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February 17, 2009

The Function of Grades in College Courses

Excellent example of paper 1 by Edward Sleigh - Winter 2009

Grades in college courses are a far broader topic than A through F or a scale of percentage. They function in many different ways, motivating some and challenging others. The decisions we make have direct and indirect consequences. Robert Merton suggested that human behavior has both manifest and latent functions. "Manifest functions are the stated and open goals of social behavior. Latent functions are the unintended consequences of behavior" (Andersen 21). The classroom environment may be the easiest to study from the functionalist theoretical framework because much like the functionalist view on society, the goal of a classroom is to produce an environment for learning, with consensus and order, with stability. With a classroom as our example of society, we can study how grades in college seem to have more latent functions than manifest functions.

There are few identifiable manifest functions of grades in college. The most direct function of grades is that for measurable feedback. Good grades can suggest that students properly understand the course material, are well applied, and have an interest in the subject matter. Poor grades suggest that students need to invest more effort to grasp the concepts or that their efforts are misdirected. Conversely, when the class is collectively doing poorly, the teacher receives feedback and can consider altering teaching styles or working smarter to increase student understanding. And, when the entire class is receiving A's, perhaps the coursework is too easy and the teacher can challenge his or her students with harder assignments and tests. Grades in college are the easiest way to measure feedback in order to help people know how they are doing in their studies.

A list of the latent functions of grades is only limited by the sociological understanding of its author and the depth and scope of thought. The indirect consequences of college grades are far reaching and will affect many aspects of student's lives. Some functionalists find that inequality benefits society and though grades should be delivered fairly, they should help determine which students desire to succeed and which lack the desire to continue in academics. Grades in college can separate groups of students in many institutions - in the college itself and later in life. Those with a similar interest in high achievement may tend to group together in friendship if their course study is different. However, when the course study is the same, good grades can also cause academic competition as classmates become rivals competing for the best in class status. Separating the academic elite from ordinary students causes people to enter different career fields. Chances are classmen and women who easily achieve high grades are motivated to continue in education and grades in college courses may influence application and acceptance into graduate schools. Students who study together may discover more than school in common with each other and consider entering into marriage. However, the college success of the male or female may determine the roles they play in the marriage and may challenge the social institution of marriage. For example, if the female, based on her grades and college success, is proven to be the leader of the couple, their roles in the marriage may be reversed, but they will find ways to ensure a healthy relationship.

Because it is only the case with some students, motivation may be a latent function of college grades. Some students see grades as an opportunity to impress others and earn rewards. Students who achieve high grades receive praises and accolades such as Dean's List Honors or academic scholarships. Students who receive higher grades also tend to receive respect from their peers. They may be sought as a source for information and for help, and the students who are able to help effectively naturally become leaders in the classroom. In addition, an interim grade may have an indirect influence on the work effort of a student. If a student discovers a low grade they will have to work harder if they intend to achieve an improved grade. But if the student discovers they are doing better than expected, they will relax their efforts to enjoy the fruit of their labor. In a sense, this is a part of functionalism that suggests that a system needs to remain balanced. To remain efficient, the students rarely put out more effort than necessary to obtain their desired results.

Within the classroom, the dynamics of some social interactions are influenced by the grades that students receive. As mentioned, some students will find camaraderie with people of similar academic expectations while others will find direct competition. Some students see good grades as an unattainable goal and need encouragement to do well while other students have high aptitudes in certain subjects and good grades come easily. The equilibrium of the two groups in this relationship is in the diversity of the types of students and their aptitudes. For example, when assigned group work, some students will work harder and some will not put in a lot of effort, but their grade will be a reflection of their concerted effort. Similarly, one beauty of a diverse classroom environment is when a struggling student seeks help from one who understands. The role of a tutor is based on this concept in that despite grades, students of varying academic success can interact and both parties can benefit mutually. Similarly, if the course of study is varied between arts and sciences, students may succeed at one while failing another. A student who is a brilliant artist but a terrible mathematician may choose their field of study based on the influence of their grades. And that student may make a great art tutor, but will seek help to understand math concepts fully.

