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Major Theoretical Concepts of Anthropology
Terms in this set (58)
Unilineal Evolutionism (The evolution of culture as a general human phenomenon)
*Belief in the comparative method, psychic unity, parallel evolution, and progress were woven together to support the unilinear view of social evolution.
*Called Classical or Unilineal Evolution
-popular from 1860's through 1890's. -Much of these theories came from Britain.
-Theorists wanted to reinforce the prevailing attitude of smug Victorian superiority by demonstration how modern civilization had evolved from primitive cultures in the direction of progress.
-Represents a continuation of "Enlightenment" universal historicism, though cultural evolutionists focused on "non-western peoples" in prehistory.
-This difference in study focus was due to expanded ethnographic understanding of Native peoples and convincing new arch. evidence that there was in fact a prehistory.
-Members of 19th century western society believed they were at the pinnacle of social evolution.
1. All societies evolved through the same stages and were progressing toward civilization.
2. Victorian society represented civilization in its highest currently extant form but would be surpassed by future societies.
3. The whole perspective was rooted in the comparative method
Unilineal Evolutionism: Comparative Method
The comparative method referred to the belief that contemporary "primitive" cultures were like "living fossils," similar to early stages of current advanced cultures. As such, they were clues to cultural evolutionary development. One could study the evolutionary history of Western society by examining contemporary primitive societies. This was reinforced by the idea of psychic unity.
Unilineal Evolutionism: Psychic Unity
Both Morgan and Tylor believed in the fundamental similarity of human thought around the world, a concept called the psychic unity of humankind. This belief was the foundation for their unilineal evolutionary views and supported their contention that societies progressed through parallel (but independent) evolutionary stages.
*Simple and complex societies were comparable because human minds were believed to develop along the same lines.
1. If the human mind worked the same way in all cultures, then it was assumed that unrelated societies would develop in a parallel fashion.
Unilineal Evolutionism: Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
* "The Social Organism"
Herbert Spencer believed that evolution was progressive and that it moved from small to large, simple to complex, and independent to interdependent. He believed that evolution was a pervasive force in the universe. It was not only people and societies that were evolving, but all things. Among people, how-ever, Spencer believed that evolution was driven by a struggle for survival in which only those with superior skills and traits succeeded. It was Spencer who coined the term "survival of the fittest."
-Consequences of Spencer's works were Social Darwinism. Social Darwinists interpreted theories of evolution to mean that progress could only be achieved through the strong dominating the weak. They equated strength with military and financial power. Thus, they believed that it was not only the right, it was the obligation of the rich to dominate the poor and the Western powers to dominate those who were less technologically advanced. It was only in this manner that humanity could progress. [used to justify imperialism, colonialism, racism, and free enterprise capitalism in America]
Unilineal Evolutionism: Herber Spencer: The Social Organism (This main idea set the tone from much of anthropology in the following century)
Spencer compared human societies with biological organisms. This analogy was used to link biological and social evolution, implying both followed the same processes and direction. This suggested that societies could be studied in the same fashion as biological organisms. Spencer also suggested their was an analogy between the organs within an organism and the various parts of society. His research agenda was to accuratley identify these "social organs" and describe their role and function in maintaining society.
*For Spencer, "survival of the fittest" meant that evolution favored the physically strong, intellectually clever, and, among humans, financially most prosperous. (opposite from Darwin's understanding of the mechanisms of evolution which focused on matters of reproduction.
Unilineal Evolutionism: Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881)
*Morgan believed that evolutionary progress was not achieved through competition but was propelled by the "flowering" of "germs of thought." The increasingly complex technologies produced after such events were markers of evolutionary progress.
Believed there were universal evolutionary stages of cultural development that characterized the transition from primitive to complex societies. This made him a unilineal evolutionist.
*Morgan focused on the evolution of elements such as the family and subsistence patterns.
1. He wrote the first book comparatively studying kinship in Native American cultures.
2. In his book "Ancient Society," he attempted to trace the evolution of human society from primeval times to the Victorian era (which he considered the high point of human civilization)
3. Tylor divided human cultural development into 3 grand stages:
A. Savagery (subdivided into lower, middle, & upper phases)
B. Barbarism (subdivided into lower, middle, & upper phases)
Unilineal Evolutionism: Edward Tylor (1832-1917)
Believed there were universal evolutionary stages of cultural development that characterized the transition from primitive to complex societies. This made him a unilineal evolutionist.
