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Essay on Margaret Mead - looking at other cultures to better understand the complexities of human


sarahmk 22 / 55  
Sep 3, 2007   #1
I had to written a short essay--information on Margaret Mead

The information has to include Basic Information (Their field of science, when and were she was born and died)-8 Marks

Major Accomplishments (6 marks)
What theories did she deduce or support...and what are some current applications of this theory--11 marks

Her hardships and fame (2 Marks)
My opinion of her (5 marks)
and ofcourse the writing has to be clear and concise (8marks)


Born Dec, 16 1901, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia., US.

Margaret Mead was a prominent, woman archaeologist who educated Americans about the value of looking precisely and openly at other cultures to better understand the complexities of being human. She was a major proponent of women's rights, who shone light on issues that allowed individuals to substantially understand human nature.

Mead was married three times within her lifetime to three different anthropologists. She was first married ti Luther Cressman, followed by Reo Fortune and then later on she got wedded to Gregory Bateson (1936-1950), whom she had a daughter with, named Mary Catherine Bateson. There was also rumors that Mead was involved in a lesbian relationships with Ruth Bredict, due to them establishing an exceptionally close bond. She is usually associated with being the first individual to actually study child rearing in depth.

Mead was the first female anthropologist to become president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (). She was awarded a gold medla by the society for Women Geographers, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1979. Mead was an influential writer, explorer and teacher, who worked in the Department of Anthropology located at the American Museum of Natural History. In 1964 she was appointed Curator of the American Museum of Natural History to 1969, which was one of her greatest achievements.

After studying one year at DePauw University (1919), then transferring to Barnard College where she received her Bachelor's degree (1923), she attended Columbia University, where she earned her Ph.D (1929). During her time at Columbia University, she studied with Professor Franz Boas and his assistant Dr. Ruth Benedict before earning her Master's Degree in 1924. Mead's studies primarily concentrated on child-rearing, culture, sexuality and personality within Pacific nations, and America's society. Two Pacific regions Mead focused on were Samoa and New Guinea, which resulted in ethnographies such as Coming Age in Samoa (1928) and Growing up in New Guinea (1930).

At the age of twenty-three she traveled to the South Pacific to conduct research for her first doctoral dissertation. This research turned into her best-seller, "Coming of Age in Samoa," which shines light on adolescent sexual behavior in a Polynesian society. It focuses on the development of young females within Samoa, in contrast to the female youth within America's society. Throughout these ethnographic findings, Mead was able to discover that culture influences personality, not genetics.

"Growing up in New Guinea," focuses on the Arapesh, Mudugumor and Tchambuli cultures (tribes). Her fieldwork consisted of insightful information, regarding their family lives, exploring their feelings towards sex and marriage as well as child-rearing.

"Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies" (1935) and "Male and Female" (1949) concentrates on how particular cultures in the Pacific region view femininity and masculinity. These books reflect some of the theories Mead supported, regarding gender roles among peoples of the Pacific and an analysation of sexual patterns within America's society. Her anthropological examination of Pacific island tribes, truly analyses the dynamics of primitive cultures, in relation to America's modernized perception of "male" and "female."

Mead disproved of the theory that masculine and feminine roles were innate and unchangeable. Her research during her stay in New Guinea, allowed her to realize that there was a difference in attitudes and identification of male and females roles within their culture, compared to America, where the male gender is portrayed as being superior over the female sex. Mead always examined and created theories based on how women and men viewed their femaleness and maleness in the twentieth century.

Mead addresses the theory that various so-called masculine and feminine characteristics are not based on fundamental sex differences, but reflect the cultural conditioning of different societies. These arguments could be found in her novel New Samoa, in which was questioned by Australian anthropologist Derek Freeman, in his published novel entitled "Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making of an Anthropological Myth" (1983).

Freedom proclaimed that Mead's conclusions of the adolescent behaviour in Samoa, were fallacious and not relevant facts. Arguments surround this controversy, since some stated that the individuals who were interviewed by Mead, were older when Freeman questioned them. Due to them being older, it could've caused their opinions to change regarding sexuality, since they have matured. While others claimed that when Freedom visited Samoa their ideologies changed, due to their culture being influenced by western civilization.

Regardless of the controversy, Mead remains one of the most acknowledged archeologist, due to her bringing awareness regarding serious issues into the public consciousness. Margaret died in 1978 having lived a much enriched life. I strong believe, that she helped changed the women's movement, in terms of forming equality amongst both genders. The issues she explored, allowed Americans to view how the structure of their society was unbalanced and unequal.

Mead open the doors for women today, so that females could voice their opinions and ideas, without being criticized, due to them being a woman. Even though Mead endured hardships, due to her novel "Coming to Samoa," being questioned by Derek Freeman, her divorces and the fact that she was a women who was trying to make a difference, in a time where males were acknowledged for obtaining power.

She will always be remembered. Not for the fact that she has written 44 books and over 100 articles translated in different languages. Or that she won various awards for achievements (President of Society for Applied Anthropology, the World Federation of Mental Health, and the American Anthropological Association.) , but for being a forceful, and brilliant entity who had a major impact on the world of anthropology.

sadaf - / 1  
Oct 20, 2010   #2
Paper on Margeret Mead, need sources information

Hi, Sarah
I am doing my paper on Margeret Mead as well. You have done a great job, but i don't see any work cited page. Do you mind telling which books or sources you have used?

Thank you


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