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ANTH 021, Week 8

by: Katherine Reid

ANTH 021, Week 8 Anthro

Katherine Reid

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Leveling Mechanisms, Consumerism, Consumption, Types of Exchange, Kinship, Relatedness, "Outsourcing Embryos"
Cultural Anthropology
Dr. Teresa Mares
Class Notes
Leveling Mechanisms, Consumerism, consumption, Types of Exchange, Exchange, ANTH 021, Anthro, Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Mares, Teresa Mares, kinship, Relatedness, University of Vermont, UVM
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This 6 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 9 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 15 Leveling Mechanisms? - An important process in small scale societies that works to keep people equal - Unwritten, culturally-embedded rules that prevent an individual from becoming wealthier or more powerful - Maintained through social pressure and gossip - Do we have leveling mechanisms in the US? - interest, credit (formalized systems) Costs of Consumption/ Consumerism - Environmental consequences - Threats to cultural diversity - increasing gap between rich and poor - born by larger system What is Exchange? - The dominant way, in a culture, of transferring good, services, and other items between and among people and groups - What is exchanged? • Material goods • Symbolic goods • Labor • Money • People Modes of Exchange - Balanced: giving something in expectation that it, in some form/ way, will come back to you, AKA “Kula,” described by Malinowski - Unbalanced: when one side makes profit • Market exchange, Gambling, Theft, Exploitation - Exchange is a way of creating social connections in some way Balanced Exchange: Generalized Reciprocity - Involves the least conscious sense of interest in material gain or of what might be received in return - Main form of exchange in foraging societies - Also found among close kin and friends cross-culturally - a pure gift is an extreme form of this type of exchange Balanced Exchange: Balanced Reciprocity - Exchange of approximately equally valued goods or services between people of roughly equal social status - Exchange may be simultaneous or on an agreed upon schedule - If a party fails to complete the exchange, the relationship will break down Balanced Exchange: Redistribution - One person collects goods or money from many members of a group and provides social return at a later time - Involves some “centricity” - Possible inequality because what is returned is not always equal in a material sense Unbalanced Exchange: The Market - Market exchange is a prominent form - The buying and selling of commodities under competitive conditions in which the forces of supply and demand determine value and the seller seeks to make a profit - Range from informal (periodic market) to huge shopping centers (permanent market) - Capitalism - More prevalent than balanced exchange due to globalization/ influence of Western idealism/ capitalism How are consumption and exchange changing? - Globalization has a lot to do with it! - Spread of Western-style goods and foods through media and trade - Being resisted by local cultures (i.e. revitalization of Potlatch in Pacific Northwest) and also anti-consumerist movements (i.e. Buy Nothing Day) Anthropology, Class 16 Relatedness: Kinship and Descent - What is Kinship? • Sense of being related to another person(s) • Set by cultural rules (sometimes laws) • Often taken for granted as being “natural” rather than cultural • Links with all aspects of culture • Not all cultures define kinship on the basis of “blood” • A kinship system is the predominant former kin relationships in a culture and the kind of behavior involved • Kinship changes form • Kinship as an economic strategy/ connection has changed with globalization and economic/social changes • Mating, Birth, and Nurturing - cultural diversity shown in how these processes manifest in different societies and how it changes, especially with capitalist expansion Formal Study of Kinship: Symbols for Individuals in a Kinship Diagram - binary understanding of divorced vs married, female vs. male, dead vs alive Kinship Through Descent - Kinship through birth and nurturance into a particular group - Descent: tracing kinship relationships through parentage, or through “blood” or “consanguineal” relations - Two Major Types: • Unilineal: 60% of worldwide cultures; only trace descent through one side of the family, horticulturalist/ pastoralist societies - Matrilineal (or uterine): Traced through mother’s side, South Pacific, Native American/ indigenous areas successful in challenging colonization to some degree - Patrilineal (or agnatic): Traced through father’s side • Bilateral (or cognatic descent): tracing descent through both sides of family, foraging societies & advanced industrial societies - Patrilineal societies are more prevalent, 45% of worldwide cultures • most likely due to patriarchal power across cultures and times - Men tend to heavily dominant land ownership, control power relations, and maintain higher status - Matrilineal 15% of worldwide cultures, women tend to have a lot more power, owning land, leadership in community, controlling domestic and public life Kinship Through Sharing - In many cultures people create kinship through sharing (or fictive kin) • Food Sharing • Godparents • Adoption and fostering • Sharing of material goods/ experiences/ services/ time • Holiday celebrations, experiences, religion (godparents), etc. A Focus on: New Reproductive Technologies - Technologically mediated reproductive practices • Includes: In vitro fertilization, surrogate parenthood, sperm banks “Outsourcing Embryos” - Is international surrogacy ethical? how does tis practice reshape families and kinship relationships? • The thing with international surrogacy is that it does allow for couples from predominantly first world nations to have children of their own. It also allows for poor women to obtain a job that pays well enough for them to live. However, when poor women are confronted by contractors with contracts they cannot themselves read due to illiteracy rates and lack of education, contractors can easily take advantage of these women in order to get the most commission possible or make the most money for their company/agency, it turns into a bad and corrupt situation for the poor women. Furthermore, once companies are competing with each other for the lowest cost of surrogacy, the quality of care become worse and worse for the surrogate mothers and the level of risk become higher. And it becomes human trafficking when demand becomes higher and more and more extra babies are born and sold. Contracts are also not backed up by law or anything


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