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# Anthropologist David Mandelbaum makes a distinction between life-passa

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Anthropologist David Mandelbaum makes a distinction between life-passa  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 13 Jun 2020, 20:32
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Passage # 147, Date: 13-Jun-2020
This post is a part of Project RC Butler 2020. Click here for Details

Anthropologist David Mandelbaum makes a distinction between life-passage studies and life-history studies which emerged primarily out of research concerning Native Americans. Life-passage studies, he says, “emphasize the requirements of society, showing how groups socialize and enculturate their young in order to make them into viable members of society.” Life histories, however, “emphasize the experiences and requirements of the individual, how the person copes with society rather than how society copes with the stream of individuals.” Life-passage studies bring out the general cultural characteristics and commonalities that broadly define a culture, but are unconcerned with an individual’s choices or how the individual perceives and responds to the demands and expectations imposed by the constraints of his or her culture. This distinction can clearly be seen in the autobiographies of Native American women.

For example, some early recorded autobiographies, such as The Autobiography of a Fox Indian Woman, a life passage recorded by anthropologist Truman Michelson, emphasizes prescribed roles. The narrator presents her story in a way that conforms with tribal expectations. Michelson’s work is valuable as ethnography, as a reflection of the day-to-day responsibilities of Mesquakie women, yet as is often the case with life-passage studies, it presents little of the central character’s psychological motivation. The Fox woman’s life story focuses on her tribal education and integration into the ways of her people, and relates only what Michelson ultimately decided was worth preserving. The difference between the two types of studies is often the result of the amount of control the narrator maintains over the material; autobiographies in which there are no recorder-editors are far more reflective of the life-history category, for there are no outsiders shaping the story to reflect their preconceived notions of what the general cultural patterns are.

For example, in Maria Campbell’s account of growing up as a Canadian Metis who was influenced strongly, and often negatively, by the non-Native American world around her, one learns a great deal about the life of Native American women, but Campbell’s individual story, which is told to us directly, is always the center of her narrative. Clearly it is important to her to communicate to the audience what her experiences as a Native American have been. Through Campbell’s story of her family the reader learns of the effect of poverty and prejudice on a people. The reader becomes an intimate of Campbell the writer, sharing her pain and celebrating her small victories. Although Campbell’s book is written as a life history (the dramatic moments, the frustrations, and the fears are clearly hers), it reveals much about ethnic relations in Canada while reflecting the period in which it was written.

Q1. Which one of the following is the most accurate expression of the main point of the passage?

(A) The contributions of life-history studies to anthropology have made life-passage studies obsolete.
(B) Despite their dissimilar approaches to the study of culture, life-history and life-passage studies have similar goals.
(C) The autobiographies of Native American women illustrate the differences between life-history and life-passage studies.
(D) The roots of Maria Campbell’s autobiography can be traced to earlier narratives such as The Autobiography of a Fox Indian Woman.
(E) Despite its shortcomings, the life-passage study is a more effective tool than the life-history study for identifying important cultural patterns.

Q2. The term “prescribed roles” in (Highlighted) of the passage refers to the

(A) Function of life-passage studies in helping ethnologists to understand cultural tradition.
(B) Function of life-history studies in helping ethnologists to gather information.
(C) Way in which a subject of a life passage views himself or herself.
(D) Roles clearly distinguishing the narrator of an autobiography from the recorder of an autobiography.
(E) Roles generally adopted by individuals in order to comply with cultural demands.

Q3. The reference to the “psychological motivation” (Highlighted) of the subject of The Autobiography of a Fox Indian Woman serves primarily to

(A) Dismiss as irrelevant the personal perspective in the life-history study.
(B) Identify an aspect of experience that is not commonly a major focus of life-passage studies.
(C) Clarify the narrator’s self-acknowledged purpose in relating a life passage.
(D) Suggest a common conflict between the goals of the narrator and those of the recorder in most life-passage studies.
(E) Assert that developing an understanding of an individual’s psychological motivation usually undermines objective ethnography.

Q4. Which one of following statements about Maria Campbell can be inferred from material in the passage?

(A) She was familiar with the very early history of her tribe but lacked insight into the motivations of non-Native Americans.
(B) She was unfamiliar with Michelson’s work but had probably read a number of life-passage studies about Native Americans.
(C) She had training as a historian but was not qualified as an anthropologist.
(D) Her family influenced her beliefs and opinions more than the events of her time did.
(E) Her life history provides more than a record of her personal experience.