*Tylor concentrated on the idea that one could trace the evolution of a society by the study of "survivals," a form of cultural remnant. Best known for his theory of the evolution of religion.
1. He argued that one could reconstruct earlier stages of cultural evolution by studying "survivals."
A. Believed that virtually everything in contemporary society that did not have a function he understood was a survival from a previous stage of cultural evolution. Therefore one could learn something about past stages of a society's development through the study o these cultural leftovers.
2. He also postulated that the most basic concept underlying the invention of religion was animism, the belief that all objects and aspects of the world are imbued with spirit.
A. He outlined a developmental sequence for religion that began with this idea, evolved into polytheism, and finally progressed into what he viewed as the highest form of religious belief, enlightened monotheism.
Unilineal Evolutionism: Rise of Diffusionism
Historical Materialism (Marxism)
*Focused on the notion of conflict as the mechanisms for social evolution.
The core idea of Marxism is dialectical materialism. It begins with the premise of materialism, meaning the belief that human existence determines human consciousness, contrasted with the idealist belief that human consciousness determines human existence.
1. Human thoughts, actions, and instructions are determined by their relationship to the means of production, meaning how people make a living in the material world. This relationship is always changing, because the means of production are always changing as people change their adaptations to physical conditions.
Historical Materialism: Karl Marx (1818-1883) & Friedrich Engels (1820-1895)
*Just as unilinear evolutionary theorists traced the social evolution of humans from savagery to civilization, Marx and Engels saw the history of Europe in terms of the transition from feudalism, to capitalism, and on to communism--which they believed was the next inevitable step in the process.
*Marx believed that all thought was a product of cultural institutions rather than their cause.
*Marx a materialist philosopher gave primacy to the analysis of the conditions of production within society.
1. They both believed that in prehistory, people lived in a socio-economic system with material goods belonging to all, no private property, and equality under the "law."
2. In civilization, however, powerful individuals gained control of land, the basic source of wealth.
3. Thus, primitive communism was superseded by a system of unequal classes and the exploitation of one class by another.
4. Both examined the conflict generated by the increasing wealth of the capitalists (bourgeoisie) at the expense of the working class (proletariat), who only sunk deeper into poverty.
5. Marx and Engels viewed social change viewed social change as an evolutionary process married by revolution in which new levels of social, political, and economic development were achieved through class struggle.
6. They viewed history as a sequence of evolutionary stages, each marked by a unique mode of production.
Historical Materialism: Process of Dialectical Materialism Outlined
1. discussion and reasoning by dialogue as a method of intellectual investigation; specifically : the Socratic techniques of exposing false beliefs and eliciting truth
2. the Platonic investigation of the eternal ideas
3. the logic of fallacy
4. the Hegelian process of change in which a concept or its realization passes over into and is preserved and fulfilled by its opposite; also : the critical investigation of this process
5. (1) usually plural but singular or plural in construction : development through the stages of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis in accordance with the laws of dialectical materialism (2) : the investigation of this process (3) : the theoretical application of this process especially in the social sciences
1. Marx and Engels maintained that all modern societies are based on class distinctions which become institutionalize in church and state, which function to keep the ruling class, the class that controls the means of production, in power.
2. As the means of production change, the nature of classes, which "organize" the means of production, also changes.
3. Eventually, the means of production outgrow their form of organization, which is "overthrown" in a social revolution, from which a new social class emerges.
*This sequence was thought to be dialectical.
Durkheim Approaches: Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)
1. Durkheim believed that human society followed laws, just like the natural laws of physics or biology, that could be discovered by empirical observation and testing. He believed that the scientific study of society was possible.
2. His goal was to substantiate his belief that society was much more than simply a collection of individual and to discover the laws and principles by which society operated.
3. Durkheim supposed technologically primitive peoples to be examples of earlier stages of cultural evolution.
Durkheim Approaches: Social Solidarity & Collective Conscience
1. Durkheim questioned the nature of social cohesion (the term he used was social solidarity): He wanted to know what exactly held societies together?
2. He concluded that social solidarity was primarily the result of a force arising from participation in a shared system of beliefs and values, which molded and controlled individual behavior.
