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Observation And Analysis Of A Cultural Scene

1366 words - 5 pages

Clifford Geertz once said: “Cultural analysis is intrinsically incomplete. And, worse than that, the more deeply it goes the less complete it is.” I recently spent a short amount of time at a busy 5-way traffic circle near my residence. While sitting in one spot for about 25 minutes, I observed many people doing many different things (mainly driving). Observing the various people made me think of what their particular cultures may have been, and from there, I began thinking of culture in and of itself. What is culture? Culture is defined as: Ideas and behaviors that are learned and transmitted. Nongenetic means of adaptation (Park, 2008). Culture plays a vital role in anthropology. After all, anthropology is the holistic, scientific study of humankind (Park, 2008). One cannot study humans as a whole without studying and understanding their cultures as well.
During my 25 minute observation period, I witnessed numerous types of people. My setting was simple, but provided me the opportunity to view scores of English and American citizens interacting with one another, often while performing the most dangerous of daily tasks. Driving. My spot at the traffic circle was at a corner adjacent to a gas station. I was positioned in such a way that I could see both drivers entering and exiting the round-about while other patrons were refueling their vehicles with gas. It was a searing Friday afternoon somewhere around 1300 hours. I’ll never forget the smell of hot rubber and gasoline that encircled me. I have driven through this round-about several times before, and I will drive through it many more times before I leave this country. However, I had never realized just how loud it could get sitting that close to traffic. The spot I was in sits along a road that changes from 15 mph (in the traffic circle) to 50 mph (after exiting the traffic circle) in approximately 500 feet. Needless to say, I was glad to be able to leave after only 25 minutes. Nevertheless, I was there for a reason, and I went about my business. I saw all sorts of people while sitting there. There were old and young people alike, many different nationalities, males as well as females. Some people had children; some had pets, but most were alone. I immediately noticed that there were different behaviors exhibited by the different groups of people. After about 10-12 minutes, I started to realize that there were patterns in behavior that differed from group to group.
I thought for a few minutes to try to determine the best way to group the people together. For my observation, I figured that the easiest method for grouping people together was to use age range. The age ranges I used were: Seniors, middle-aged, and young adults. The seniors were more easily noticeable because of their, normally, silver colored hair, gently wrinkled skin, and their general behavior. The way that the seniors I observed moved was unlike the other two groups. They seemed to have a more laid-back,...

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