Q5. According to the passage, one way in which life history studies differ from life-passage studies is that life-history studies are

(A) Usually told in the subject’s native language.
(B) Less reliable because they rely solely on the subject’s recall.
(C) More likely to be told without the influence of an intermediary.
(D) More creative in the way they interpret the subject’s cultural legacy.
(E) More representative of the historian’s point of view than of the ethnographer’s.

Q6. Which one of the following pairings best illustrates the contrast between life passages and life histories?

(A) A study of the attitudes of a society toward a mainstream religion and an analysis of techniques used to instruct members of that religious group.
(B) A study of how a preindustrial society maintains peace with neighboring societies and a study of how a postindustrial society does the same.
(C) A study of the way a military organization establishes and maintains discipline and a newly enlisted soldier’s narrative describing his initial responses to the military environment.
(D) An analysis of a society’s means of subsistence and a study of how its members celebrate religious holidays.
(E) A political history of a society focusing on leaders and parties and a study of how the electorate shaped the political landscape of the society.

• Source: LSAT Official PrepTest 5 (June 1992)
• Difficulty Level: 600

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Originally posted by GmatWizard on 10 Jan 2019, 11:31.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 13 Jun 2020, 20:32, edited 3 times in total.
Updated - Complete topic (1029).
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Re: Anthropologist David Mandelbaum makes a distinction between life-passa  [#permalink]

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10 Jan 2019, 13:39
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6 mins 4 secs to all correct! Mildly surprised to get all correct given the initial dense appearance of the subject of the passage.

The passage tries to explain the distinction between life-passage studies and life-history studies using examples of autobiographies of Native Americans. It goes on to reveal how life-passage studies are affected due to an intermediary translating and recording through a lens of preconceived notions and how that white-washes any individuality. One example is used while doing the aforementioned. Another example is illustrated to show how self-narrated life-history example autobiography gives the reader a chance to truly connect and hence understand better. At the end the author chooses life-history over life-passage as the superior of the two choices.

Main point straight away - need to be careful as this question has a great trap choice.
Q1. Which one of the following is the most accurate expression of the main point of the passage?
(A) The contributions of life-history studies to anthropology have made life-passage studies obsolete.
(B) Despite their dissimilar approaches to the study of culture, life-history and life-passage studies have similar goals. TRAP - goals of life history and life passage studies could be similar but we are looking for the main point which should encapsulate the entire passage
(C) The autobiographies of Native American women illustrate the differences between life-history and life-passage studies. The point of the passage is to show the differences between the two approaches and in the end to show the superiority of one over the other
(D) The roots of Maria Campbell’s autobiography can be traced to earlier narratives such as The Autobiography of a Fox Indian Woman.
(E) Despite its shortcomings, the life-passage study is a more effective tool than the life-history study for identifying important cultural patterns.
Other options are trivially wrong in my opinion and do not require attention.

Easy straightforward detail type question
Q2. The term “prescribed roles” in line 24 of the passage refers to the
(A) Function of life-passage studies in helping ethnologists to understand cultural tradition.
(B) Function of life-history studies in helping ethnologists to gather information.
(C) Way in which a subject of a life passage views himself or herself. Opposite - life passage study never give any attention to what exactly the individual thinks about the situation as a third person is the intermediary.
(D) Roles clearly distinguishing the narrator of an autobiography from the recorder of an autobiography.
(E) Roles generally adopted by individuals in order to comply with cultural demands. The act of fitting into these roles implies that they are something adopted in order to comply to the cultural demands
Other options are trivially incorrect according to me,

Similar question to Q2 - detail type asking for specific function.
Q3. The reference to the “psychological motivation” (line 30) of the subject of The Autobiography of a Fox Indian Woman serves primarily to
(A) Dismiss as irrelevant the personal perspective in the life-history study. Trivially incorrect - the mention being asked is in relation to life passage study
(B) Identify an aspect of experience that is not commonly a major focus of life-passage studies. Exactly what is missing in life passage study and hence something which we want to highlight as such.
(C) Clarify the narrator’s self-acknowledged purpose in relating a life passage. It is not related to the narrator.
(D) Suggest a common conflict between the goals of the narrator and those of the recorder in most life-passage studies. Even worse than the previous option.
(E) Assert that developing an understanding of an individual’s psychological motivation usually undermines objective ethnography. Opposite- this talks about the motivation of the subject "undermining" whereas the opposite is true

