Soc ∙ Ms. Wiley ∙ Body Modification & Culture, d name: Body Modification Background



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SOC ∙ Ms. Wiley ∙ Body Modification & Culture, D___ Name:

Body Modification Background: 205693384_a62a68dfcd1

  • Body modification is the deliberate altering of physical appearance. It has taken place in all cultures throughout time and space.

  • Modifications can be done for cultural reasons (a rite of passage, to display group membership, affiliation, or social class, etc.), aesthetics, religious reasons, to create body art, or for self-expression.

  • In some cultures the modification is an individual choice, while in others there are may be serious consequences for refusing to take part in the tradition.

  • Modifications typically cause pain, though the pain inflicted can vary greatly. (Example: FGM vs. ear piercing)

ETHNOCENTRISM VS. CULTURAL RELATIVISM

Ethnocentrism

Cultural Relativism

Definition

The practice of judging all other cultures by one’s own culture. Ethnocentrism is based on the assumption that one’s own way of life is superior to all others and may result in derogatory stereotypes that ridicule others. Traditionalists are more likely to be ethnocentric, as they believe in universal morality.


The belief that the behaviors and customs of any culture must be viewed and analyzed by the culture’s own belief set, social structure, standard of beauty, etc. Cultural relativism encourages respect and understanding for cultural difference and diversity but can also result in the acceptance of [perceived] human rights violations (e.g. FGM). Progressives are more likely to be cultural relativists, as they tend to believe that morality is relative and depends on the culture.

View Towards Body Modification of other Cultures

If one is ethnocentric, they will tend to view the customary body modifications of other cultures as inferior to those that their own culture endorses and sometimes immoral.

If one supports cultural relativism, they will tend to view the customary body modifications of other cultures as logical, relative to the standards of each particular culture.


Body Modification Examples: corsetcompcorsetpulling

  • Long necks (Kayan people of Burma and Northern Thailand)

  • Breast ironing (a West African practice; prevalent today in Cameroon)

  • Foot binding (common in China for centuries up until mid-20th century)

  • Lip plate (common in Africa and Americas since ancient times; some African tribes continue the practice today)

  • Human tooth sharpening (common in Africa and Americas since ancient times; some African and Asian peoples continue the practice today)

  • Corsets (common in Europe and America until 19th century)

  • Teeth straightening—braces (common today in the developed world)

  • Cosmetic plastic surgery (common today in the developed world)

  • Tanning (common today in America)

Your Task:

  • Choose three of the examples above and research the following:



Body Modification Example:

Summary, A-D

Ethnocentric View

Cultural Relativist View










Your Reaction/View




Body Modification Example:

Summary, A-D

Ethnocentric View

Cultural Relativist View










Your Reaction/View




Body Modification Example:

Summary, A-D

Ethnocentric View

Cultural Relativist View










Your Reaction/View





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