Read American Now: The Anthropology of a Changing Culture by Marvin Harris Free Online
Book Title: American Now: The Anthropology of a Changing Culture|
Date of issue: October 1st 1982
ISBN 13: 9780671457013
The author of the book: Marvin Harris
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 843 KB
Edition: Touchstone Books
Read full description of the books American Now: The Anthropology of a Changing Culture:This book is from 1987 and comments on the problems facing America in that time. I thought it would be outdated but it's not, it's an incredibly well researched and very easy to read history of the changes of the US after WW2 leading to the situation it's in today, which now 20 years later has only been amplified.
This book easily shows you how different aspects of American society previously thought unrelated are in fact deeply connected like a spider's web. Chapters such as "Why nothing works", "why the help won't help you" outline how America changed from a goods-producing to information-processing society, and how that led to inferior quality products and uninterested workers. "why the dollar shrank" talks about the economic changes during that time, because of which inflation went up, and the breadwinner's salary no longer sufficed to support a child and the home. Which is the reason "why women left home". Forced to work outside and inside the home, they become indignant and frustrated leading to the feminine movement, which had profound effects on society. It lead to the breakdown of Victorian puritan values, where "non-normal" sex (oral, anal, premarital, extramarital, same-sex, masturbation) was punishable by jail and society stressed sex for procreation. This breakdown of values lead to tolerance and sexual experimenting which is "why gays came out of the closet". It also led to "why there's terror on the streets" which talks about how women entering the iworkforce resulted in inner city blacks unemployment, as these educated women took the information processing jobs, and the good-producing sector was shrinking. Welfare programs designed to help only worsened the situation, as it gave money/bonuses to women with "fatherless" children, therefore these fathers had to turn to a life of crime to help support their women. Finally "Why the cults are coming" talks about the American religious movement as a dangerously frustrated America is becoming increasingly receptive to charismatic, messianic, and fanatical solutions to its material problems, with these religions offering money/economic security through God (and ponzi schemes.)
The book is incredibly interested, well-detailed, and everything he is saying makes sense. It's historical, educational and very easy to read. One of the most interesting books I've read recently!
Read information about the authorAmerican anthropologist Marvin Harris was born in Brooklyn, New York. A prolific writer, he was highly influential in the development of cultural materialism. In his work he combined Karl Marx's emphasis on the forces of production with Malthus's insights on the impact of demographic factors on other parts of the sociocultural system. Labeling demographic and production factors as infrastructure, Harris posited these factors as key in determining a society's social structure and culture.
Harris' earliest work began in the Boasian tradition of descriptive anthropological fieldwork, but his fieldwork experiences in Mozambique in the late 1950s caused him to shift his focus from ideological features of culture, toward behavioral aspects. His 1968 history of anthropological thought, The Rise of Anthropological Theory critically examined hundreds of years of social thought with the intent of constructing a viable nomothetic understanding of human culture that Harris came to call cultural materialism.
Cultural materialism incorporated and refined Marx's categories of superstructure and base; Harris modified and amplified such core Marxist concepts as means of production and exploitation, but Harris rejected two key aspects of Marxist thought: the dialectic, which Harris attributed to an intellectual vogue of Marx’s time; and, unity of theory and practice, which Harris regarded as an inappropriate and damaging stance for social scientists. Harris’ inclusion of demographic dynamics as determinant factors in sociocultural evolution also contrasted with Marx’s rejection of population as a causal element.
Marvin Harris’ early contributions to major theoretical issues include his revision of economic surplus theory in state formation. He also became well known for formulating a materialist explanation for the treatment of “ Cattle in religions” in Indian culture. Along with Michael Harner, Harris is one of the scholars most associated with the suggestion that Aztec cannibalism occurred, and was the result of protein deficiency in the Aztec diet. An explanation appears in Harris' book Cannibals and Kings. Harris also invoked the human quest for animal protein to explain Yanomamo warfare, contradicting ethnographer Napoleon Chagnon’s sociobiological explanation involving innate male human aggressiveness.
Several other publications by Harris examine the cultural and material roots of dietary traditions in many cultures, including Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture (1975); Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture (1998 - originally titled The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig) and his co-edited volume, Food and Evolution: Toward a Theory of Human Food Habits (1987).
Harris’ Why Nothing Works: The Anthropology of Daily Life (1981 - Originally titled America Now: the Anthropology of a Changing Culture) applies concepts from cultural materialism to the explanation of such social developments in late twentieth century United States as inflation, the entry of large numbers of women into the paid labor force, marital instability, and shoddy products.
His Our Kind: who we are, where we came from, where we are going (1990) surveys the broad sweep of human physical and cultural evolution, offering provocative explanations of such subjects as human gender and sexuality and the origins of inequality. Finally, Harris’ 1979 work, Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture, updated and re-released in 2001, offers perhaps the most comprehensive statement of cultural materialism.
Over the course of his professional life, Harris drew both a loyal following and a considerable amount of criticism. He became a regular fixture at the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association where he would subject scholars to intense questioning from the floor, podium, or bar. He is considered a generalist, who
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