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Cowboy Proxemics - Essay Example

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When two people are having a conversation with each other, they tend to stand at a specific distance. This distance is what we commonly call, "personal space." Each person carries around them an invisible boundary into which the other person may or may not come and if someone comes a little closer than needed, we feel our personal spaces have been violated.
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Cowboy Proxemics
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Download file to see previous pages Hickey and William E. Thompson further studied the role of proxemics in American cowboy population and how it differed from the usual American standards.
Hickey and Thompson argued that a lot of proliferation has taken from cowboy culture to the mainstream American culture. Today, some aspects of cowboy culture are clearly known. For instance, media has popularized the garb worn by cowboys, that it is frequently copied by members of other cultures and occupations. Hence, for a cowboy one of the ways he found to preserve his identity was by preserving his notions of personal space.
Hall proposed that for Americans there are four kinds of proxemically relevant personal spaces. They are: intimate zone ranging from zero to eighteen inches for loved ones, personal zone ranging from one and one half to four inches, social zone ranging from four to twelve feet while public space was anything over twelve feet. Among cowboys, on the other hand, those who do no know each other well, the usual speaking distance is six to eight feet.
The ways people use space differs from culture to culture and subculture to subculture. This is so because proxemic research is based on the concept of territoriality or the behavior by which an organism typically lays claim to an area and defends it against members of its own and other species. This is basis of study of animal behavior.
Non-verbal communication or process of transmitting messages also plays role in the study of proxemics (Ottenheimer Harriet, 157). It comprises of body language, gestures, facial expressions and even gaze. While Americans believe in maintaining an eye-contact during the course of a conversation, the cowboys neither stares not scan the eye of the partner in a regular manner. Since proxemics is in a way study of culture anthropologists have argued that intercultural communication, occupation, cultivation, preservation and utilization of space is also taken into consideration and this could be the reason for differences between subcultures of the same culture.
Harriet Joseph Ottenheimer in her book, the Anthropology of Language: An Introduction to Linguistic Anthropology states that as cowboys were frequently seated in horses there developed differences in their need for personal spaces. Thus, for them personal space ranges from six to eight feet roughly this is the space they need if two horses were standing nose-to-nose. However, their side-by-side personal space ranges from zero to eighteen inches, suggesting that if their horses are side by side their feet might touch.
Famous adage goes-old habits die hard. Anthropologists argue that as cowboys spent most of their time on their horses, they carried the same proxemics system in non-mounted situations as well. So cowboys at social gatherings like a campfire tend to place themselves facing each other across the room and make sure they are six to eight feet apart also while placing themselves side by side close together on one side of the room. In Kansas, pickup trucks pulled off the road are parked side by side while their drivers can have a chat while seated on the trucks.
As we are living in global village, cowboy proxemics will go through a change due to influences from other cultures and subcultures. As proxemics is part of culture and is guided by culture transmission, anthropologists h ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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