Foragers Reciprocity In America

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− Inequality − We live in an unequal society, stratified by wealth − a few people get a lot of the total income, a lot of people split up the remainder − Graph of US wealth distribution in 2005: − The richest 20% of the population owns about 85% of all the wealth in the country − The next-richest 20% owns about 10% of all the wealth − Leaving less than 5% of the wealth of the country to be divided among the remaining 60% of the population − The poorest 40% (not far from half of the population!) owns so little of the national wealth that it is not even visible on the graph. − Some estimates as of 2009 suggest that the richest 1% of Americans hold almost 50% of all American wealth − Source: Norton and Ariely, “Building…show more content…
are not expected to pay back an equivalent amount, as they would with balanced reciprocity − generalized reciprocity, in turn seems to work best with, or even require, egalitarian social organization − minimal inequality, minimal hierarchy − Most other kinds of societies do not live in equality. Why not? − hierarchy has NOT been typical for humans, who have been foragers for 98% of our existence (or more, depending on how you count) − so how did this aberration of hierarchical society come to be? − the historical process is a question for archaeologists − the answer is not clear − but large, settled groups were apparently a necessary step − and with few possible exceptions, these generally appear to have been possible only with farming to support them − how is social inequality or hierarchy socially constructed? − that is, how is it maintained and instilled in each new member born into the…show more content…
− Is it necessary? − Constructing hierarchy − Constructing inequality through ideology − ideology: a set of beliefs and values − typically, that are a worldview, or that explain a worldview − often (not always) characteristic of a culture: shared ideas about how the world works, and shared values about what is good, bad, appropriate, etc. − Most or all societies have an ideology that naturalizes their social organization − makes it seem normal, reasonable, necessary, natural − ideologies are emic − they are ideas that the people in a society have about their own society − how they see their own cultural world − Some societies have ideology of equality − such as the Ju/’hoansi − most societies societies today have ideologies of inequality Intro to Cultural Anthro S 2011 / Owen: Social and economic hierarchies p. 5 − that is, they have an ideology that naturalizes inequality − makes differences in status, prestige, wealth, power, etc. seem normal, right, natural, inevitable − that allow people to construct and think about ranked categories in ways that

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