The Coming of Age in Samoa

The nature vs. nurture argument has been long debated to start with when discussions about human actions and feelings are slated.  The general objective of Meads research was aimed at the role of different cultural patters in human character. Are the disturbances which vex our adolescents due to the nature of adolescents itself or to the civilisation Under different conditions does adolescence present a different picture are the main questions at hand when she went to the coast of the little island of Tau, in Samoa.

She discussed the Samoan womens way of life as she have witnessed and recounted by the key informants. This also includes the education, sexual behaviours, and organization of the group. Meads study was a breakthrough in the field of anthropology. It opened the concept of cultural determinism  the idea that human nature is shaped exclusively by culture and not biological inheritance. In relation to education, this was shown by looking at ...the process by which the baby, arrived cultureless upon the human scene, becomes full-fledged adult member of the society. Contrary to the western concept, Samoan birthdays are of little account, but for the birth itself of the baby of high rank, a great feast will be held... (20). Age is also distinct to the Samoan society given that, Relative age is of great importance, for the elder may always command the younger - until the positions of adult life upset the arrangement - but actual age may well be forgotten (24). Moreover, the grouping is influenced but not determined by relationship, and distorted by the influence of rank, prospective rank in the case of youth, equal rank but disproportionate age in the case of older men (73).

In conclusion, her work opened the doors to the new perception of human nature with which a culture influences most of peoples action and character. However, her work should have been applied for comparison in the Western society.  The gender-based approach of the study also paved the way to a new focus of analysis during that time. Lastly, cultural relativismdeterminism highlighted that instinctive human nature is superseded by cultural patterns.


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