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Culture 1983

Bartels, Dennis. Cultural Relativism, Marxism, and Soviet Policy toward the Khanty. Culture, 1983. 3(2): 25-30.

In his article, Dennis Bartels outlines the problems with both cultural relativist theory and its criticisms. Bartels evaluates the relevance these theories have when considered in terms of the social change and conflict among the Khanty of Western Siberia: he argues that there is no relevance. Bartels’ argument outlines the conflict that has arisen between western theory and cross-cultural practice. While cultural relativist techniques have been problematic in evaluating change and conflict, its critiques have not done any better: they are hypocritical because they encourage the anthropologist to focus on one cultural group over another.

Bartels first supports his argument by outlining the problems with cultural relativism. He argues that the fieldwork he had done among the Khanty conflicted with the accounts of Marjorie Balzer. Balzer had focused her study on attempts by the Soviets to assimilate the `traditional’ Khanty into the `sovietized’ Khanty. However, at the time of Balzer’s fieldwork, collectivization between the two groups was strictly forbidden. Bartels raises the point that cultural relativists view all cultures as equally important. Since Balzer was a cultural relativist, her study was problematic because she favoured one group of Khanty, the `traditional,’ over the other, the `sovietized.’

Next, Bartels evaluates his own fieldwork with the Khanty in light of two critiques of cultural relativism. First, Bartels shows how Arthur Hippler’s critique is flawed. Hippler says cultures can in fact be considered `better’ if they allow one to express their innate capacities as they surface. But this idea assumes that all people feel that innate capacities are good. Second, Bartels explains that Marxist critics base their evaluation of cultures on the notion of `progress:’ the manipulation of social and cultural patterns towards a more `modern’ condition. Bartels shows how this approach does not work in cultural evaluation. Because the definition is subjective not all people will view progress in the same way. Also, what is viewed by Marxists to be the `oppressed’ becomes the preferred party by the anthropologist.

Bartels shows that the critics of cultural relativism assume the existence of a cross-cultural consensus. He demonstrates that despite criticism of cultural relativism, the theory and its critique both produce the same problem.


CAROLYN STONE York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Cheung, Yuet-Wah and Peter Kong-ming New. Toward a Typology of Missionary Medicine: a Comparison of Three Canadian Medical Missions in China before 1937. Culture, 1983. III(2): 31-45.

Medical missionary work had a long history in China, from the 1830’s to a few years after the 1949 Communist Revolution. Medical missionaries had been the chief source of modern health care in China until 1949. In this article the authors, Yuet-Wah Cheung and Peter Kong-ming New, talk about three Canadian medical missions in China before 1937: the South China Mission, the North Honan Mission and the West China Mission. They compare the missions in terms of their size, their hospital and dispensary services, and their involvement in medical education and public health.

They first distinguish between primary medical work and secondary medical work. Primary medical work is the hospital and dispensary services. Secondary medical work is medical education and public health. They then distinguish between local missions and cosmopolitan missions. Local missions are missions that devote most of their medical resources to primary medical work but devote little or no resources to secondary medical work. Cosmopolitan missions are missions that devote a substantial amount of their medical resources to secondary medical work apart from maintaining primary medical work. However, most missions cannot be classified as strictly local or strictly cosmopolitan because they exhibit at least some degree of cosmopolitanism. Different missions display a different degree of cosmopolitanism. The authors set out to rank the three missions – the South China Mission, the North Honan Mission and the West China Mission – according to the degree of cosmopolitanism that they exhibited.

The data that the authors present in this article are records of the activities of these three Canadian medical missions in China collected in the United Church of Canada archives in Toronto.

The larger intellectual concern that frames the authors’ argument is the development of a typology of missionary medicine that will provide a way to assess missionary medicine in developing countries and to accurately compare missionary medicine and medicine promoted by government and private sources.

The main point that the authors want to convince the readers of is that the West China Mission displayed the highest degree of cosmopolitanism and South China Mission displayed the least degree of cosmopolitanism, with the North Honan Mission being in between.


NATALIYA POTAPOVA York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Damas, David. The Title System of Pingelap and the Diversity of Atoll Political Organizations. Culture, 1983. III(1): 3-18.

In Dumas’ article he stresses the issue of needing more in depth study on specific society’s political systems for a true comprehensive comparison with other political systems. He is aware of the lack of thorough studies of specific areas, and that this missing information would be highly valued for a more comprehensive comparison, especially regarding comparisons of political systems. The article focuses on the political system of Pingelap atoll in the Eastern Carolines that is heavily influenced by the title system. Dumas goes through the history of the title system, its effect with natural disasters of tsunamis, and typhoons to their encounter with the missionaries and the effects of outside political conflict, World War II.