3. This "force" was called (lame collective), or in english, "the collective conscience."
4. Durkheim believed that the collective conscience originated in the communal interactions and experiences of members of a society. Because people were born and raised within this shared context of the collective conscience, it determined their values, beliefs, and behaviors.
5. Ultimately, this made life possible and meaningful. For the most part, social cohesion was maintained because everyone in a society participated in the collective conscience. (This term foreshadowed the modern concept of culture)
6. Durkheim argued that the collective conscience was a psychological entity that, although carried by members of a society, superseded individual existence and could not be explained in terms of individual behavior.
7. Once called into existence this collective conscience had a life of its own and operated by no rules, meaning it was not contained within an individual organism, it was super organic.
Durkheim Approaches: Social Facts
1. Durkheim proposed that the appropriate units of analysis were social facts. These were the social and behavioral rules and principles that exist in a society before an individual is born and which that person learns and observes as a member of their society.
2. Social facts can be recognized by their pervasiveness within a society (they are not individualistic) and because they are coercive. People feel obligated to observe their restraints.
3. He believed that social facts could be studied through peoples actions and studied independently through the use of statistics.
Durkheim Approaches: Concepts of Organic and Mechanical Solidarity
1. Primitive societies are held together by what Durkheim called mechanical solidarity. He believed that in such societies, their are no individuals in the modern sense. Rather "collective conscience completely (individual) conscience and coincides with it at every point." Such societies lack internal differentiation; their parts are interchangeable. Therefore segments can break away with out disrupting the functioning of the entire society. In these societies, kinship forms the primary bond between people.
2. Industrialized societies are held together by organic solidarity. In such societies collective conscience is at least partially differentiated from individual conscience. One result is occupational specialization--people need each other to function. In this type of society, the primary ties between individuals come from economic and occupational interdependence and cooperation rather than from kinship.
3. Durkheim believed that individual freedom and ultimately happiness were maximized under organic solidarity.
Durkheim Approaches: Social Organization
1. Durkheim postulated that all people understood the world through socially created systems of classification. He argued that such systems were not derived from simple observation of nature. Rather, they were social facts. Thus, systems of classification did not reflect the natural world but rather imposed the structure of society upon the natural world. So classification systems were specific to individual societies and reflected the social organization of those societies.
2. Durkheim argued that human societies project their social organization on the material world. In the realm of religion, this classification system becomes sacred. Thus, when societies engage in religious worship, what they are actually praising is their own social order. This act of praise invests society itself with a sacred character and is a critical element in creating an maintaining social solidarity.
Durkheim Approaches: Comparing and contrasting with former theories
1. Influence of 19th century evolutionism can be seen in this idea primitive societies. He believed that societies evolved form mechanical to organic solidarity, that is, from simple undifferentiated groups into more advanced differentiated societies.
2. Spencer, Darwin and Marx wrote in terms of the human struggle for survival, while Durkheim focused on the solidarity within a society.
3. Spencer, Darwin and Marx saw competition and conflict as the mothers driving evolution. While Durkheim focused thought social evolution toward increased complexity was driven by the need to achieve social solidarity at higher and higher population levels.
4. Durkheim believed that social differentiation and specialization led to increased social cohesion and broadened the possibilities for individuals to achieve their full potential as human beings.
Durkheim Approaches: Enduring points
*Durkheim was later coined as viewing society in a "functionalist" approach.
1. The processes he analyzed in aboriginal society are essentially the same processes that occur in all societies. So primitive societies are not simply living fossils but rather simplified versions of more complex societies in which universal social processes can be seen more clearly.
2. Durkheim proposed that some social facts are universal. For instance, all human thought is dualistic. In all human societies, people have a tendency to classify by dividing everything into things and their opposites (good/bad, day/night, right/left, and so on). He proposed that the most fundamental of these divisions was into the categories of sacred and profane. (Binary Opposition)
1.worthy of religious worship : very holy
2. relating to religion
3. highly valued and important : deserving great respect
1. to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt : desecrate
2. to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use
Sociological Thought: Marcel Mauss (1872-1950)
*Nephew to Emile Durkheim, Mauss continued his uncles work after his death in 1917 (of a broken heart, most have said).
1. Mauss published "The Gift" and in this he shows that gift-giving in primitive societies is often a part of political and social obligations, reflection or expressing the society's underlying social structure.
