Throughout the duration of this course, I have found that one of the principal linking factors from unit to unit were the structures of difference that pervade all societies and cultures. Most notably, I have had my attention drawn to the norms of American culture that I had taken for granted as universally accepted, and now I understand American culture in a more anthropological sense where I can identify the apparent structures of difference. Specifically, the housing and job markets being skewed in favor of white peoples, the pervasiveness of drugs as an alternative to traditional work, and the fact that America leads the globalizing world and leaves ex-colonized countries behind are the systems of difference that I have targeted about America throughout the weeks of this course.
We learned in Week 2 during Video 2.2, “White: A Memoir in Color” that American society is set up unequally between different races. We know that race is culturally created and culturally specific, so it must be noted that American society sets people of the white race above all others when it comes to getting a job or getting a house. In the movie it is explained that Hispanic, Asian, and especially black families get worse rates for their houses on top of being de facto segregated. Clearly, race is a defining system of differentiation.
In Week 5 we learned from article 5.2, “Poverty at Work: Office Employment and the Crack Alternative” that America’s economic past in manufacturing has had a major impact in forcing minority workers into illegal drug selling. In short, the decline of manufacturing jobs in America has forced different employment opportunities for minority workers in office work or in drug work. Here, we can see that American society operates on a level of education for employment–something not readily available to all minority communities–and it acts as a system of difference for the work field that leads to unsavory activity within America.
Lastly, in Week 6 we learned in film 6.1, “Life and Debt” that America leads the world economy and therefore has the largest amount of votes in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Inter-American Development Bank. This place as a global elite has made American interests one of the largest, most over-arching generators of systems of difference between the world’s economies.
Overall, it was interesting to see that systems of difference were present in all the coursework we were presented with throughout this semester.