Materialism

Bonus Question:
What’s the deal with this picture?
sacred-cow
Other Questions to ponder:
Fried believes that the force that drives political evolution is the control over production and distribution of resources. He proposes an evolutionary model Stage A (Egalitarian Organization) -> Stage B (Rank Society) -> State C (Stratification society)-> State D (State Society).

His observations have been made but no one has been able to follow the model as it says in all stages. Instead a variety of unrelated societies are selected and each represent one or another of the several transitions. Why has his observation not been able to be proven as a theory. What elements or considerations did he miss?

Bourgois is considered Neo-Marxist in his writing he covers conflict and tensions between classes topics found in Neo-Marxism.

In comparison of Marx study of subjects and their relation to work is demonstrated in Bourgois’ analysis of street level crack dealers.

Is the environment and lack of acceptance a excuse or turn out of certain individuals who seek drugs and illegal activities to survive ends meet?

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Comments

  • Kaleb Greer  On March 11, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I do believe that the environment does play a crucial role in the use of illegal drugs and any other illegal activity. However, I do not believe it to be an excuse for drug use. The person might have pressures from the society around them, but it is still a conscious decision. Though after the choice is made, trying to stop the illegal act the environment can impede on the individual. The environment and the situations it permits and creates is why many individuals relapse, going back into the illegal activity they were trying to rid themselves of. All of that though is dependent on the individuals first act of doing the illegal activity.

  • Kaleb Greer  On March 11, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Regarding the bonus question the cow is getting ready or already participating in Gopastami. It is another know as the cow’s day and is a festival were they worship the scared cow. They paint up the cow and offer it food. Cow is a sign of wealth, selflessness, and life in Hindu religion. The picture of Harris is due to the fact he wrote Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches, which says that cows are only worship and not killed due to the multiple uses they get out of the cow compared to the few they would get if they killed it.

  • jannet1313  On March 11, 2014 at 10:47 am

    When people come to America they have this idea of how life is going to be different from where they came from. They leave there families behind and homes in search of a better opportunity. When arriving they are see how difficult everything is. Drugs bring a form of immediate wealth making the “American Dream” a reality. I do think that culture plays a huge role in this act because our society doesn’t care to lead by example. We have government and big corporations committing crime. This doesn’t justify their actions but it makes it easier to commit them.

  • jumpinhare  On March 11, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Marvin Harris who is depicted on this cow’s forehead has written on the subject, he
    suggests that India’s sacred cow is a rational cultural adaptation worth more to the Indian people alive than dead, because a single cow can be extraordinarily useful over and over to India’s population.
    To us India’s reverence to the cow may seem odd or wasteful, especially when you see pictures of starving Indian people with cows in the same picture.

    Marvin found the most Hindu is against killing cattle even though governmental agencies find the vast herds a drain on resources and a liability. The domestic beast of burden is an animal that fulfills many needs of the Indian people.

    Milk from cattle is used yogurt and ghee, which is used to flavor spicy Indian food. Bulls are valued because of their strength and ability to pull plows through field. Cattle help with harvest by crushing through cut wheat and rice helping to release the kernel from the hull. A team of oxen enables farmers to get product o market. Cattle produce dung which can be used to fertilize the fields of India and keep the fires burning in the hearths of India’s homes.

  • jumpinhare  On March 11, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Yes the environment and lack of acceptance is an excuse for some to seek drugs and illegal activities to survive or simply to escape. There are always pressures on individuals some have coping skills and some do not. Environment is crucial in developing character and coping skills but not the only indicator. There are many individuals that grow up with the same pressures and challenges but make different choices. I think illegal activities is just easier choice.

  • Art M  On March 12, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Fried wasn’t able to prove his theory because he wasn’t able to show that all cultures would transition in a way that he said it would. The examples he used to show the different stages of society would either show a society in its current state or how a society changed from one stage or another but not follow all the steps, either skipping steps or going up from one step or another.

    Another reason why his theory doesn’t work is because not all societies follow the same rules that Fried mentioned. An example would be of some California Indian communities in Northern California from before contact with Europeans that lived a rank society but for the most part were egalitarian and still used hunting and gathering as a means of subsistence.

  • CB  On March 16, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    It depends what type of culture you live in. I know some people that would make a crazy face if they were offered to sell illegal drugs for extra money. But there are many people out there who would do it for the extra money to help ends meet. The American Dream doesn’t happen to all people so I could see how this would be appealing to some people. I have a family friend who took in a teenage boy because his family were not the best people to be around. But this boys mother was still in contact with him and helped him set himself up as an illegal drug dealer for a little while. He loved it because he actually had some money to spend but once he was caught, it was bad news. Now that he is living with the different family now, he has learned that not everyone is like that. So he is following the footsteps of his adopted family now instead of his biological family. My point is, culture contributes a huge part in all of this.

