Monday, April 30, 2012

Rules of Residence

The rules of residence reflect the general social,economic ,social and cultural conditions of the society.

Patrilocality- When men contributes most to the economy and do most of the work,patrilocality is applied.Societies which are based on agriculture or do hunting require services of menfolk on a large scale.It is men in these societies who own land and other types of property.They require effective political organisation in order to control.

Matrilocality-When women contribute to the society and economy and do most of the work.In some communities women inherit all the property including land.They donot move away from the land even after their marriage but ask their husbands to reside with them and assist them in their economic enterprise. The absence of certain negative conditions like warfare,political organisation and polygamous marriges all favour matrilocal residence.

Bilocality-When equal importance is given to men and women in economy with proper division of labour between the two sexes such that they complement each other through their roles.The inheritance and ownership rules are also balanced between men and women in such societies.The societies which favor bilocal residence have relatively peaceful conditions with negliglible warfare.

Matri-patrilocality-This transitory rule of residence is associated with the occurence and regular practice of  marriage by service.The newly wed couple stay with the bride's family for the first few years  and later on shift to the bridegroom's place of residence.The service put in by the bridegroom through continuous physical labor at the bride's family land assumes the form of a bride-price or bride wealth paid by groom to the bride's family.

Avunculocality- The presence of a rule of avunculocal residence is the most common feature among several matrilineal societies.This is because men inherit the properties of their maternal uncles.For purposes of group membership alone,matrilineality may be used while for the purposes of inheritance and succession avunvulocality is mainly recognized.

Neolocality- Neolocal residence is related to the presence of money or commercial economy in modern industrialized societies.Money seems to allow a couple to live on their independently without having to depend on other kin for their living.Neolocality is associated with Nuclear family organization and not with non money economy and with acute food shortage.

Feminist Movements and impact on Family

Feminism is a term includes movements and ideologies which have  an impact on the emancipation and liberation of women.It also includes establishment of equal rights for women and opposes all form of male domination.Great diversity in feminist movments and positions is recognized .Feminism has never  been a united or homogenous movement ever since its origin in the late 18th century.The feminist movements are  working towards twin goals of struggle for equal rights for women on par with men under the law and the second for equal opportunities in the fields of education and occupation.Laws in world wide continue to discriminate against women in different ways  and in variety of contexts.The feminists are also fighting for  women's rights to have control over their own body and reproductive functions.

The radical feminists believe that all the institutions  which are of patriarchal origin need to be thrown out.Others argue that there should be redistribution of rights and obligations between males and females in the family structure.Feminists are against male dominated male imposed attitudes and roles in the domains of sexuality,reproduction and child bearing .

It is true that women have to spend considerable time in looking after the home,family and apart from working outside for earning.The unpaid work at home,necessary for the wellbeing of the family has to be shared by the husband also.Feminists believe that this unpaid work should get due recognition and housewives should be valued and respected by the menfolk.The element of choice should be according to the women's will.Feminists raise voice against patriarchy and male domination and are not against family system.They believe that a just,social and economic order should prevail at home and this can be possible if all forms of inequalities are removed.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Field Studies

The dividing line between the historical era and professional modern anthropology is the shift from speculation to empirical science.According to Malinowski the real meeting ground of all branches of anthropology is the scientific study of culture.

This shift was signalled by a change of location leaving the armchair,the philospher and colonial mindset  to venture off into the field where primitive people lived.In the field  empirical inquiry would provide new empirical evidence.This would explain different cultures and permit comparison of human similarities and differences that was not speculation.

The theories and organizing principles that accompanied the anthropologist into the field were those inherited from his ancestors.It was the time to see the truth on his own.

The Primitive

The intellectual tradition of anthropology takes shape in the 1860s according to British anthropologist Adam Kuper the invention of the primitive society: transformations of an illusion.Primitive man is the legitimate and defining object of study for which professional anthropology was created.

Sir Henry Maine defined the distinction between primitive and civilized as ascribed and acquired status.Primal promiscuity,the precedence of matriliny over patriliny and matriarchy over patriarchy defined the primitive.From this speculative construct both the character of the primitive -its identification with living people and the specialist field of anthropology begin.The concept of the primitive was expanded by Sir Edward Tylor.Tylor saw living primitives as relics of earlier stages of human existence.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kinship Organization in India - Prof Irawati Karve

In Kinship Organization in India Prof Irawati Karve states the composition of joint family as there are three or four generations of males related to a male ego as grandfather and his brothers,father and his brothers,brother's and cousins,sons and nephews and wives of all these male relatives  plus the ego's own unmarried sisters and daughters.Prof Karve has followed the classical  three or four generation formula but she does not include the generation of the common ancestor,the great grandfather in the number of generations and does not mention unmarried males at all.This means for formula of the genealogical depth  of the joint family is deeper than the classical formula.