Unfortunately, some people who find it a struggle even to earn low grades may drop out of college in order to enter the work force. The regrettable reality is that socioeconomic status influences and is influenced by college grades. Though no direct correlation between letter grades and an annual income can be inferred, college graduates tend to earn more money than people who do not finish their degree, so grades can affect socioeconomic status. And within the institution of family, poverty can challenge the academic success of even an extremely intelligent student. In order to maintain family dynamics and the stability of relationships with siblings, some students may not strive to obtain high grades in fear that siblings may become jealous. Disrupting the family dynamic may not be a risk that some students are willing to take in order to succeed with good grades and they will not strive at all. Pressure from parents can also cause some students to work harder to earn expected results. If parents place expectations on their children to achieve certain grades or to earn entrance into certain grad schools, that pressure influences the amount that a student has to apply themselves in order to reach goals and keep family dynamics in balance.

So, the manifest function of grades is measurable feedback, and the latent functions may influence almost every area of a student's life. The grades that we receive in college may influence how we interact with the rest of the world after completing college course work, and yet, it is not the end all of determining success in life.
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Works Cited
Andersen, Margaret L. and Howard F. Taylor. Sociology In Everyday Life: Sociology 204 at Portland Community College. Ohio: Cengage, 2008.

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Third Culture Kids

Excellent sample paper 2 by Mika Nakazawa - Winter 2009

The term Third Culture Kid refers to the "third culture" created by individuals who have grown up in multiple cultures when they are in the process of relating their societies, or sections thereof, to each other. Third Culture Kids was a term that Sociologist Ruth Hill Useem first coined.

In summarizing that which we had observed in our cross-cultural encounters, we began to use the term "third culture" as a generic term to cover the styles of life created, shared, and learned by persons who are in the pro-cess of relating their societies, or sections there of, to each other. The term "Third Culture Kids" or TCK's was coined to refer to the children who accompany their parents into another society. (Useem, par.6)

Adopting the term "third culture" is an interesting choice, since it implies that in the process of adjusting to two or more cultures, people create a third culture. By definition, a culture includes a language, customs, materials, mores, beliefs, values, and norms. How do these criteria apply to the third culture of Third Culture Kids (TCKs)?

Language for TCK's is very different than most other cultures. Since TCK's usually speak multiple languages, they are about the only people in the world who can create "hybrid" languages. In my personal experience among the missionary kids in Japan, our small community of people were the only ones that could speak our combined language of Japanese and English. A single sentence could comprise of both languages, for example, the sentence could start out in Japanese and midway through, switch to English. The problem with this language created within this third culture of bilingual, missionary kids and TCK's in Japan was that our numbers were so few. Automatically, the number of people that could ever possibly interact with us in our language was drastically limited. This is likely the case for really small tribes or people groups around the world where they are a very small population of people, and their language is exclusive to them. However, the difference for my third culture was that we lived in the context of a much larger culture. It is reasonable to assume that languages developed in an isolated manner, where the people group was naturally cut off from other peoples, would become a language that was exclusive to those people. But third cultures are unique in that there is no reason for the language to be exclusive since the people of the third culture can live in highly developed, urbanized countries like Japan and the US. Yet there are other factors cutting off their culture and language that cause them to be an exclusive culture.

The materials, customs, mores, beliefs, values, and norms, are all negotiated from two or more combined cultures. So it is as if the individual can negotiate which aspects of what culture would better fit into the new hybrid third culture. An example of this is when there are conflicting values from one culture to the next. An example from my experience is that in Japanese culture, comic books--manga--are perfectly acceptable for adults and children to read. However, in American culture, reading comic books when you are an adult would most likely be a behavior that is disapproved. In this scenario, reading comic books at an older age is a belief or value that is shaped by whatever specific culture a person happens to be in at a given time. The norms of Japanese culture say that reading comic books at any age is acceptable and the norms of American culture say otherwise. The conflict of the third culture is bringing these two opposing norms together into the new culture. In this case, I have chosen that adults reading comic books is acceptable behavior and that in this situation, I will align myself with Japanese cultural norms. However, my decision to continue to follow Japanese customs about comic books while living in the US still causes the same raised eyebrows, and I still lack the consistency of following one culture's set of norms, values, beliefs, etc.

Another issue that arises a lot with TCK's is patriotism. Part of the definition of Third Culture Kids is that they "...experience a sense of not belonging to their passport country when they return to it" (Third Culture Kids). This is probably also a situation where the person could choose which country to adapt a sense of patriotism to. Membership within a society is not necessarily guaranteed because a person possesses the right passport. A person actively engages in the culture around them, by learning and following the norms, beliefs, language, etc, and is thereby a member of that society. Since TCK's actively choose different components of different cultures to learn and engage in, can TCK's ever really feel a true patriotism to any one nation? But if no true feeling of patriotism could be mustered for any one nation, then maybe TCK's need to be given the option not claim allegiance anywhere.

