historians to describe the indigenous cultures in their foreign colonies, and in distant uncolonized lands.
Describing a culture as primitive is considered by many to be offensive. Use of the term, especially in academic settings, has thus diminished. The indigenous activist organisation Survival International is campaigning for the complete abolition of the term, and has succeeded in persuading some newspapers to stop using it.
It is also the title of a major work by Edward Burnett Tylor, in which he defines religion as "animism" which, in turn, he defines by reference to contemporary indigenous and other religious data as "the belief in spirits". Another defining characteristic of primitive cultures is a greater amount of leisure time than in more complex societies.
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