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Social Inequality Essay

1588 words - 6 pages

Social inequality is a topic that has been debated for 1000’s of years, and remains a very fluid topic today. It’s fair to assume that there isn’t a defining reason as to why certain societies have progressed faster than others, as we can inly give theory as to why we see advanced, industrialized states; while other societies have failed to establish the technology often assumed with modernized nations. Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles has dedicated much of his adult life researching why social inequality exists. What Diamond has theorized, through his extensive study of hunter and gatherer societies of tribal Papua New Guinea, and his subsequent study of ancient Eurasian societies, was the environment which bound these cultures was the sole reason as to whether or not they advanced to a modern state. Opponents to Diamond’s theory have proposed differing theories, ranging from the societies religious beliefs, to whether or not the society practiced an egalitarian way of living, all of which can be debated as to justifiable causes of social inequality. Others believe Diamond’s theory is to obscure, citing that the ability of a society to adapt and make use of its natural environment is an over simplistic explanation to an issue for which there isn’t a definitive answer. So the question remains, why have certain societies progressed faster than others? Agreeing with Diamond’s theory, I believe the answer lies solely in the ability of a given society to farm, and of equal importance the type of farming each culture’s environment provides them.
Nutritional resources are of great importance in Diamond’s theory as to why certain societies progressed more rapidly than others. During his time in Papua New Guinea, Diamond found that the tribal society was cultivating the sago palm, a fruit high in starch. Diamond was a quick to discern the boundaries of the fruit as well, stating, “the sago itself has its limitations. It’s a lot of work, low in protein, and can’t be stored for a long time.” The work itself is extremely laborious, and doesn’t yield the quantity necessary to allow for proper expansion of hunting-gathering societies. This is crucial as we try to discern why these societies have failed in their attempt to keep pace with industrialized states. They just don’t have the resources available to them. This is seen in other tribal hunting-gathering societies as well. The Sentineli, located in India on the Bay of Bengal, are considered one of the most isolated tribes in the world. Numbering between 50 – 200, the Sentinelese still practice cannibalism as a way to supplement for their environmental deficiencies. As Marco Polo once stated, “they are the most violent and cruel generation who seem to eat everybody they catch.” The Sentineli are a product of their environment. Natural resources in this remote area of India are sparse, and this “stone-aged” tribe uses the bow and arrow as...

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