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Chapter 6

Cultural Anthropology - Chapter 6.docx

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Robert Brym

CulturalAnthropology Chapter 6: TheCultural Construction of Social Hierarchy Introduction The Rationale for Social Inequality  Social Stratification/ Hierarchy - the ordering and ranking of individuals within society. those at the top of the hierarchy are generally afforded more power, wealth, prestige or privileges in the society. Hierarchies can be based on race, gender, class, caste, ethnicity, national affiliation or other factors.  NOT inevitable BUT as societies become complex and populous, social stratification increases.  Inevitable view: scarce resources, occupational specialization and the power of an elite group to control the behavior of others = social stratification.  Thomas Belmonte – hierarchy is human nature  man opposed to his humanity (slavery, caste)  BUT Ju/’hoansi & Inuit there is no social stratification  (but not totally egalitarian)  We have extremes of rich and poor (NOT random; it’s indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, women, children) o Race – a culturally constructed form of identity and social hierarchy, race refers to the presumed hereditary, phenotypic characteristics of a group of people. These physical or phenotypic differences are often erroneously correlated with behavioral attributes. Question 6.1: How Do Societies Rank People in Social Hierarchies? Class and Caste  Social hierarchies in different societies vary with dimensions: the criteria used to differentiate people into one level of society or another, the number of levels that exist, the kinds of privileges and rights that attach to people at different levels, and the strength of the social boundaries that separate different levels.  US/CAN.  differentiated by many variables Eg. Class – a form of identity informed by perceptions of an individual’s worth or status. It is also a form of social hierarchy. BUT we can move classes, and can choose to emphasize ethnic group  race & gender fixed. Class as a Formof Social Hierarchy  Max Weber - social class can be based on economic wealth and/or status class – prestige, honor, educational or occupational achievements  US/CAN.  post-secondary schooling careers = prestige, material possessions = markers of class  Ascribed status – an identity that is perceived as fixed and unchanging because a person is believed to be born with it. In Canadian society, race is often assumed to be ascribed at birth.  Achieved status – an identity that is believed to be in a flux and that is dependent upon that actions and achievements of an individual. (US/CAN.  class)  Class intersects with other identities – gender & race  all want opportunity “white privilege” Caste as a Formof Social Stratification  Caste - a form of social stratification and identity in India where individuals are assigned at birth to the ranked social and occupational groups of their parents.  Fixed identity, segregation  no intermarriage or interaction  1. Brahmins (pritests who worship and teach)  2. Kshattriya (government – soldiers, politicians, administrators)  3. Vaisya (farmers and merchants)  4. Sudra (service or other castes)  5. Hirijans now named Dalit “oppressed” or “ground down” (untouchable, unclean, did animal and human waste work)  laws to protect discrimination BUT still persists Question 6.2: How Do People ComeTo Accept Social Hierarchies As Natural? Race As A FormOf Social Stratification  FranzBoas – discredited racist and sexist theories that sought to legitimize social stratification Constructing the Ideology of Racism  Class is also based on innate biological makeup – race, mental ability, etc.  natural law that some people are born more fit to lead and succeed.  Race – genetic physical attributes = ascribed (CAN.)  Anthropologists say there is no scientific basis for creating different races; a certain physical features isn’t uniformly in one population.  Race – culturally constructed form of identity  Ascribed  behaviors, physicality, and intellects associated with race  racism – discrimination and mistreatment of a particular “racial” groups  Race determines positions in hierarchy that defines social, political a80mmmmmmmmmmmmmnd economic worth (OBAMA)  Ku Klux Klan – Tennessee 1865 to terrorize newly freed slaves who questioned white supremacy  also in Canada which also terrorized French Canadians and Catholics  StanleyBarrett – white supremacists believe interracial mixing “mongrelization” was very dangerous because without genetic purity of the master race, the world wouldn’t survive.  James Frideres and Rene Gadacz – structural racism – embedded in Canadian social institutions  Indian reserve and people colonized  Stratification because: Economically profitable  buy workers for low-pay, no competition for jobs  Some claim its so natural God created races and wanted them to be separated and one is superior  White privilege – refers to the fact that in many societies “white” people have access to greater power, authority, and privileges than non-white people  Samuel Morton – 1820s measured 6000 skulls from all over the world. He believed the bigger the brain, the more intelligent the person  whites (English and Germans, then Jews) on the top, blacks on the bottom + Hindus = Whites were socially & BIOLOGIALLY superior  Stephen Jay Gould – Morton adjusted results to support that conclusion  selected only certain data: more small-brained Inca skulls than large-brained Iroquois, didn’t include small Hindu skulls because it lowered average cranial capacity for white skulls  Gould removed biases = NO DIFFERENCE IN SKULLS; brain related to body size, male skulls are larger than female skulls, black male cranial capacity higher than white, white female cranial capacity higher than black. + Morton didn’t do it on purpose, subconsciously he pack more grains & lead in white skulls.  20 th century social stratification Class, Race, and theSocial Construction of “Intelligence”  We sought to prove that people deserve their ranking = everyone should enjoy equal opportunity and success  otherwise political and economic consequences because inequality displays the failure of society  we do have political and economic policies = loss of privileges  MUST find balance between inherited privilege and blaming poverty on the poor.  INTELLIGENCE = solution.  explains why people are ranked, and since intelligence could be inherited, explains the privileged  NOT proved.  Allan Hanson – intelligence assumptions: it is a single entity, it is measurable and unequally distributed in the population, the amount of people have is relatively fixed in life, the amount people have explains their degree of success in life, it is inherited. (purely North American)  Francis Galton – the genius of selected eminent men was linked to their eminent parents + brother, children, etc. BUT ignored env
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