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A interesting story/study about culture
#1
Since this is already a fairly long post, I removed the story about a 19th century Hatfield & McCoy type of family feud in Harlan, Kentucky, that kind of sets the stage for the discussion about culture and how it permeates generation after generation even when there is really no need for it.  In this case, family on family violence was prevalent all up and down the Appalachian portion of the US and the remnants of that "culture of honor" still exist today.

Read on if you want.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
When one family fights with another, it’s a feud. When lots of families fight with one another in
identical little towns up and down the same mountain range, it’s a pattern.
What was the cause of the Appalachian pattern? Over the years, many potential explanations have
been examined and debated, and the consensus appears to be that that region was plagued by a
particularly virulent strain of what sociologists call a “culture of honor.”

Cultures of honor tend to take root in highlands and other marginally fertile areas, such as Sicily
or the mountainous Basque regions of Spain. If you live on some rocky mountainside, the explanation goes, 
you can’t farm. You probably raise goats or sheep, and the kind of culture that grows up around
being a herdsman is very different from the culture that grows up around growing crops. The survival
of a farmer depends on the cooperation of others in the community. But a herdsman is off by himself.
Farmers also don’t have to worry that their livelihood will be stolen in the night, because crops can’t
easily be stolen unless, of course, a thief wants to go to the trouble of harvesting an entire field on his
own. But a herdsman does have to worry. He’s under constant threat of ruin through the loss of his
animals. So he has to be aggressive: he has to make it clear, through his words and deeds, that he is
not weak. He has to be willing to fight in response to even the slightest challenge to his reputation—
and that’s what a “culture of honor” means. It’s a world where a man’s reputation is at the center of
his livelihood and self-worth.

“The critical moment in the development of the young shepherd’s reputation is his first quarrel,”
the ethnographer J. K. Campbell writes of one herding culture in Greece. “Quarrels are necessarily
public. They may occur in the coffee shop, the village square, or most frequently on a grazing
boundary where a curse or a stone aimed at one of his straying sheep by another shepherd is an insult
which inevitably requires a violent response.”

So why was Appalachia the way it was? It was because of where the original inhabitants of the
region came from. The so-called American backcountry states—from the Pennsylvania border south
and west through Virginia and West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee, North Carolina and South
Carolina, and the northern end of Alabama and Georgia—were settled overwhelmingly by immigrants
from one of the world’s most ferocious cultures of honor. They were “Scotch-Irish”—that is, from the
lowlands of Scotland, the northern counties of England, and Ulster in Northern Ireland.

The borderlands—as this region was known—were remote and lawless territories that had been
fought over for hundreds of years. The people of the region were steeped in violence. They were
herdsmen, scraping out a living on rocky and infertile land. They were clannish, responding to the
harshness and turmoil of their environment by forming tight family bonds and placing loyalty to blood
above all else. And when they immigrated to North America, they moved into the American interior,
to remote, lawless, rocky, and marginally fertile places like Harlan that allowed them to reproduce in
the New World the culture of honor they had created in the Old World.

“To the first settlers, the American backcountry was a dangerous environment, just as the British
borderlands had been,” the historian David Hackett Fischer writes in Albion’s Seed.

Much of the southern highlands were “debatable lands” in the border sense of a contested
territory without established government or the rule of law. The borderers were more at home
than others in this anarchic environment, which was well suited to their family system, their
warrior ethic, their farming and herding economy, their attitudes toward land and wealth and
their ideas of work and power. So well adapted was the border culture to this environment that
other ethnic groups tended to copy it. The ethos of the North British borders came to dominate
this “dark and bloody ground,” partly by force of numbers, but mainly because it was a means
of survival in a raw and dangerous world.
*
The triumph of a culture of honor helps to explain why the pattern of criminality in the American
South has always been so distinctive. Murder rates are higher there than in the rest of the country. 
But crimes of property and “stranger” crimes—like muggings—are lower. As the sociologist John
Shelton Reed has written, “The homicides in which the South seems to specialize are those in which
someone is being killed by someone he (or often she) knows, for reasons both killer and victim
understand.” Reed adds: “The statistics show that the Southerner who can avoid arguments and
adultery is as safe as any other American, and probably safer.” In the backcountry, violence wasn’t
for economic gain. It was personal. You fought over your honor.

