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Lecture 6

ANTH 1150 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Trobriand Islands, Unit

Course Code
ANTH 1150
Tad Mc Ilwraith

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economic system: the production, distribution and consumption of goods
-different cultures place different values on production and consumption
to understand how the schedule of wants/demands of a given society is balanced
against the supply of goods and services available, it’s necessary to introduce a
non-economic variable: culture
people all over the world assign different meanings to objects that makes the
objects worth far more than their cost in labour or materials
-ex: the Trobriand Islanders assign a high meaning to yams not to
themselves, but to give to other people (daughters or sisters for their
yam exchanges are as much social and political transactions as they are
economic ones; they establish long-term relationships
when looking at the world economic systems, unlike the past, contemporary
small-scale cultures don’t operate in isolation
-each group of people is connected to a larger economic system
small economic systems often exist within a larger economic sphere
in every culture, there are customs and roles that govern the kinds of work done,
who does the work, who controls the resources and tools, and how the work is
every human culture has a division of labour based on sex and age
tasks that are viewed as “women’s work” tend to be carried out near the home;
tasks that are “men’s work” tend to require strength, rapid bursts of energy,
frequent travel away from home and higher levels of risk and danger
-this isn’t always the case; on farms, women will work alongside the men
-in the 19th century, women served as soldiers for an African king
researchers have found 3 main reasons as to why there’s a sexual divide between
labours that have to do with the context of specific cultures
1. flexibility and sexual integration
-often seen among foragers and substance farmers where the work is
almost equally divided
-there’s not a fine distinction between boys’ work and girls’; they’re
brought up the same
2. rigid segregation by sex
-defines all work as either masculine or feminine to keep men and women
-in some cultures, a man doing women’s work or vice versa is unheard of
3. combining the elements of the first 2
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