Dumas gives a historical overview of the Pingelapese society. His article follows the Nahmwariki line of descendents and the effect and change of the title system. Pingelap title system goes through rapid growth as well as conflict among the titled members reshaping the societies system during the 19th century. With the coming of the missionary and western influences the Pingelap, a patrilineal society faced cultural modification, traditional duties in the title systems changed, democracy was introduced in electing traditional titles to members a contrast to the dominant influence of kinship. Factors like dispersion, mobility and the Christian church helped further the erosion of the title system. Using the well-detailed study of the title system of the Pingelap Dumas goes on comparing this title system to Mokil political organization. Dumas concludes that these studies of atoll polities there is evidence of a diversity of among them and that they require a more comprehensive study.


EVA TRUONG York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Davis, Dona. The Family and Social Change in the Newfoundland Outport. Culture, 1983. 3(1): 19-32.

Dona Davis feels that there has been a strong misrepresentation of families living in the Newfoundland Outport as well as a gross exaggeration of social changes which have negative repercussions on the communities there.

She begins her argument by reprimanding previous anthropological studies that have generally placed too much focus on the “structural [and] agnatic components of the outport family” (19), suggesting that there has been a denigration of the family as a unit and that women’s status has been severely undermined. Davis argues that this “agnatic bias” postulates that outport families are experiencing a drastic decline in living standards because of the shift from traditional extended family units to a more modern nuclear family. This is what she calls a “middle class bias” which is representative of the views of these “so-called” academics. This kind of attitude she says, fails to take into account the ways in which outport families have adapted to these changes and how these changes have actually helped them to create a new identity for themselves.

Some academics argue that this shift from an extended family unit of production to a nuclear family unit of consumption is an unwanted change. However, Davis points out that such an “outsider’s view” assumes that all Newfoundlanders would have been “…content to live the peasant existence of their forefathers” (22). This theory is further refuted by new ethnographic data which has supported Davis’ argument that most outport communities are very satisfied with their quality of life and have adapted quite well to these new social changes. Most of them feel that they are living much better now than they were in the past because of new benefits like free healthcare, unemployment insurance, etc., all of which has allowed for more cohesive family units where both parents are at home sharing in the responsibilities of childrearing and domestic work. This is dramatically different from the past, where the fathers were away from the home on fishing expeditions for weeks on end.

She further illustrates her point by making reference to ethnographic fieldwork that was done in the Newfoundland community of `Grey Rock Harbour’ [where participant observation was the main research method used]. The data showed that the nuclear family unit has proven to be very flexible in adapting to modernization and economic development. While there has been changes in patterns of courtship and marriage, childrearing, male and female work roles and consumption, all-in-all, the inhabitants of this particular outport community have welcomed these changes as being a factor in their new found wealth. As Davis puts it, the “insider’s view” of themselves is drastically different from those “outsiders” in the academia. Women in particular, feel more control over their lives now than they did a few years ago.

She concludes by reiterating the fact that “cultural continuity and the integrity of the family have been [strongly] maintained through the mechanisms of strong female networks, a powerful egalitarian ethic, and pride in the past” (19). Once again, it is apparent that there is still a crisis in anthropology wherein an insider/outsider dichotomy threatens to destabilize the discipline.


ALICIA DUNN York University (Maggie MacDonald).

DuBois, Lindsay. Past, Place and Paint: A Neighbourhood Mural Project in Suburban Buenos Aires. Culture, 1983. III (1): 103-114.

The article is about a community in the greater Buenos Aires neighbourhood called Jose Ingenieros. The people that make up the population of the community generally consist of a middle class neighbourhood. The members of the community gather together to form a history workshop. The workshops consist of scheduled dates and times where meetings are taken place in order to depict a historical component of the community. After several meetings, the members decided to paint a mural whereby a depiction of the community will be placed on a wall of some choice. The mural being painted is used to depict the community, and describe the various stages the community has gone through. The mural is of four building-type structures that detail with what is happening without the use of verbal expression. The first building depicts the time of the toma, when buildings were not even fully complete, and the second is when infrastructure was installed, the third is seen as the present, and lastly the fourth, which is seen as the future, which by far appears to be more appealing. The mural is a depiction of a time span from 1973 to 1992.

