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AN101 Chapter Notes -Social Stratification, Villagization, Social Inequality

Course Code
Tristan Long

of 15
Week 9 WATCH: India: The Untouchables (Filmakers Library Online, 2008: 57:31 minutes)
Cultural Anthropology: Chapter Ten: Social Stratification and Groupings
Conformity and Culture:
- Jeffrey Fish: Mixed Blood
- Diannna Shandy and Karine Moe: The Opt-Out Phenomenon: Women, Work, and Identity
What principles besides Kinship and Marriage Do People Use to Organize Societies?
o People group themselves by: age, gender, common interest + position to deal with problems not
conveniently handled by marriage, the family, or descent groups
o Certain groups within a culture may use stratification to enjoy preferential treatment for
themselves at the expense of other groups
What are Common Interest Associations?
o Common-interest associations: formed to deal with specific problems and range from fully
voluntary to compulsory
o Have been a part of human societies since the advent of the first farming villages several
thousands of years ago
o But have become especially prominent in modern industrial or industrializing societies
What is Social Stratification?
o Stratification: is the division of society into two or more groups of people that do not share
equally in wealth, power, or prestige
o Groups may be stratified based on age, gender, class, ethnicity, or race
What is the validity of race as a social category?
o The issue of race has a complex history in anthropological studies
o Concept of race often has been employed as a stratification agent
o Social organization based on kinship and marriage
o Kinship and marriage operate as organizing principles in all cultures
o In small scale cultures, kinship and marriage = most important organizing principle
Grouping by Gender
o Although, sex and gender is differentiated, they are linked
o Woman bear children, men place great importance on their sexual prowess
o Biological functions influence cultural attitudes and values
o Some division of labour along gender lines is characteristic in all human groups
o In some cultures, men and women share tasks, and in others, men and women have strict
separate roles
o 17th century IROQUIAN people, such as HURON, society was divided into two parts consisting
sedentary women who resided in their community year round and nomadic men were
seasonally absent.
- women living in villages were blood relatives and their job was to grow corn, kidney beans and
squash and the men built houses and palisades that protected villages and helped women clear
fields, their hunting, trading, fishing, warring and diplomacy were all pursued at some distance
from the village
- So men were transients of the village and were only there for brief periods
-Although masculine activities were considered more prestigious than women’s work, women
were explicitly acknowledged as the sustainers of life
-Women headed longhouses, descent and inheritance passed through women, and ceremonial
life centered on women’s activities
-Men held leadership positions outside household, on councils of the village, tribe, league of five
nations, but the women of their lineages nominates them for the positions and held veto power
over them
-So male leadership was balance by female authority
- People in 19th century commented on apparent absent of rape in that society
- Even in warfare, sexual violation of female captives was virtually unknown
o Groupings by gender are even more evident among the MUNDURUCU of the Amazon
-men not only worked apart from women but ate and slept separately
- All men over 13 lived in a large house of their own
-women with their young children occupied two or three houses grouped that around the men
Relationship between the sexes was one of opposition
Believed that sex roles had once been reversed with women ruling over men and controlling the
sacred trumpets that are the symbols of power and that represent the generative capacities of
- Because women couldn’t hunt, they couldn’t supply the meat demanded by ancient spirits
-this enabled men to take the trumpets from the women and establish their dominance
- ever since, the trumpets have been carefully guarded and hidden in men’s houses and no
women could see them under penalty of gang rape
- Munurucu men had fear and envy for women, whom they sought to control by force
-women neither liked nor accepted a submissive status, and even though men occupied all
formal positions of political and religious leadership, women were autonomous in the economic
- Important differences existed; there are many similarities b/w mundurucu and European
- Idea of rule by men replacing and earlier state of matriarchy
- How in 19th century, believed that older Palaeolithic cultures had been matriarchal
- The idea that men may use force to control women is deeply embedded in Islamic, Judaic,
and Christian attitudes
- Canadian women is sexually assaulted every six minutes and one out of four is sexually
assaulted at some time in her life
- Major difference between mundurucu and traditional European society is that in Europe
women didn’t have control over economic societies
- Now this is changing, but women in Canada and western countries still have to go far to
achieve economic equality with men
Age Grouping
o So familiar that sometimes age and gender have been called the only universal factors for
determining a person’s position in society
o In north America, children’s first friends are generally kids their own age
o At specified ages, north Americans are allowed to do things reserved for adults like driving,
voting, drinking
o As North Americans age, they are labelled, pre-teens, teenagers and middle aged, senior citizens
o Age classification plays a significant role in non-western societies as well
o Many cultural groups distinguish between immature, mature, and elderly people
o JU’HONSI: chronological age has very little meaning, but old age is divided into three categories:
n!a (elders), ma da !ki (very old), m da kum kum (old to point of hopelessness)
o Age Grade: an organized class of people with membership based on age
o Entry into and out of age grades may be accomplished individually, either through biological
changes such as puberty or changing social status such as marriage or childbirth
o Among male Maasai, passing from the warrior age-set into the elder age-set is marked by great
ritual and ceremony as well as by many new privileges, such as the right to get married
o Age Set: a group of people born in the same time period. Age-sets may hold political,
religious, military, or economic power as a group
o Advanced age brings with it more respect (for women, it may even mean social equality with
o YANOMAMI women: possess higher status as elder than when they were of child bearing age
- An elder woman’s responsibilities towards her husband diminish at this time and she may
move her hammock closer to her grown children if her husband takes a second, or a younger
- Early yanomami women are sometimes messengers between enemy villages for they will not
be harmed
- Elders can serve as valuable enculturation forces
- In most indigenous cultures, the elders are considered repositories of accumulated wisdom:
they are the “living libraries” for their people
- elder hood is the time when individuals gain freedom from many subsistence activities and
when they play a major role in passing the values, beliefs and social and behaviour norms of
their culture to their grandchildren
o In North America, people reply on the written word rather than on their elders, for long term
o Some people have become so accustomed to rapid change that they tend to assume that the
experiences of their grandparents and others of the oldest generation are hardly relevant in
today’s world
o North Americans retire from their jobs at certain age, usually around 65
o Some live in “retirement” communities
o Status of the elderly is even more problematic because they now are a huge group that
continues to grow of the overall population in the
o By 2026, 1 in every 5 people will be a senior, making up 21% of the population, compared with
the 13% in 2000
o Reaching old age is now less of an accomplishment and they get less respect
o The stereotype of the elderly being useless and doing nothing is now getting a new image-
seniors living active, vibrant lives
o RVers (recreational vehicle enthusiasts) for example enjoy freedom and adventure
- Very similar to those who are nomadic
Gender, Racialization, Labour and Language in Multicultural Toronto Bonnie McElhinny, Kori Allan,
Lalaie Ameerior pg 220
o Settlement service agency: helps assist with integration of highly skilled immigrant workers from
different countries
o Classes would demonstrate appropriate body language during a job interview
o Never put the bag on the table, don’t tap your feet, be on time, your language, using simple
sentences, change your name if it’s too complicated, etc.)
o A major contemporary problem in Canada involves highly skilled foreign workers being