Cultural Anthropology Must be Considered when Creating Public Policy
Public Policy is a field of study, which values the utility of certain programs (education, law, urban development) and then tries to distribute these gains in a fair manner. One example of this is tax breaks for a home. This tax break offers many citizens equal opportunity to own a home. These policies may sometimes be ineffective. I believe that cultural anthropology should be introduced to policy makers and analysts when creating legislation. Although the approach would apply universally, we will limit our discussion to policies in the United States on a national, state or local level.
By showing that culture and "natural" human behavior affect policies, hopefully decision makers will take these factors into account before implementing any legislation. The intent of this paper is to illustrate the fact that culture and universal human behavior do affect policies. To prove this we will examine one facet of human life studied by cultural anthropologists: the family. Cultural anthropologists define five functions of the family: economic, child-rearing, emotional/psychological, transmitting traditions, and controlling sexual behavior. Now we will examine the anthropology and public policy behind each of these functions.
In The Harmless People, the women have to gather roots and prepare hides and make the home. The family benefits from being taken care of. The community acquires arrows, or hides the women cure. This gives women a chance to be social as well. This work is very important to the family and tribe. Since foraging cultures are similar to industrial cultures, shouldn't we expect the "homemaker", whether man or woman, to still do some work?
One of the most attractive features to a job today is the flexibility in hours, or the ability to work from home. Many workers today want to tailor their schedule to spend time with the family and still be productive. Managers have to be able to balance the valuable time that an employee spends interacting with their coworkers against the value of time at home. We see people working from their home since the beginning of economy. As we move into the future, I propose that we try to shift these situations into ones where all of the work is conducted from home giving complete flexibility to workers.
The ethnography Death Without Weeping shows us a culture where the maternal child-rearing instinct has been affected by the environment. The living conditions are terrible and hunger is common. Mothers selectively neglect the children that do not seem capable of surviving (Scheper-Hughes 309). They do this to increase their own chances at survival as well as the chances for the other children. A mother's interest in her child's welfare may seem universal, but it can be affected by the mother's environment and culture. This fact may implicate people in our own society as well.
To decrease welfare fraud, politicians call to move...