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Ethnographic Comparison

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Ethnographic Comparison

Keelymarie Rothgaber
February 17, 2015
Module 5 Assignment 1

The societies that I have chosen was Italian and German and the human culture aspect I have decided to use was domestic life and kinship. The reason why I chose domestic life and kinship was because Cultural anthropology plays a big part in how we choose to interact and live our lives differently in different cultures. Anthropology can be an interesting way to evaluate groups or individuals progress or expectations. Kinship is relationships with your family and anthropology plays a part by observing how it has changed and what makes it different from culture to culture and why. Domestic life is essentially how an individual relates to their family, home, and other household affairs.
Italy was known as the birthplace of western civilization and started an impact internationally with the Roman Empire. Renaissance, Roman Catholic Church and the Risorgimento. Italy is located in southern Europe bordering Austria, France, and Switzerland along with others. The Italian family is very important to the social structure of Italy, it provides a stabilizing influence for all the family members. Different parts of Italy have different size families, the south is known for having a large extended family living together while the north is mostly a nuclear family. All family members provide financial and emotional support for each other. In Italy it matters to others on how you present yourself, it also can indicate your social status, families background and how well educated you are. First impressions mean everything and they think the concept of a good image is important to Italians.
Germany is in the center of Europe geographically and economically too, it has the second highest population in Europe right under Russia, and it as the largest economy in the continent and the fifth largest in the world. The countries that border Germany are Austria, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Czech and a few others. In Germany it is very important to have a high priority on privacy, punctuality and structure. They are also known for their hard work, thriftiness, and industriousness. Germans strive for perfection and precision throughout every aspects of their lives. They would rarely admit that they did something wrong or were at fault, and they never hand out compliments to others.
Marriage in Italy has changed drastically, from having an arranged marriage to being as it is in the United States. Most Italians marry except in some families there is a custom that at least one child remains unmarried so that can take care of their elderly members and aged parents. It was until recently where divorce was forbidden. Domestic family is the basic household family, some have their relatives live with them and it is usually two or more families living together. It is also very common for a newly married couple to live with the bride’s family until they are more financially stable to live on their own. In theory the man was the ruler of the home while the wife was a stay at home worker, doing all the house work and taking care of the children but as times have changes so has the family, more than often both partners work outside the home.
Families in Italy are very famous by being very big and loud, the relationships are often members of both sides of the family. They also see everyone as family as long as they share a blood line, they don’t make an individual feel less important or more important based on who their parents are or how close to the nuclear family they are. Generally, a male feels closest for many reasons to his mother's sisters and their kin. These kin traditionally protected him from the father's side, traditionally the side of "justice" as opposed to "mercy" and unmitigated love.
Germans marriages are individualistic love matches, and mostly they are in the same class, religious background, and ethnicity. They don’t stray too much out of their own family values. Germans mostly live in their own nuclear family and once in a while they meet up with other relatives in annual festivities. Divorce is very common in Germany so they are trying to postpone their marriages until after they reach the age of 35. The school systems differ from each state but they are usually split between going to a university or to a vocational school after their primary school years. Voc takes about nine years along with part time training and the university requires humanistic gymnasium and completion of a university exam. Germany has a highly differentiated System of higher education, including sixty-two universities and technical colleges in former West Germany and fifty-four in former East Germany.
One social problem in Italy is poverty, because of the extended families living in Italy more and more of them are living together because they are too old to work and need assistance. With that being said there isn’t enough money coming in to support these large families and risk being poor or losing their homes. A major obstacle in combating child poverty within Italy is its inadequate social welfare system. Another is divorce, although it is still rare that parents get divorce in Italy it is not a guarantee that both parents will share custody of their children or child usually the mother is awarded custody.
In Germany reunification, school violence, drop outs and political extremism are causing a major problem in the lives of thousands of German families. The standard of living in Germany is much higher in the West while in the East continues to try and improve. People in both Eastern and Western Germany have problems with one another such as how the Westerners think the Easterners are whiny. Elementary schools is where the ongoing problem of school violence is a problem. They have even shut the school down due to such violent acts. The government is currently trying to stop Elementary School violence and High school dropouts, but it is very hard to stop because of the plethora of children taking place in both. Children have begun to resort to bullying and dropping out of school because of their social and household problems, especially in Eastern Germany where the children are extremely disadvantaged money wise compared to children in the West due to reunification. The German government is currently battling political extremism in Germany by searching out the main anti groups, especially in the East. The government is modernizing constantly and the neo-Nazis, Islamic groups, and the communists are trying to fight against them. The neo-Nazis solely lash out against people with disabilities, differences, and especially immigrants.
There are many differences on how families and relationships between the two countries behave and interact with others and their own. Only separated by a few countries and are completely different on how they treat their families and how they present themselves. Italy has more if a family focus and German of work and power. One can live with their families forever and the other may see them once or twice a year. Hard work and how you look, fashion and persistence are very different aspects of these societies.

Italy - Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from
Major Social Issues. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from
This Is Anthropology | About Anthropology. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2015, from
Zimmermann, B. (2015, January 23). German Culture: Facts, Customs and Traditions. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from


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