Comparative View of Wealth Accumulation in America

Table of Content

Many studies have been conducted pertaining to various Maa-speaking societies. Numerous correlations have been documented in lieu of the speculation that “success in achieving culturally defined goals should tend to correlate with reproductive success” (Irons 1979: 258) from (Cronk 1991: 345). The article revolves mainly around the Mukogodo, found in north central Kenya (target universe). During the early 20th century this group was arranged into four clans and thirteen patrilineages, coming into more and more contact with Maa-speaking pastoralists, adding pressure to their day to day, traditional, way of life. “ They soon dropped their old Yaaku language in favor of the completely unrelated Maa language, and they adopted most of their material culture, ceremonies, and religious beliefs of Maa-speaking pastoralists” (Cronk 1991: 346.) For the most part, the Maa-speaking people and pre-assimilated Mukogodo practiced the giving of bridewealth; after assimilation, this bridewealth was generally livestock. The Mukogodo have become virtually indistinguishable from their Maa-speaking neighbors, discernible only by a much lower level of socioeconomic status (wealth, in terms of livestock). In connection with Lee Cronk’s study of the Mukogodo, one main proposition is evident: Among the Mukogodo (males) of Kenya, there is a relationship between the amount of livestock wealth and the amount/likelihood of reproductive success. As will be discussed, the aforementioned proposition is contrasted with the reverse (Cronk 1991: 351), regarding first, reproductive success in correlation to livestock wealth. Aside from this hypothesis a range of other informants have supplied propositions that correlate to the theme of this paper, some more relevant to the topic than others. These propositions will be mentioned in minor detail, followed by a more direct view of the main hypothesis. Wealth is a major issue in connection with this research and is the main correlation variable. (Taken in terms of livestock wealth/units) To start his article, Cronk attempts to test William Iron’s hypothesis “that in most human societies cultural success consists in accomplishing those things which make biological success . . . probable, and that therefore success in achieving culturally defined goals should tend to correlate with reproductive success” (Irons 1979: 258) from (Cronk 1991: 345). This proposition is proven by numerous anthropologists in Cronk’s study, particularly White and Burton, in lieu of a cross-cultural perspective. Finally, the results that become increasingly evident to the main proposition of this paper, “support Iron’s (1979) hypothesis”; and aid the author’s argument. Iron’s (1979) hypothesis, “that the culturally defined and valued goal of livestock accumulation is proximate to the ultimate goal of reproduction,” (Cronk 1991: 348) is both valid and practical.

Borgerhoff Mulder’s (1987, 1989) hypothesis, “that the productivity of children and wives causes the correlation between wealth and reproductive success” (Cronk 1991: 351,) substantially fits into an interesting comparative example for the Mukogodo, due to their similar qualities. Ultimately, however, Mulder’s proposition used in conjunction with Cronk’s reseach only serve to show that the correlation between wealth and reproductive success are not due to the productivity of (men’s) children and wives.

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Generally all the minor hypothesis brought to use in this article bore upon confounding variables that affected “wealth and reproductive success, creating a spurious correlation between them” (Cronk 1991: 348.) As stated, the ‘other propositions’ were simply for reference and statistical accuracy, often attaining no value in context of the actual proposition.

In respect to Cronk’s proposition, “results indicate that livestock accumulation, in addition to being an important economic and social goal, can also be considered a reproductive strategy for Mukogodo men” (Cronk 1991: 356.) It is clear that the variables: amount of wealth (livestock); and reproductive success can in some cases be substituted for each other (wealth brings success/success brings wealth), however, for the main aspect of this article the independent variable would be the amount of livestock wealth; the dependent variable, clearly then, the reproductive success. As we shall see, the quantitative variables represent a relationship type of positive co-variation in lieu of the case – wealth, status, and reproductive success among the Mukogodo (males) of Kenya.

