A Bortle – Week 7 – Final Reflections

Week 2, Systems of Difference was almost entirely about how cultures and society construct structures of difference. We like to construct things that we are “not”, a version of “us against them,” creating fractal divisions between cultures, race, and any other differences we can find in people. One of the largest cultural divisions is between race, which as anthropologists have proven, is a social construct and not an actual biological difference. This emphasis on race and of “blood” lineage is a social construct used around the world to restrict certain populations as well as assign them as a subordinate group. There was also a tendency to use linear progression, as Lewis Henry Morgan did, to develop frameworks of human development.

These frameworks of human development and structures of difference tie right into the frameworks of Week 5, Systems of exchange. Societies were classified into five main groups based on what features they presented. All communities, however, were based on their need to use and exploit different resources. The five categories that people are categorized into are hunter gatherers, horticulturalists, agriculturalists, pastoralists , and industrialists. These categories are based off of how the members exploit the resources, technology and how they used it, if they were in control of the reproduction of their resources, if they had animals and how they were used, amount and density of the population, how labor is divided, as well as any government set up. All of these are structures of difference.

Globalization, as discussed in week 6, is also related to structures of difference between world powers such as the United States, Great Britain, and Japan and countries that were colonies previously, such as Jamaica, much of south Africa and South America. Countries such as the United States want the most profit possible and part of that is selling more of their good than competitors at low prices as well as getting the item made as cheaply as possible. Many factories are built in third world countries where labor is cheap. The laborers often suffer in unsafe working conditions and get paid pennies on the hour. The difference of how globalization affects those in third world countries versus those in first world countries is astounding.


One thought on “A Bortle – Week 7 – Final Reflections

  1. The author of the blog talks about the different structures constructed by the society in order to differentiate amongst people. The author mentions the social structure of race as a major instrumental structure in the differentiation of individuals within a society or community. These differences in some ways tend to determine how someone is generally perceived. I do agree with what the author suggests, because evidence according to lecture 2.1. states that race is not typically supported by biology. Thus leading to a misinterpretation of an individual based on their physical traits alone. Moreover, the author also mentions another structure which divides people into subsistence groups based on how they exploit the natural resources available to them. I do agree to a certain extent with the author, on the fact that a common and important activity such as the exploitation of natural resources can lead to some differentiation. Although this differentiation will also be mainly a function of the time period, since as time passes certain types of subsistence systems die off. Hence, there could be a time in the near future where only industrialists and agriculturalists are left.

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