Question 1 Compare the strengths and weaknesses of nuclear and extended families. Use information from examples in videos and text, and your own experiences.
In the U.S. older persons often live in residences or communities segregated from the rest of society. Analyze the reasons for this voluntary age-grading, and assess the effect of such a pattern on the larger society. In which kinds of societies is patrilineal descent likely to be found? What is a totem and what is its significance for kinship and descent? Define and contrast moiety, phratry, clan and lineage. Contrast the matrilineal descent system with the patrilineal. Use cross-cultural examples. Give two reasons as to why fraternal polyandry is common in Tibet? Give two examples of both the pros and cons of monogamy in Tibet?
The nuclear family is considered to provide and is safer. Further, level of privacy in a nuclear family is high. On the contrary, when it comes to issues of economic support and emotional satisfaction, the extended family has a larger source base for economic and emotional support, unlike the nuclear family. However, incidents of conflict are likely to be more in extended families, and the level of privacy is reduced.
Old people due to their age often need assistance in doing certain activities such as cooking, house cleaning, or bathing. Further, it becomes a burden for the younger family members to take care of the old person as they have to go to work or school. Thus, it becomes more reasonable to place the old people in residences where they can get assistance at any time. However, housing of old people in residences has significant cost implications. Families having their old loved ones in such residences incur many financial expenses. On the contrary, incidences of accidental deaths reduce in cases of having less old people driving themselves or doing heavy duty chores. Patrilineal descent is more likely to be found in India, Japan, Nuer and Masai. The word totem is used to people of a particular clan to an animal. In kinship and descent, the totem is used to remind a clan of their ancestry and instill solidarity.
Moiety is where two groups of clans believe that they share a common ancestor even though no definite genealogical links exist. In phratry, there exist more than two groups who believe they share or have a common ancestry. Members of lineages can be able to trace their genealogical links to a common ancestor. In clans, members can trace their genealogical links but lack the residential unity common in lineages. In a patrilineal descent system, the responsibility of existence of group falls on the father while in a matrilineal system, the responsibility of existence falls on the mother. Patrilineal descent is common among the Masai in East Africa, and matrilineal descent is common in the White Mountain Apaches, in Arizona. Fraternal polyandry is common in Tibet for the purposes of preserving family land and increase solidarity among the family members. Monogamy reduces the chances of sexually transmitted diseases and incidents of conflict among the spouses are reduced. On the other hand, monogamy largely depends on romance and preserving of family land may be quite difficult.
What is your residence pattern (after marriage)? What is your kinship terminology system? Why? How does all this fit with the rest of your culture? Do you have descent groups? What kind? What do they do (land, help, war allies, inheritance, etc.)? Is your culture stratified or egalitarian? Describe and explain. If your culture is stratified, is there social mobility? How does it work? How your answers above are integrated with the rest of your culture? Assuming that polygyny, bride price, the levirate, and the sororate are institutionalized in North America, argue the advantages and disadvantages of these practices for members of each sex.
After marriage, the married couple moves in together and lives in the same house. This located away from the parents’ house. The kinship terminology system in my American culture is the Eskimo system, which does not use age to distinguish the relatives and uses the same names for the relatives of both the mother’s and the father’s side. This is the case in most of the American culture. The common descent groups are the bilateral ones. These descent groups are less concerned with issues of war allies and inheritance. They are normally a form of identity. My culture is a stratified society. Those who are more qualified and knowledgeable are able to have more roles and responsibilities that suit their education levels. Their jobs are more rewarding than those who have low levels of education. social mobility exists as an individual increases his knowledge level or finds new opportunities that are more rewarding. Bride price functions as a form of gift to the family of the woman. Further, it is a sign of respect for her family. The disadvantage of this is that some families use this opportunity to extort the family of the man. Polygyny provides the man with more children and workers, which may foster alliances. In case the man has more female children, wealth increases in terms of receiving bride price. The disadvantage of this is that there is increased jealousy and conflict among the wives. Levirate helps to in the provision of social security to a wife and her children. On the contrary, it may promote hatred and jealousy in situations where a brother admires the wife of another brother and may even plot to kill him to have the wife to himself. Sororate helps in maintaining family alliances. However, incidences of family deaths may be fueled by jealousy.
Question 3 Compare and contrast bands and tribes. Compare and contrast chiefdoms and states. Use cross-cultural examples. Discuss the tribal leadership of the Melanesian Big Man. What are the alternatives to violence as a means of settling disputes between societies?
Bands involve small groups of related households that reside in a specific region. These bands usually meet periodically on a random basis and the level of dominion is not high. Tribes involve a group of independent communities that speak the same language. Chiefdoms and states are forms of political organizations in which there is a hierarchy in terms of the leader. Chiefdom was a form of a traditional political system where a chief was the leader of a certain region. The state is a more modern form of a political system where authority lies in the central government. In the Melanesian Big Man leadership is based on the level of wealth. Offering of goods from one society to another is form of settling a dispute. Arbitration is also a method to solving disputes without violence.
What is religion? Why do humans have religious beliefs and rituals? Do religious rituals work to alleviate anxiety or increase anxiety? Compare and contrast animism and animatism? Compare and contrast priests and shamans. What is the anthropological definition of the term shaman? Why do some societies have shaman? How does one become a shaman? Compare and contrast imitative and contagious magic, giving examples of each. What is a rite of intensification? Give an example. Describe the social functions of religion. What contribution did Edward B. Taylor make to the anthropological study of religion?
Religion refers to a set of rituals that encompasses supernatural powers, which are used to bring transformations in people and nature. Religious beliefs and ritual helps humans to have an explanation of their existence and occurrence of supernatural acts. Religious rituals help alleviate anxiety since they provide a form of justification for the occurrence of supernatural acts. Animism and animatisms acknowledge the existence of supernatural manifestations. In animatism, there is the belief that the earth is animated by non-human supernatural powers whereas in animism there is the belief that spirit beings animate nature. Priest and shamans are both religious specialists. Priests are trained to perform their duties while shamans are believed to have special powers and can be able to contact supernatural beings. Shamans refer to part time religious specialists that have special powers to contact and manipulate supernatural beings. For one to become a shaman, one has to undergo physical and psychological torture or distress. Imitative magic is based on the standard that like produces like. In contagious magic, the principle is that beings once in contact can affect each other after division. A rite of intensification refers to religious rituals that are acted out during a potential crisis in a group. Religion helps people to reduce anxiety and cope with the occurrence of uncontrollable phenomena. An example is the death of a political figure such as J.F. Kennedy. Sir Edward Taylor helped define the concept of animism in anthropology of religion.
Question 5 How does studying cultural anthropology relate to humanities, globalization, religion, and/or enculturation?
Studying cultural anthropology helps in understanding how societies have evolved from the past and how certain societies act the way they do presently. Lack of cultural knowledge of different societies may hamper globalization.. Further, it becomes important to understand the religions of different societies so that any form of globalization does not infringe on the religious beliefs of other societies.