Power and inequality still play a role in modern human cultures as seen by different struggles of cultures as well as the differentiation of linguistics. Cultural anthropologists can investigate issues surrounding power and inequality in modern human populations as they immerse themselves into understanding the different circumstances of different cultures of today and of the past as well. Throughout the years, there has been a struggle of power and inequality between many, including gender and race. Gender has been an issue in many different cultures, and continues to be a struggle even today.
In the past, gender issues have resulted in many problems. For example, after China passed the one child law, many parents wanted to have sons rather than daughters because of the thought that sons were more worthy. This however, has resulted in an imbalance of the male and female ratio as it has reached 144:100, in the rural areas of China (Peters-Golden, 2012). In modern society, it is evident that in most cultures, the male is still the dominant gender. In some cultures, including some in the Middle East, women are looked down upon, mistreated and are not treated as equals.
Even in the modern Western culture, there is still evidence that the women are at a disadvantage compared to the men (Feminist Economics, 2003). Along with gender, race has also been a reoccurring issue of as well. Previously, the Western worlds perceived themselves as having more power and were more superior to any other culture. Culture today, according to cultural anthropologists, is learned and is subject to modification meaning that the modern population can adapt to new races and cultures as well as their own.
Different societies should be subject to his or her own culture rather than perceiving that one race or culture as superior to any other. Cultural anthropologists believe that how people have been accepted and treated of a given society of culture has a direct impact on how they perform in that society (American Anthropology Association, 1998). Thus concluding that not everybody can see themselves as superior, as it affects the society as a whole as well. The United States is an example of many different cultural prejudices, and its affects are apparent in their everyday lives including the media.
Cultural anthropologists have been studying different cultures of the world, and many of them have different opinions of power and inequality as can be seen by the ways the cultures interact. In the modern world, there are many pieces of evidence that power and inequality are still present and is still an issue in modern human populations. Power and inequality have much to do with cultural studies, but can also be interpreted in a linguistic anthropological view as well.
Linguistic anthropology studies how language influences social society in cultures. Although not necessarily seen as inequality, many different languages have different words categorising between gender, age, and status among others. Linguistics is also an important part of cultural anthropology as well. In many different languages, the use of words reflects the cultures status on both power and inequality (University of Washington, 2004). For example, in many languages, including French, Spanish, and Persian, noun classification is sorted by gender.
In Thai, there are around 13 ways to say the pronoun I each one used in different circumstances, depending on who and what is being said. In both cases, the use of language is separated by power and could be thought of as a social inequality because different people are referred to by their gender or social status. As well as words that play a role in cultures, the different languages does as well. According to Mary Bucholtz and Kira Hall (1995), linguistic anthropologists, they say that power is linked with markedness.
Markedness is a process where some social categories gain a special, default status that contrasts with the identities of other groups, which are usually highly recognisable and is evident in some countries (Bucholtz & Hall, 1995, p. 372). An example of this is in Zambia, a country that speaks a total of 73 languages, however, only around 7 are considered the dominant language as they are positioned above the others, while English is the official language that is unmarked, and considered to be the most important (Spitulnik, 1998).
Linguistic anthropology is an important part when studying the different power and inequalities of cultures. Linguistics can show how cultures can interact by languages and determine who is dominant or can differentiate people by status or gender. In modern human populations, the existence of power and inequality is still present. Anthropologists, both linguistic and cultural, investigate the presence in struggle of balancing power and inequality. Different times represent different mindsets, however, both power and inequality have been present for basically all of human existence.
Prejudice is inevitable in both the past and current human population, ranging from race, gender, different individuals, and cultures, among others. Anthropologists can investigate issues surrounding power and inequality by submerging into different cultures and studying how power and inequality play a role in their society. Studying the language of other cultures by linguistic anthropologists can also determine many aspects of power and inequality in not only the different cultures of today, but also of the past as well.