Decoding Culture- Sociology

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  • Topic: Culture, The Culture, People's Republic
  • Pages : 8 (3039 words )
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  • Published : August 19, 2012
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Decoding culture
What objects and behaviors are symbolic in this case? What are the important rituals in which these symbols are used? Are there any special languages or vocabularies, verbal or non verbal, which are used in this case? Upon entering a culture, the first thing one is likely to see is the symbols, objects or behaviors that convey a specific meaning to the people who share a culture. Though the focus is on the Mien culture, it is important to recognize that this case is about two cultures: the Mien culture and Linda's culture of science and medicine. Decoding cultures in this case requires, therefore, comparing and contrasting these two cultures. The case, however, doesn't show us in very much detail what the symbols, stories, and worldviews of the two cultures are. The cure used in the Mien culture is a ceremony, and the objects used have symbolic value. The story about transferring the pain to the wall conveys the idea that non-material things such as pain can be physically moved from one place to another. Lying at the heart of Mien culture is animism, the view that the world is inhabited by spirits that reside in things, including people. Within a culture, symbolic objects are treated as special, things that are out of the ordinary. Often, they are used in rituals, culturally meaningful pattern of behavior. The case, however, doesn't show us in very much detail what the symbols, stories, and worldviews of the two cultures are. The cure used in the Mien culture is a ceremony, and the objects used have symbolic value. The story about transferring the pain to the wall conveys the idea that non-material things such as pain can be physically moved from one place to another. Lying at the heart of Mien culture is animism, the view that the world is inhabited by spirits that reside in things, including people. In this story the main ritual used is the treatment done on Marie for a case of 'Gusia mun toe'. In this specific social setting 'Gusia mun toe' is an illness seen among babies or in other words 'Mien'(Origin from Laos) babies. It is assumed to cause restlessness, agitation, constipation, and loss of appetite in babies. The cure was to dip a pulp in pork fat and then lit it. Eventually that flame is quickly passed over burning the child slightly over the abdomen area. Linda’s culture of medicine also has its symbols (white walls, sterile places, various tools) , rituals (the examination) and worldviews (science and the scientific method).Also words like 'Gusia mun toe', ' Mien' are unique to the culture of Laos. Since language is another way to see symbols. Those words mentioned above can enable people to communicate with each other belonging to that same social group. These unfamiliar buzzwords may sound unusual and strange to us but for the people familiar with that language these parts of language and vocabulary are a important symbolic component in their culture and existence.

What stories and narratives do people tell in this case? Who are the central characters in these stories? What are the plots? What do the stories attempt to show? Are there slogan or mottoes that are heard over and over again? Are there scripts guiding action? The central characters in his case are Linda Gorman and Mrs. Saeto. They act as a link between two cultures. The plot of the story is cultural sensitivity. The stories include the time when Mrs. Saeto explains about their spiritual belief via the ritual performed to cure Marie (the baby). The cure was made from a string of inner pulp from a special reed that her mother in law got which was lightly dipped in pork fat. She then passed the flame quickly over the skin of Marie’s abdomen in the area where the pain is worse. The flame raised a blister that popped. The blister meant that the illness was not related to spiritual causes. If the blister has not developed, they will have to shaman to conduct a ritual.

What is of value in this culture? What are the important...
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