SOCIAL ORGANIZATION & SOCIAL SYSTEMS: SOCIETAL REGULATION of SEXUAL RELATIONS in DIFFERENT CULTURAL GROUPS

The objective of this work is to research and relate the different methods used in various societies in order to regulate sexual relations among members of that cultural group.

Throughout the world there are different cultural norms, or otherwise stated there are different activities that are either accepted or shunned within different cultural groups. This is especially true of sexual relations within a culture. Different marriage systems exist within different sectors of society and within different cultures throughout the world. There are several cultural universals stated to be within societies throughout the world which are the universals of: (1) "parental responsibility for long-term infant nurturing and education; (2) social regulation of sexual competition; (3) organization of sexual divisions of labor; (4) assignment of individuals to social groups and statuses; and (5) the formation of inter-group alliances and exchanges." (Schwimmer, 1998)

I. Basic Regulations of 'Exogamy' and 'Endogamy' in Cultures/Societies

All societies have rules related to certain incest taboos, or rules of 'exogamy'. This states a specific range or category of relatives that may not be considered for marriage or sexual partners by those within the society. Rules of 'endogamy' within a culture or society relates to marriage restriction not only among kin who are closely related but also rules that specifically channel individuals towards marriage within certain groups. The following diagram illustrates three specific ranges of relationships which are those of:

1) an inner group of close relatives with whom marriage is forbidden;

2) an intermediate range of relatives, associates and allies with whom marriage relations are encouraged and often required; and 3) an outer range of outsiders with whom marriage or other forms of interaction must be avoided." (Schwimmer, 1998)

Three specific ranges of relationships within Cultural Groups

Source: Schwimmer (1998)

II. Yanomamo Culture

The Yanomamo people reside in the area of Central Brazil and Venezuela and are stated to be:."..one of the oldest examples of the classic pre-Columbian forest footmen." (Kittelson & Stafford, nd) These people live in "almost complete seclusion in the Amazon rainforests...[and are] "perhaps the last culture to have come in contact with the modern world." (Kittelson & Stafford, nd) According to the work of Schwimmer (1998) the social process of the Yanomama is "concerned with the formation of groups and the regulation of intergroup relations through alliance and warfare."

Groups and group relations are best understood "from the perspective of social distance" and in the case of marriages for this group marriages are "confined paired moieties within a settlement" but there are situations where marriages between different villages does occur with the most common being the need for allies in military for a settlement. The following diagram illustrates the 'social distance and inter-group relationships among the Yanomamo'.

Social Distance and Inter-group Relationships among the Yanomama

Source: Schwimmer (1998)

III. Sexual Relations among Young People in Developing Countries (WHO Case Study report)

According to the World Health Organization in the report entitled: "Sexual Relations among Young People in Developing Countries: Evidence from WHO Case Studies" in studies that review various sociocultural settings findings are that:

In every setting, sexual activity begins during adolescence among many young people. Much of this activity is risky - contraceptive use is often erratic, and unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortions are observed in many settings. Sexual relations may be forced. There are wide gender-based differences in sexual conduct and the ability to negotiate sexual activity and contraceptive use." (WHO, 2001)

IV. Kinship…