Each person has a different way of describing the situation in which they live, because not everyone has lived the through the same experiences. For example there are some who lived through the squatters experience, and also people who had been assigned apartments. “The workshop is a space for those of us in the neighbourhood who believe our history matters too”. This whole idea of a history workshop is basically to allow all voices be heard and allow all ideas formulate as a whole to conform one main idea.

The need to recreate the community in the minds of the members is a way of showing expression and emotional feeling of the way one thinks and feels for his or her community. The themes presented in the mural were long discussed and finally resulted in four major themes, which formulates a general consensus of what this little town is all about.


STEPHANIE LACONTE York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Jilek, Wolfgang. Culture and Psychopathology Revisited. Culture, 1983. 3(1): 51-57.

Culture and Psychopathology Revisited discusses the connection between culture and mental illness. The main concern for this discussion is how much effect does culture have on mental illness, is it pathogenic, causing the illness or is it pathoplastic, dictating the symptoms of the illness?

The common view in psychiatry is that cultures affect on mental illness is pathoplastic. However, Jilek uses three key examples of pathogenic causes; cultural expectations of mating patterns, which could cause continuing of or an increase of illnesses; certain obstetric practices which could cause brain damage; and the use of drugs and alcohol.

Some mental illnesses such as schizophrenia do not appear in non-western cultures to the same degree of severity, if at all. It also seems that the reaction of the culture has a huge affect on the patients’ ability to recover. In Africa when the first psychotic episode takes place the patient receives sympathy, protection, attention and acceptance. In these cases the illness does not progress as far, or to the same severity that it would in western countries where the patient is isolated and forced to continue in a dependant role.

It is believed that another way in which mental illness is pathogenic is the westernization of non-western societies. This can be attributed to three main changes; the sudden loss of normal individual roles and rules; the sudden change in expectations and social and economic roles; and the need to integrate two different cultural ideals into one that makes sense. Jilek calls this syndrome anomic depression. When someone in a First Nations group shows signs of this syndrome, the group will have a spirit dance. This often cures the patient quickly.

In Africa an increase of these types of syndromes caused an increase in the beliefs in witchcraft and sorcery, which in turn caused an increase in the belief in magic, and the use of magic. These beliefs can have fatal effects. It seems that the patient when told that they have been bewitched the patient experiences what they believe to be the symptoms of their bewitched state. An extreme example of this is the `Voodoo death’, where the patient expects to die and therefore does from the stress of believing they are going to die and dehydration.

It appears that all though the pathoplastic effects alter with different cultures and time, what is not as likely to change is the chance that specific people will have mental illness.

The last topic discussed is the interpretation of drug use. It must be considered in the context of the culture itself. In general when attempting to even distinguish mental illness cross-culturally, one must take into account the cultural norms and ensure a non-ethnocentric viewpoint. Ritual practices although they may appear like symptoms of mental illness are not evidence of mental illness.


SUZANNE DUGGAN York University (Maggie MacDonald).

McCracken, Grant. History and Symbolic Anthropology: A Review and Critique of Four New Contributions to their Rapprochement. Culture, 1983. 3(2): 3-14.

This article summarizes the most recent attempts that have been taken to incorporate history and historical approaches into modern day Anthropology. McCracken explains that history has played a useful role in anthropological studies. History is solely used to criticize new and developing paradigms, as well to reshape old ones. However history is never consulted in developing fresh new ideas. As Mr. McCracken puts it “history has frequently been the bridesmaid, but never the bride.” This author considers four recent anthropological approaches, the works of Clifford Geertz, A.F.C Wallace, Victor Turner and Marshall Sahlins all of which incorporate history in their study. The approaches are outlined and concluded whether or not they can be beneficial to anthropological study.

Geertz’s work: Negara. The Theatre State in Nineteenth Century Bali (1980), is the study of the involvement of government and politics in the ecological, social, economic and particularly ritual contexts in nineteenth century Bali. Geertz’s main concern is with modern politics inability to represent the role of culture in political forums. He classifies history as ” a record of events, and history as an account of the formal or structural patterns of cumulative activity”, and although he has undertaken a historical study McCracken points out that Geertz fails to make any connections to the “new methodological and theoretical demands made of him”.

