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Psychological Anthropology

Psychological anthropology has been used as a tool in helping people understand the different identities in a community based on its cultures and traditions. Both the Maya and the Japanese people have unique identities that can be explained by looking at the traditions of their families. The Japanese people are renowned for their ferocious work ethic and a look at their cultural practices will hopefully shed some light into this stereotype. The Maya on the other hand are known for being the most advanced civilization during their time.

They had developed a well established written language, and their knowledge in architecture and agriculture was simply ahead of their time. We will look at the lifecycle of the Maya people and hopefully be able to understand what made them standout from other civilizations during their time. Maya Culture In the Maya culture, the responsibility of raising a child not only belongs to the parent but to the whole community as well. “When both boys and girls were born, they belonged to the whole community until the age of 7. ”(Maya Social Organization) It is the community’s responsibility to educate them and take care of them.

Once they reach 7 years old, the responsibility is now transferred to the parents. For the case of girls, it is the mother’s responsibility to educate them and for boys, their fathers assume this role. When the girls reach 13 years old, they receive a lecture on sexual education from a lunar priestess. Boys also receive similar education but theirs occurs at the age of 14 and they receive their education from a solar priest. The Maya culture clearly identified that at a young age, girls do mature faster than boys. (Maya Social Organization)

Past the age of 14 years, both boys and girls are educated together in community schools. From this age to around 21 years old, the teenagers are viewed with a sense of expectation by the community. They are the ones who represent the future generation. Boys are expected to take on the more physically demanding duties like tilling the land Girls on the other hand were expected to master the household chores and their mothers groomed them for married life that was just around the corner. Both men and women were educated on how to rule because the Maya culture believed that “every human being was born to rule or to be ruled.

”(Maya Social Organization) This strong community bonds continued to be fastened as the young people got married and continued their journey into adulthood. The Maya civilization was widely accredited for being the most advanced during its time. Before its demise, their knowledge in arithmetic and astronomy was not only limited to a few members in the community, but a large proportion of the community was also well educated. It is the learning practices like the one mentioned above helped to modernize this civilization. (Maya Social Organization) Japanese Culture

Like many societies in the world, child birth is a time of great joy and celebration in the Japanese culture. The traditions that different families follow vary but most of them have some traits of Buddhism, which has been the dominant religion in Japan and most of South East Asia for quite a while. A ceremony is usually held at home to bless the child. Baby gifts and other congratulatory cards to the happy parents are considered appropriate. Although the common rhetoric of the job of raising a child is done by both parents, it’s usually the mother who does most of the work.

This could be due to the strict gender roles that exist in the Japanese society; roles that have been there for centuries and have only changed slightly to adapt to the modern times. Most wives were expected to resign from their jobs after their first child but this tradition is slowly disappearing with most wives preferring to continue pursuing their professional careers. Childcare was and is still regarded as a mother’s responsibility. Day care facilities in Japan are quite expensive when compared to their western counterparts and this makes it difficult for some of them to combine both their professional duties and family life.

The husband’s role is mainly to support his family financially. Most Japanese men work extreme hours and usually arrive home late long after the children have slept. It is therefore a common practice in Japan for working women to live close to their mothers so that they can assist them in housekeeping. However, they devote their weekends to playing with their children and doing some limited household repairs. As the children grow up they mirror their parents and parents take great care to ensure that the customs and traditions that they grew up are also passed on to the children.

A lot of emphasis is placed on education and getting good grades as the children enter their adolescence phase. Parents expect them to develop the reading culture and the work ethic that characterizes the Japanese society. Fraternization with members of the opposite sex while they are still at home is something that is deeply frowned upon by the parents but this social barrier is slowly being eroded by the recent generations. (Japan-Gender Roles) Despite the entrenched gender roles that they will be subjected to later in life, both the male and female children growing up do get equal education opportunities.

However as both of these sexes are growing up, they are fully aware that marriage will be a right of passage; it won’t be optional. Cases of arranged marriages are quite common in Japan and still are even in this modern era. Both couples know the sole purpose of getting married is to raise children and to start their own family. Some of these marriages can be regarded as being “loveless”. A study conducted in 1983 showed that “Husbands and wives report very little communication and conversation, as little as ten to fifteen minutes per day.

”(Japan-Gender Roles) Sexual activity also massively declines after having children. Despite all these “downsides”, the divorce rate is quite low because the couples’ sole purpose is to raise the children. Most westerners critic this Japanese culture arguing that its members have an emotionless personality where people rarely speak their mind. Total respect is given to those senior to you either age-wise or at the work-place. However, these trends are slowly changing especially amongst the womenfolk and this is attributed to western influences.

“They are marrying later, with the average age of first marriage at 26. 3 years in 1995, compared to 25. 4 in 1983. ”(Mark, 2000) The number of women professionals in the workforce has also been increasing. (Japan-Gender Roles) References Japan-Gender Roles, Retrieved on 19th June 2009, http://family. jrank. org/pages/984/Japan-Gender-Roles. html Mark Lim Shan-Loong, 14th March 2000, Tradition & Change – “Examining Gender Roles in Japan” Retrieved on 19th June 19, 2009, http://members. tripod. com/~marklsl/Writings/japan. htm Maya Social Organization, Retrieved on 19th June 2009, http://www. themayas. com. mx/Web%20New/maya_social. htm `

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