When Sociologist Ruth Hill Useem coined the term Third Culture Kid, she may have been referencing the fact that a third culture is created when two or more cultures are merged within a single person. But does the merging of two or more cultures to create this third culture, in fact, mean that an entirely new culture is created? Although a lot of the criteria for being a culture are met, it remains to be seen whether any third culture will ever be recognized socially as being a separate culture. The fluid and adaptive nature of all cultures is also present in the new third cultures that are emerging around the world. As technology, communication, and globalization continue, how many more third cultures will emerge? More importantly, the surrounding societies need to acknowledge the births of these new cultures and accommodate their place in the world.

Work Cited
"Third Culture Kids." US Department of State. 10 Feb 2009. Family Liasion Office. 10 Feb 2009 .
Useem, Ruth Hill. "Third Culture Kids: Focus of Major Study." International School Services. 2001. International School Services. 10 Feb 2009 .

February 10, 2009

Can We Become Better People?

Excellent example of paper 1 by Hanna Hramyka (Anya) - Winter 2009.

The image of America radically changed during the last eight years. Its face is now scared with incompetence in international relationships, failed policies and a war which might last for many more years to come. But regardless of all the above, America is still the place one wants to be to make his dreams come true and to live to the best of his potential. I was one of these people as well. I always wanted to prove to myself that hard work pays off and that good things happen to good people.

I flew to Memphis Tennessee in hope to discover my own America. The choice of place was absolutely random since I didn't possess a lot of knowledge about how diverse the country really is. Mississippi State became my home for the following three and a half years. Years filled with discovering how American South still fights with the issues of racism and inequality in the twenty first century. Society I lived in identified itself as made of blacks and whites; racial profiling was commonplace and seldom got in a way of getting to know people. Myths about America being liberal and tolerant towards different cultures and races vanished. I now realize that I was too fast to place my judgment on the entire country, but the fact remains. Time stopped in the South and revealed the worst in people. I have met so many angry young African Americans that I couldn't help but wonder WHY? So here comes a question: what exactly makes people behave certain ways and what shapes their vision of the world? Why do we do what we do and can we change ourselves to the better?

According to Andersen and Taylor (2007),"Sociology is the study of human behavior" (p.2) and that "all human behavior occurs in a social context. That context includes culture, groups, social interactions and social institutions- all of which shape what people do and think"(p.2) It also suggests that to understand others better one needs to imagine being switched at birth with a person of a different background, race or faith. So I decided to do just that to answer my own questions. And since I am talking about Mississippi, I might as well choose a lovely little town called Whitehaven (an actual place located in the southern part of Memphis). Originally a farm community, Whitehaven was developed as a whites-only residential suburb in Memphis in the 1950s and early 1960s. So just for a minute I imagined myself born there 16 years ago in 1993. My name is Laquisha Jones and at the time Whitehaven was developed my grandmother was a slave at a plantation 20 miles south. Her stories used to make me cry when I was just a little girl. Now they simply make me mad. She is 70 years old now and goes to church every Sunday. She says that it unites people of our culture. I don't really like going to church. Sunday is a day off school and getting up early never makes me happy. I go to Whitehaven High School. Every day I walk to school through our neighborhood which is one of the poorest in the country. My mother promised to buy me a car when I am 16. My birthday was 9 month ago and I still walk to school. She works two jobs to support me and my grandmother. She is a housekeeper in some hotels in Tunica, Mississippi. She works very hard and could probably save some money by now if she didn't like to gamble so much. Sometimes she wins, but most of the times she doesn't. I can always tell the way she slams the door of her old car when she gets home...

Laquisha is not exactly a made up person but a collection of life stories I heard while living in Mississippi. So if social context shapes what we do and think and how we are perceived by the others, then Laquisha Jones, in my understanding, doesn't stand a chance. So I wonder if an African American girl who was born in a very poor community is more likely to drop off high school and get pregnant than the white girl same age born in 10 miles away? What is in the future for her? On our sociology class we discussed how parents' education and wealth provide a starting point for their children's secure and prosper future. Laquisha heard stories of injustice and humiliation from her grandmother since she was a little girl. It comes as no surprise that they shaped a negative image of white people in her eyes. She doesn't hate them. She just prefers to socialize with people of her color. Her social interactions consist of other teenagers from her neighborhood from broken families and same heritage. They might spend a lot of time together but the benefit of this time for their development is under a big question mark. Social institutions as church and schools are considerably underfunded. It comes as no surprise that she is not involved in any extracurricular activities. Considering how important it is to occupy young minds and spirits to stay focused and goal-oriented, kids from less fortunate families are left to entertain themselves.