She mentions for the joint family of the formula almost all the functional characteristics generally mentioned in the description of the joint family household of the maximum depth and she also makes remarks about the general nature of life in such a household.She mentions that every joint family has an ancestral seat or locus which some members may leave for an indefinite period.

prof Karve also refers to ten or twelve houses each sheltering a joint family all together acknowledging common descent and capable of showing relationship through one line,i.e lineage.She uses the term family for many different kinds of kinship groups including lineage and clan.She states that when joint families  of the two types split they split into smaller joint families made up of a man ,his wife ,children and sons sons and daughters or a man ,his sons and daughters and a couple of younger brothers.According to her method of counting generations joint families of both these types would be two -generation units whereas according to others  they would be three-generation units.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Family in India - Prof Mandelbaum

Prof Mandelbaum's paper The Family in India was published in 1948.The aim of the paper is to depict Indian family organization in general terms .It talks about the model of the orthodox scriptural joint family.It is defined as a household group having three types of composition- All the men are related by blood as a man and his sons and grandsons or a set of brothers,their sons and grandsons.The women of the household are their wives,unmarried daughters and perhaps the widow of a deceased kinsman.There are even now households in which four generations are to be found  living together under one roof.Mandelbaum has followed the classical three of four generation formula.

He states that the large joint family of former times  has been generally replaced by small joint families of fewer members and short duration but he does not define the composition of these families.He also describes all the functional characteristics  usually associated  with the ideal joint family and devotes the major part of the paper to a description of interpersonal relations between the members of the joint family but it covers only some of the members.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Urbanization is a universal process implying economic development and social change.It also means a breakdown of traditional social institutions and values.MSA Rao observes that the breakdown hypothesis originated from the western experience and it ignores the fact of traditional urbanization in India.

Urban centers in traditional India were important places of worship,annual congregations,trade and navigation.They had a stable population.Today cities have come up as places of industry headquarters of districts and states or as centers of higher education.Some towns have lost their traditional significance whereas some have acquired added importance because of economic and political factors.

Rao classifies urban studies into three categories - those concerned with the institutional approaches,those treating cities and their growth in the general contexts of history of civilization and those which formulate the cultural role of cities in the context of social organization of the great tradition.The first category of studies highlights on the economic institutions such as emergence of middle class and commercial organization and religion.For Pirenne the city consisted of middle classes and groups engaged in trade and commerce.For Coulanges an ancient city was a religious community.Max Weber's emphasis was on social action and autonomous city government.The institutionalists look for specific causes and conditions for the growth of cities in different contexts.Robert Redfield has provided a typology of the city in terms of orthogenetic and heterogeneity processes of change in the organization of tradition and culture.Milton Singer observes that the Great Tradition is basically an urban phenomenon and transformation of the little tradition into the great tradition refers to the process of urbanization.However  the great tradition has also been undergoing significant change hence individualism freedom and fluidity in traditional norms and values.

Gideon Sjoberg distinguishes cities into pre-industrial  and industrial.The pre-industrial  city was a feudal one.There are two limitations to this approach feudalism was not the only basis of city formation and modern city is found in existence due to other factors too in addition to industrialization.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Acheulian Tool Tradition

The name Acheulian  was given after the site at St Acheul France where the first finds of tools were identified.The Acheulian tradition appeared about 1.5 million years ago in East Africa and persisted during the period of Homo Erectus.The finds includes large to small tools.Large bifacial implements and small flakes have been traced.It is characterized by predominance of hand axes and bifacial tools.

Excavations carried out in couple of sites in Spain brought out the presence of elephant remains along with the tools used by Homo Erectus.Homo Erectus had learnt to control fire which could have been used for warmth during freezing winters  to keep wild animals away and for cooking.Acheulain camp sites were located mostly in the open,close to water sources.

Since Acheulain tools dating back from 1.5 million years ago to more then a million years later show similarity to one another and Homo Erectus was the only hominid that spanned the period it is now assumed that Homo Erectus was responsible for most of the findings of the period

Use of multi disciplinary approach to understand a Fossil type

Dating the fossil- The first thing to know about a fossil is find out its date in the earth's history.This can be done by measuring the radioactivity of radioactive elements like carbon,uranium etc.The radioactive elements lose half of their radioactivity in a fixed period.An approximate time of the fossils in the geological time scale can be pinpointed by this method.

Geography- The location where the fossil is found is also to be taken note of.The occurrence of the organism there and the presence or absence of similar fossils elsewhere will point out the clues as to the origin,migration etc of the organism.

Biochemical- The fossils may give a clue as to the composition of the tissues fossilized.In fact it has been possible to get small fragments of DNA from some fossils and a comparison of these fragments with other  organisms of the present day; a relationship is established between the organisms and thereby trace the evolutionary trend of them.

Anthropometry- The measurements of the fossils,size,length,capacity of the cranium etc can be indicative of the level of development in evolution.

Reconstruction- It has been possible to reconstruct the shape and size of prehistoric organisms studying their fossils.Many dinosaurs and pre-hominid forms have been reconstructed making use of details that can be studied from the fossil remains.

