Category Archives: Post-Industrial Society

RITES OF PASSAGE

All cultures have certain rites of passage among their population. A rite of passage is defined as “a ritual marking the symbolic transition from one social position to another“(Witt 88). Rites of passage can vary in importance. However they normally involve moving up into a new chapter of life. They are important to cultures and many young children think about the day where they can become a man/woman. In the United States, at the age of sixteen, most teenagers go through the act of getting their driver’s license.  Although after having your license for a while it just becomes a normal way of life, many young children fantasize about their sixteenth birthday so they can join the other adults on the road. Other important birthdays that are treated as rites of passage can be the eighteenth, twenty-first or fiftieth. When one turns eighteen, they have officially soared into the world of adulthood. The twenty-first birthday is when one can legally drink alcohol and the fiftieth birthday is one that many dread. The fiftieth birthday is a milestone of having reached the age of being a senior.

Not all rites of passage in the United States are birthdays, major life events can fall into this category as well. Graduation from high school or college is a passage into the next stage of life. Getting married for the first time and having a baby for the first time allows one to move into a new social status such as being a wife/ husband and a parent.

While reading of other culture’s rite of passage ceremonies, I found myself judging other cultures because of safety or health hazards. My display of ethnocentrism is how many people of the United States would act upon hearing of these events. In Vanuatu, men participate in a rite of passage called land diving. Once a male reaches the age of seven or eight and has been circumcised, they can partake in this event. These males climb on top of a ninety-eight foot tower. They tie vines to their ankles and jump. A good jump ends with the male’s head or shoulders touching the ground. However vines do not have the elastic qualities that bungee cords do, so a miscalculation in the length of the vine can end in serious injuries or death. During a boy’s first jump, his mother holds onto an item signifying his childhood, when he dives the mother throws the item away. This event is now becoming a tourist attraction for people to come see. However many experience culture shock and cannot believe the danger these men put themselves in.

In the Northwest Amazon, the Tukuna people have a rite of passage for young women that involve alienation. Once a young girl begins her menstruation period for the first time, she is forced into seclusion for four to twelve weeks. She is put in a chamber within the dwelling of the family that is constructed for this purpose. The girl is thought to be in danger of demons called the Noo while in this chamber. Near the end of this ritual, guests arrive in masks that allow them to become incarnations of the Noo. After this encounter with these “demons” the young girl stays within the chamber for another two days, she paints her body with black genipa dye for protection from the Noo. After the alienation is over, the young girl is surrounded by her relatives and led out into festivities where her family dances around her until dawn. At that time she is given a fire brand that she will throw at the Noo, breaking their power. The young girl has now safely entered into womanhood.

Even more extreme rites of passage can be found around the world, many of them involve circumcision or body mutilations. Although people of these cultures put themselves through great pain, the reward to become a man/woman is so great that cultures cherish these events and they have lasted through generations. Industrial and post-industrial societies tend not to have such violent acts as rites of passages. Rites of passages that are less extreme include ceremonies such as a Bar Mitzvah for Jewish boys transitioning into men. Whether extreme or not, each type of passage is important to the culture from which it comes from.

 

Works Cited

“10 Bizarre Rites Of Passage.” Listverse. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

“8 Interesting (And Insane) Male Rites of Passages From Around the World.” The Art of Manliness RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2013.

Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <http://listverse.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ayof-image-21_794222i-tm.jpg&gt;.

Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/patrimonio/patrimonio0901/patrimonio090100036/4174917-driver-license-identification-card.jpg&gt;.

Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <http://weddingcakes.simpleweddingdecorations.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/bride-and-groom wedding-cake-topper-2013.jpg>.

Witt, Jon. SOC 2012. Ed. Gina Boedeker. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. 88. Print.

