http://www.sina.com.cn 2008年01月10日 11:13
Anthropologist Margaret Mead is known for her groundbreaking research on the effects of culture on gender roles. Her working hypothesis was that if gender behavior was the effect purely of biology, then what was considered masculine and feminine would be the same in all cultures. If gender behavior differed in different cultures, this would demonstrate that gender behavior resulted from culture rather than biology.
To test this hypothesis, Mead studied three different societies in New Guinea. The first society that she studied was the Arapesh. In this society, she observed that behavior by men and behavior by women were remarkably similar. She found that both men and women exhibited characteristics that are traditionally considered feminine: they were sensitive to each others’ feelings and expressed emotions.
The second society that she studied in New Guinea were the Mundugumor, which was a society of headhunters and cannibals. The society was the opposite of the gentle and feminine Arapesh. In this second society, both men and women exhibited characteristics that are traditionally considered male: they were harsh and aggressive.
In the third society that she studied, the Tchambuli, Mead found that males and females exhibited very different types of behavior. What was unusual was that the roles were the opposite of what we have come to expect. Mead found that in this society, the men were emotional and submissive to the women, and the women were dominant and aggressive.
Based on these findings, Margaret Mead came to the conclusion that culture, more than biology, determines gender behavior.
According to the law of unintended consequences, actions of individuals, groups, or governments have effects, or “consequences” that are unexpected, or “unintended.” These unexpected effects, or unintended consequences as they are called in academic literature, are effects that are not planned when an original action is taken, and the person or persons making the decision do not consider that these effects may result from the action taken.
Unintended consequences may turn out to be positive or negative. Unintended consequences that are positive may result, for example, from a decision by a city council to ban cars from Main Street in the city. If, as a result of this decision, there is an unexpected effect that many citizens improve their health because they need to park their cars and walk on a regular basis to get to the businesses that line Main Street, then this is a positive effect. There can, however, also be negative consequences of this decision by the city council to ban cars on Main Street. If, as a result of this decision, citizens decide that it is too much trouble to get to the businesses on Main Street because they cannot take their cars there, then they might decide to go to businesses elsewhere because it is easier to get there. A loss in the number of customers visiting the businesses along Main Street would be a definitely negative effect of the decision by the city council that was absolutely not intended by the city council when the decision was made.
1. The statistics shock. Although the world produces enough food for everybody, roughly 780 million people in poor countries, one in five of their population, do not get enough to eat. As many as 2 billion people who get enough to fill their bellies, nevertheless, lack the vitamins and minerals they need. Almost a quarter of the hungry are children under five years old. As many as 40,000 young children die every day, partly because malnutrition makes them susceptible to all kinds of disease.
2. Despite this sad picture, world has made progress in providing for its inhabitants. In 1969—71, more than one of every three people living in poor countries was undernourished, a total of almost 950 million. To have thinned the ranks of the world’s hungry even as its population has grown is a tribute to the techniques of modern agriculture introduced into developing countries since the green revolution in the 1960s. Only in Africa, with its local calamities, has there been little progress.
3. Africa has suffered mainly because people are kept hungry by poverty, and Africa has stayed poor while the rest of the world has grown richer. Delegates from more than 150 countries gathered in Rome on December 5th for a conference organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization, two arms of the United Nations. On top of the usual empty injunctions, the delegates recommended policies to boost the rural economies of developing the rural infrastructure, and by opening markets in rich countries.
4. There are other remedies, less ambitious than the abolition of poverty. They will not eliminate malnutrition, but they can reduce it. There is a virtuous circle of health and nutrition. Health and sanitation protect wage-earners from falling sick and losing income (80% of which is spent by poor families on food). The well-fed are less likely to fall ill. Educated women give their children more food of the right kind and (though Pope John Paul I avoided the point when he spoke at the conference) are more likely to use contraception. Education can also encourage people to eat enough vitamins and minerals, without spending more of their income on food. Merely providing enough vitamin A could prevent up to 500,000 young children a year from going blind. As it is, most of those who go blind for lack of it die within months.