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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 11 Grouping by Gender, Age, Common Interest, and Class Besides kinship and marriage, people group themselves by gender, age, common interest, and rank (including class) within a society to deal with problems not conveniently handled by marriage, the family and/or household, descent group or kindred. Age grading the formation of groups on an age basis is a widely used means of organizing people in societies, including those of Europe and North America. In addition to age grades, some societies feature age sets formally established groups of people born during a certain time span who move through the series of age categories together. Common-interest associations are formed to deal with specific problems or opportunities. Membership may be voluntary to compulsory. Common-interest associations have been a feature of human societies since the appearance of the first farming villages several thousand years ago, but have become especially prominent in modern industrial or industrializing societies. Stratification is the division of society into two or more social classes of people who do not share equally in basic resources, power, or prestige. Such a hierarchical social structure is characteristic of all of the worlds societies having large and heterogeneous populations with centralized political control. Among others, these include ancient kingdoms and empires, but also modern republics. Social classes can be relatively open, as in North America where membership is based primarily on personal achievement or wealth. They can also be closed, as in India, where membership in hierarchically ranked groups known as castes is determined by birth and remains fixed for life. Grouping by gender separates men and women to different degrees in different societies. Some division of labor (as I have mentioned in previous lectures) by gender lines is found in all societies. But the relative status of men and women varies widely. The Iroquois a tribe in upstate New York are a well-known traditional case of relative gender equality; while mens tasks were more prestigious, women were considered to 1 be sustainers of life. Among the Mundurucu of the Amazon, men and women are be sustainers of life....
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