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Making Sense of MicronesiaThe Logic of Pacific Island Culture$
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Francis X. S.J. Hezel

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824836610

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824836610.001.0001

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The Personal Touch

The Personal Touch

Chapter:
(p.11) 1 The Personal Touch
Source:
Making Sense of Micronesia
Author(s):

Francis X. Hezel

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824836610.003.0002

This chapter discusses one of the most basic themes in Micronesian culture: personalization. It describes life in a Micronesian island as the sum total of a series of interpersonal encounters with people who know one another. It considers the importance of a social map to Micronesians, who use it to fix individuals based on whether they are kin or non-kin, whether they are older or younger than oneself, what their social status is. It shows that the social map and the pattern of personal relationships plotted on it are a prerequisite for any meaningful exchange with island people. It also examines a dilemma faced by Micronesians: whether they continue to use their social map or jettison it in order to conform to the demands of a democracy that treats everyone equally. It argues that island societies are handicapped by personalization, from telephone courtesy to the procedures associated with good government.

Keywords:   personalization, Micronesian culture, Micronesia, social map, personal relationships, democracy, island societies, telephone courtesy, good government

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