Summary of “Unity in Diversity”
In their article, “Unity in Diversity,” Donald Light and Suzanne Keller explain how all cultures share similarities in their daily lives, but the details differ for each culture. George Peter Murdock, an anthropologist, shares over 60 cultural universals that are the behavior patterns all societies need in order to survive, such as social status, marriage, body adornments, religious rituals, organization, protection, and sexual taboos. The details of behavior depend on environments. For example, Aztecs did not use the wheel in their mountainous environment because they were not useful. The authors add that the cultures must adapt, or adjust, to their environment in order to survive. For example, the Hausa women do not sleep with their husbands while they are breastfeeding because they do not want to get pregnant and ruin their milk for the child who is feeding. Furthermore, anthropologists and sociologists explain how no culture’s behaviors are good or bad, right or wrong in themselves; it all depends on the culture itself. This is called cultural relativity. However, many cultures are ethnocentric, that is they think or believe that their culture is better than others. The authors also bring up the different values of each culture which are the things the culture holds important. For example, the Tangu value equivalence; there is no winner in competition. While the United States values winning; there are always winners and losers. Moreover, cultures have different norms, expected behaviors of a culture; norms come from values. The authors conclude explaining how norms and values can conflict. For example, a rugby team had to eat parts of dead people for survival after a plane crash left them stranded on top of a mountain for 69 days.
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