PAPER 1 5
Somepeople do not respect the culture of others, which can make them seeas if a certain cultural practice is wrong for a certain group.However, it is critical to respect any culture and the culturalpractices of others because people tend to have different beliefsystems. The aim of this paper is to discuss sociologicalperspectives that emerge in the article, "Body Ritual Among theNacirema" written by Horace Miner.
"BodyRitual Among the Nacirema" is an article written by HoraceMiner. It describes the culture of the Americans in a special way. Asit describes the different facets associated with the American life,it tends to manipulate the reader into thinking of an uncivilizedtribe that either exist today or existed long ago. From the article,various sociological perspectives emerge the following paragraphsdiscuss these perspectives.
Oneof the sociological perspectives that emerge after reading thearticle written by Horace Miner, the issue of ethnocentrism isevident. Ethnocentrism entails judging another people’s culturebased on the values and standards of own culture. The world is adiverse place having various subcultures and cultures nevertheless,because different people take pride of their culture, respect forother people’s culture becomes lost. After reading the article, itis surprising how individual sociological imagination may bestretched in indicating that a seemingly dystopian society (Nacirema)strikes similarity to American society. Nacirema’s culture isalmost horrifying. The rituals and pains they need to undergo so asto have healthy and purified body are extreme and unexpected in thereaders’ eye. However, to Nacirema, it is perceived as a way oflife (Miner, 1956).
Anothersociological perspective that emerges by reading the article writtenby Horace Miner is the perspective of social solidarity. Socialsolidarity is where the belief system brings people together. Fromthe article, it is apparent that the belief system of the Naciremaholds them together. This is because they are depicted to hold thebody rituals according to their agreed ways. There seems to be nodisputes amidst them concerning the rituals, but mutual agreement andconsent guides them. The article points out that since the body isconsidered impure, women and men stick to even more developed kindsof cleansing rituals (Miner, 1956). This is an indication that womenand men of Nacirema together hold to their belief system withoutshowing any disagreements.
Culturalrelativism entails another sociological perspective that can wellrelate to the article written by Horace. Cultural relativism entailsthe tenet that a person needs to understand the activities andbeliefs of another individual in terms of the individual’s culture.That is to say, instead of judging a person’s activities andbeliefs on the ground of another culture, it is critical tounderstand the person’s activities and beliefs based on his/herculture. After reading the article, the reader needs not judge theactivities and beliefs of the Nacirema on his/her culture, but shouldtry to understand their activities on the basis of the Nacirema’sculture. It is not appropriate to view Nacirema people as beinguncivilized, but the reader needs to understand them and relate theiractivities to their culture. Through applying cultural relativism, itwould be feasible to respect the culture of the Nacirema people.
Besides,another perspective that emerges from the article entails the use ofthe social conflict theory. According to this theory, groups andindividuals tend to possess different levels of non-material andmaterial resources, where more powerful individuals or groups utilizetheir power so as to exploit the less powerful individuals. From thearticle, “listeners” (witch-doctors) are indicated to have thepower of exorcising devils, which lodge in the heads of individualsthat have been bewitched (Miner, 1956). This indicates that there isa difference amid a witch-doctor and a bewitched person on the groundof the power that the two possess. It is possible for thewitch-doctors to use their power in exploiting the bewitchedindividuals. Besides, the article indicates that parents have thepower of cursing their children. This may imply that parents may usetheir powers in exploiting children. On the other hand,interactionism entails another sociological perspective that emergesfrom the article written by Horace. Interactionism asks questionsconcerning the manner individuals enter in society, take roles, andengage in learning sets of values. This is the same way that Naciremado the article shows Nacirema people learning the values of theirsociety and sticking by them.
Thearticle "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” provides informationconcerning the cultural practices of the Nacirema people. Fromreading the article "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema"written by Horace Miner, different sociological perspectives can beassociated with the article. These sociological perspectives are as aresult of the reader making his or her inferences. The reader may usehis or her perceptions and own culture in trying to analyze theritual practices of the Nacirema people however, it is critical notto judge the practices of the Nacirema people since people havedifferent practices based on their culture. The sociologicalperspectives that can be associated with the article includeinteractionism, cultural relativism, social solidarity,ethnocentrism, and social conflict theory.
Miner,H. (1956). Body Ritual Among the Nacirema. AmericanAnthropologist,58 (3), 503-507.