In validating Cronk’s proposition, one can show that the ‘relationship’ is real and determinant. The validation method apparent in his article/study is testing. Cronk and his coworker, Beth Leech, “conducted complete censuses of the Mukogodo and their livestock” (Cronk 1991: 346.) Due to the fact that Maa-speaking pastoralists maintain herds of cattle, sheep, and goats, Cronk has had to apply a conversion procedure, which converts information obtained on livestock wealth to a more ‘readable,’ livestock unit. “One livestock unit is defined as equivalent to 250 kg, with one head of cattle defined as 0.71 livestock units and one sheep or goat defined as 0.17 livestock units” (Evangelou 1984:183; Grandin 1988:4) from (Cronk 1991: 346-347). The author, Cronk, examines both the reproductive success and livestock wealth maintained by the Mukogodo, with only minor examples coming from other Maa-speaking people. To validate his proposition, he “use(s) data on the Mukogodo to test Iron’s hypothesis about cultural and reproductive success and, second, to explore further the casual links between wealth, status, polygyny, and reproduction” (Cronk 1991: 345.)The other propositions, Iron’s and Mulder’s, are discussed only briefly in the article but are worth mentioning. Through re-evaluation of past studies and correlation to his own study Cronk was able to validate Iron’s (1979) hypothesis “that culturally defined values are goals proximate to the ultimate goal of reproductive success” (Cronk 1991: 357.) Through testing, his own queries were broken down and validated, as well as enabling him to validate Iron’s. In lieu of Mulder’s hypothesis, the focal point was centered on the productivity of wives and children in correlation to wealth and reproductive success. Cronk compared Mulder’s study to his own so as to have a parallel. In both cases, correlations persisted and suggested that these were not due to Mulder’s hypothesis, disproving that aspect of the possible influencing characteristics.

In terms of the research design used, one does not have to look to deeply into Cronk’s study. Plainly, as is evident by the 8 tables utilized and in the style of the research methodology, he administers the correlation version of static group comparison. A multitude of confounding variables and factors are correlated with the ‘livestock wealth and reproductive success correlation’, as well as each of these (livestock wealth and reproductive success), independently of each other. Not taking for granted that past studies aid in Cronk’s research, one is able to easily ascertain that his research design is more than adequate due to the detailed analysis of the variables in correlation of other influencing factors. Using hypothesis postulated by Mulder and Iron, Cronk successfully weeded out erroneous factors, implemented them into his calculations, and provided efficient data in relation to his own proposition. Considering that Cronk wanted to address “whether the Mukogodo show the predicted correlation between wealth, status, and reproductive success, and whether that correlation is attributable to the reproduction-enhancing effects of wealth, to the wealth-enhancing effects of marriage and reproduction, or to some other factor that has positive effects on both wealth and reproduction,” (Cronk 1991: 345) I believe that his research design was both practical and adequate. (Italics were added)Because Iron’s and Mulder’s hypothesis were only relevant to Cronk’s investigation in regard to detail, their research designs had already been taken care of by other scientists. Implementing them into his tables/calculations, qualify them as also belonging to the correlation version of static group comparison.

In trying to assess the “mechanisms for observed correlations” among the main variables in Cronk’s study, two are of dire importance: 1) Could reproductive success enhance wealth or, 2) Could wealth enhance reproductive success? As seen in the ‘research design’ section of his critique, many confounding variables were challenged and correlated, in the evaluation of the proposition. The independent variable: the amount of livestock wealth, was measured at the ratio level because of its conversion to livestock units (fixed measures) to be used in the tables of Cronk’s article. In accordance to the confounding variables, the correlation is in this manner. However, through a more in depth look or comparison one can be fooled into classifying it as an ordinal measurement in lieu of the objectives of the composition at hand. Correlation measures are for sets in the entire sample, these, when evaluated, imply the notion of correlations, in percentage form, exhibiting the ‘rate’ of the correlated variables; hence, a ratio measurement.