A conclusion may seem very disappointing and frustrating. I always believed in the best of people and thought that background though important does not define your life and future. That aspirations and dreams will do. Strong will and a desire to succeed can overcome poverty, racial issues and heritage. But the fact remains unchanged. Children who are brought up in broken families, with the baggage of segregation and misfortune are more likely to adopt social behaviors of victims and never to reveal their true potential.

In this paper I might not have expressed myself as clear as I would like to. For the past three and a half years I have lived in very different environment. It was like if people were refusing to breathe the same air with the people of different race. There was a tension in the air and so much anger. I think largely due to this fact that I decided to take this course and to learn sociology. I am hoping to understand why people behave the way they do. It certainly is clear by now that a lot of factors contribute to who we are: culture, interactions, family, background and so on. We all have a certain status attached to us and it can be a lifelong challenge to change the mind of the crowd about us. But before we do that, we have to give ourselves a chance to become better than our surrounding or past. Poor neighborhoods can teach you how to be grateful for what you have, broken families can show you the kind of parent you want to be, and poor education gives an excuse for ever thirsty quest for knowledge. Everything can be overcome if you put your heart to it.

Sociology encourages us to look for truth and answers around us. Human behavior can be a direct result of our surrounding. So can we become better people? Yes, we can, but only if we learn to use every circumstance to our advantage and realize how much our life touches the lives of others.

Works Cited:
Andersen & Taylor. Sociology in a Diverse Society.

February 4, 2009

The Social in the Personal

An excellent example of paper 1 by Chvonne Wardrop - Winter 2009

Upon reading Body Ritual among the Nacirema By Horace Miner, I was painfully relating to their suffering and how our culture is too living this way, also how they do not even realize the torment they have afflicted upon themselves. These poor people, even worse off then us! That is what I thought as I read this article. To probe into the depth of my story I will discuss a question that stems from C. Wright Mills argument about sociological imagination. How did the context of society shape my life in such a way that living daily in torment was my "norm".

I remember the first time I realized that my "things" were not as pretty as the girl next to me. I was wearing a new skirt from the goodwill right down the street and oversized used pair of dirty tennis shoes that I thought were really cool. My hair was always a mess and cut very badly. I felt so good going to school and walking in that door the first day of second grade, then all at once, my sweet innocence began to wither and the beast of society started to take root. My oppression began when society told a seven-year old child her needs were to be filled by physical attributes and material possessions. I found myself being the odd one out. Other children did not want to sit by me. I really wanted these people who did not like me to be my friends, and so the story goes, as Kurt Vonegaut would say.

I turned thirty years old this year and I was ever so excited to be leaving my twenty's behind. As I started to near thirty I began a spiritual journey that led me back to recapturing childhood memories. I grew up in a lower class neighborhood with "white trash" parents who were stuck in the 80's. My mother is illiterate with the emotional intelligence of a thirteen year old. My step - father was a "cool dude" with a very unique crude personality. He never wore pants, only shorts with spandex underneath them, even in the winter.

I lived on the school cusp between a middle class and lower class neighborhoods. Due to this location, I was constantly trying to play both roles. I began to play one person at school and the other person after school. I constantly had no idea who or what I wanted or needed to be. Fortunately, this taught me how to socially react in many different situations as well as what is expected of me. I felt familiar with many types of people, but I always felt as if I was performing and auditioning to fit molds. Sadly, it really just became apart of who I was.

During my High School years - I was given $100 dollars for school clothes and shoes for the whole year. My destination was K-marshe, my mothers fancy name for K-Mart. I once had a friend who made fun of seeing two classmates with their arms full of clothes from K-mart, for he was only there to buy bug spray with his dad. I was in the sixth grade when that statement was made, and it forever changed the idea that my self worth would be measured by the places I had to shop.

In the text "Sociology in Everyday Life" the authors discuss, Emile Durkheim's "established significance of society, as something larger than the sum of it's parts. Society is external to individuals, yet it's existence is internalized in people's minds because people believe what society expects them to believe." I whole-heartedly agree with these statements, as a child internalizing society's "norms" I didn't stand a chance for the mental strength needed from this pressure. Even more so, when like myself, you do not have an emotionally mature person teaching you the power of self-control or the strength of being mentally sound.

