LGBT Rights in the West

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1. “Politics is . . . very much a matter of struggling over meaning, not just of physical coercion.” Discuss, using examples.

If we take a look throughout history or study governments today across the globe, we would see power being used and enforced in a multitude of different ways. For many years the use of physical coercion was the method of exhibiting power over a people, yet today if a leader wants to remain in power, they often employ a number of different strategies. Hegemony, for example, utilizes the power of persuasion to stay in rule by offering mutual accommodations. Governments and rulers are much more likely to remain in power when offering their subordinates accommodations like schooling, housing, and healthcare, as opposed to ruling by force.

Those who struggle with their governments or those in power, fight over meanings. If we look at the U.S. today and the many civil rights movements that have taken place, we can understand the power that meaning has in human life. LGBT rights in the west have been an area for contention and are a prime example of the struggle over meaning between rulers and subordinates. People often accept rule or leadership as long as their needs are being met. The issues that are important to them must be recognized and they must feel like they are being taken care of.

2. What is meant by the claim that consumption needs are culturally shaped? Discuss and illustrate with examples.

Consumption is the economic activity referring to the using of material goods necessary to sustain human life. These goods generally consist of food, shelter, water, etc. and for some time, little research had been done to understand consumption any further than covering our basic needs. As researchers began exploring the different aspects of consumption, they came to find interesting patterns that are described as the internal explanation, external explanation, and the cultural explanation.

Influenced by evolution and ecology, anthropologists determined that species adapt to their particular ecozones by creating an econiche, surviving off the available plants and animals. From this idea, consumption needs are dictated by the surrounding ecology. Although, most groups of people do not utilize their surrounding environment fully. Instead, they cultivate the goods they deem acceptable and since ideas of acceptable goods changes from group to group we can see how culture may play a big role in the decisions made.

3. Compare matrilineality with patrilineality. How are they similar? How are they different? Give examples.

Matrilineage is the tracing of one’s heritage through the women in a family group. Alternatively, Patrilineality groups are linked through male heritage as in the United States. While patrilineality is the most common way around the world that groups trace lineage, matrilineage is not without its benefits. Typically, in a patrilineality, daughters will leave the home of their fathers and join another man’s family group. Matrilineages act in the same way, having the sons born to mothers leaving their homes and joining their wife’s family. Often times societies that trace lineage through women are matriarchal in nature. All goods and lands are transferred to family through the women, who maintain a considerable amount of power.

4. Why is ethnicity sometimes racialized?

As with many instances of discovering the origins of racism, looking to colonialism can answer the question of why is ethnicity sometimes racialized? During the period of colonialism, light-skinned Europeans dominated less powerful groups, often forcing them to take a subordinate role. As they gained power and dominion, the ideology of race emerged.

While in anthropology race has no scientific foothold, many light-skinned colonizers clung to the idea of white superiority. Creating stereotypes and associations with what they deemed “weaker races”, they forced a stigma that we still have not overcome to this day. Ethnicity may not be the same concept as race, although, it is often used as a means of discrimination.

5. Discuss cultural imperialism, cultural hybridity, and cosmopolitanism. How do anthropologists define these concepts, how are they related, and why are they important in contemporary anthropological discussions of globalization?

Cultural imperialism is the concept that some cultures are dominant or dominate smaller cultures. First used during the cold war, anthropologists used this term to try to understand how some cultures seem to extend past their own borders and infiltrate smaller societies. McDonald’s, for example, was created and made popular in the U.S., yet today it can be found at the far ends of the globe influencing those outside the U.S. This concept gave many anthropologists a moment’s pause, however, as cultural imperialism neglected the idea of human agency. Cultural hybridity on the other hand speaks of the borrowing cultures use between societies without losing their own identities. This idea was much more lenient in understanding human’s ability to borrow from other cultures while maintaining their own, yet it did little to determine how much borrowing a culture can do before it becomes a separate entity all on its own.

Cosmopolitanism alternatively, is an individual’s ability to feel at ease in one or more cultural settings. These ideas are important in discussions of globalization because they force us to recognize the idea of human agency and that culture is not a fixed point forever unchanged, but a fluid concept that changes according to those influencing it.

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LGBT Rights In The West. (2022, Apr 25). Retrieved July 19, 2024 , from

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