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Gender Ideology and Psychological Reality An Essay on Cultural Reproduction cover
  • ISBN: 9780300070071
  • ISBN10: 0300070071

Gender Ideology and Psychological Reality An Essay on Cultural Reproduction

by Melford E. Spiro

  • List Price: $65.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Yale Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 09/01/1997
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Why do members of a society espouse culturally constituted beliefs that are at odds with their personal interests and experiences? In this book Melford Spiro, a psychological anthropologist, answers this question by investigating ideologies of gender and sex relations in Burma, according to which men are superior and women are morally and sexually dangerous -- despite the reality that women actually enjoy high economic, legal, and social status. Spiro argues that these sexist ideologies -- prevalent in most of the human world -- are an expression of male anxieties and insecurities.

Spiro proposes a theory of cultural reproduction that is an alternative to the enculturation model of radical cultural determinism. He postulates that cultural systems are reproduced only insofar as they are internalized by members of society and that this occurs if these systems resonate with members' conscious and unconscious beliefs and desires or are employed by them as a resource for the construction of defense mechanisms. He compares his firsthand observations of a Burmese village to extensive data from a wide array of other societies (including our own) and argues that this explanation applies to all societies.

"Spiro makes a compelling case for the importance of inherent (genetic) needs, desires, and emotions in culture study. His book is a clear and decisive defense of traditional psychological-psychoanalytic anthropology". -- David Gilmore, State University of New York-Stony Brook

"An analysis of misogyny that is sure to arouse attention and stir up controversy". -- Harold Schefler, Yale University

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