"Patterns" or Common Element Organizations
An example of the organizing effects of general expectations beyond what is involved in schemata can be seen as concerns the type of cultural organiza-
tion often referred to as "patterns." This organization is one in which a common element is present in the complexes of understandings associated with a number of different domains. The common understanding provides an element of similarity in the different domains in the way exemplified by Benedict (1934) in her distinction between Apollonian and Dionysian cultures. This similarity may be one of style, substance, or both, but its presence presumably serves to promote cultural conformity through harnessing habituation and the sense of rightness that comes with familiarity.
As shown in chapter 9, at least one instance of just this sort of cultural organization is found in Swahili culture. Understandings concerned with the usefulness or desirability of "balance" are a common element in several different domains. Thus, in the domain of body functioning, Galenic medicine is based on understandings about the close relationship between elemental balance and health; in social relationships, the balance involved in maintaining status differences and meeting expectations is valued; and in character, the highly important "balance" calls for adherence to the differential proprieties in different situations.
A "Pattern" and How It Can Be Effective Given Limited Sharing
The understanding that balance is desirable provides an organization based on the presence of a common element in the diverse sets of understandings that severally concern their different domains. In all of them, the desirability and benefit of including the "proper" proportions of different things is noted and also the cost of not doing so. The simple existence of the same sort of understanding in quite different areas of life may make it likelier that the understanding will be influential in each of them. To the extent that the understanding is a morally charged one, as balance in social relations and character is, it becomes even more effective and able to influence or guide behavior in a variety of areas.
The difficulty with these common element organizations, "patterns," having a substantial effect on general cultural conformity is that their influence depends on there being a good deal of sharing of the understandings involved. On the face of it, the balance notion in body functioning can only be made compelling for those who share it and also share the balance understandings concerning relationships and character. Since most people know nothing of Galenic medicine, including its emphasis on balance, the acceptance of this type of medicine would, it might seem, hardly be increased by the fact that those same people are committed to balance in social relations and in character.
There is a substantial basis, however, for the pattern being effective in promoting conformity despite the widespread lack of sharing of its component
understandings. This basis is in the fact that somewhere in the chain of advisers who serve to supply the "missing link" between the understanding that one is ill and the understanding that there is help in dealing with illness, there is usually someone who knows about balance in medicine as well as in social relations and personal character. By inclining the experts or serious amateurs who know about Galenic balance to recommend Galenic practitioners rather than other kinds, the organization affects some of those who do not share the balance understandings in some domains.
It may be of some interest to suggest that not only do understandings affect those who do not share them but organizations can affect those who are innocent of their components. At least one process by which the latter occurs is the same as the one that brings about the former. This is, of course, that people accept advice from each other, with an important source of the acceptance being the general expectations in the multiplex relationships within which it is given.
Transmission by Simplex Relationships and Its Limits
Clearly, advice is also given and accepted in simplex relationships. The practitioner-patient relationship is an example of this. Here acceptance, when it occurs, is usually on the basis of the specific expectation that the practitioner knows about illness and can make useful recommendations. In order for the patient to continue to accept the practitioner's advice, however, the patient must see acceptable results, that is, the specific expectations in the relationship call for particular things to happen within a relatively limited time span.
The general expectations vital to multiplex relationships do not call for highly specific returns, and the time spans involved in exchanging whatever is exchanged may be quite long. A mother who sends a son or daughter to a practitioner whose treatment does not help as soon as the patient thinks it should is, nevertheless, quite likely to be asked for advice again. The patient is likelier to abandon treatment from the practitioner than advice from the parent. The "pay-off" in multiplex relationships is quite different from that in simplex relationships, making the former far more resilient in most cases.
Moreover, the general expectations in multiplex relationships provide a far broader scope for the relationships than is found in simplex relationships. Parents or neighbors are consulted because they are expected to be committed to one's interests as much or more than because of the breadth of their command of understandings.
Simplex relationships do serve to transmit unshared understandings in the way seen for Swahili medical care, but their "reach" is limited and their "cost" is high. Simplex relationships, by definition, begin and end in a single domain, and their specific expectations are all within that domain. One does
not have a relationship with a medical practitioner, if the only role is practitioner-patient, outside the domain of medicine. This relationship can be part of a broad transmission of the effects of understandings to those who do not share them by those who take themselves to have benefited but only if the links in the chain of transmission that follow it are the general expectations in multiplex relationships.
Generally, simplex relationships cannot serve to make cultural organizations effective in the way multiplex relationships can and do. A practitioner may study and practice Galenic medicine because of understandings in other domains which make the balance understandings in that scheme attractive to him, but his ability to bring people to accept the kind of medicine he practices depends more on the actual results they believe he achieves than on his advocacy of the scheme.
In a multiplex relationship, the partner's enthusiasm, which may be based in her being struck by the inherent "rightness" of the balance, or some other, understanding does matter in that her advice is followed not so much because of the qualifications she has for giving the advice but more because of her understood commitment. If a mother wants a child to consult an herbal doctor, a central reason for following the advice is that she gave it. General expectations do not call for specific results, nor are they based in understood command of specific understandings. Their broad and vital part in cultural dynamics is mainly a consequence of these two facts.
The effects of general expectations in the operation of patterns and in the transmission of the results of unshared cultural elements suggest that these broad expectations have effects beyond the relationships in which they occur. In fact, through their central part in multiplex relationships and the broad consequences of these relationships for the social life of the community, they play an important part in the operation of social structure as a whole. These broad expectations not only bind together spouses, parents and children, neighbors, and many others who "mean" a great deal to one another but also play a central part in making the whole culture effective. Their contribution to the community's whole social structure is particularly critical.