Focus on criticisms of her patterns of culture. Does not account for intracultural diversity;
flattens out culture. She confuses individual behavior with group behavior; evaluates cultural
ideals and their interactions; what is the best way to behave? Best birth best death? How do
people expect other s to behabe? Does it conform to the ideals or is it different. Then what is the
real behaviors? (ideal, expectations, reality);
National Character Studies
Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946) –
• “The Japanese are both aggressive and unaggressive, both militaristic and aesthetic,
both insolent and polite, rigid and adaptable, submissive and resentful of being pushed
around, loyal and treacherous, brave and timid, conservative and hospitable to new
• Personality writ large to the scale of the nation. We all are ambivalent. We all contain all
these traits. So its not so unusual to be all these things.
• During ww2
Geoffrey Gorere and John Rickman, The People of Great Russia: A Psychological Study (1950)
• During cold war, so we had a fear of the Russians,
• There were a few characteristics to these studies.
o They tended to look at national groups; all smaller groups were not differentiated.
o One thing mead and benedict hadn’t addressed were the history of these
behavior patterns? What gave rise to these?
o So too with this, they tried to find the origins of this character and explain it
o Childhood determinism. Highlighted by psychoanalysis; weaning practices,
methods of giving birth, toilet training. They focused on one or the other trait as
isolate to explain behavior.
o Culture at a distance: mostly these researchers couldn’t live among the people
they were studying. They also usually didn’t speak the language.
o Arm-chair anthropology. Relied on myths, tales, proverbs. Pop culture,
newspapers, magazines, movies. So Culture at a distance
• The research was based on 300-400 Russian emigrants in the east and west, analysis
of Russian literature
• Russian culture was reduced to one practice in culture: swaddling. o They swaddle so the child cannot harm itself or other. Frustrating and painful,
difficult for the child, builds up rage. It was reduced when the baby was
unswaddled to be fed. Russians were manic depressive aka bipolar. They were
either depressed because of the restriction of movement or they were elated with
the freedom, which was always for eating, and they were big eaters and drinkers.
Pendulum-like behavior. Mood swings for eating and drinking. The feeding was
associated with love. Guilt resulted in confessions (during Stalin regime).
o Other groups (like poles, Italians, nas)