You see what that boy said, I internalized in such a way that I felt shameful for going there. I not only felt shameful, but I realized at that moment that there were things I would have to keep to myself. I was actually really very close with this boy and was even the "popular" girl at school. I never had thought, that where

I purchased an item would have such an influence on what people thought about me until that moment.

Next came Middle School and it only got worse, because now that I knew the rules for social acceptance, I really had to work hard at being someone excepted. After all this was my life! As I read about the shrine's in Body Ritual among the Naceriema, I immediately thought about my years at school. I never felt good enough and I was always reapplying makeup. Everywhere I went I sought out my shrine. I look back during that time, and think, that poor child. At this time I was old enough to know what I wanted but had no idea how to get it, so I began to steal. Yeah, I was a thief. I stole makeup, because it had to be Clinique. That was the kind everybody had. I would steal from my friends, people I would babysit for and department stores. I became so good at stealing I began stealing for people. To give as gifts!

You would never believe it, but nobody ever knew, or perhaps they did and they just never said anything to me. I was living two lives; one was as a young thug girl and another as an impostor in middle class America. I found myself relating to the torturers' in the article, People still willing to torture. Dr. Abigail San said, "They tend to identify massively with the 'experimenter', and become very engaged and distracted by the research. There's no opportunity for them to say what's my moral stand on this?" I knew it had to be wrong mentally, but my desire to want and need to fit in-canceled out any chance of moral reasoning.

Now I am thirty and I am really very thankful for every part of my life. Who I have been and who I will become because of it. Although the internal conflict from the oppression of society brought me to some really low points, I have and continue to rise above and to continually question my values and morals. Even though I am still living in some mental torture from time to time. I am able to recognize the strong hold of the beast and call it away knowing that it is not and will not define who I am as a human being. If somebody so thinks they can define me and place me into some valued little box, then I smile and wish the best to them. The journies we travel belong to us and will never be somebody else's story. My "norm" was once mental anguish, in never being satisfied with who I was, and since I left that place I am pleased to finally meet myself in a place of acceptance.

February 2, 2009

Seeing the American Culture from a Detached and Outside Perspective

Excellent sample first paper from Chloe Mills - Winter 2009

The American culture as a whole is a very self conscience culture focusing on appearance and success. The steps people take to be culturally accepted by society in America are seen as important daily acts, such as taking a vast amount of time preparing one's hair or makeup, or deciding the clothes that they wear. Other times this striving for acceptance goes to greater lengths and sometimes becomes expensive, such as surgically altering cosmetic features. Yet these rituals that the people of the American society perform upon themselves are seen by a person of this society as normal things to do. These customs are all socially acceptable and are perhaps necessary so that one can fit into the culture and conform.

Upon reading Horace Miner's article, "Body Ritual among the Nacirema," my initial thoughts of that society were that their cultural customs were more on the bizarre side of the spectrum, and that the Nacirema were rather unlike any other culture I had heard of before. As Miner so states, one particular ritual that is conducted "consists of inserting a small bundle of hog hairs into the mouth, along with certain magical powders, and then moving the bundle in a highly formalized series of gestures" (Miner, retrieved 2009). That these people went to such great lengths of practices so far from what is considered the norm in the American culture was interesting, but rather absurd compared to what society has taught us to think is normal and within the norms of American society. However, I could also draw parallels between this culture and the values that exist in my own upbringing in American culture. The human body is seen as ugly and that both cultures strive to improve their self image for what is considered ideal, as well as the discreteness towards routine bodily functions and actions, such as excretory acts and having sex, both of which are both viewed as being taboo or not polite to discuss.

However, when I read Miner's article a second time, I noticed that the region that this culture inhabited was in North America, the same region that I live in, yet I had never heard of this culture until now. It was then that I realized that "Nacirema" is actually "American" spelled backwards. This surprising realization was quite fascinating, because the first time that I analyzed and formed my thoughts on these people I had considered this society to have very odd and different customs and norms than that of the American society, when in reality, these are the very daily rituals that we perform upon ourselves to fit the values and ideals of culture. Americans, like any other culture, follow the so called "rules" of society because otherwise we fear, consciously or not, that we will be rejected by other people in society.

