The paper analyzes a sociological aspect of Horace Miner’s “Body Ritual among the Nacirema”. A profound form of ethnocentrism has been used by Horace Miner in his sardonic paper Body Ritual among the Nacirema. All cultures, including America, assume that they are unique and superior…
This paper illustrates that from the point of view of sociology and Horace Miner, no culture is unique. America is exceptional in several ways but a lot of its distinctive attributes are not pleasing, and this is what Horace Miner is trying to prove in his above-mentioned essay. Although doctors in developed societies usually claim to perform a kind of medical tradition independent of politics and religion, in truth their practices are convolutedly linked to these social life domains. Horace Miner defies and satirically analyzes the ethnocentric perspective of North America by illustrating, metaphorically, that American cultural practices are as bizarre as those of rudimentary preindustrial cultures. Horace Miner describes vividly the Nacirema’s mouth rituals with the intention of demonstrating the traditional rules behind the cultural narrative that guided the theme of intellectuals describing the cultural practices of other societies: “The daily body ritual performed by everyone includes a mouth rite. Despite the fact that these people are so punctilious about the care of the mouth, this rite involves a practice which strikes the uninitiated stranger as revolting. It was reported to me that the ritual 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”. The daily habit of cleaning the mouth or brushing the teeth is raised to the domain of magic. This passage shows how outside observers view Nacirema’s obsession with the mouth....
Emile Durkheim, a proponent of the structural-functional theory, argued that rituals reinforce and maintain social order, values, and roles. Because rituals promote or strengthen these values and roles, they encourage social unity or solidarity (Dillon, 2009). Nevertheless, the key idea is that in order to appreciate other cultures, one should think outside America’s tradition of understanding or interpreting things. There are proofs that America is not able to resolves its biggest problems or issues, which put its ethnocentric assumptions into question. American culture is multifaceted and conflicting. Horace Miner illustrates the risky rituals that the American people practice, the emphasis of which is the obsession with the human body. It highlights the point that what they are doing is merely to enhance their appearances which are in fact needless. He also mentions other features of American culture, such as chauvinism or gender discrimination in medicine; his focus on individualism; hierarchies among the social functions of medical authorities; and social classes. But the major argument of Horace Miner is that Americans are predisposed to overemphasize or venerate American culture and to place its origin and power outside human control. To view it in an objective and unbiased manner requires applying the interactionist, the conflict, and the functionalist theories. Interactionists focus on the individual, who, by interrelating with other people, preserves, assimilates, and builds culture (Dillon, 2009). The interaction among the people of Nacirema, particularly their elaborate rituals and network of specialists, creates, strengthens, and sustains their most ‘exotic’ cultural practices. More ...
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Rituals in America are often the determined by a number of factors such as the lifestyles, cultural values, religious beliefs etc. Though these rituals are observed by different ethno cultural segments of the American, the commonalities of an American ritual depend on the question whether the lives of the common American people are determined and shaped by any the aforementioned factors.
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Undeniably, most of the societies in the world has undergone tremendous revolution and have embraced modernity as part of life. Indeed, the modern society is characterized by high degree of evolution. More importantly is the fact that modern societies have changed tremendously from the traditional socialization aspects to ones that are more modernized.
In Miner Horace article, Body Ritual among the Nacirema there is profound information about strange things in which this tribe performed. There are various indicators in the story that reveal the topic of discussion such as how the nation changed to the way it is and the issue of Notgnishaw cutting of trees.
In his article in the American Anthropologist, however, Horace Miner manages to depict the tribe's extraordinary body rituals as beyond human comprehension, "poorly understood" (Miner 1956, p.503) and occultic in nature. The tribe itself he describes as "magic-ridden" (Miner 1956, p.507), characterized by a gruesome fascination with certain body parts that are routinely-and sadistically-subjected to torturous practices in the service of beauty and health.
Nacirema culture is a unique society, which inhabits territories between the Canadian Cree, the Northern Mexican States, and the Carib and Arawak of the Antilles. This group of people is known for their exotic spiritual viewpoints and practicing ancient exclusive body-rituals, like oral cleanliness and other mouth-rites, ritual of purification, or keeping little sacred “charm-boxes” filled with magical herbs and poisons, etc.
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st of the indigenous members of this society dedicate most of their time in economic pursuits, a good portion of their profits are channeled into ritual activities. The rituals focus on the human body, their health and improvement on their appearances. It is more of the usual