Culture and Sociology of the Nacerima Body Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Culture and Sociology of the Nacerima

Body Rituals Among the Nacirema," by Horace Miner is an article that offers a social look at the American lifestyle. The author steps outside of the American culture and describes how somebody unfamiliar to the culture might describe it. This manages to open the reader's eyes to the fact that the American culture can be seen as just as strange as unfamiliar foreign cultures. The article is based around the concept that the, "fundamental belief underlying the whole system appears to be that the human body is ugly and that its natural tendency is to debility and disease" (Miner). The culture described is based on rituals that attempt to prevent this journey towards debility and disease. The norms, institutions and material goods described are all based on health aspects. Three of these that illustrate this are teeth brushing as a norm, the hospital as an institution, and medicines as a material good.

Brushing of the teeth is presented as one of the norms of the culture. This is closely linked to the emphasis on health. As the author says, "The Nacirema have an almost pathological horror of and fascination with the mouth, the condition of which is believed to have a supernatural influence on all social relationships" (Miner). The author takes this to the extreme explaining that, "Were it not for the rituals of the mouth, they believe that their teeth would fall out, their gums bleed, their jaws shrink, their friends desert them, and their lovers reject them" (Miner). The most interesting thing about this presentation of teeth brushing is that it is true - the state of one's teeth is something that impacts on how someone is viewed and has social significance…

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