Definition And Study Of Cultural Construction

1161 words - 5 pages

Cultural construction is one of the key values in the study of Anthropology for several reasons. According to Peoples and Bailey in our Humanity book, Anthropology not only helps us understand the biological, technological, and cultural development of humanity but it’s also intended to teach us the importance of understanding and appreciating cultural diversity. By definition, “Cultural constructions are arbitrary in that they are created and maintained by each culture, cultural constructions are not fixed forever rather they are dynamic and change over time. (McGraw-Hill) In other words it would be impossible to gain an understanding for Anthropology without cultural construction since it’s purpose is to illustrate the birth, change, and differences of ideas and values within individual cultures.
Examples of cultural constructions can be seen throughout history in several forms such as gender, relationships, and marriage. “Cultural construction of gender emphasizes that different cultures have distinctive ideas about males and females and use these ideas to define manhood/masculinity and womanhood/femininity.” (Humanity, 239) In many cultures gender roles are a great way to gain an understanding of just how different the construction of gender can be amongst individual cultures. The video The Women’s Kingdom provides an example of an uncommon gender role, which is seen in the Wujiao Village where the Mosuo women are the last matriarchy in the country and have been around for over one thousand years. Unlike other rural Chinese villages where many girls are degraded and abandoned at birth, Mosuo woman are proud and run the households where the men simply assist in what they need. The view of gender as a cultural construct has presented several different theories for anthropologists but poses the main question of differentiating between sex and gender. Cultural construction is always changing never remaining in a fixed place especially in the cultural views of India, “As we have seen in India, the hijras are evidence that the Hindu Indian cultural system not only acknowledges multiple genders, but also incorporates the idea, in myth and reality, that sex and gender can be changed within an individuals lifetime.” (NMNW, 129)
Relationships whether they’re personal or not, play a major role in cultural construction. Cultural construction of relationships can be seen in various groups throughout history including clans, hierarchies, and kinships. The hijras of India are considered a third gendered group and create an excellent example of cultural construction within relationships since they act as a mediator between the other two genders. “Hijras, as neither men, nor women, function as an institutionalized third gender role: Their ambiguous sexual nature, through which they embody the power of generativity of the goddess, accounts for their traditional occupation, that of performing after the birth of a child, at weddings, and at...

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