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Informal Institutions Essay

1351 words - 5 pages

Caught in an Informal Battle of the SexesThe influence informal institutions have to encourage a minorities to voluntarily participate in potentially harmful activities is a phenomenon that political scientists have been diligently analyzing over past last decade. Observing informal institution can help explain a wide array of events, including personal networks, corruption, civil society but what we will be examining today is informal institutions effects on tradition and culture. Throughout history, various social groups have been subjected to discrimination and undesirable physical and emotional oppression. Even so, these marginalized groups are sometimes found to defend their dismal position of discrimination. I argue that the African and Chinese women purpertrated in the practices of Female Gential Mutualtion and Foot Binding because under the Battle of the Sexes Theory through the Informal Institutions of their societies encourages them to value marriage and beauty despite practices that are extremely painful.This paper looks to explain the relation informal intuitions' share with the Battle of the Sexes Theory in the mentality of the very people that encourage the practice of their own discrimination.Before we dive into examples of these paradoxical situations, it's important to have an understanding of informal institutions. Professor Victor Menaldo of the University of Washington stated informal institutions as, "socially shared unwritten rules that are created, communicated and enforced outside of officially sanctioned channels." Just as there is no formal law forbidding burping while out to a nice restaurant, the offender will surely be reprimanded with dirty glares from other diners. Pejovich (1999) goes further and defines informal institutions as "traditions, customs, moral values, religious beliefs, and all other norms of behavior that have passed the test of time. Thus, informal institutions are the part of a community's heritage that we call culture." With this basic understanding of informal institutions and its relationship with culture and tradition, we can begin to explain why marginalized societies sometimes play a part in protecting their own inequality.A very profound situation where informal institutions are suppressing a group of individuals lies on the continent of Africa at the hands of the infibulations of young girls. The operation takes place sometime before puberty, and entails a clitoridectomy along with the excision of the labia minora. This female genital mutilation, which will be referred to as FGM, results in immense pain and severe, potentially fatal, health risks for the adolescents. The young girls are held down amid singing and shouting which drown out her screams as the operation begins. Convention western belief would lead one to assume that this practice is carried out by the men of the families, all to the woman's dismay.In reality the act is usually performed in private among only women including the...

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