The second and third works looked at, suggested to change anthropological definitions of “system” and “structure” carefully enough so that they allow for the use of history in their accounts. A.F.C Wallace’s historical study Rochdale: The Growth of an American Village in the Early Industrial Revolution sets out to represent the economic, social, technological, religious and ideological changes that took place in Rochdale during the industrial revolution. Wallace is faulted for being oblivious to the social structure in place both pre and post- change. Wallace only accounts for the social structure while change is in process.

Turner’s study: Social Dreams and Ritual Metaphors generally explains the “temporal structure of certain types of social processes”. The work references Turner’s previous experiences in Mexico and Africa and was motivated by his dissatisfaction with “the ahistorical or insufficiently historical nature of the functionalist paradigm”. Turner disposes of any kind of structure which is relied on by anthropologists for analytic guidance. McCracken describes it as “the baby being thrown out with the bath water”.

Finally, Marshall Sahlins work Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities: Structure in Early History of the Sandwich Island Kingdom deals with the discrepancies between the British and Hawaiians in eighteenth and nineteenth century Hawaii. Sahlins argues that structure has gone from a simple collection of relations to polysemic sets of codes and meanings. Because codes and meanings are ever evolving, history has become important in fully understanding them.

McCracken contests that Sahlins gives a structural concept that allows both history and anthropology to work synchronously toward a deeper knowledge and understanding of a subject.


JOHN BUTT York University (Maggie MacDonald).

McFeat, Tom. An Affair to Remember: Winoque, 1965. Culture, 1983. 3(1):79-90.

In his article, McFeat discusses the impact of an education crisis on the Reserve community of Winoque in July of 1965. It was at this time that the rate payers association of the town voted to exclude the Winoque children from attending the Anglo regional high school. McFeat argues that this event sparked a further and unrelated dispute over the use of band funds to ensure independence from the town.

The author begins with some background information on the town and states that Winoque had been established as a reserve in the early nineteenth century, however, was taken over by “powerful intruders”. This new void, where their settlement once was, could no longer serve as a significant resource base and the Winoque people were forced to search elsewhere for their resources. In the nineteen-thirties, during the reign of Ray Bigjohn as chief of Winoque, there were a number of very significant local developments that took place, such as a council hall, which focused on community improvement. Money from these establishments was then redistributed to various committees in order to aid activities of interest to the community.

Returning to the issue of education in 1965, McFeat explains that the community had now been divided into two opposing factions, which he identifies as “Restricters” and “Extenders”. He defines Extenders as the group who regarded the boundary connecting the reserve with Anglo communities as a necessary and worth while reference point where interactions such as schooling and trading could take place with the Anglos. Contrary to this, the Restricters were defined as the group who believed that this boundary should remain a void, separating the Indian and Anglo cultures from each other.

When the vote to exclude further attendance of the Winoque children from the local high school occurred, the media got involved and shock spread throughout the communities. Questions arose concerning racial and religious prejudice. In order to improve the image of the rate payers, they retreated from their view and invited the Winoque children back. The issue of whether the community would allow the children to return to the high school was now in question and the community was once again divided. The Restricters, including the chief, were against the return of the children and proposed they draw from the band fund in order to establish a cooperative store which would look after their grocer needs as well as help fund a local school that could focus on their own history and traditions. The Extenders were opposed to this idea and suggested that the chief and his followers were misusing the band fund. It is here that McFeat believes the ‘real’ issue lies. He concludes that in the end the real issue among the community proved to be broader than schooling and deeper than the dispute over proper use of band funds. He argues that the real issue was about who could be depended upon to administer the affairs of the community through its band funds, land holdings and land claims and its negotiations with outside agencies on questions of importance to the community. Overall the Extender-Restricter issue was not dead, but the community as a whole shared the same goal of maintaining a community that could be shared by everyone.


MICHELLE LOWE York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Murphy, Sharon M. Native Print Journalism in the United States: Dreams and Realities. Anthropologica, 1983 Vol.XXV (1): 23-30.

The author’s concern is the development of Native American press in the United States throughout the last 150 years.

Murphy’s argument is that the press served to further the survival of the tribes in a world that was increasingly dominated by non-natives. The press was often operating in a hostile environment where it and its readership were in danger of being sabotaged by government policies. The native press was characterized by its fluidity in responding to social and political pressures, which contributed to a responsive growth of the press throughout history.

Murphy focuses on early native journalism, which was centered around the Choctaw, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Creek peoples, and the challenges that these groups faced in the development of their press. The last part of the article examines the development and status quo of more contemporary native publications and their strategies for survival.

