Ethnography through Life Story
Ethnographythrough Life Story
MaterialItems as a Child
Quitea large number of items have slowly been phased out in the lastseveral decades. In my childhood, I was given a radio cassetterecorder, as well as cassette tapes on which were songs of some ofthe best musicians of the time. These functioned more or less likethe current CDs and DVDs, although they only managed around 24imageless songs. Further, one could record conversations on emptytapes, by pressing some red button on the tape recorder. In instanceswhere the tape was removed and then returned into the radio cassette,the stage of playing the record would still be the same.
Comparingpast and future technology
Ofcourse, much has changed with regard to technology since the 20thcentury. Perhaps the most fundamental change revolves around themobile phone technology. In the past, a large proportion ofcommunication was carried out through the mail, and later on, theradios and telephones. Wired telephones were seen as a technologicalbreakthrough of our times. Today, mobile phones are at the epitome oftechnological breakthrough, alongside computers and othercommunication technologies such as the internet. Needless to say,these come with enhanced efficiency and convenience, which is animmense technological breakthrough. Perhaps the concepts that thepast and present technologies used are the same. However, there is aclear distinction between the two.
Importanceof Family as a Social Unit in my Youth
Thefamily has always been a crucial unit in the lives of peopleparticularly given the fact that it was the most basic unit of thesociety. In the past, the family gave an individual a sense ofbelonging and was one of the most fundamental support systems. Itallowed individuals to be at their most authentic without feelinglike outsiders. It was often the case that bigger families werepreferred than small ones, simply because larger families were notonly a sign of wealth but also meant that there would be more peopleready and capable of taking care of the older people. It is notsurprising that a large number of people of the same family or clanlived within the same place.
Therehas not been much changes with regard to seeking to know individualsor interact with them. However, it is noted that in the past, being“bad” was not seen as a desirable trait. Indeed, one has to beextremely polite before he or she could seek to interact with aperson of the opposite sex. In the 20thcentury, dating used to take quite a long time, with women takingquite a long time before they could accept to be someone’s friendor girlfriend, leave alone fiancé and wife.
Nevertheless,most relationships would emanate from a particular reference, forinstance, having a relative or a friend introduce two individuals andleaving them by their own means. In most cases, gifts would beexchanged usually from the man to the woman all in an effort toendear himself to her heart. It is worth noting that there did notexist much “hanging out” since the only places that people couldvisit together were theaters and music concerts, or even parks andmuseums. At this time, however, touching and kissing was kept at abare minimum particularly at the initial stages until a bond had beenestablished indicating that the individuals concerned were not mereacquaintances but lovers. It is noteworthy that one was expected tokeep a respectful distance from other people who may be deemed ashaving the capacity to compromise his or her newly establishedrelationship including past lovers and possible suitors.
Themost conspicuous change in the American way of life may be seen inthe attitudes towards marriage. As much as there may have beenchanges regarding the position of women and men in marriage, therewere some things that remained the same across the board. Forinstance, marriage was deemed to be a permanent union that could onlycease to exist in instances where one of the spouses died or in caseswhere the man divorced his wife as a result of adultery. Indeed, itis noteworthy that only men could divorce women and not womendivorcing their husbands. On the same note, women were notparticularly keen on competing with men on the home front. Indeed,there was only one head of the family, who also was charged with theresponsibility of providing for the family. Of course, there was aparadigm shift when the women were introduced to the world of earningand working in the factories particularly during World War 2. As muchas few would have preferred or even agreed to go back to making homesas was the norm earlier on, men still remained the heads of families,with women taking part in nurturing the children and making theirhomes.
Goodneighborliness was deemed one of the most crucial elements in thesociety, particularly considering that one could always depend orrely on his or her neighbors. Indeed, it was common for neighbors andfriends to ask for and provide favors, whether in the form of jobs orconnections. It was often the case that good neighborliness would bemaintained through showing interest in their lives, showingappreciation in instances where they did something good orbeneficial, as well as apologizing in instances where someone was onthe wrong. With regard to taking interest in people’s lives, it wasoften the case that neighbors would never fail to attend theimportant events of an individual irrespective of how tight theirschedules were, as their very livelihoods were dependent on thequality of relations. The same case applied to coworkers and friends,where individuals would often spend a long time with each other,share events or even exchange gifts. In instances where a friend,neighbor or workmate was in trouble, the first person to come to hisor her assistance would be the friend or neighbor. Indeed, there wereinstances where neighbors and friends would join hands so as toassist an individual, possibly with hospital bills or otheraccompanying services. Taking part in such activities allowed forimmense solidarity and enhanced the cohesiveness of the social unitsthat had been created.
