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Wilfrid Laurier University
Tristan Long

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 17 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 -They were “SEPARATE BUT EQUAL” - People in 19 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 women - 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 realm - Important differences existed; there are many similarities b/w mundurucu and European beliefs - Idea of rule by men replacing and earlier state of matriarchy - How in 19 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 men) 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 wife - 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 memory 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 unemployed o Immigrant women ages 25 – 54 have much higher unemployment rate than immigrant men and Canadian-born women o Despite high levels of education, they have jobs in clerical, sales and service o Unemployment rate for recently arrived immigrant women is almost three times that of Canadian born women o Problem often written off as bureaucratic problem in which the federal government manages immigration and the provincial government manages labour, thus leaving a gap in government understanding of immigrant labour needs o Anthropological work in government funded settlement agencies has demonstrated that often the immigrant themselves are blamed because they are unable to fit in with the Canadian society o Immigrants can’t wear traditional dress, or makeup that’s too bright, or they are assumed in an interview and told that they cannot bring children to work (women) o Theorists of multiculturalism and gender demonstrated that complicated ways that women are subjected to disciplining by the state has argued that the gender and racial regimes of contemporary liberal states function through the “unmarked” categories of belonging that is, gendered male and racialized as “white” o Women’s bodies become a crucial site to witness the larger politics of gender and nationalism in contemporary north America o Women shown videos that explicitly address how to talk, dress and move their bodies o Kori Allan: investigates the ways that settlement counsellors and policy makers have often argued that language is a key barrier to immigrant integration into the Canadian labour market o Must start fostering actions on flexibility, entrepreneur, self-discipline o Although racial discrimination is illegal, they would gloss the problem by saying things like candidates lacked language or communication skills o Elt Programs helping their clients find professional work, counsellors evaluated such criticism not as a reflection of the quality of their work, but rather as a characteristic of the workers and they need to change their views o Due to baby boom, now there’s a rising rate of moms trying to work but also having kids to raise o In European countries, unlike USA and Canada, there is a national child care policy o In north America, there informal (at home care) and formal (daycare, school care) o Shellee Colen: develops theoretical notion of stratified reproduction to describe the forms of child care that result. o stratified reproduction: means that the “physical and social reproductive task are accomplished differentially according to inequalities that are based on hierarchies of class, race, ethnicity, gender, place in global economy, and migration status and that are structured by social, economic and political forces o Gender concerns are linked to the forms that youth concerns take as well. Many youth, once reunited with their mothers after a long separation, experience problems Common Interest Associations o Common Interest Associations: associations not based on age, kinship, marriage, or territory but that result from the act of joining o Common in people in North America because they are often separated by physical distance from their siblings, and age mates o So, they search out like-minded companions for support and friendship o Have often been referred to in the anthropological literature as voluntary associations but that term is misleading The act of joining may range from a fully voluntary act to one required by law (labour unions) o Common interest associations often voluntary but they don’t always have to be Kinds of Common-Interest Associations o Great diversity in common-interest associations o Include women’s groups such as professional women’s associations and MADD o Men’s groups such as Kiwanis and Kinsmen, o Parent, teacher organizations o Religious organizations o Labour unions o Goals may include recreation, friendship and the promotion of certain values as well as the pursuit of power and economic well0being associations such as the tribal unions of west Africa who preserve traditional songs, history, language and moral beliefs among ethnic minorities o Another significant force in the formation of associations may be supernatural experience common to all members -ex: Crow Indian Tobacco Society, Kachina cults of Hopi, and the secret associations of the kwakwaka’wakw of British Columbia who cycles of rituals are known onto to initiates o other traditional forms of association are military, occupational, political and entertainment groups and university or college clubs not to mention sport groups and co-ops of every kind Men’s and Women’s Associations o for many year’s scholars dismissed women’s contributions to common-interest associations as less important than of men’s associations o however, scholars have shown this kind of thinking to be culture bound o in some cultures, women have no formed associations to the same extent as men because the demands of raising a family and their daily activities have prevented them from doing so and men haven’t always encouraged them to do so o earlier in Canada’s history, rural women were limited to the home, relatively isolated, they had little chance to participate in common-interest associations o as settlers moved into new regions, social clubs cropped up to organize picnics, dances, and sliding parties as a means of alleviating the loneliness of frontier living o the same holds true for contemporary immigrants to Canada support groups can help ease their transition by providing social networks for men and women o cross-cultural research indicates that women do play important roles in associations of their own and even in those where male dominate - Among the crow, women participated in secret tobacco society as well as in their own exclusive groups o In Canada’s northwest territories, the native women’s association provides training and education as well as counselling services to native women of the western arctic o Similar associations are also often found in societies that are socially stratified o Social stratification is a major principle of social organization Social Stratification o social stratification: is a system whereby some members of society are ranked higher or lower relative to other members o It is a common and powerful