The dependent variable: the reproductive success; was measured in like fashion. Since the reproductive success can not be ranked, only taken or assessed in terms of ‘ranges’ (correlations), it is clearly also a ratio measurement. Both positive and negative correlations were unearthed, discussed, and set in table form. Given the amount of information available for Cronk’s analysis, excess is known about each variable, giving precise measurements; these precise measurements are defining characteristic of ratio measurements (Donald 2001:lecture of February 6.)Assessing the Validity and Reliability of the StudyThe reliability and validity of Cronk’s proposition are efficiently and clearly proven in his article. As previously mentioned, considering all the variables and correlations that have been compared and contrasted the author can make evident that certain factors have more or less relevance in lieu of the case. Due to the sheer amount of information gathered by other researchers and the application of Cronk’s accumulated data, contrasted by one another, reliability becomes unmistakable. The proposition adheres to stability, equivalence, and homogeneity. In utilizing other hypothesis, Cronk is able to prove regularities among all of his samples, as well as those done by other anthropologists, having done studies in similar fields with similar populations. Because Cronk is able to clearly correlate all possible and relevant variables with respect to reproductive success and livestock wealth, and due to the duration of the study, he can be assured of reliability. Assessing factors of age, education, wage employment, access to health care, productivity of wives and children, bridewealths (through daughters), wives’ reproductive success, age at first marriage, and finally, polygyny, Cronk has ample evidence to show reliability and consistency. As we shall see, Cronk’s proposition holds validity and therefore, clearly, also must have the aforementioned reliability.

The author considered and examined issues of validity thoroughly and did so successfully. The only difficulties that arose in lieu of the validity issues are factors such as age, that have been controlled for, and instances of polygyny which were not regulated or consistent. “One might expect these variables to correlate highly, since men who marry young have more opportunity to become polygynous than men who marry at older ages” (Cronk 1991: 355.) However, Cronk alleviated the problem between these two most important intermediate variables. “One way to tease apart the effects of these two variables is to examine the correlation between polygyny and reproductive success, while controlling for age at first marriage, as shown in table 7” (Cronk 1991: 355.) In similar fashion, he dismantles all possible variations of factors that have negative effects on validity. Another issue under scrutiny (applicable to both validity and reliability) would be the varying sizes of herds over time. Considering that, during the span of ones lifetime (reproductive), herd size would vary, current livestock wealth may not be a reasonable indicator for that entire cycle. As this is the only aspect which can not be completely controlled for and due to its unquestionable reliability the pragmatic validity is guaranteed.

The Mukogodo study administered by Cronk constitutes a probability sample because one can state the probability of any particular case appearing in the sample. Knowing the probabilities of given correlations makes the evaluations of his data much more accurate. The sampling procedure consisted of his coworker, Beth Leech, and himself gathering information (aforementioned variables) for all men over the age of 20. These were then separated and categorized into ‘age sets’. The Mukogodo involved in the study (approx. 800 in the population the sample size is roughly half as will be seen}) gave information pertaining to various points of interests or variables needed by the researchers. “Reproductive-history interviews with 124 Mukogodo women” gave Leech some of her information. The author also obtained some additional information on reproductive history “in genealogical interviews with elder males from each lineage.” “Regular visits about every six weeks to about half of the population for the purposes of a time allocation study,” (Cronk 1991: 346) were administered by the author. In short, evaluating all the different (intermediate and confounding) variables, whether taken from past or other studies, or from his own fieldwork, Cronk compared and analyzed them, proving that “livestock wealth and reproductive success correlate among Mukogodo men” (Cronk 1991: 353.)As discussed earlier, various types of information were collected pertaining to the Mukogodo of Kenya. Because their population is so small and also due to their neighboring groups being virtually identical, the sample in question is representative and adequate only for the Mukogodo. Looking at the tables he employs, and knowing the sample size in question, the adequacy and representativeness of, both his sample and variables, become increasingly clear. As a matter of fact, in terms of the study and fieldwork – and ultimately the hypothesis – Cronk’s article is therefore an exceptional piece of work.

To conclude his article, Cronk restates his proposition in factual form. By observing possible mechanisms underlying the correlation between livestock wealth and reproductive success through out his article, he explains and conveys his findings in an orderly and precise manner. The arguments or variables that ‘flow’ against his proposition are almost unrelated to the topic, yet Cronk makes mention of them to cancel out all factors which could prove or disprove his theory. All the variables that adhere to and give support to his hypothesis are well represented in tables (in the article). In attempting to validate his research, Cronk uses a wide range of variables which give correlations in terms of the proposition at hand; these ‘correlation tables’ (8) and number of variables utilized, lead to a well explained, argued, and convincing explanation of the findings. These findings prove, that “livestock wealth and reproductive success correlate among Mukogodo men.”Bibliography:

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