culture of honor essay

culture of honor essay - PSYC354 11/20/07 Paper 2 In the...

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PSYC354 11/20/07 – Paper 2 In the book “Culture of Honor,” by Richard E. Nisbett and Dov Cohen, the authors describe violence in the southern United States as being a necessary part of their culture. The violence in the south is inherent to the region because of this culture. The cause of this violence, according to the authors, is best described as a “culture of honor.” A culture of honor is best defined as a culture where a person’s reputation is his most prized possession. In this type of culture, people are more than willing to use violence, including deadly violence, in order to protect his reputation, or honor. According to Nisbett, the United States South possesses this culture of honor for several reasons. The South was initially settled by herding societies. Within these societies, “threat[s] to property or reputation is dealt with by violence” (p. 4). These herding societies had very little leeway when their reputations were under attack. The people in these societies had to protect their property without discretion because if they were seen as weak, then others would constantly take advantage of them. One reason for their over-protectiveness was the fact that most of their property was mostly portable. These peoples’ herds were their primary possessions and basically were their entire wealth. This made them very vulnerable to loss. To protect themselves from this constant threat, herdsmen made sure to portray themselves as openly violent and aggressive individuals (p. 5). Another reason for this culture of honor in the south was the fact that these societies had extremely weak governing states. Since herding requires a vast amount of land, there was a lot of territory for law enforcement personnel to oversee. With such low population densities, there
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was no point in adding more law enforcement to the area. As a result, the herdsmen were forced
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This essay was uploaded on 04/18/2008 for the course PSYC 354 taught by Professor Orehek during the Fall '08 term at Maryland.

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culture of honor essay - PSYC354 11/20/07 Paper 2 In the...

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