Andreas’ Human Ethology Assignment

Location: The Woodlands 1100 Hargrove Rd E  Tuscaloosa, AL 35405
Arrival Time: 11:37pm

Setting:

The open living space of the apartment where the party guest are located in extremely dimly lit. The lighting is so that only the dark figures of people can be made out, and guest must use the light from their cellphones to identify friends. The guest are composed of mostly college students, and few sorority and fraternity members. The atmosphere, outside of the loud music, is not very noisy. Most guess are casually chatting with friends or other guest.

Focal Sampling:

The subject is wearing a short fitted Aztec print dress and high heels. She is walking to the punch bowl that assumedly contains and alcohol beverage. Subject is now drinking said beverage. A tall African American grabs the subjects hand and greets her, and she begins talking to the male. Subject begins to smile and laugh as the male talks, and flips her hair over her shoulder. The male brushes the subject’s waist. Subject laughs and pushed the males hand away, and then takes a sip of her drink. Subject and the male continue to talk. Subject walks away from male, and walks over to a group of women. Subject pulls into one of the women and talks in her ear. Subject and the other woman laugh. Subject begins to dance and sing the lyrics to a song that is playing, and begin to drink her drink again. Subject continues to dance with friends. Subject finishes the rest of her drink. Subject walks back towards the punch bowl and fill up her cup with more punch. She walks over to a group of people, two males and one female. She hugs the exchanges hugs with them all, and begins to hold a conversation with the group. Subject continues to talk to the group for one to two minutes while drinking her drink. Subject walks back over to the original group of women. Subject continues to dance and finish her drink.

Scan Sampling:

The other people in the party are conversing with friends, scrolling through their phones or dancing to the music. Some are standing back surveying the room. A group of people walk outside to balcony to presumably smoke. Individuals are clustered into groups, some people leave their group to go social with people in other groups and then return to their group. Others leave the group to go to the punch bowl.

The crowd begins to get noisy and more people began to dance when a particular song comes on. The song is recognized as “All Gold Everything” by rapper Trinidad James. Many of the women began to dance, and the move slightly to the music. All of those persons that know the words to the song and feel compelled to sing it do, many of them shouting the obscenities in the song. After the song goes off, the crowd returns to the previous mentioned behavior. As more people begin to walk in the party, people stare at them.

People that are new to the party walk in, join a group to stand with or create their own group. One woman begins to complain that someone has put cigarette ash in the punch bowl. Some people began to search for the hostess of the party to tell her about the fiasco with the punch bowl. Some women in the room began to dance slowly and whine their hips to a Rihanna song. In some dark corners women and men are dancing together; the women use the same seductive dance moves. Groups of men in the room stare at the women dancing alone. Some men attempt to get a woman to dance with them. Some are successful, some are not.

Summary:

Male and female contact at the house party seemed to occur in sporadic instances, and did not last for long lengths of time. Although some groups were composed of both sexes, the majority of the party guests were separated by sex. The alcohol at the party seem to make many of the party goers become more social, and as some of them begin to drink more they begin to dance and mingle more. Other remained completely aloof and their behavior was unaltered by the presence of alcohol. Music was the unifying element of the party. Although everyone at the party was not familiar with one another, they all had similar responses when certain genres of music were played. When a Hip-Hop song was played, the party goers became excited and sang the words together cheerfully. When a slower R&B song was played, the female party goers sang the song quietly to themselves, while some dance amongst friends and others danced with males. A threat to the supply of alcohol caused conflict within the party. Flirting could visually be seen throughout the party. However, women had most of the power when it came to flirting, and chose with guys they would talk to or dance with.

Analysis:

I observed all of the five stages, attention getting, recognition, talk, touch and total body synchrony during my time at the house party. They all seem to occur in this exact order, as one stage seemed to lead into the other, and party guest became more comfortable with each other as they drank and mingled more. Fifteen minutes was amble time to observes the five stages. However, I believe that this was made capable by my arrival time at the party. I arrived an hour and half after it began; thus, this is just when guest were beginning to truly enjoy the party. I noticed that mostly women acted in the attention getting stage, while men conducted the recognition. Talk, touch and total body synchrony were conducted by both sexes. The men approached the women for body synchrony, or dancing, and the women enticed men to approach them to dance. I had trouble performing the five minute intervals, and deciphering what and who was important to look at in a room with so many people, and what was important to put in my observation. If I were to do this this experiment again, I would conduct it with a partner. This would allow us to have different key focuses, and get a better observation of the socialization at the party.

Author: Johnna Dominguez

Johnna Dominguez earned her BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Cultural Studies and Body Politics from the University of Alabama's New College in May 2011. In her senior thesis, Johnna explored the embodiment of identity through sexuality and sports by observing and studying Alabama football fans and participants in the local burlesque troupe, the Pink Box Burlesque. In her Master's thesis, she is investigating the psychological and physical stresses associated with southern women who get tattoos. After completing her Master's in Anthropology, she hopes to return to school for a Master's in Public Health.

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