“Pop Tarts” vs “Rock Gods” in the United States

I can just picture Harold Conklin now, doing field work in amphitheaters and arenas all across the country trying to determine the appeal of “rock gods” and “pop tarts” in American youth.  Through discussions and interviews with concert-goers, Conklin might deduce that the two phenomena are admired for completely separate reasons.  This he would be able to tell by the words that each concert-goer used to describe their most beloved band/artist.  At an Allman Brothers Band concert, for example, he might encounter descriptors like: skilled, driving beats, insane vocals, soulful, wailing guitars, friendly atmosphere (very mellow to say the least), and rockin’ (of course).  On the other hand, at a Britney Spears concert, he might hear descriptions like: a great dancer, hott or cute (from the dutiful fathers/boyfriends that were dragged along), danceable, easy to relate to, and pretty voice.  I think that from the choice of words used to describe each respective concert experience, Conklin would be able to determine why, generally speaking, teenage boys wish to emulate “rock gods” whereas teenage girls wish to emulate “pop tarts” (seriously, i mean generally).  He might conclude that this is because boys tend to rebel and many play rock instruments(and the fact that “rock gods” are usually surrounded by “groupies” does not hurt matters either) while girls want to be attractive to boys and have fun dancing.  This I would attribute to traditional American gender values and norms, using a little of Tyler’s cognitive anthropology.  These gender roles perform the function of organizing certain behaviors and activities in different ways for males and females in our society.  While not an absolute, I believe I am justified in noting this.  In a sense, these trends are existent because each respective group was raised to like those aspects of music and performance.  The part that throws a monkey wrench in this whole string of thought is that there are so many exceptions, (I personally know several women rockers and, unfortunately, some men who love “pop tarts.”), so for now I am just writing them off as “anomalies.”


A sample Exam

Hi, all,

I promised a sample exam, as if we were having a midterm, and I just plumb forgot.

Here it is – available for those who actually look at the blog 🙂

University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Spring 2010

SOCA 302 001

Anthropological Theory – Sample Midterm Exam

Instructions for Exam

  1. Remember, I will choose the final two questions out of these.
  2. Your answers need to be complete, comprehensive, and fully articulated. That’s the downside of you getting the test questions ahead of time. I expect well-thought-out answers. The upside is that if this were a take-home exam, you’d have to have page citations and I don’t expect that here.
  3. You can expect to spend at least an hour writing this exam – possibly longer. Don’t rush. Be patient. Trust your own insights and knowledge. You did a lot of work in this class, so let it show.
  4. I will grade your exam on the basis of:
    1. Clarity – could I understand your points? That means you need to re-read your answer as you go along to make sure that your discussion follows some sort of logical order.
    2. Accuracy – you have to have really understood what each theorist said, at least as far as is possible.
    3. Insight – do you see how things are connected, do you see how they are the same and how they are different?

 Test Questions:

  1. Consider how anthropology theorists deal with ‘culture,’ as in the concept of culture. Some directly address it, some do not; some emphasize it, some denigrate it. Compare and contrast Durkheim’s and Harris’s use of the culture concept.
  2. What is the goal of anthropological explanation? For some, it was to find shared humanity (universalism) and for others it was to explain cultural difference (particularism). Discuss the different ways anthropological theorists have dealt with this problem. I suggest focusing on the differences among the 19th century evolutionists and/or Durkheim compared to the Boasians or Levi-Strauss.
  3. Should anthropologists try to explain change (adaptation) or continuity (tradition)? Why or why not? Be sure to answer with reference to actual theorists read in this class.
  4. Consider what Marx contributed to theory since the 1940s. You can consider White, Steward, Wolf, Harris, Fried, Rappaport, etc., but you must consider two of them. Be specific and detailed. It’s not just power, for instance, but HOW they conceptualize power (etc.).