substance and economics
Length: 1338 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)
Culture is a learned reaction, this human survival trait gives us a way to colonize and adapt to our environment. With out this key element, adaptation becomes complicated, and our species will die off. Archeologist have dug and scraped away the dirt, rocks and mud to bring us a glimpse of the past. Their fieldwork has shown us how we, as a whole, have biologically adapted to suit our modern needs in the environment that our ancestors have lived in. In addition, they also tell us how we have changed the natural environment as the population has increased in size. This brings us to substance and economics, a basic foundation in which a culture can survive. The definition of economics is reacting to the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. For the definition of substance I have found two that compliment this cross-cultural comparison. One is ?material possessions, wealth, and property?. The second definition is ?that which gives stability or solidarity, confidence, and ground.? These definitions are not only evident in today?s modern social infrastructures but also evident in cultures of the past and the social order in other countries. We have come to understand that there are four ways to sustain a community that our evolution process has brought us to. These ways are hunting and gathering, fishing and gardening, herding, and agriculture. The longest known survival method is hunting and gathering.
This course of action was a main part of the old stone culture known as the Paleolithic period when hominids walked the land. They would gather berries, seeds, wild fruits, vegetables and even hunted wild game in the area. This type of practice is still used today in Africa and other parts of the world. Similarly, the Yiwara, who inhabit the heart of the Gibson Desert, have a lifestyle adapted to this arid environment. In the desert, there is no regular seasonal pattern of food-collecting, because there are no predictable seasons when plants can be expected to ripen. Thus, opportunistic movement towards rainfall and known water catchments spots also known as billabongs characterizes the subsistence of the Yiwara. Large game constitutes only a small part of the Yiwara diet, which is largely vegetarian. Lizards, rabbits provide most of the protein and are collected by everyone. Even these small animals are divided and shared among kin. Individual portions may be barely a mouthful, but nothing is wasted.
A successful hunter gains social prestige and meat, he is able to take his share from someone else's catch. The Yiwara have developed a kinship system that compels people to share food at all times, ensuring that the relationships between kin are strong. Kinship sharing networks are a mechanism for minimizing risks in a risky habitat, allowing people to move freely to better-favored areas in times of drought or food shortage. The people that live in this environment of hunting and gathering have more hardship for themselves. Very little impact is made in the ecosystem at the time of their stay.
The Nuer is different in many aspects compared to the Yiwara. The Nuer are a herding society, their main focus on survival depends solely on the cattle. To the Nuer, their cattle are their most prized possessions. The cattle provide the Nuer with many of the necessities of life, such as milk and meat. The cattle are owned by the families and are used in a number of ways such as bride-wealth payments. They also determine personal names. Men get their names from the form of color of their favorite oxen and women take their names from the cows that they milk. The cattle also play an important role in Nuer rituals, they use the cattle to contact ghost or spirits of past cattle owners to receive advice or help. Cattle are also used for payments of fines and debts and as bride prices in marriage. This society lively hood greatly depends on and around the cattle; their children even mold clay figures of cows out of clay, ash, wood, or any other available material. Young boys have a favorite ox that they give a name and treat as if it was a puppy. The cattle are their source for economic stability and growth.
For my subculture observation I have selected five import racers in the local area. Cupcake is 23; he is married and has a child. He works at an electronics company to support his family and his need for speed. Dumbo is 20, he lives at home and his parents support him and his habit for racing. Googly eye is 20, he to lives at home and is attending Front Range community college. His parents also pay for most of his expenses for the car and for school. Mother Goose is 22; he lives on his own and attends Front Range community college. He works at a department store to pay for the ever-growing desire to go faster. Father Time is 23; He also lives on his own. While attending College he works at an electronics company to pay for bills and his addiction for speed.
These groups of people live in a specialized society where most things are in arms reach. Due to the way technological advances in computers shaped our culture, we can buy things off the Internet. We are able to run down to the store and get what ever we need to survive in this type of life style. What brings this group of people together is their love of cars, mainly imports. They thrive on getting the looks from various people, and able to keep up with or beat a domestic car (mustangs, camaros etc.). There is a status within this group; it depends on how fast you can run and how innovative you are to you car. The car that looks like no other will get respect form the other racer, which goes the same for the fastest racer. They all spend an obscene amount of money on their cars. Most will import their parts directly from Japan. This is all due to the fact that we live in a free market economy. Trade form other parts of the world make this possible form an economic society that has a vast array of specialized fields
Even though these cultures are very deferent from one another they still depend on the same way of survival in their group. The Yiwara rely on the natural environment to sustain their survival. They only take what is necessary to live on and they waste nothing. The nuer are in the same respect similar to the Yiwara because they to do not waste what they use. They in turn remold or reuse the resources in their ecosystem for trade or personnel use. For the racers though it fits somewhat. They try not to waste any part of their car. If they remove a piece of their car they will try to find out if anybody wants it, if somebody does a trade will occur. If nobody is in need of it then it will be thrown away. Modern culture is an open market based on the commerce of populace of today. With this commerce comes the expansion of economics throughout the world. The work of specialized labor produces a surplus in many areas, such as food and material. This type of subsistence to sustain this economy has a price. The Yiwara can make a camp out of the natural surroundings of their environment with out damaging their habitat. We on the other hand use up a great deal of natural recourses to maintain this life style that we are accustomed to. Anthropologists are trying to get a better understanding of how we affect our natural ecosystem from the past so that our culture can be sustained for advancement. No matter what culture we live in, or what part of the world we call home, we can all benefit from the knowledge of all civilizations from the past and present.