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Cultural Analysis: !Kung San

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!Kung living through modesty

Being a nomadic culture, the !Kung have very few possessions or needs for them. Because of this, crimes like stealing are very rare. In fact, the !Kung are afraid of angry words and violence, so the occasional dispute is worked out long before it becomes a major one.1

There is an emphasis on modesty in the !Kung culture which helps enforce the egalitarian nature of the !Kung society. Creating a cooperative atmosphere is imperative for a culture living in such harsh conditions. They make sure that no one act can cause differentiation between people, everyone shares in everything brought into the village.4 Gift-giving and selflessness are emphasized in the group to help create an environment where everyone is able to trust in each other.

Without a formal authority figure, the !Kung govern themselves through group consensus. Disputes are resolved through lengthy discussions where everyone involved has a chance to make their thoughts heard until an agreement can be reached.9


Functionalist Perspective

Gift-giving, modesty, and selflessness all strive towards one purpose in the !Kung culture, creating and keeping a cohesive group that not only needs to work together but wants to work together. Discussion functions as one of the primary tools in keeping the bond within the community.

Conflict Perspective

Conflicts in the !Kung culture are handled quickly through group involvement. Because of their fear of violence and anger, the majority of any conflict is dealt with long before it becomes anything major.

Symbolic Perspective

Because of the importance placed on gift-giving and selflessness, more emphasis is placed on the symbols dealing with the whole group, rather than anything individualistic. Discussion is the primary tool used, symbolizing the !Kung's need for everyone to be involved and given a voice in the dispute.



This site was created for SOCIOLOGY 1 SEC DE1 (21594) FALL 2005.