Source: Alan Dundes, Pecking Chickens: A Folk Toy as a Source for the Study of Worldview. I read this article back in the spring of 2011, for my Anthropology course: Media, Folklore and Urban legend. It got me interested to I did some research on the toy, and found out some interesting aspects to the variations of the toy.
Relation: The direct definition of Globalization fro the oxford dictionary is, “the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale” The key phrase in this definition is: “develop international influence or start operating on an international scale” When something expands internationally, it has globalized. This can also be seen in the quote, “it is safe to say that the conventional understanding of globalization is that it is producing a homogenization of cultural forms…” (Conflict and Conformity Pg. 375). The toy Pecking Chickens has been globalized to different countries around the world, for centuries.
Description: The Pecking Chicken is a wooden toy that has gone all around the world. With every country it tells a different story. In some countries the feathers are bright colors, while in others they are dull. In countries were food was seen as scarce, the chickens have little seeds to peck at, or are fighting for one seed alone. If the country were seen to have a surplus of food, the chickens would have plentiful seeds on the ground before them. This also had an effect on spacing between the chickens. The bigger the country the more space the chickens have between them and vise versa. The type of culture a country withheld also influenced the spacing of the chickens (I.E collectivistic or individualistic).
Commentary/Analysis: It is fascinating how a simple toy can tell a story about the culture behind it. A topic, which is also covered by Alan Dundes, “No genre of folklore is so trivial or so insignificant that it cannot provide important data for the study of the worldview” (Dundes). Dundes wrote an analysis paper titled Pecking Chickens: A Folk Toy as a Source for the Study of Worldview. In this article Dundes is focusing on a folk toy called the “pecking chicken” and how this toy tells a story about the society, culture and place it was made. Whether it is from the colors of the chicken, the space the toys have, or the amount of fake food the chickens are pecking at. Dundes states that “Worldview, the way a people perceives the world and its place in it, permeates all aspects of a given culture and this is why the pattern of the whole world is to be found even in that wholes smallest part.” So whether it is a toy, urban legend, or a movie it all tells a story about the world it was written in.
Now I know I just quoted a lot about Dundes, so now let me move away from Dundes and talk about how this shows Globalization. In every country (for the most part) there has been a remake of these toys. Where the toys originated from has been suggested as a number of places (just like pizza) from native tribes, to industrialized countries. So the original makers are unknown. It has been passed down through many generations, and has been around for hundreds of years (may be a slight exaggeration, I am not sure 100 percent). These toys can be found everywhere, and if you Google them you are likely to find Amazon/EBay ads for ones from Switzerland, the Netherlands, America, Spain, China etc. This shows how is has been globalized, since it has, “developed international influence or started operating on an international scale.” It has not only been globalized, but it has been localized. The variations of this one toy tell us things about the country it was made in. It tells us about the economical standing, whether the culture is collectivistic or individualistic, the flamboyancy of a country and much more. Since the makers of this country are marketing it to consumers in the country, it is made to reflect living conditions, and life styles of the residence of the country. They do this to attract the attention of the consumers.
I find it incredibly fascinating that a simple toy can say so much about a country, and a life style. It really makes me question the toys I grew up with, and how they have evolved over the years with the passing generations. What does this evolution say about societies, and cultures? What does it say about how people are socialized into roles? It is incredible the types a questions a simple toy can induce.
Works Cited (not course related)
Dundes, Alan. "Pecking Chickens: A Folk Toy as a Source for the Study of Worldview." 1989. In Folklore Matters, pp. 83-91. Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press.