Many years ago, the southern newspaperman Hodding Carter told the story of how as a young man
he served on a jury. As Reed describes it:

The case before the jury involved an irascible gentleman who lived next door to a filling
station. For several months he had been the butt of various jokes played by the attendants and
the miscellaneous loafers who hung around the station, despite his warnings and his notorious
short temper. One morning, he emptied both barrels of his shotgun at his tormenters, killing
one, maiming another permanently, and wounding a third…. When the jury was polled by the
incredulous judge, Carter was the only juror who recorded his vote as guilty. As one of the
others put it, “He wouldn’t of been much of a man if he hadn’t shot them fellows.”

Only in a culture of honor would it have occurred to the irascible gentleman that shooting someone
was an appropriate response to a personal insult. And only in a culture of honor would it have
occurred to a jury that murder—under those circumstances—was not a crime.

I realize that we are often wary of making these kinds of broad generalizations about different
cultural groups—and with good reason. This is the form that racial and ethnic stereotypes take. We
want to believe that we are not prisoners of our ethnic histories.

But the simple truth is that if you want to understand what happened in those small towns in
Kentucky in the nineteenth century, you have to go back into the past—and not just one or two
generations. You have to go back two or three or four hundred years, to a country on the other side of
the ocean, and look closely at what exactly the people in a very specific geographic area of that
country did for a living. The “culture of honor” hypothesis says that it matters where you’re from, not
just in terms of where you grew up or where your parents grew up, but in terms of where your great 
grandparents and great-great-grandparents grew up and even where your great-great-great grandparents grew up. 
That is a strange and powerful fact. It’s just the beginning, though, because upon closer examination, 
cultural legacies turn out to be even stranger and more powerful than that.
In the early 1990s, two psychologists at the University of Michigan—Dov Cohen and Richard Nisbett
—decided to conduct an experiment on the culture of honor. They knew that what happened in places
like Harlan in the nineteenth century was, in all likelihood, a product of patterns laid down in the
English borderlands centuries before. But their interest was in the present day. Was it possible to find
remnants of the culture of honor in the modern era? So they decided to gather together a group of
young men and insult them. “We sat down and tried to figure out what is the insult that would go to the
heart of an eighteen-to-twenty-year-old’s brain,” Cohen says. “It didn’t take too long to come up with
‘asshole.’ ”

The experiment went like this. The social sciences building at the University of Michigan has a
long, narrow hallway in the basement lined with filing cabinets. The young men were called into a
classroom, one by one, and asked to fill out a questionnaire. Then they were told to drop off the
questionnaire at the end of the hallway and return to the classroom—a simple, seemingly innocent
academic exercise.

For half the young men, that was it. They were the control group. For the other half, there was a
catch. As they walked down the hallway with their questionnaire, a man—a confederate of the
experimenters—walked past them and pulled out a drawer in one of the filing cabinets. The already
narrow hallway now became even narrower. As the young men tried to squeeze by, the confederate
looked up, annoyed. He slammed the filing cabinet drawer shut, jostled the young men with his
shoulder, and, in a low but audible voice, said the trigger word: “Asshole.”

Cohen and Nisbett wanted to measure, as precisely as possible, what being called that word
meant. They looked at the faces of their subjects and rated how much anger they saw. They shook the
young men’s hands to see if their grip was firmer than usual. They took saliva samples from the
students, both before and after the insult, to see if being called an asshole caused their levels of
testosterone and cortisol—the hormones that drive arousal and aggression—to go up. Finally they
asked the students to read the following story and supply a conclusion:

It had only been about twenty minutes since they had arrived at the party when Jill pulled Steve
aside, obviously bothered about something.

“What’s wrong?” asked Steve.

“It’s Larry. I mean, he knows that you and I are engaged, but he’s already made two passes
at me tonight.”

Jill walked back into the crowd, and Steve decided to keep his eye on Larry. Sure enough,
within five minutes, Larry was reaching over and trying to kiss Jill.

If you’ve been insulted, are you more likely to imagine Steve doing something violent to Larry?
The results were unequivocal. There were clear differences in how the young men responded to
being called a bad name. For some, the insult changed their behavior. For some it didn’t. The
deciding factor in how they reacted wasn’t how emotionally secure they were, or whether they were
intellectuals or jocks, or whether they were physically imposing or not. What mattered—and I think
you can guess where this is headed—was where they were from. Most of the young men from the
northern part of the United States treated the incident with amusement. They laughed it off. Their 
handshakes were unchanged. Their levels of cortisol actually went down, as if they were unconsciously 
trying to defuse their own anger. Only a few of them had Steve get violent with Larry.
But the southerners? Oh, my. They were angry. Their cortisol and testosterone jumped. Their
handshakes got firm. Steve was all over Larry.

