Status incongruity in Samoan youth: A biocultural analysis of culture change, stress, and immune function

Thomas McDade*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

81 Scopus citations

Abstract

In Samoa, t lie presence of a matai title in the family has historically been a valued source of social status. However, as the process of Westernization continues, new sources of social status are emerging. This study explores the degree to which new and old markers of social status agree - or disagree - and the consequences they have for the experience of stress in 329 Samoan adolescents. The study integrates cultural and biological methods and data, and measures an aspect of immune function (antibodies against the Epstein-Barr virus) as a biomarker of psychosocial stress. Results indicate that status "incongruent" adolescents experience significantly more stress (indicated by reduced immune function), and that emerging markers of social status are becoming inextricably linked to "traditional" markers in such a way that discordance between them is a significant source of stress. This study proposes new conceptual models for future studies of culture change and suggests that biomarkers may represent ethnographic tools that can provide insight into hidden cultural dynamics and the experience of stress,.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-150
Number of pages28
JournalMedical Anthropology Quarterly
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • South Pacific
  • Status inconsistency
  • Westernization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Status incongruity in Samoan youth: A biocultural analysis of culture change, stress, and immune function'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this