The Importance Of Autonomy In Society

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In this chapter, the key social problem Dorothy Lee is addressing to us is the conflict that is seen between personal autonomy and social structure. Lee looks at different societies, like the Wintu Indians of California, The Sikhs and the Navaho Indians of Arizona and New Mexico, and shows “how the principle of personal autonomy is supported by the cultural framework.”(Lee,5). She shows how this conflict has been solved within these societies. All three of those societies have different ways in child rearing (and because of this we will see how) and will show how each child’s personal autonomy is shaped by the societies they grow up in. This will show us how society does have an effect on our personal autonomy and how their societies are …show more content…
When a child from that society asks “can I?”, they are not asking if you will let them do something, they are asking if it is okay to do so according to the rules of structure. “These people do not give freedom to their children, because it is not theirs to give” (Lee). A child’s freedom is not our own, so we cannot provide them or give them freedom. They are in charge of their own freedom because it is theirs and no one else’s. In the Wintu society you will also see how a child’s actions are not controlled by anyone. The parent will be there to provide them with food when hungry, and put them to bed when they’re tired, but the parent will never act according to their own schedule. This is because the parent’s actions have nothing to do with the child’s actions. By letting the child act on its own you are showing respect towards the child’s individuality and uniqueness and letting them make decisions on their own. This society really values child individuality. They do not try to control them because the child is its own person. They don’t believe in commanding a child, but guiding them. By doing this they are showing the child respect. The Wintu Indians way of child rearing really does let a child express its own personal …show more content…
When a baby was given a toy truck without being shown how to use it, respect for the individual was shown. Many of us may not understand how that would be showing respect because the boy did not do anything but give it to him. Ethnographer Marian Smith was confused when she saw this at first as well, but later on realized that “the boy was acting consistently with the cultural values” (Lee). The Sikh believe that by letting the child experience new things, it will eventually end up helping them with individual learning. Opening up the idea to their being more than one way of doing something. This lets you take control of your personal autonomy. This lets the child experience and and explore to their extent. The child’s ideas and interpretations are not influenced by the other person’s influences. So they way the child ends up playing with the toy truck is his own personal way, not because someone showed him how it should be done. If we act this way people will not feel controlled. They will have the freedom to act on their own free will, and there will be no right or wrong way to do things. This ends up showing respect and value for the

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