ANTH Chapter 13 & 14


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C ULTURAL A NTHROPOLOGY C HAPTER 13 A SSOCIATION AND I NTEREST G ROUPS When we speak of associations , we mean different kinds of groups that are not based on kinship or on territory. They are nonkin and nonterritorial groups; they also have common characteristics: (1) some kind of formal, institutionalized structure; (2) the exclusion of some people; (3) members with common interests or purposes; and (4) members with a discernable sense of pride and feeling of belonging. Contemporary American society has an abundance of interest groups that display these general characteristics of associations. There are two qualifications for membership, those that are achieved and those that are ascribed. Achieved qualities are those people acquire during their lifetime, such as superior skills in a sport or the skills required to be an electrician. Ascribed qualities are those determined for people at birth, either because of genetic makeup or because of family background. We speak of two kinds of ascribed qualities of characteristics: universally ascribed qualities, those that are found in all societies, such as age and sex; and variably ascribed qualities , those that are found only in some societies, such as ethnic, religious, or social class differences. Nonvoluntary Associations In unstratified societies associations tend to be based on age and sex. Such associations take two forms: age-sets and male or female (unisex) associations. Age Sets An age grade is a category of people who happen to fall within a particularly culturally distinguished age range. Age set is the term for a group of people of similar age and the same sex who move through some or all of life’s stages together. Strong bonds are formed in Karimojong and the Shavante societies. Pg. 235 Karimojong Age Sets They number some 60,000 people from Uganda. Mostly cattle herders. Their age set comprises all the men into manhood within a span of five to six years. A generations consists of 5 age sets covering 25 to 30 years. The elders have the positions of authority. There is an initiation ceremony. The retired generation set consists of elders who have passed on the mantle of authority. The senior generation set contains five age sets that actively exercise authority. The junior generation set in still recruiting members and, although obedient to elders, has some administrative powers. Shavante Age Sets Inhabit the Mato Grosso region of Brazil. They are food collectors. Boys become men when they take up residence in the “bachelor hut”. An induction ceremony takes place every five years. Boys from 7-12 years are induced at the same time. Time in the hut is free of responsibility and afterward they marry. They also have age sets for women. For them the age set does not function as an association. Unisex Associations
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