It was not until I read about the American culture in a different, detached light that I realized the absurdity of some of our rituals that we perform. The way that Miner introduced his studied society in a perspective that uses specific wording to suggest a more primitive-like culture, allowed readers to consider what exactly Americans actually do to themselves to fit in with society, but from a removed and critical distance. As stated in "Sociology in Everyday Life" (Andersen and Taylor, 2008:8) critical distance is so that we can "detach from the situation at hand and view things with a critical mind," and is important in debunking ("looking behind the fa├žades of everyday life") the ideals and rituals that Americans do all of the time. This is so that we can see and analyze our socially influenced values that would otherwise seem completely normal and wonder why exactly we are shaped by society to want to feel or do something a certain way (Andersen and Taylor, 2008:7).

Once it is realized that this article is about the American culture, it becomes almost blatantly obvious what these rituals are. The rituals that Americans view as important but are thought of as normal because that is what we are all taught to believe by our society, seem very different when phrased in a way that allow us to actually examine them without considering them to be our socially shaped norm. As stated earlier, Miner used specific ways of describing the culture so that it seemed worlds away from our own, thus allowing us to view these rituals from an outsider's perspective rather than that of our own. One such example is the topic of the "shrine." Closer examination reveals it to be simply, the bathroom, which to Americans (including myself) does not seem at first a highly important aspect of life. However, after Miner does point out all of the ways that we spend so much time in the bathroom, and how this room in the house even affects status, we can see that it is after all an important standard of living, even if it is taken for granted. The number of bathrooms in a house often affect its price, and display the wealth of the people living in that house. It is the center of many of our household activities, such as bathing, excretory acts, applying makeup and styling our hair to what society expects, and brushing our teeth.

Brushing one's teeth and the general need for dental hygiene in our culture is something that is especially desired, but until examining how far we go in our society to keep our teeth in tip-top shape, I had taken this aspect of appearance for granted. Most people regularly visit the dentist (which Miner has called "holy-mouth-men" [Miner, retrieved 2009]) and consider going to the dentist to be a safe and good thing to do. But the way that Miner states the procedures that occur in the dentists office do reveal that these are quite frightening and somewhat bizarre acts to attempt to preserve our teeth. American culture views dental hygiene as important, and so thus, Americans want to have good teeth to avoid repelling a potential mate, since poor dental hygiene is pretty highly frowned upon in our culture.

Our incessant need to better our body image is something that I had considered somewhat unique among cultures, but had not necessarily viewed closely before. The great lengths that our society propels us to feel like we need to do to to better our body shape, our skin complexion, our facial structure even, is radically different than that of many other cultures. Other cultures that I had learned about or seen suggest that bodies are sacred and are not viewed as vile, not something that always and must be improved. Americans however, often undergo surgical procedures such as breast augmentation or liposuction to name a few, which are not cost effective and therefore (among other things as well) fuel our want for success and thereby our need for money. "...Much of the people's time is devoted to economic pursuits, a large part of the fruits of these labors and a considerable portion of the day are spent in ritual activity" (Miner, 2009). We value success and money so that the money can be spent on culturally defined "necessary" material items and improvement toward ideal bodily image.

Once we have viewed our own routines and rituals that try to move our image toward the nearly unattainable standard that society has created, we can finally see how these things really are somewhat odd tasks, and we can critically analyze these behaviors to understand how society has shaped us, and how people attempt to create an image of themselves that fits the demands of society. In addition, if we do not perform these rituals and achieve what societal influences are upon us, such as commercials and billboards showing us perfectly sculpted bodies, we fear that we will not fit in, we will be excluded from society.

A shallow look at the American culture from an insider's perspective appears that the behaviors and rituals that we perform are normal functions of life, because that is what we are used to, what we are taught by society to think. However, once we do see how our culture functions from a critical distance it can be noted that how we act, how society has shown us what is "right," is quite unique compared to other cultures. We feel like we must do these things to better our self esteem, to fit in with everyone else, because as social creatures we want to go along with society. But perhaps this isn't the correct choice, to have our bodies and minds so enormously influenced by the society in America. Our culture pressures us to go to such great lengths to improve ourselves, which is such a normal and acceptable thing to do in this culture. However, often is not noticed or realized how extreme some people are willing to go to conform to the expected norm of American society, until one looks at the demands that society places upon us from the outsider's perspective of American culture.

Works Cited

Andersen, Margaret L. and Taylor, Howard F. 2008. Sociology in Everyday Life. Cengage Learning: Mason, Ohio.

Miner, Horace. Retrieved 20, January 2009. Body Rituals Among the Nacirema. http://www.srwolf.com/wolfsoc/soc204/readings/miner.html.