Importanceof Participating in Civil Duties
Oneof the most feelings that could not be substituted was the feeling ofpatriotism that came upon an individual when he or she took part incivil duties. In joining the military and going ahead to fight in faroff and dangerous lands, an individual did not simply aim at having ajob or earning a living but rather doing something that would enhancethe survival and strength of the greatest country that he or sheknew. Of course, at that time, it was rare or even unheard of for awoman to join the military. Nevertheless, getting an opportunity tojoin the military and fight in the varied wars was a way of cementingone’s patriotism to his country. It was all for the benefit of thecountry and with the aim of ensuring that it remained and survivedfor the sake of future generations. Further, it was a way ofsafeguarding the democracy that had been established in the country,which was also the primary motive for taking part in voting. Votingallowed individuals to make decisions regarding the manner in whichtheir funds would be used in the short-term and long-term. Inessence, it was not only a patriotic duty but also a way of ensuringthat the future was better than the present or the past.
Worriesas a Young Man
Numerousworries plagued the lives of young people. This was particularly withregard to the best way for eliminating poverty in their lives and atleast ensuring that their children received the best education thatwould allow them to sustain themselves in the contemporary andchanging world. In addition, there were fears regarding the mostappropriate areas to live, without falling prey to the varied gangsaround.
Importanceof Formal Education
Ofcourse, formal education was pretty much important in the 20thcentury. Indeed, given the fact that almost every aspect of the livesof individuals was dependent on the level of education that they had,it became imperative that one not only acquires formal education butalso had the best and highest level of education that he couldmanage. It had become evident that only individuals who possessedsome formal education fared well in life, obtained the best jobs andearned good salaries, therefore, having the capacity to provide thebest lives to their families. In essence, formal education was thesurest way of eliminating poverty and living a good life.
Giventhe hectic nature of life in the 20thcentury, religion was extremely important. Not only did it come withan element of peace in the face of dangers, uncertainties,insecurities and helplessness, but it also offered an explanation ofthe individual suffering. It may be important to note that there werenumerous sources of suffering, including loss of loved one in thewars, or even the incurable ailments at that time. In essence,religion puts faith in God and creates the belief that the human fateis under the control of some mysterious powers, thereby making thesuffering and loss of the individuals meaningful. Further, religionwas a way of enhancing social solidarity, which came off as extremelycrucial to individuals in the 20thcentury given social systems that existed at that time. It was alsoseen as a way of enhancing socialization, as well as social control.It is not surprising that crime levels were extremely low, unlike themodern times where rates of crime seem to have gone way off.
Valuestaught in the 20thCentury
Perhapsone of the most crucial values that were taught in the 20thcentury was honesty, with individuals being required to remain honestirrespective of how detrimental the results would be to anindividual. Further, it was required that individuals always be kindto others, whether or not they knew them. This was the only way ofensuring that a proper society was raised, a society that could becounted on to sustain its human side even in the face of difficulty.Respect to parents and elders was unconditional in all cases.
Differencebetween life in the 20thcentury and 21stcentury
Ofcourse, life in the past is, with no doubt, different from life inthe current times. This is particularly in the case of relationsbetween women and men, with men seeming to lose their place at thehelm of their homes. Indeed, it seems that women can perfectlycompete with their male counterparts in almost every aspect of theirlives including the managerial levels of business entities, somethingthat was seen as quite difficult in the 20thcentury. As much as women were highly valued at that time, it wasrare for them to occupy fundamental positions in factories andindustries, not to mention that there were jobs that they were deemedto be unsuitable to perform (Whisenhunt56). In the present times, it seems that women have limitlesshorizons regarding the areas that they can explore.
Adviceregarding preparing for the future
Itis difficult to predict much about the future. However, always bekeen to sight opportunities irrespective of the areas of yourexpertise. Acquire as much knowledge as possible as this is the onlyway that anyone would stand a chance to survive in the future.Further, strive to provide your children with the most appropriateeducation, as this is the best investment that anyone can bequeath tohis or her children.
Whisenhunt,Donald W. Readingthe Twentieth Century: Documents in American History.Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009. Print.