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ANTH 021, Week 5

by: Katherine Reid

ANTH 021, Week 5 Anthro

Katherine Reid

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Week, 5, Social Organization and Constructs, Pull of the Earth (Laurie Thorp) Wrap-Up- Methods, Research, Discussion, etc.
Cultural Anthropology
Dr. Teresa Mares
Class Notes
Cultural Anthropology, Anthro, Anthropology, ANTH 021, Social Organization, Social constructs, Pull of the Earth, Pull, EARTH, Laurie Thorp, discussion, Mares, Teresa Mares, University of Vermont, UVM
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Katherine Reid on Tuesday April 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Anthro at University of Vermont taught by Dr. Teresa Mares in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 13 views. For similar materials see Cultural Anthropology in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Vermont.


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Date Created: 04/12/16
Anthropology, Class 9 Social Organization - What is meant by status? How is status liked to hierarchy and social stratification? - What are the various forms of achieved and ascribed status? Why are they significant? - How are race, gender class, sexuality, etc. connected? How does intersectionality allow us to understand their relations? Social Groups - a social group is a cluster of people beyond the domestic unit who are usually related to each other on grounds other than kinship - Two kinds: • Primary social group: people who interact with each other and know each other personally • Secondary social group: people who identify with each other on some basis but who may never meet each other or know each other personally Status and Role - Status refers to “publicly recognized social positions.” - Each status has a corresponding role, or “a bundle of rights and obligations appropriate for occupants of the status in question.” - Two types of status: • Achieved: status that you assume once you meet certain criteria through your own, or others’, efforts. • Ascribed: status you are born into or grow into, not as easily changeable. - status read by: appearance, money, assets, etc. Status in Small Scale vs. Large Scale Societies - Small Scale Societies: • Social roles often based on kinship • Durkheim and “mechanical solidarity”- (L&S: 79) • Tend to be more egalitarian - Large Scale Societies: • Social roles become more specialized • Durkheim and “organic solidarity”- survival is based on specialities of different subgroups in a complex division of labor • Tend to be more stratified Social Stratification - Societies in which some members (or component groups) have greater, and often permanent, access to some or all of the wealth, power, and prestige. - Achieved Status: Class (?) - Ascribed Status: “Race,” Ethnicity, Caste, Sex & Gender (?) Achieved Status: Social Class - “Ranked subgroups in a stratified society whose members are differentiated primarily in economic terms.” - Class can be both achieved and born in to - Significance of US value of meritocratic individualism • Work hard= social mobility= higher class= success • Social classes are not as fluid/ mobile as we may believe • Most people remain in similar social class as they started in Karl Marx on Social Class - For Marx, social classes are “… historical groups that emerge from the new forces of capitalist production.” - How people are related to capitalism - Two main social classes: • The Capitalists/ Bourgeoisie • The Workers/ Proletariats - Capitalists/ Bourgeoisie: those who own or control the means of production - Workers/ Proletariat: those who must sell their labor to the capitalists to survive - These classes are defined by their relationship to the Means of Production- both the tools and resources that are used to create wealth. • Ex. natural resources, land, factories, transportation, sources, and banks. - Class and class relationships are always a site of class struggle. - Class struggle would eventually lead to revolution, which will eventually lead to the end of capitalism. Ascribed Status: Caste, “Race,” & Ethnicity - Systems of social stratification based on divisions of people into unequally ranked groups - Each system has local features: • In Central and South America, the concept of mestizaje: “racial” mixture - Must know the local system of categories to understand the dynamics of inequality that go with them Caste/ Jati - Stratified societies based on a person’s birth into a particular group, with limited social mobility - System linked to Hinduism, but present in many other geographic and religious spaces and contexts - Varnas: 4 major social categories • Brahmans: priests • Kshatriyas- warriors • Vaishyas- merchants • Shudras- laborers • Dalits- outcasts, “untouchables” Race as a Social Construct (with material realities!) - Racial categories are socially arbitrary/ defined - Does not mean they do not have material effects/ realities/ consequences/ impacts - Recent form (past few centuries) of social inequality and status - Race and racism stems from unequal meeting of two formerly separate groups through colonization, slaver, and other large-group movement - Not a biological reality, yet racism and inequalities exist and have material impacts - Race is a way of distinguishing ourselves from the “other” - Have to look at power dynamics and social hierarchies are maintained Ethnicity - Sense of group membership based on a shared sense of identity • Shared history, customs, language, religion, combination of all, etc. - Diaspora population: a dispersed group living outside their original homeland - over time, racial and ethnic categories have changed, some becoming “whitened” or “darkened” - Race and ethnic studies have been viewed as being separate from whiteness Sexual Identity and Gender Pluralism - Melvin Konner- sexual orientation determined by genetic and cultural factors. Nature AND Nurture - Gender Pluralism: existence within a culture of multiple categories of felinity, masculinity, and androgyny that are tolerated and legitimate. - “Third Genders”: some cultures permit the expression of fluid forms of gender and orientation. i.e. Two Spirits - Two Spirit • Native communities in the US and Canada are often more accepting of gender role fluidity than mainstream (White) culture. • The institution of the “berdache” (now an unaccepted term) subjected to ridicule and disapproval from mainstream Euro-Western