“We even played this game of chicken,” Cohen said. “We sent the students back down the
hallways, and around the corner comes another confederate. The hallway is blocked, so there’s only
room for one of them to pass. The guy we used was six three, two hundred fifty pounds. He used to
play college football. He was now working as a bouncer in a college bar. He was walking down the
hall in business mode—the way you walk through a bar when you are trying to break up a fight. The
question was: how close do they get to the bouncer before they get out of the way? And believe me,
they always get out of the way.”

For the northerners, there was almost no effect. They got out of the way five or six feet
beforehand, whether they had been insulted or not. The southerners, by contrast, were downright
deferential in normal circumstances, stepping aside with more than nine feet to go. But if they had just
been insulted? Less than two feet. Call a southerner an asshole, and he’s itching for a fight. What
Cohen and Nisbett were seeing in that long hall was the culture of honor in action: the southerners
were reacting like Wix Howard did when Little Bob Turner accused him of cheating at poker.

That study is strange, isn’t it? It’s one thing to conclude that groups of people living in circumstances
pretty similar to their ancestors’ act a lot like their ancestors. But those southerners in the hallway
study weren’t living in circumstances similar to their British ancestors. They didn’t even necessarily
have British ancestors. They just happened to have grown up in the South. None of them were
herdsmen. Nor were their parents herdsmen. They were living in the late twentieth century, not the
late nineteenth century. They were students at the University of Michigan, in one of the northernmost
states in America, which meant they were sufficiently cosmopolitan to travel hundreds of miles from
the south to go to college. And none of that mattered. They still acted like they were living in
nineteenth-century Harlan, Kentucky.

“Your median student in those studies comes from a family making over a hundred thousand
dollars, and that’s in nineteen ninety dollars,” Cohen says. “The southerners we see this effect with
aren’t kids who come from the hills of Appalachia. They are more likely to be the sons of uppermiddle 
management Coca-Cola executives in Atlanta. And that’s the big question. Why should we get
this effect with them? Why should one get it hundreds of years later? Why are these suburban-Atlanta
kids acting out the ethos of the frontier?”

Cultural legacies are powerful forces. They have deep roots and long lives. They persist, generation
after generation, virtually intact, even as the economic and social and demographic conditions that
spawned them have vanished, and they play such a role in directing attitudes and behavior that we
cannot make sense of our world without them.
Reply
#2
No study involved. Sociologists are liberal idiots too dumb to engage in real scientific inquiry. The math usually sends them into the pseudosciences unless they're already weird enough to go that way in the first place. Sociologists are brought up in the beginning of that screed. That is the signal to stop reading because BS lies ahead.
Reply
#3
(09-12-2019, 01:17 PM)3rdgensooner Wrote: No study involved. Sociologists are liberal idiots too dumb to engage in real scientific inquiry. The math usually sends them into the pseudosciences unless they're already weird enough to go that way in the first place. Sociologists are brought up in the beginning of that screed. That is the signal to stop reading because BS lies ahead.

Your opinion of them doesn't change the relevance/truth in them.  It's funny how unwilling so many people are to try to understand human nature and why we do the things we do.
Reply
#4
Yup. People choose their major based on their math skills. Sociology majors suck at math. Back in the day, the broad I was dating at the time wanted to study International Business at tOSU. I basically lived in Drackett Tower every weekend because she sucked at math. I decided it was not worth driving 2 hours each way to do her math homework. I told her as I walked out the door "You better get better at math quick or end up majoring in Sociology" she switched majors to - drum roll - Sociology.
"Man is free at the instant he wants to be"
--Voltaire
Reply
#5
(09-12-2019, 01:23 PM)P1tchblack Wrote:
(09-12-2019, 01:17 PM)3rdgensooner Wrote: No study involved. Sociologists are liberal idiots too dumb to engage in real scientific inquiry. The math usually sends them into the pseudosciences unless they're already weird enough to go that way in the first place. Sociologists are brought up in the beginning of that screed. That is the signal to stop reading because BS lies ahead.

Your opinion of them doesn't change the relevance/truth in them.  It's funny how unwilling so many people are to try to understand human nature and why we do the things we do.

Sociology is nothing more than a pseudoscience. It's dominated by women for a reason.
"Man is free at the instant he wants to be"
--Voltaire
Reply
#6
This is the kind of stuff that dupes ignorant people reading this nonsense:

As the sociologist John Shelton Reed has written, “The homicides in which the South seems to specialize are those in which someone is being killed by someone he (or often she) knows, for reasons both killer and victim understand.”