Cultural adjuncts- Along with the fossils many artifacts,pottery,jewelley,paintings etc are also discovered.These can help to understand the cultural evolution of the fossil type discovered.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Changing Culture

All cultures in the world over have histories of change and none have remained static.At the same time it is true that all cultures do not change at the same speed.Anthropologists have traditionally viewed cultural change in terms of innovation,invention or diffusion.A variation of an existing cultural pattern accepted by a society is innovation.Most innovations are involved by modification of the existing habits of thought and action.An invention is the combination of existing cultural elements into something that is new.New ideas and new art forms also come under invention.

Cultural environment  is an important aspect governing an invention.Most far reaching changes in culture are through direct cultural contact.This is the reason why cultures in major trade routes  tend to change rapidly.No human society has been completely isolated from diffusion.A society may reject diffused cultural traits or modify them for acceptance.Changes in the meanings of cultural elements are particularly important in archeology.

New cultural elements  may be welcomed and adopted in a society.If the elements are more advantageous.Diffusion of culture also takes place as a result of conflicts.When two cultures clashing in a war,people who are captured and colonized  are forced to adopt the culture of the victorious group.

The question naturally arises as to whether there is homogenization  of culture and individual cultural identities  are erased.Modern technological culture has made inroads into every place.The world may be called a global village but all the parts are not close to the centre.Everywhere  cultures have been affected by the leading industrial countries of the world.Such a phenomenon  may not annihilate local cultures.Cultural traits  while being adopted  may be transformed as result of which new cultural forms may evolve.This process is known as transculturation.Tribal and peasant societies have traditionally interested anthropologists.Such societies have been affected by industrial societies  and anthropologists study the changes taking place in the societies.The cultural change in the economic development of underdeveloped nations may of interest in applied anthropology.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Patriarchy and Honor Killing

Honor killing is the killing of a member of a family or social group by other members due to the belief of the perpetrators and the community members in some cases that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community.

Honor killings are directed mostly against women and girls and sometimes against the men as well.These killings are common in patriarchal societies where male domination is high and women have no standing within the family set up.They are treated as inferior and suppressed within the family and community.Honor killings are common in northern regions of India mainly in the states of Haryana,Punjab and Rajasthan.The perceived dishonor is result of following behaviors - unacceptable form of dressing,terminate or prevent an arranged marriage or love marriage within the same clan,extra marital affairs outside marriage etc.Women and girls are the worst sufferers of honor killings .

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Origins of religious beliefs and practices in pre-modern societies

Religion is universally found because it has a vital function in maintaining the social system as whole.The main requirement that religion is deemed to fulfill has been the necessity of ideological and sentimental cohesion or solidarity.Men pick up the items like plant or animal and make this the symbol of both their society and of their religion.Their shared religious beliefs arises from society  and in turn it helps to hold the society together.The social function of shared religious beliefs and the rituals that go with them are so important that every society needs a religion or some belief system that serves the same function.In times of individual distress or group crisis the rituals and beliefs provide help and comfort.The rituals and beliefs also have some function.They maintain taboos and prohibitions and those who violate them are punished.The non followers of norms may even be required to undergo ritual punishment or purification.The origin of religious beliefs lies in the societies need for its solidarity and systematic continuation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Genetic Screening

Screening for certain genetic defects can help the future generations to get rid of many undesirable inherited diseases.Screening may be done at the prenatal stage and of the newborns.Screening of carriers are also important.

Concept of Race

Categorization of humans according to physical or racial characteristics appear among very early human societies.Prehistoric cave paintings in various parts of the world and decorations on ancient Egyptian tombs refer to people of different racial origin.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Demographic Transition

Demographers use the term demographic transition to explain the trends in the growth of the population.Socieities may be considered to fall into three categories in the process of modernization.The first category includes primitive social organizations in which fluctuation in mortality rate are defined and fertility is correspondingly higher.The second category characteristic of less developed countries is marked by declining mortality and increasing fertility as also high rates of increase in population.The third category is characterized by the modern society of the more developed countries in which mortality is stabilized at a relatively low average value,fertility approaches the mortality level or going even below it and a stationary and declining population.

The theory of demographic transition is a history of mortality transition from high to low death rates and a comparable transition in fertility.In pre-industrial society there were fluctuations  in population as a result of epidemics,winter and changes in the cost and supply of food.

In India the first comprehensive estimate of population gave a figure of 203 million and between 1881 and 1921 the growth rate of population was low.Since 1921 now considered as the demographic divide or transition the population showed an upward trend.Decrease in mortality rate and increase in fertility rate naturally lead to growing numbers.Now there is a need for another demographic transition with high population.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cultural Borrowings

Morgan and Tylor recognized the role of cultural borrowing in cultural growth.Morgan pointed out that cultures  in isolation may grow differently from other cultures.Tylor listed independent evolution,inheritance from common ancestors and cultural transmission as the three main ways  in which culture grow. 

According to Majumdar and T.N Madan, even though they recognized the role of cultural borrowing the way they sought to show unilinear development in human institutions like family,the clan,the government,property and religion they seem to be indifferent to the consequences of cultural borrowing for its operation rules out undisturbed unilinear growth.

Cultures grow and cultural parallelism arises from both independent evolution and diffusion.There are no laws about sequential evolution nor about the uninventiveness of  man.Cultural borrowing will always make impossible growth stage by stage and upwards in straight line.


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