Implicit values : an analysis of four Navajo life histories

Since World War II, the social sciences have adopted the practice of studying the life histories of ordinary people in order to elicit and examine information about the inherent characteristics of their culture. This practice, known as the biographical method, is common to the medical, psychological, and sociological disciplines, and is especially popular in the humanities. Its aim is to learn more about the historical setting in each of these disciplines by focusing upon individual biographies. The thesis that follows will examine the life histories of four Navajo Indians, two adults and two children, with the goal of identifying nineteen values common to the Navajo culture. Even though non-Indian cultures repeatedly impose their values upon the Navajo society, the author firmly believes that the Indian world still manages to preserve its own value system by using a socialization process which directly influences the children. This course of action is the way in which individuals internalize their values and norms of the cultural surroundings. Children carry the value system throughout their lives, as revealed by a close examination of the four life histories.