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Analysis Of Margaret Mead's Coming Of Age In Samoa

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On August 31, 1925, Margaret Mead arrived in Pago Pago, American Samoa to conduct ethnographic research on a particular problem. Prior to her arrival in American Samoa, Mead with the guidance of her mentor Franz Boas, decided to investigate the lives of adolescent girls in Samoa as a focal point of her research. Mead chose this subject matter due to her speculation that the period adolescence within the United States during the 1920s was filled with stress and a period of turbulence; therefore, Mead hypothesized that stress felt by American youth resulted from the American cultural environment. Through her investigation adolescent girls, Mead aimed to test the validity of the claims of adolescent behavior being a physiological determinant.…show more content…
Coming of Age in Samoa received support from scholars within the field; however, dissonant voices emerged as well. Most notably the dissident opinion of New Zealand anthropologist, Derek Freeman generated the most famous controversial debate among the sciences: The Mead-Freeman debate. Thus, in this research paper I will focus on Margaret Mead’s prominent work Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation, while juxtaposing the work of Derek Freeman Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmasking of an Anthropological Myth. By using these two primary works as well as other works that stemmed from the Mead-Freeman debate, I will analyze the running debate on the nature versus nurture concept and its application within Samoan society.
MEAD’S SAMOA: THE FIELD WORK 1925-1926 In order to properly assess the nuances of the Mead-Freeman debate, one must go back in time to the Ta‘ū of 1925-1926 the time of Mead’s ethnographic field research in order to thoroughly evaluate Mead’s interpretation of Samoa. The Samoan archipelago consists of nine inhabited islands in the South Pacific between 13° and 14° south latitude 168° and 173° longitude west (Orans 1996). The Samoan archipelago is divided between
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