  • kimico  On March 16, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I believe environment plays some role in what motivates people to do the things that they do, including drug use and sales. As the “Other” It would be quite difficult to assimilate into society and rather than continue to swim against the current by acquiring legal employment it might be easier and more lucrative to sell drugs. Addiction is a slippery slope so at some point this added element makes it even more difficult to seek out a different way of life. This also makes it problematic to determine where to draw the line between environment and self-accountability. While the environment in which a person is raised effects a person’s outlook on life and therefore the decisions they make we must also take into account the concept of self-determination and (as cliche as it may be) that ultimately we are responsible for our own actions.

    Marvin Harris’s photo situated on the cow’s forehead reflects Harris’s work studying India’s sacred cow. I find it interesting that Harris’s face is in the position of the third eye, or the 6th chakra that is responsible for the sixth sense and internal intuitions. This could mean nothing but I’m determined to find some connection between the two.

  • jenise  On March 18, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I do believe that the environment plays a role, if we are counting the illegal drug trade as a sub culture then it fits the model of humans using culture as a way to adapt to their environment. But what about the people who are not in that environment but who still are a part of the drug trade, if you take two people on opposite ends of the spectrum, (for example a rich businessman who uses cocaine at his own leisure and always has money to spare; and a person struggling to survive who spends all their money on drugs) then do we lose that “subculture”? or is drug use the single and only characteristic of the subculture?

  • K  On March 20, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I agree that there is a culture of “street life” because of the environment and lifestyle that surrounds it. People who are raised in that environment and who are exposed to these same issues, such as crime and substance abuse, have explained that they picked up where their peers or parents left off because it was all that they knew. These people are then stereotyped into all being “bad people” and lumped into one large group. The world is not a dichotomy. You cannot say these are bad people and these are good. Later these people who have been labeled as bad crime people end up blaming their issues and life on their environment because they adapted to the world around them.

  • Peter  On March 23, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Culture is affected by environment, hence you have ‘ecological anthropologist’, who study culture adaptation to environment. I read Harris book “Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture”, and he does have a lot of validity to his points. He uses great example to why people do the thing they do, and quiet possibly it was affected by environment that culture had to adapt to in order to live. Also, culture is a share and learn process, and that, all culture will pass the knowledge to the new generation and possibly has lost the TRUE meaning of the reasoning why they do the things they do.

  • Simara Vongthongdy  On March 24, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    In our society, we believe everyone should be held accountable for their action. People are a product of their society. Society has a huge impact on how individuals make their income. As for the drug dealer example, I believe that the system failed them. They have to provide for their family, and most of them do not want to live off of the system. They make their money in way that is a considered taboo, but they are doing what they know how to do. Society is partly to blame to why people break laws, because they make it difficult for people who don’t speak English or accustomed to American values.

  • PT  On April 29, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    There are many factors can cause illegal activities among individuals. The environment can play a role but there could also be other factors that go with the environment that can enforce the individual to commit the illegal actions. When reading this blog, this reminded me of prohibition in the US. As regarding on turning into illegal actions, it could be because they have no other choice and that is the only way of living, or it could be that they just want to fit in with individuals around them.

  • mirrferr  On May 1, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Like it has been mentioned before, drugs are a way for people in dreary situations to perhaps look for a way out. Of course, not necessarily in a healthful or legal way, but something that they can benefit from by being provided a release. I am in no way condoning drug use, but just understanding where that type of thinking comes from. Any type of illegal activity can yield a high reward, at a very large cost however. If someone is living in a low income area where drug dealers flourish and prosper, with not only their own family of 4 to provide for but their own parents and perhaps siblings as well, they often turn to these illegal activities to make ends meet. It is a lot easier and faster to make enough profit that they can survive, especially if they are already in that culture.

  • mec  On May 16, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I think that the environment can have a great influence on those who seek drugs and illegal activities to survive ends meet. But I do not think it is the only determining factor behind those individuals who make these decisions. If it were, then everyone of a certain environment would turn out the same way. Although environment is one factor, other factors such as individual family situations, ethnic backgrounds and peer relations (such as is youth who are still in school) are important things to consider when discussing individuals who engage in illegal activities.

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