Anthropology: Cultural Norms
Before taking this class, I often thought that our advanced society was the standard in which to measure all other societies from, but after reviewing the material in this course, it is impossible to make such a comparison. Many of the people in a culture similar to the U.S. would probably find most of the cultures we have studied to be “slow”, strange, or undesirable. In fact, it seems that many of the societies actually prefer to live the way they do and accept it as normal. “Normal” is a relative term, and it is difficult to establish evidence to label a culture or its characteristics abnormal. What may seem to work here often would be disastrous to other cultures.
Our society stresses individuality and competition, to be the best you can be for yourself first. This works well for the structure of life that has developed in this country. I value my independence and privacy, something that has stemmed from living in this society. Trying to be the best often has rewards, whether prestigious or monetary, and is a good survival technique for a “doggy-dog” society. You have to stand out to get ahead.
Individuals living in a food-foraging or farming society would find life extremely difficult by trying to make it on their own. Here, by sacrificing yourself with the help of others, the work gets done and everyone benefits from it, because no one person could provide everything necessary to survive (over an extended period of time). This society flourishes with people that are willing to live together and help each other out, even at the expense of personal prosperity or privacy.
The behaviors practiced by a culture, especially those concerning the treatment of men and women in a society, are reflective of how a society views...