Contemporary native press shares many of the challenges that were faced by the earlier press. Although more emphasis is put on publishing material in native languages, there is a lack of a systematic grammar and specially-designed type fonts in addition to a shortage of workers that are skilled in tribal languages. Other challenges are insecure funding sources, resulting in short life-spans of the publications, and a high turnover rate of staff writers. This results in a lack of native role models within the press. Native press is also characterized by subjective reporting, often caused by personal interests and self-censorship.

Despite challenges, the press pays increasing attention to analytical writing and creating an enduring policy of self-determination among the native population. The native press has in general served a range of functions beyond that of disseminating news. The primary tasks of the press have been education, creating tribal consciousness and political awareness. More recently there has been a tendency for larger scale organizing among native editors and tribal leaders who have explored avenues for cooperative efforts, such as media associations and conferences.

The article is an informative survey of the development of native press. However, it is poorly written with little analysis of the events at hand. Another weakness is the fact that the author does not make clear what the thesis or arguments are.


CATHRINE MAGELSSEN University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Riggins, Stephen Harold. The Organizational Structure of the Toronto Native Times (1968-1981). 1983. Anthropologica 25(1): 37-52

Riggins details the history of the Toronto Native Times (TNT), a newspaper which struggled to survive for 13 years before folding due to a lack of financial resources. Various factors are included under his rubric of ‘organizational structure’, including a brief description of the paper’s content, staff, internal and external politics, and, most critically, finances. As Riggins notes, the patchy production of TNT and its difficulty in maintaining itself as a viable publication is typical of the operation of native Canadian newspapers overall. In identifying problems with the organization structure, Riggins hopes to identify problem areas shared by native press outlets nation-wide.

The inevitable impression from the article is that TNT had very little consistent organization. The paper was unstable in a number of ways. Staff turnover was high; the longest serving editor stayed on for three years. Positions were often filled by non-natives, although Riggins says this had little effect on content. Editorial policy/vision was low and inconsistent. Funding was sporadic; 1980 represented the high mark of the papers finances, due to a $25 000 grant from the provincial government. This grant was not repeated. Riggins also identifies self-censorship as a problem.

Riggins’ analysis is limited in taking into account broader social issues contributing to the woes of the native press. For instance, a “cultural preference” for oral forms of discourse among some native people as contributing to disinterest is touched upon, but only just; no significant discussion is undertaken. Some issues are glossed over; he can find, for instance, no pressure from any source to account for self-censorship, and fails to provide any explanation. He does point to some broader issues, however, including conflicted priorities on the part of native leaders and an uninformed Canadian public. No doubt Riggins’ work suffered from a general lack of scholarship on the topic of indigenous media in the early 80’s.


KRIS MEEN University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Robin Ridington. In Doig People’s Ears: Portrait of a Changing Community Sound. Anthropologica 1983 Vol.25(1):9-21.

This brief article addresses the cultural changes that have taken place over the last half century among Canada’s Beaver Indian people. This community has gradually changed the way it interacts with and listens to its surroundings, including outsiders, nature, and modern technology. In addition to focusing on this group’s transition from a hunting and gathering society to one that has moved into the modern industrial economy, the author also sees the method by which this change was documented as equally worthy of discussion. Ridington introduces the reader to the technique of audio documentary which he used to record a wide range of events, daily interactions, and soundscapes of the Beaver Indians both past and present. His fieldwork was undertaken for over twenty years and it produced an archive filled with rich oral narratives and the sounds that make up their public domain, something he refers to as their ‘aural actualities’. These recordings make up a stratified series of documents that will be of use to anthropologists and the public but also to the Beaver Indians whom he hopes will one day return to these recordings with a sense of nostalgia and curiosity. This article is not trying to prove or refute any particular argument but it does leave the reader with one simple message: our past informs our future. Through his effort to create a vast archive and various audio documentaries about this hunting and trapping people, Ridington hopes that their rapid social, cultural and economic transition will provide us with valuable lessons that will enlighten us and guide us for generations to come.

Although this article introduces an interesting method that may be novel to many readers, Ridington’s writing style is quite disconnected as he skips from one topic to the next without smooth transitions. This makes it difficult for the reader to determine whether the central concern of the article is cultural change among the Beaver, the method of audio documentary or both. Furthermore, Ridington’s comments about the purpose for creating an archive of aural actualities becomes quite redundant as he presents one justification after another for why it is a useful method of data collection. He does not make comparisons between audio documentary and other methods and so the reader is left to take him at his word that it is an effective technique for encapsulating a people at a particular moment in time.