Inference type - but super easy options
Q4. Which one of following statements about Maria Campbell can be inferred from material in the passage?
(A) She was familiar with the very early history of her tribe but lacked insight into the motivations of non-Native Americans. Not mentioned
(B) She was unfamiliar with Michelson’s work but had probably read a number of life-passage studies about Native Americans. Not mentioned
(C) She had training as a historian but was not qualified as an anthropologist. Not mentioned and downright laughable
(D) Her family influenced her beliefs and opinions more than the events of her time did. TRAP? seems something that could be possible but again not mentioned.
(E) Her life history provides more than a record of her personal experience. This is the ending line of the passage - her life history provides us with an opportunity to understand the culture she lived in and not merely her own life experiences

Drilling in the main point - what is the exact distinction?
Q5. According to the passage, one way in which life history studies differ from life-passage studies is that life-history studies are
(A) Usually told in the subject’s native language. TRAP - just because the subject is truly the author and there is no intermediary it could imply that but we are not told for sure - both could be written in English.
(B) Less reliable because they rely solely on the subject’s recall. 180 opposite of what the passage is trying to convey
(C) More likely to be told without the influence of an intermediary. Verbatim from the passage.
(D) More creative in the way they interpret the subject’s cultural legacy. Not mentioned.
(E) More representative of the historian’s point of view than of the ethnographer’s. Not mentioned. Also unnecessary distinction which could be a potential trap for someone guessing.

Best question - asks for a similar setup as the passage - we are looking for a collective view of something and then an individualistic report of the same.
Q6. Which one of the following pairings best illustrates the contrast between life passages and life histories?
(A) A study of the attitudes of society toward a mainstream religion and an analysis of techniques used to instruct members of that religious group.
(B) A study of how a preindustrial society maintains peace with neighboring societies and a study of how a postindustrial society does the same.
(C) A study of the way a military organization establishes and maintains discipline and a newly enlisted soldier’s narrative describing his initial responses to the military environment. Only one that fits the structure we are looking for - on questions like this one need not start eliminating the options first but rather confirm the correct answer and read the other options to see if anything better can be found.
(D) An analysis of a society’s means of subsistence and a study of how its members celebrate religious holidays.
(E) A political history of a society focusing on leaders and parties and a study of how the electorate shaped the political landscape of the society.

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Re: Anthropologist David Mandelbaum makes a distinction between life-passa  [#permalink]

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11 Mar 2020, 06:00
In Q no 2 why option B is wrong

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Re: Anthropologist David Mandelbaum makes a distinction between life-passa  [#permalink]

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11 Mar 2020, 06:36
Kratul412 wrote:
In Q no 2 why option B is wrong

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Hello Kratul412

(B) is wrong because “Prescribed roles” comes up in the context of a discussion of life-passage studies, not life history studies.
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Re: Anthropologist David Mandelbaum makes a distinction between life-passa  [#permalink]

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13 Jun 2020, 20:33
+1 Kudos to posts containing answer explanation of all questions
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Re: Anthropologist David Mandelbaum makes a distinction between life-passa  [#permalink]

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14 Jun 2020, 06:03
In question 6, how are we eliminating option E, 1st part is from a society's point of view and 2nd part from an individual's view
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Re: Anthropologist David Mandelbaum makes a distinction between life-passa  [#permalink]

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15 Jun 2020, 21:19
Apeksha55 wrote:
In question 6, how are we eliminating option E, 1st part is from a society's point of view and 2nd part from an individual's view

Official Explanation

Q6. Which one of the following pairings best illustrates the contrast between life passages and life histories?

Difficulty Level: 550

Explanation

One of the basic differences between life-passage and life-history studies is that the former focus on the collective while the latter concentrate on the individual. A study of the way a military organization maintains discipline is analogous to a life-passage study in the sense that it focuses on the collective, while a newly enlisted soldier’s narrative about his military experience is analogous to a life-history study in the sense that it concentrates on the individual.

(A), (B), and (E) All of these choices miss the collective-individual distinction. Each pair in these choices focuses on collectives: society and a religious group (A); pre- and post-industrial society (B); and leaders and parties and the electorate (E).

(D) An analysis of society’s means of subsistence focuses on neither the group nor the individual.

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Re: Anthropologist David Mandelbaum makes a distinction between life-passa   [#permalink] 15 Jun 2020, 21:19