American Economics and Death in Japan Jacob K. Donlan
ANT 101: Cultural Anthropology
Instructor James Turner
September 7, 2015
This paper will show an overview of the American economic system today from an etic (outsider’s) point of view as well as examine how the Japanese culture treats death from an introspective view to show readers how areas where they may already have an opinion on can be seen from other perspectives. In Part I, readers will be shown from an etic perspective how Americans have, over time, developed an addiction to indebtedness and live in abundance on ...view middle of the document...
America is now one of the largest consumers and produces a very limited amount of its own consumption in what is quite possibly unsustainable.
In his 2015 article, ““Deficits Don’t Matter”: Abundance, Indebtedness and American Culture,” Rob Kroes describes a time in the early 1900s when Americans were very focused on the “American Identity” and through the events of the Industrial Revolution through World War II, America became an industrial behemoth and one of the world’s biggest producers (pg. 174-175). This means that Americans were not always so interested in consuming and amassing debt to pay for it and instead produced the goods used by other countries. American purpose and pride drove them to great wonders and many world firsts in technology.
After the 1970’s, however, America changed from a nation of producers to a nation of consumers. Population booms left many without a sense of purpose or belief in achievement. Tight-knit communities evolved into chain stores, desk jobs, and bank tellers in what Karl Polanyi called the “Great Transformation.” (Kroes, 2015, pg 176-177). The change from production to consumption ate at American’s identities, and the desire to have the latest goods changed normal families from only purchasing what they needed to using credit to purchase what they wanted. American’s decided that their own identities that could no longer be defined by production could instead only be defined by what they had. American’s have chosen to have more today by risking their tomorrow.
Today, incredible amounts of debt hang over every level of American society. Unable to produce all it wants to consume, America has borrowed funds from the world’s producers to buy the producers products. America considers China its largest rival and opposing force, yet is almost cripplingly in debt to them (Kroes, 2015, pg 178-179). Americans stack more and more debt on themselves and feel that as long as the interest payments are made, that they can run bigger and bigger deficits. They hit their debt ceiling, or the maximum amount of money they allow themselves to borrow, and raise it arbitrarily again and again. If they didn’t, their government would literally run out of money and many processes would shut down. Instead of responsibly just balancing their budget, they continue to run huge deficits and stack on more to the bills to be left for their children without any regard to the consequences it will bring them.
This section of the paper will detail the perception of death in Japanese culture from an emic point of view. Death is a natural process and does not need to be hidden from public view. It is also important to honor and remember one’s ancestors by maintaining their gravesites and their stories. Also, if one is separated from family, they should take steps to make sure they are properly cared for in death or otherwise return themselves to nature.
In her 2011 journal entry, “Rites of Passage to Death and Afterlife in...