AMANDA FOLEY University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Rupert, Robert. Native Broadcasting in Canada. Anthropologica, 1983 Vol. 25 (1):53-61

In this piece, Rupert examines the Canadian native broadcasting structure in terms of its history and current developments. Beginning with the development of the Alberta Native Communications Society in the late 1960’s, he argues that due to the cost of broadcasting, the history of native communications in Canada has been characterized by two features: a dominance of print-based media and a lack of news and public affairs broadcasting.

Rupert divides his argument into three sections. The first section deals with the quality of native broadcasting. With the notable exceptions of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), Taqramuit Nipingat, Incorporated of Salluit, Quebec, Indian News Media Productions for Blackfoot Radio Alberta, and the Wawatay Native Communications Society in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Rupert argues that the journalistic quality of native publications is missing in native broadcasting. Citing limited funding as the primary cause, Rupert contends that radio and television broadcasting directed at native audiences is quite limited and lacking in depth of analysis.

In the second section, Rupert provides detailed description of the structures and functions of trail and community radio. He contends that these two forms of broadcasting are further exceptions to the current, and are extremely successful forms of native radio news and public affairs broadcasting. Trail radio refers to a two-way communications system used by hunters and trappers in the bush. Community radio results from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s extended service policy. Rupert argues that these two radio forms provide integral information and community linkages for native audiences.

In section three, Rupert outlines the development of a major communications initiative for northern audiences: the Northern Native Broadcast Access Program (NNBAP). Funded by the Native Citizens Directorate of the Canadian Secretary of State, this program is designed to protect and enhance native culture and language in the north.

Warning against the trend of native broadcasters to emulate non-native broadcasting, Rupert concludes this piece with a brief discussion about the growing tension between educational news-based programming and more marketable entertainment content geared to audiences of North American youth culture. I find this argument to be slightly simplistic, in that he seems to be implying that through the consumption of educational content, native youth will re-learn lost culture. From an anthropological perspective, culture is not merely a text to be consumed, but a practice that is lived.


EMMA JO AIKEN University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Wolf, Daniel R. and David E. Young. Intra-Group Diversity and How it is Managed by an Outlaw Motorcycle Club. Culture, 1983. Vol. III(2):59-71.

Wolf and Young first establish the basis for their research, outlining their objective to find “whether a small, voluntary organization…can accommodate diversity, and if it can, how that diversity is handled so it is not disruptive.” They note that their field of research was virtually untouched by the anthropological community and that as a consequence it took much effort to be allowed to participate during regular activities with an outlaw motorcycle club. “Outlaw” is referred to those clubs that are not registered under a national registry and are therefore a disruption to more mainstream motorcycle clubs.

The motorcycle club under study is known as the Rebels and is situated in Edmonton, where approximately twenty-five men of various ages participate in a well-defined formal organization. The main emphasis is on ethnographic research, where the ethnographers went into the society and participated in regular events, such as motorcycle rides, club meetings and club-bar visits. Wolf and Young concentrate on three situations with varying degrees of threat to the micro-society: the Clubhouse, the Club Bar and violent encounters with outside forces (the rest of society).

The Clubhouse was perceived to have the least amount of threat, since no outsiders were welcome without the scrutiny of the other club members. It was also a very democratic environment, including parliamentary regulations that deal with disagreements through a formal voting process. This process was formed to avoid a “we-versus-they distinction” which shows that the organization can handle different opinions without being disruptive.

The Club Bar compliments the Clubhouse as an alternate hangout for the members. There is a higher risk of threat at the bar because there are outside forces to deal with as well as discrepancies within the group. The Club Bar gives the group more public contact, which is necessary in order to find new members for their alliance. The rebels rely on the bar to “[maintain] an operational balance between vested group interests and the psychological needs of individual members.” Wolf and Young show a comparative analysis with another outlaw motorcycle club, the Warlords from Calgary, in order to emphasize the importance of a club bar.

Violent encounters with outside society can occur due to the overt nature of the Rebels differentiating themselves from others. It is an image of solidarity that also brings the individual club members together when other groups threaten the Rebels. When a violent outburst occurs, the Rebels become a brotherhood and stick together for safety even though there are many differences between the individuals.

The club’s strength is measured by the fact that many diverse people can come together and form a club that they manage like a micro-society, where conflicts are resolved so that the “organization returns to a state of operational equilibrium after absorbing an incident of conflict.”


LEAH ARIANO York University (Maggie MacDonald)