phenomenon found in most of the world’s cultures, past and present o Members of lower ranked social strata tend to be denied the same privileges as those in higher strata including equal access to basic resources o People are ranked through age, gender, class, ethnicity or race o Anthropologists measure the degree of stratification in a given group according to an individual’s access to wealth, power and prestige o Wealth: accumulation of financial resources, material possessions, wives and children, and the potential for future earnings o Power: the ability to reach personal, financial, and professional goals regardless of obstacles o Prestige: the social esteem others hold for an individual o Anthropologists disagree over which of these dimensions of stratification is essential to recognize that the ways in which power, wealth, and prestige are perceived vary cross-culturally o In Canada, individuals gain wealth, prestige and power from their professions o Among the MAASAI: a man gains wealth and prestige from the size of his family (number of wives and children) and the size of his family’s cattle herd o Social stratification is most common in stratified societies: societies in which ranking and inequality among members vary -thus creating different levels of social position and quality of life -stratified societies first arose when state level societies and the ensuing specialization of occupations began some 5000 to 6000 years ago -since then states have become more complex and specialized stratification has intensified o In contrast, egalitarian cultures depend mainly on their abilities for social positions o Egalitarian Cultures: groups in which members enjoy equal access to resources and positions - Poor hunter may become a wealthier hunter if he has the ability; he is not excluded from a prestigious social position because he comes from a group of poor hunters - Poor hunters do not constitute a social stratum; furthermore, they have as much right to group’s resources as any other member -no one can deny him his fair share of food, the right to be heard when important decision are made, or anything else a man is entitled to Theories of Stratification o Functionalist theory of stratification: a theory suggesting that inequality is necessary to maintain complex societies o Such societies require a wide variety of professions of varying degrees of specialization o Ex: Canadian society includes maintenance workers, teachers and physicians – all of them needed, yet each possessing ad different status o According to this theory, to entice the best people into difficult professions that require a great deal of time (education and training) and sacrifice (personal and financial), there must be incentives at the end of the long road -fewer people would train for years to become a surgeon if they could attain the same level of wealth, power and prestige by working as a janitor o The functionalist theory certainly has some strengths but it also has several weakness - In complex societies, we do not always reward the professions that are most involved in maintaining society -1. Ex: in north America, non-functional entertainment has a high value placed on it – thus Sidney Crosby makes 8.7M, while a nurse makes $60,000 a year -2. Functionalists do not account for the barriers to entering the high prestige professions, ethnic minorities, women and those from lower socioeconomic status often don’t have same opportunities for education and thus high-paying employment -3. This theory assumes everyone is motivated to seek the highest paying, highest status jobs when other factors such as desire for meaningful work and to help others may take priority -Focusing solely on money reduces humans to what has been termed “homo economicus” o Conflict Theory of Stratification: a theory suggesting that a power struggle takes place between the upper and lower levels of society - contend that people in upper levels use their influence within governments, industry and education and religious institution to help keeper others satisfied with their lower status th -conflict theory takes cue from the 19 century writing of Karl Marx who viewed the world as a constant struggle between the bourgeoisie (those who own the resources) and the proletariat (the working class) -Marx believed that the bourgeoisie, with all their power had convinced the proletariat that if they failed to reach the highest echelons of society, it was their own fault that they didn’t try hard enough -but the conflict theory tends to avoid other factors such as personal choice, ability and effort o Social stratification is a general term but within it there are different categories such as race o Race: a group of people who are categorized based on biological and behavioural traits Racial Stratification o Examination of social stratification would be incomplete without considering inequalities surrounding the interrelated concepts of race and ethnicity o Often the differences between human groups, whether seen as racial or ethnic can lead to social inequality, discrimination, and what has commonly become known as racism o Racism: is the belief that one race is superior to another owing to biological and cultural features -although this attitude sounds remarkable likeththnocentrism, behind racism lies exploitations o Instances of horrific racial discrimination in the 20 century include holocaust, south Africa’s apartheid and the genocide of Rwanda o Although it’s called RACISM, it’s really examining ETHNIC discrimination and conflict o Canada has its own history of racial discrimination such as reservation system forced on first nations, internment of Japanese, relocation of blacks from africville, enactment of exclusionary laws against Chinese, and more recently back lash against immigrants from Muslim countries o Canada suffers from institutionalized racism or democratic racism - First nations stripped of their land and traditional subsistence patterns were disrupted which affected their ability to support themselves and led to poverty, loss of identity and severe social problems - To help first nations assimilate first nations into mainstream society, children were taken from their parents to live at residential schools where they were forced to learn white man’s ways o Increasing percentage of first nations young people are completing high school, having professional careers in law, medicine and business o Vibrant first nations artistic and entertainment community has taken shape in Canada o Recently, Canada faced up to many of its racists acts in the past o In 2009, Stephen harper offered apology to ABORIGINAL people regarding residential schools o In 1964, when people of AFRICVILLE, nova Scotia were forced to relocate and their homes were razed o Environmental Racism: racial discrimination in environment policy making and the enforcement of regulations that lead to, for example, the targeting of specific communities for waste disposal, power stations or toxic dumps -Basi
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