culture • Since the 1980’s, open presence of the Two Spirit individuals has returned in some tribal groups • This category as not considered an “other,” but more of a powerful and respected position in these social groups because these people could tap into multiple forms of felinity and masculinity Asexuality: An Emerging Concept - Asexuality: when a person does not experience sexual attraction or have interest in sexual activity - Asexuals are beginning to come out around the world, and are often working within the broader LGBTQA (etc.) movement The Need for Intersectionality - Theoretical framework advanced by black feminists, including Crenshaw, Collins, and Hooks - Argues that biological and social categories (or status and roles) interact on multiple and simultaneous levels. Each trait is inextricably linked with the others (race to gender to class) - The ways that different social understandings are linked and impact life Dimensions of Diversity - Internal Dimensions: 19, Woman, White, Irish/Scottish, Able-bodied, Straight - External Dimensions: Single, Daughter of 2 nurses, normal build/ blonde/ blue-eyed/ pale-skinned, pirate ship/ art teaching assistant/ theater camp counselor, high school/ continuing college education (Baccalaureate), Raised Roman Catholic/ agnostic Anthropology, Class 10 Pull of the Earth/ Thorp Wrap Up - Guiding Questions • Does the Pull of the Earth tell or reinforce a single story about children in poverty? How/ why or why not? Danger of a single story Ted Talk - how impressionable children are in the face of a story - different subjects of literature- did not know that people like her could exist in literature - single story of British and american white children - it had not occurred to her that, because they were poor, they were anything else other than that (basket weavers) - her roommate had a default single story of Africa, no possibility of being the same - popular images show a single story of Africa- ultimately comes from western literature - media coverage of Mexicans creates a single story - Show a group as one thing and only that thing again and again and thats what they become - Power: ability to tell the story of another person, and make it the definitive story of that person - Start the stories in different way, and you have an entirely different story - to insist on only negative stories is the flatten full experience - incomplete story of place or person robs people of dignity, emphasizes difference - stories can beak the dignity of a people, but can also repair it Methods of Thorp - “Letting Go” • traditional research is often over determined, doesn’t allow the stories of the place to open themselves • Be responsive to things happening in the field • Rather than being the typical qualitative researcher, you have to be in that place and draw data from being there • let go of predetermined plans, it is necessary to be flexible with research - “Getting Lost” • refusing to tie it all up neatly at the end • ends with sad frustrating story • too often narratives are tied up too neatly, instead of them being messy and complex as they naturally are - Retrospective Field notes/ Participant observation • traditional strong emphasis on researcher being rigorous in field work methods, thematic • that process would not help in this situation in finding the interpersonal connection that she is looking for • looking back on what researcher learned - Mixed methods • brings different forms of data together • collecting formal and informal texts, firsthand accounts, interview data • taking pictures- visual ethnography • no interviews with parents, parents perspective are sort of looming as one dimensional beings, not humanized - Narrative • narrative inquiry • collect little stories to knit together Thorp’s Framework for judging the “goodness” of a study: - Catalytic Validity • Makes us change our mind, reorient, focus thoughts, call to action, introspection - Triangulation • Making something stronger through offering multiple perspectives/ kinds of data, you create a stronger argument/ platform - Reflexivity • relationship between field researcher and participants - Aesthetic Merit • Is it beautiful to look at? Artistic/ creative? • doesn’t look like a typical text - Understanding • complexifying our understanding of these specific children and their stories from a grounded perspective Small Group Discussions - What do you feel about the book? Favorite and least favorite chapters? • the book is dope. Daniel’s chapter sucks. he is an angsty teen who still listens to linkin park - What questions or critiques do you have? • Objectivity- could be compromised, from the perspective of a teacher who has a personal relationship with each child, her representation of the kids may be skewed b/c it’s coming from her retrospection on each daily experience and in that way, she may be coloring this representation of the kids differently because she is the one representing them as opposed to the kids representing themselves • What is the perspective of the parents??? • actual statistics, how many kids enjoyed working in the garden, did scores improve after establishment of garden, etc. It would be a stronger triangulated study with the statistics • three or four views into children lives that didn’t fall into the regular “single story” generalization • fine line of her own experience vs. the subject of research • if what actually happened was different than how she remembered it; maternal protectiveness may skew objectivity- critical distance, historicization, movement away from field site in order to be a different kind of observer/researcher - How does this book illustrate social organization (i.e. status and social stratification)? • Daniel’s reaction to his experience and his own place in society- goes beyond the actual experience of the project, existential crisis, social reproduction, upwardly mobile college student being brought in to help the poor kids. He is trained to question, but is aware of the social norm. Overstatements, reflection on privilege and level of guilt • Teacher’s chapter- grounded understanding of how she is dealing with working in a school that has so much upheaval and transition. Teacher’s role in curriculum vs. caring for kids. Info about hunger- federal meal programs connected to federal farming programs, food being brought in, some schools being built without kitchens


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