Cultural Universals Essays Example
Culture is diverse. It varies from regions, continents, nations, ethnoliguistic groups, and even tribes. However, despite the diversity of cultures, there are many aspects where cultures meet and share. This is called culture universals. Murdock (1945) listed these commonalities in his literary work entitled, “The Common Denominators of Cultures.” He listed a lot that include incest taboos, hospitality, religious ritual, family, music, and division of labor. These denominators of cultures shows that regardless of boundaries, human beings are universal and that no matter how diverse we are, we are connected as one race which is as human beings who are all capable of rational thinking.
In all cultures, the system that prohibits marrying and having intercourse with a close kin is being enforced. For the Christians like us, we are not allowed to marry relatives up to the 3rd degree. However, particular in our clan of origin, our forefathers are recalling that during their time, they had to marry even their close relatives because intermarriage with other clans was not allowed before as they had to build a stronger clan. Today however, it is considered a grave sin to commit incest especially with the spread of Christianity. Hospitality on the other hand is a universal culture. This is evident with how the Native Americans welcomed the Europeans when they set foot on their land. This is also evident in the Bible where it said in the Ten Commandments that “thou shall not do unto others what you don’t want others do unto you.” This shows the core value of hospitality. Our parents always told us to respect visitors.
Religious rituals are varied but it is common that all religions have rituals to their gods and goddesses. Animists pay respects and thanks giving to many gods that include god of day light, god of the moon light, god of harvest, and many others. Christians on the other hand pray only to one God. It just shows that every religion in the world believes that there is someone higher than the human beings who created or protecting the world.
Every society went through different stages until it reaches a point where family became the standard unit of a community. For all cultures today, there are families in one community. The only difference is there are other cultures that are still practicing polygamy like in the Islam religion. Music is ultimately universal. Even in the era where people are still nomadic, music is soothing to the ears of the people. There is specific music for death, and merry making activities. Up until today, people of different races, cultures, ethnics, and color connect to each other through music.
On the other hand, division of labor is an understood concept of all cultures even since time immemorial. In our culture, division of labor during the warrior society was far too different today. In the warrior society, the role of men was to defend the village by going to war while women stay in the village tending all the work from the fields up to child rearing. Today, the division of labor is still based on the widespread line drawn in between feminine and masculine or otherwise known as gender role stereotypes. In this context, women are still doing the laundry, cooking, secretarial jobs and others deemed for women. While men are up there in high ranking positions in politics and all arenas of the society.
Adapted from George P. Murdock, “The Common Denominator of Cultures” in Ralph Linton (Ed.), The Science of Man in World Crisis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1945), 123-142. Copyright © 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.
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