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Chapter 9: The Life Cycle

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Reading Assignment: Chapter 9: The Life Cycle

In this assignment you will review the most common changes in status that people pass through during their lifetimes. You will learn how rites of passage aid people through the life cycle. You will learn about the diversity of ways in which pregnancy is understood and childbirth occurs. You will come to understand the reasons for cultural differences in courtship, marriage, parenthood, divorce, and old age. You will also learn about the diverse ways in which social stability is maintained when individual members die.

Assignment Overview

MCQ   ::  Matching   ::  True/False  ::   Short Essay

MCQ - Chapter 9: The Life Cycle

1. Which of the following defines life cycle?

a. a person’s daily activities
b. the yearly cycle of events that a person experiences
c. the social problems that recur in any society
d. the changes in social status that a member of society passes through during his or her lifetime

2. Rites of passage are typically practiced in the cultures of the world on which of the following occasions?

a. during major social upheaval
b. in preparation for war
c. during changes in social status that are experienced by all members of society
d. during times of particular importance to an individual

3. Which of the following is NOT a social function that rites of passage play?

a. They help maintain stability and order in society.
b. They give individuals the opportunity to create new roles for themselves that are not already available in their society.
c. They are symbolic dramatizations during crisis events in an individual’s life.
d. They help the individual recognize the importance of adopting new habits in his or her new social role.

4. Which of the following best summarizes the views of Leach about the pregnancy beliefs of the Tully River people?

a. They were truly unaware that sex causes pregnancy.
b. They were straightforward descriptions of what they observed.
c. Their comprehension of conception has no parallels in Western cultures.
d. They were a way of emphasizing the important social bonds in their society.

5. What best defines the naming ceremony in cultures throughout the world?

a. purification of the child by symbolic washing
b. circumcision
c. symbolic induction into human society
d. ritual socialization of the infant

6. Restrictiveness regarding sexual experimentation before adulthood is likely where:

a. control of property is unimportant.
b. male solidarity is economically or politically important.
c. class distinctions or differences in wealth are unimportant.
d. parents have little interest in the future marriage plans of their children.

7. According to research by Cohen, puberty rituals are LEAST common in which of the following societies?

a. Those with extended families.
b. Those with nuclear families.
c. Those in which children have to be trained to play an interdependent, cooperative role with other family members.
d. Those with lineages or clans.

8. According to Brown, female puberty rituals are common where:

a. women are politically dominant.
b. married couples establish their residence near the wife’s relatives.
c. women engage in heavy labor.
d. women’s associations cooperate in work activities.

9. Divorce is most likely where:

a. bride price is customary.
b. dowry is customary.
c. it is customary for the couple to live in an extended family.
d. income is unrelated to kinship ties and neolocal residence is practiced.

10. High social rank is LEAST likely to be associated with old age where:

a. the married couple are economically independent from other relatives.
b. post-marital residence rules require a couple to live near one spouse’s parents.
c. older people live with related married couples
d. descent is traced through only one of the parents rather than through both.

11. Which of the following is NOT true of funeral rituals?

a. They encourage the survivors to adjust to the absence of the deceased.
b. They provide a setting in which issues of property rights are settled.
c. They pass on the statuses of the deceased to new persons.
d. They usually have little emphasis on religious ritual symbolism.

Matching Exercise - Chapter 9: The Life Cycle

1. life cycle
2. rite of passage
3. pregnancy rituals
4. marking
5. couvade
6. naming ceremony
7. puberty ritual
8. circumcision

9. scarification
10. sleep crawling
11. teknonymy
12. divorce
13. biological death
14. psychological death
15. social death
16. funeral ritual



the process by which one subjectively prepares for impending biological death



the idea that the behaviors of a woman during pregnancy may influence the physical or psychological characteristics of the unborn child



the termination of a marriage relationship



the custom of referring to a person as the parent of his or her child rather than by birth name



a rite of passage that formalizes the change from the status of child to the status of adult



a rite of passage that formalizes the removal of an individual from the status of living member of the social group



religious rules such as taboos designed to protect the unborn child and the mother during pregnancy and childbirth or admonitions to engage in acts believed to be a positive influence on the developing child



the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis



the status changes from birth to death that are typical of a particular society



measured by cessation of such organic functions as breathing, heartbeat, reaction to pain, or brain functioning



a Samoan sexual practice in which an uninvited youth would enter a young woman's house after dark with the intent of seduction



a custom in which the husband acts as if he gives birth to his child



the point at which people respond to a person with the behaviors appropriate to one who is biologically dead



a rite of passage following birth, at which the infant is declared a member of the human group by being given a name



a ritual that formalizes a major change in social status



decorating the body by cutting designs in it and treating them with ashes or other material to ensure that they will produce raised scars

True/False - Chapter 9: The Life Cycle






1. The ways people explain pregnancy sometimes parallel the ways social power is allocated by gender in their societies.



2. According to cross-cultural research by George Devereux, intentional abortions seem to have been practiced in few of the societies that anthropologists have studied.



3. According to Ford and Beach, premarital sexuality is most likely to be forbidden in societies in which people are ranked by differences in wealth and class.



4. Rites of passage help maintain social stability when individuals move from one status to another, and they help individuals make the change from one set of habits (or roles) to another.



5. Pregnancy rituals are religious rituals that are intended to protect the child and pregnant woman and to aid in a successful birth.



6. According to Hall, customs that are learned formally can be quite easy to change.



7. Puberty rituals tend to be most dramatic when the transition to adulthood is relatively easy.



8. In many societies, the marriage ritual is a purely secular matter.



9. Divorce is more common in societies in which the means of livelihood is not inherited.



10. Funeral rituals typically involve religious symbolism.

Short Essay Questions - Chapter 9: The Life Cycle

1. What rites of passage are most often publicly celebrated as important changes during the life cycle in societies throughout the world?

2. What are pregnancy rituals? Give an example from your own culture.

3. What are the characteristics of societies in which abortions are most likely to be accepted?

4. What is the most common posture adopted by women throughout the world for giving birth and benefits does it have over the position that American women have traditionally been expected to adopt in the hospital birthing process?

5. What environmental and social characteristics are most often associated with the couvade?

6. Under what circumstances are societies most restrictive regarding sexual experimentation before adulthood?

7. What social conditions increase the likelihood of puberty rituals for males and for females?

8. According to Whiting, Kluckhohn, and Anthony, what social traits are most commonly associated with circumcision at puberty?

9. What social characteristics are associated with low divorce rates cross culturally?

10. Under what conditions is old age likely to be associated with high social rank?

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, January 04). Chapter 9: The Life Cycle. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License