Dwellings In-Class Activity

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Exercise ID: 1.231
Class size: Any
Level(s): I II III
Source: Produced by HRAF

Learning Objectives

Does the exercise compare 2 or more cultures? Yes
Subject selection: Single subject specified by teacher
Subjects/OCMS, if applicable: Dwellings
Region selection: pre-selected
Region, if applicable: Various
Culture selection: Set by teacher
Cultures/OWCs, if applicable: Azande, Garo, Wolof, Khasi, Santal, Iroquois, Tzeltal, Pawnee, Sinhalese, Chuuk

Classroom Guide

Instructions for navigating eHRAF included? No
Assignments for students to complete in groups? Yes
Assignments for students to complete on their own? Yes
Instructions for Microfiche version? No

Carol R. Ember, Alissa Jordan, Human Relations Area Files

Adapted from eHRAF Teahing Exercise Dwellings by Carol Ember

Download In-Class Activity PDF


In this exercise, you will explore the differences in dwelling size between matrilocal and patrilocal households.

Exercise Details

● Time: 45 minutes
Materials Required:
● HRAF Access
● Worksheet and pen or other materials for recording answers
Student Learning Outcomes:
At the end of this assignment, you will be able to:
● identify and describe correlations between matrilocal and patrilocal patterns of residency and size of dwellings
● construct effective and efficient search strategies in eHRAF in order to retrieve data relevant to a specific topic/assignment.

Dwelling Variations

● We know that different societies typically have very different types of houses or dwellings. This is one of the main reasons cross-cultural researchers have tried to predict and explain dwelling size and shape—this research has uncovered many predictors from the shape, size, and building materials used in dwellings.
● In this exercise, you will research how marital residency patterns relate to dwelling shape and size across a number of societies.

Assignment Part 1: Select your Sample & Design Keywords

1. First, you must choose your sample. Select three matrilocal cultures and three patrilocal from the table below. In later steps, you will conduct a search and find information on dwellings for each of these societies.

Patrilocal Matrilocal
Azande Garo
Wolof Khasi
Santal Iroquois
Tzeltal Pawnee
Sinhalese Chuuk

2. Now, design a set of keywords. Your search will locate general literature on dwellings in the societies you chose, but with keywords you can hone your search so that you specifically see data on the size of dwellings.
3. Now, go to eHRAF Advanced Search.
○ In the Culture box, check or select your chosen societies.
○ In the Subject box, select the “Dwellings” OCM topic.
○ In the keywords box, enter your chosen words (or beginnings of words).
i. Remember to separate terms with an asterisk and space(E.g. size* length* long* width* wide* feet* ft* meters*…) and remember to select “OR” button above keyword box.
4. On the results page, click on an area of the world to see culture names. Click on a culture name to see the paragraphs matching your search for that society.
5. Using the following table style, note the size data for your chosen matrilocal and patrilocal societies.

Size Notes
Patrilocal Society A
Patrilocal Society B
Patrilocal Society C
Matrilocal Society A
Matrilocal Society B
Matilocal Society C

Assignment Part 2

Question #1. Compare the tables you have made. What differences in dwelling size do you notice between the two?
Question #2. Construct a hypothesis for further studying any patterns you may have noticed.
If you were to complete a research project based on this hypothesis, and this hypothesis was supported, what social explanations might you consider for the pattern(s)?

Resources: Assignment Rubric, Tips, References

The assignment rubric is located in the attached PDF.

Further Reading

● For more exercises and teaching resources related to human societies past and present, explore Teaching eHRAF.
● Take a look at the full Dwellings module by Carol Ember, located in HRAF’s Explaining Human Cultures Database.
● For a more detailed version of this exercise, as well as related Dwellings exercises at various learning levels, check out eHRAF Teaching Exercises 1.23 “Dwellings” by Carol Ember.
● Check out the Advanced Search Tutorial for detailed instructions on conducting searches in eHRAF World Cultures.
● For information on dwelling practices in the archaeological record, check out eHRAF Archaeology.