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Who We Are, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Abstract

The current research explores two anthropological issues: the study of humankind and condition of a family. Study of humankind attempts to link various perspectives to explain who we are, including human nature, essence, development, and culture. In anthropology, condition of a family describes the living conditions and the nature and level of social interactions among family members. It can be measured using dimensions such as relational functioning, soundness, and vitality.

Who We Are

Anthropology or study of humankind attempts to link various perspectives to explain who we are. It uses a holistic approach in a bid to understand human nature, that is, the characteristics and behavior that makes us human or different from other organisms in nature. The study of humankind integrates genetic makeup, history, observed, culture, essence of humans, and culture to explain development of human nature. According to Nanda and Warms (2010), it tries to explain human nature as those qualities and characteristics of humanity that result when human beings (as organisms) adjust to their environment through an intricate interaction between culture and biology. In an effort to understand clearly the aspect of human nature, the study takes variety of anthropological approaches.

As Wolf (1997) contends, philosophical anthropology seeks to explain human nature by examining what it means to a human being, that is, essence of humans. It tries to explore the meaning of being human, his destiny, decorum, and free will. The philosophical study of humankind holds that human essence is that part of human being that makes him able to make meaningful accounts regarding the order of the universe as well as a sincere account of life.

Cultural anthropology on the other hand relies on culture to explain the means used by humans to adjust to the environments and identify sense in their life. It asserts that culture involves human concepts and behavior learnt through interactions with the environment. Unlike human nature that remains unchanged, culture varies considerably from one place to another or from time to time. It includes an aspect of development, where factors such as technology and social interactions influence the culture practiced in a particular area at a particular period in time. Thus, the study of humanity tries to understand human culture by looking at its origins and development. It explains the fundamental ideologies that underscore different human cultures as well as specific cultural dynamics. It also offers explanations concerning the means through which various social groups or communities adjust to their surroundings (Nanda & Warms, 2010).

One such means of adjustment is human development, which anthropologists believe occurs through interaction of culture and genetic characteristics. In the path of human evolution, various influences on the man’s environment have led humans to develop various mechanisms, including genetic developments, to adjust to such changes. For example, industrial revolution and technological advancements have made humans leave the old ways of doing things and learn new techniques to help them cope with the developments around them.

Condition of a Family

In anthropology, condition of a family describes the living conditions and the nature and level of social interactions among family members. According to Cigoli and Scabini (2006), there are various measures that can be used to assess a family condition, including vitality, poverty, soundness, and relational functioning. A family is said to be in good condition if the relational functioning among its members is effective. A family’s sense of well-being depends, to a large extent, on the condition of the interactions among its members, that is, on relational patterns between partners, parents and children, and relatives and friends. Problems within these interactions can negatively affect the effectiveness the relational functioning and in turn, the condition of the family. Effective relational functioning results when a relational unit within the family is not distressed and therefore, not threatened with dissolution.

Vitality explains the ability of a family to survive amid environmental influences and happenings. According to Cigoli and Scabini (2006), the condition of a family is a consequence of intergenerational exchange, and its continued vitality largely depends on whether the exchanges are generative or antigenerative. Generative exchanges normally lead to a family with vitality, that is, one which is able to survive throughout generations. Such exchanges are characterized with strong respect for each member, cultural traditions, and other factors that differentiate one family from another. Thus, parents pass family values to their children, children to the children, and this chain continues for generations to come. Eventually, the family stands in a position to reduce the risks of losing their vitality under environmental influences and development.

Soundness can be used to describe the condition of family from various perspectives. As Haenn and Wilk (2006) argue, it can refer to social soundness, economic soundness, or cultural soundness. Social soundness explains the nature and extent of social interactions within a family unit. The economic soundness describes the extent to which a family stands in a position to meet its financial needs, including the basic life necessities such as food, shelter, and education. Cultural soundness measures how well a family enshrines its cultural beliefs and values. Therefore, condition of a family is regarded as sound if it meets all the various dimensions. It can be regarded as economically, socially, or culturally sound if it preserves its culture, it can meet its economic needs effectively, and it has an effective relational functioning. Otherwise, the condition is said to be unsound, implying a high likelihood of a dysfunctional family.

References

Cigoli, V., & Scabini, E. (2006). Family identity: Ties, symbols, and transitions. London: Routledge.

Haenn, N., & Wilk, R.R. (2006). The environment in anthropology: A reader in ecology, culture, and sustainable living. New York, NY: NYU Press.

Nanda, S., & Warms, R.L. (2010). Cultural anthropology. (10th ed.). Florence, KY: Cengage Learning.

Wolf, P.M. (1997). Dostoevsky’s conception of man: Its impact on philosophical anthropology. (50th ed.). Boca Raton, FL: Universal-Publishers.

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