POST-INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY

We live in a fast-paced world that only seems to be moving faster on a daily basis, and this phenomenon can be attributed primarily to the constant improvements in our technology. Only 40 years ago, things like personal computers and cellular telephones were just ideas floating around in the heads of scientists, inventors and engineers, only waiting to be realized. But now here we are in 2013, where it seems nearly everybody is using one of those items on a daily basis. Advances in technology have propelled the United States out of the industrial form of society to a post-industrial society. In other words, where as in the past our economic system was dependent on the use of machinery to generate goods and services, we now rely on technology and information to provide our outputs for income and progress. When examining the economic benefits that have come from our use of technology, the examples can be seemingly endless. Through computer systems we can manage practically every aspect of our society. Areas such as medicine, farming, manufacturing, education and travel have all benefitted tenfold from advances in technology to increase our productivity and efficiency. As extraordinary as all of these technological advances are, it is important to look at some of the diverse effects post-industrialization can have on society.

With the improvement of technology, the laborer or minimally qualified worker can become less and less relevant. In a best case scenario this can lead to a positive form of role exit, where the individual separates from their current position in society in the hopes of creating a new identity for themselves. An example of this would be an auto factory worker being offered a lump sum of money from the company to quit their position, and in turn taking the capital and enrolling in college or some form of higher education. In his 13th year as an assembly line worker for Cadillac Motors, my cousin Andrew was offered close to 2 years of salary to leave his position and he accepted. With the money he received, Andrew was able to go to college and get his nursing degree, which was a dramatic change from life on the assembly line. He enjoys his new career and embraces his new identity within the community. And while this is not typical, it does show how technological advancements can constructively affect workers with a limited skill set.

On the other hand, as employers seek out more qualified workers to hold positions of higher responsibility and choose to either outsource or limit the amount of entry level workers they employ, those who would have typically been able to gain employment are unable to. In this case they can be alienated due to the inability to meet certain expectations. This alienation can come from peers, employers, or even society as a whole. To combat estrangement, the under qualified may resort to resources less than desirable to make ends meet. Fortunately there are social programs to help those in need of developing the skills needed to “make it” in our society, but it is up to the individual to seek out and utilize those programs.

One interesting theory in regard to explaining post-industrialization, while not having appeared in this period, comes from sociologist Emile Durkheim. During the transition from agrarian to industrial society, Durkheim observed what he felt was a consequence of the specialization of labor, comparing through what he called mechanical solidarity and organic solidarity. The idea behind mechanical solidarity is that throughout the pre-industrial era, people generally followed a path in life that was most always pre-determined for them due to economic constraints. Occupations such as farming, carpentry and hunting were passed down from generation to generation, and within these families and communities they shared values, experiences and  lifestyles. But later, when industry and specialized labor were introduced, Durkheim hypothesized that the unity of communities would be split apart due to the interdependence on one another based on distribution of labor; he called this organic solidarity. Even in today’s advanced society, his theory is still relevant. Take for instance, restaurants. Having been a chef and general manager for the past 15 years, I have been able to witness firsthand the transition from mechanical to organic solidarity in this sense. When ordering products for the kitchens, a purveyor would come by the restaurant several times a week and we would sit down to discuss what was selling and what wasn’t and how I could benefit from what they had to offer; over time we would build a relationship based on a mutual understanding of each other’s commerce. We shared in each others’ knowledge and experience, both benefiting from our relationship. But once technology made competition so cut-throat, the personal relationships began to slip by the wayside and personal connections gave way to profit. Long-gone were the visits from representatives and online and phone orders became standard. The severe distribution of labor made it all but impossible to have a dedicated representative come out to an individual location, get to know the business they were selling to, and help them make the best decisions based on their knowledge and skill level. Technology has taken the inter-personal out of inter-personal relations due to efficiency and profitability.

With the forward progress in technology comes many shifts throughout society. Whether positive, negative or somewhere in between, they no doubt affect us all. As we move ahead from one era to the next it is vital to identify what happens when we as a working species change our means of production, so we can hopefully prevent advancements in efficiency and output from diminishing the best parts of human nature, as well hurting the less fortunate.