It's a meaningless comment attempting to sound significant because in reality, the vast majority of homicides everywhere involve people that know each other.  Has literally zero to do with the South or Southerners.  What a joke.
Drive like hell!!  You'll get there!
Reply
#7
(09-12-2019, 01:41 PM)Hightop77 Wrote: This is the kind of stuff that dupes ignorant people reading this nonsense:

As the sociologist John Shelton Reed has written, “The homicides in which the South seems to specialize are those in which someone is being killed by someone he (or often she) knows, for reasons both killer and victim understand.”

It's a meaningless comment attempting to sound significant because in reality, the vast majority of homicides everywhere involve people that know each other.  Has literally zero to do with the South or Southerners.  What a joke.

You bolded, but clearly missed, the important part:  for reasons both killer and victim understand.

Reply
#8
(09-12-2019, 01:41 PM)Hightop77 Wrote: This is the kind of stuff that dupes ignorant people reading this nonsense:

As the sociologist John Shelton Reed has written, “The homicides in which the South seems to specialize are those in which someone is being killed by someone he (or often she) knows, for reasons both killer and victim understand.”

It's a meaningless comment attempting to sound significant because in reality, the vast majority of homicides everywhere involve people that know each other.  Has literally zero to do with the South or Southerners.  What a joke.

Yup. Just like 'correlation does not equal cause'.
"Man is free at the instant he wants to be"
--Voltaire
Reply
#9
(09-12-2019, 01:43 PM)P1tchblack Wrote:
(09-12-2019, 01:41 PM)Hightop77 Wrote: This is the kind of stuff that dupes ignorant people reading this nonsense:

As the sociologist John Shelton Reed has written, “The homicides in which the South seems to specialize are those in which someone is being killed by someone he (or often she) knows, for reasons both killer and victim understand.”

It's a meaningless comment attempting to sound significant because in reality, the vast majority of homicides everywhere involve people that know each other.  Has literally zero to do with the South or Southerners.  What a joke.

You bolded, but clearly missed, the important part:  for reasons both killer and victim understand.

And that is true for nearly all homicides when people know each other.  I can't believe you just posted that.
Drive like hell!!  You'll get there!
Reply
#10
(09-12-2019, 01:41 PM)Hightop77 Wrote: This is the kind of stuff that dupes ignorant people reading this nonsense:

As the sociologist John Shelton Reed has written, “The homicides in which the South seems to specialize are those in which someone is being killed by someone he (or often she) knows, for reasons both killer and victim understand.”

It's a meaningless comment attempting to sound significant because in reality, the vast majority of homicides everywhere involve people that know each other.  Has literally zero to do with the South or Southerners.  What a joke.

LOL. Apparently Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, etc. are in the South now.
Reply
#11
(09-12-2019, 01:49 PM)Hightop77 Wrote:
(09-12-2019, 01:43 PM)P1tchblack Wrote:
(09-12-2019, 01:41 PM)Hightop77 Wrote: This is the kind of stuff that dupes ignorant people reading this nonsense:

As the sociologist John Shelton Reed has written, “The homicides in which the South seems to specialize are those in which someone is being killed by someone he (or often she) knows, for reasons both killer and victim understand.”

It's a meaningless comment attempting to sound significant because in reality, the vast majority of homicides everywhere involve people that know each other.  Has literally zero to do with the South or Southerners.  What a joke.

You bolded, but clearly missed, the important part:  for reasons both killer and victim understand.

And that is true for nearly all homicides when people know each other.  I can't believe you just posted that.

I can.

It's obvious p!tch majored in Sociology or some other pseudoscience. I suspected it awhile ago.
"Man is free at the instant he wants to be"
--Voltaire
Reply
#12
(09-12-2019, 01:49 PM)Hightop77 Wrote:
(09-12-2019, 01:43 PM)P1tchblack Wrote:
(09-12-2019, 01:41 PM)Hightop77 Wrote: This is the kind of stuff that dupes ignorant people reading this nonsense:

As the sociologist John Shelton Reed has written, “The homicides in which the South seems to specialize are those in which someone is being killed by someone he (or often she) knows, for reasons both killer and victim understand.”

It's a meaningless comment attempting to sound significant because in reality, the vast majority of homicides everywhere involve people that know each other.  Has literally zero to do with the South or Southerners.  What a joke.

You bolded, but clearly missed, the important part:  for reasons both killer and victim understand.

And that is true for nearly all homicides when people know each other.  I can't believe you just posted that.

(I'll try again, because this most definitely is not true of most homicides but, please, just keep repeating your faux 'shock')

for reasons both killer and victim understand.
Reply


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