D. Finley – Week 7 – Final Reflections

Over the weeks of taking this course, we learned about meaning making ties into each of our weekly topics. The three weekly assignments that I will be discussing that are connected to meaning making are systems of difference which deals with race, meaning making which dealt with things such as rituals, and lastly systems of relationships which focused on things such as gender identity, kinship, etc.

In week 2 systems of differences, we learned about how people conceive others based about their looks or their race. In the video, Race: The Power of an Illusion, it talks about how people prejudge someone, typically in a negative form without knowing them personally. It showed how people would stereotype someone based upon their race or ethnicity and this causes a lot of negativity. There was also a link named Sorting People by Race which is a game that sees if you can determine someone’s race just by seeing a picture of them.

In week 3 we learned about meaning making and how people in different cultures have rituals and other forms of ceremonies that typically is celebratory because of how much it means to them. There was a lecture titled, The Magic of Secrecy which talks about how in the old days in England, people practiced what they called magic and would experiment doing various rituals and ceremonies that they wanted to keep quiet from others.

In week 4 we learned about systems of relations and how people interact with  one another based upon their kinship. In the lecture, “Ties that connect: Marriage, Family, and Kinship,” it discusses how kinship plays a big role in connection with culture. It gives an example of how in some places, polygamy is considered legal and other places it is not and some cultures may agree with the idea but others see it as a negative thing.

Comparing all three weekly assignments together, they all tie into the overall concept of meaning making. What we learned in week 2 ties into meaning making because we see how to some people, race or ethnicity can really mean a lot to a person whether their background is known or not. An example of how people put an extra emphasis on race would be how some people look at Muslims or Arabic people as terrorists just based upon things that they may have seen in the media. In week 3,  we did an assignment about rituals which ties into meaning making because performing certain rituals shows a sense of meaning to someone or a group of people. Marriage is an example of a ritual that people perform when they want to create a bond with someone they love and it means a lot to those who are apart of it. Lastly in week 4 we learned about kinship, and things such as gender identity and how in one of the lectures they talked about polygamy. Tying that into meaning making, some cultures may consider polygamy to be a way of promoting family values, but to some it is looked upon as unholy.

2 thoughts on “D. Finley – Week 7 – Final Reflections

  1. D. Finley,

    As I wrote my post on systems of differences, I enjoyed your perspective on how meaning making has been identified in this course and strongly agree with the examples that you have set forth. Most evident, in my opinion, is the video Race: The Power of an Illusion, that really struck a note with me in regards to meaning making. After viewing the lecture and participating in the Sorting People by Race activity, I came to an understanding is strongly a social construct instead of a biological one. Being extremely relevant to the happenings of the world today, we see that race plays a major role in how people derive meaning towards their personal lives and also how they differentiate themselves from their peers. Although I believe that race serves importance in showing pride of who you are or how you identify yourself, I believe that race should not be used as a medium to construct power or hierarchy. By understanding the illusion of race, we can draw on the meaning of it’s construction and come to terms with something I realized during the activity – race is not an identifier, but rather a false title; in the end, we are all human.

  2. Finley,

    Great post. I really enjoyed the references and the explanations through each portion.

    I emphasized marriage and the involvement of kinship through each family and the importance of the rituals and there is so much that can be said. The connection through two humans in a certain region finds much meaning behind what their rituals entail. A hindu wedding has the groom repeat a promise of love three times. Then, the groom’s promises to the bride’s father which marks the end of the kanyadaan ritual in a Hindu wedding. In South Indian weddings, Kanyadaanam is a ceremony where the corner of the bride’s sari is tied to a scarf. Now, this is incredibly similar in the traditional Catholic wedding as the father of the bride walks the bride down the aisle to give away to the future groom.

    There are most definitely cultural differences in the world but there seems to be similarities in kinship and meanings of certain social structures.

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