Culture and Personality

Thoughts on Mead

Many criticized Margaret Mead’s work by saying it was “too flowery” or that she was only reporting the details that she wanted. Now, of course, I was not there so I could not testify whether she omitted details or if maybe she was seeing something that others had not. Mead’s analysis on the social and gender roles of the Arapesh caused some drama. She reported that males and females held similar roles and were both important. To our culture at the time, it was fairly clear that males had roles that females couldn’t do and the same went vice versa. Ethnocentrism wouldn’t be a surprising product of this news. We naturally compare something foreign to ourselves in order to try to understand and, unfortunately, this can often lead to irritation and feelings of superiority.

I can also understand why the way Mead wrote bothered other anthropologists, however, her more-casual approach made her work more inviting to the general public. I would think this would be beneficial to anthropology because it would get their research “out there”. What is the research and data collected worth if no one knows about it? Non-academic individuals probably don’t seek out Anthropological journals in their free time so when you write your results in terms the general public can understand, everyone will benefit. She knew that in order to change how her society thought, she was going to have to write to themImage

Mead worked hard, probably much harder than any male anthropologist would ever have to. Her work will always be influential and will always be criticized because of its pioneering qualities. As a professional, she’s a hero and definitely someone to look up to. She helped bring anthropology to normal, everyday people. That effort is truly important because if we can educate ourselves, we can better ourselves and grasp the idea of what it truly means to be human.




2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Mead

  1. Heather M. says:

    I loved Mead. And Benedict. But I agree that it was very clever of Mead to write to a general audience rather than just a purely academic one. I’m glad she did what she did to basically make Anthropology public. Perhaps more will follow her example (I suppose we kind of are!).

  2. Amanda Sailors says:

    I also really like Mead and Benedict and I’m grateful that they lead the way into a professional field that accepts women. I also read Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa over Spring Break and really enjoyed it.

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