Social scientist, Gregory Bateson explained that; “without context, words and actions have no meaning”. Consider the simple action of a handshake, what does it mean? Well first, one must consider the context in which the performance of a handshake is being delivered. The context, above all, has the power to alter even shift the meaning of this simple gesture. Thereby rendering what was once thought of as a “simple” gesture, into more of an ambiguous process. In order to have an understanding of anything one must know the history behind it. In this speech, I will outline some common theories as to the genesis of the handshake. Additionally, I will attempt to explain different types of handshakes and the psychology behind each particular shake. Finally, I will explore some general circumstances/contexts in which one would find an individual actively engaging in handshaking. Gandhi said, “you can’t shake hands with a clinched fist”. II. Body:
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact inception of the handshake as were most events that occurred before written history. It is said that the handshake born out of mistrust rather than general admiration for another. 1. According to some historians, the handshake was developed hundreds of years ago in England. During medieval times, knights utilize a handshake to communicate with one another that each was unarmed. Back then, “Weapons were often concealed in the left sleeve so shaking was done with the left hand. As more people began to travel without weapons it became common to shake with the right hand.” 2. In his book, The Principles of Sociology Herbert Spencer offers his suggestion of the origin of the handshake. According to Spencer, two Arab men meeting in the dessert “reached for the others hand to kiss it in greeting. However, it is an insult to have your hand kissed by another individual, so both men try to withdraw from the lips of the other man. The end...
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