From linguistics to archaeology, anthropology is the study of humankind, past and present, and the origin of all cross cultural studies.
Family, sexuality, and love are topics of much interest to anthropologists.
Each of these themes is at the core of humanity.
We’ll cover them in detail over the upcoming weeks.
Why These Topics Matter to Cross-Cultural Management
However, I’d argue that they do for two reasons:
- A culture’s social fabric is woven by family structures. By better understanding family-related values and norms, you’ll integrate much more smoothly into a society than if you have no clue about the important roles that family members play.
- Sexual mores often evoke the strongest emotional reactions, as these norms are amongst the earliest socialized norms in a culture and are often enforced by religious and social taboos. Awareness of unfamiliar social mores will help you avoid crossing boundaries and keep you clear and well away from those dratted taboos.
In effect, any information about a culture’s values and norms will fortify understanding and help you view a culture through their own lens. Only when you can see from the culture’s perspective can you truly identify with their mentality and integrate cross-culturally.
Family, Sex & Love in Culture
Of these three topics, family structures is one of the more thoroughly researched of all anthropological studies.
The study, Family: Variations and Changes Across Cultures, explains why:
“In order to study psychological phenomena cross-culturally, it is necessary to understand the different types of family in cultures throughout the world and also how family types are related to cultural features of societies.”
Family structures are the blueprint for societal structures, as well as mentality. This is why some knowledge of family values and norms will gain you significant headway when managing across cultures.
Sex is also on the mind of many an anthropologist. Although, according to The Cross-Cultural Study of Human Sexuality, “Anthropology has long had a love-hate relationship [with it].”
This is largely due to the own sexual mores of those anthropologists in question. Across many cultures, the topic is seen as taboo or controversial, so sexuality remains a “rarely studied” topic of human experience.
Moreover, love and romance is mixed in with family and sexuality and has been since the dawn of time.
According to Love Across Cultures:
“Although love needs to be framed within a cultural context, many scholars believe that romantic love is transcultural. Elaine Hatfield and Richard L. Rapson (1996) viewed passionate love as common to virtually all cultures, and indeed, romantic love has been found in most countries of the world.”
Over the next few weeks, we’ll dissect research on all three topics in more detail, taking a look at remote and predominant cultures, alike, to discover both shared and divergent values and norms in these themes.