2. He also proposes a special class of social facts called [total social phenomena] and illustrates this concept in his discussion of the Potlatch.
Weberian Sociology: Max Weber (1864-1920)
1. Weber was concerned with the action of individuals as well as social groups.
2. According to Weber, the ultimate base of social action is individual behavior a person undertakes in relation to others; that behavior is best judged by whether the action is rational or not.
3. Like Karl Marx he believed that social class was related to property ownership and control of the means of post production.
4. Unlike Marx, he believed that classes, in and of themselves, could not act and that status (or honor) and party could also cut across class lines.
5. Weber develops this theory of class stratification and parties (groups that exist to pursue power) and their relationship to the role of the individual in society.
6. Weber also gives a prominent place to individual action and ideology
Weberian Sociology: Analyzing rise of capitalism
1. Weber analyzed like Marx, the rise of capitalism and saw the roots of capitalism in fundamental changes in relations of production, such as the displacement of peasants.
2. Unlike Marx, he found these material causes insufficient to explain the emergence and success of capitalism.
3. Instead, he proposed that it was material factors, coupled with a new Calvinist ethic emphasizing moral accountability and self-discipline that explained capitalism's rise.
4. It was critical to Weber's point that Calvinism did not emerge from capitalism. It was aimed at ensuring personal salvation, not profits. However, coinciding with change in relations of production, it greatly favored the emergence of a powerful capitalist bourgeoisie.
Weberian Sociology: Charisma
1. Weber believed that individuals could profoundly affect their societies. Prophets could emerge who could change the way people thought.
2. He called the ability of an individual to influence other charisma, which he defined as an "extraordinary power," a sort of spiritual force possessed by an individual.
3. Weber did not explain the source of charisma, asserting that it simply exists naturally in some people; in others, it is a germ that must be awakened. The power of charisma enables certain individuals to lead their societies and change the thinking of those around them. This notion of charisma gives the individual a place in Weber's work that is lacking in Marx's theory.
(Named because Franz Boas focused on specific histories of individual societies in his anthropological approach)
1.Under the influence of Franz Boas and his first generation of his students, the professionalization of academic anthropology in the United States involved the cultivation of a distinctively holistic, "four-field" approach to the study of human life, which generally stressed the significance of historical change (diachronic) and the relativistic character of Euro-American and non-Western cultural norms and practices.
-Together with its preeminent geographical focus on Native American peoples, these were the epistemological foundation upon which theory in American Anthropology would be erected in generations after Boas.
Historical Particularism: Franz Boas (1858-1942)
1. The ideas of Boas had an enormous impact on American Anthropology at the turn of the twentieth century.
2. The method of research Boas pioneered, later labeled "historical particularism," is widely considered the first American-born school of anthropological thought, and he is considered one of the founders of American anthropology.
3. His upbringing emphasized the freedom, dignity, and fundamental equality of all peoples, and Boas remained deeply devoted to these ideas throughout his life.
4. Although Boas believed in a science of anthropology, he recognized a distinction between the social and natural sciences.
5. His 15 months in the arctic, turned him from a geographer to an ethnographer, this field work led him to many of his ideas still used in modern anthropology.
6. Boas began his career at a time when anthropology was not recognized as a science or even as a field of university study. With his training in the physical sciences, he brought a rigorous approach to ethnographic fieldwork.
Historical Particularism: Boas against Unilineal Evolutionism
Culture Diffusion: The spreading out of culture, Culture traits, or a cultural pattern from a central point.
1. Boas emphasis on careful collection of ethnographic data and his rejection of 19th century evolutionary theories in favor of ethnographic field experience were, in part, a reaction to the uncritical used of the comparative method by the unilinear evolutionists of his day.
2. He rejected social Darwinism and evolutionary speculation of his day. He maintained that sweeping generalizations of the unilinear social evolutionists were not scientifically valid.
3. Much of his attack on the distinction between convergent and parallel evolution was that evolutionists assumed that similar cultural traits were the result of parallel development driven by universal evolutionary law.
4. Boas showed that it was possible for the same characteristics to come about through different processes. He demonstrates that cultures may have similar traits for a variety of reasons, including diffusion and trade.
5. Corresponding environments or historical accident may produce similar cultural traits independent of any universal evolutionary process. Thus, the existence of such traits could not be used as evidence for universal stages of cultural evolution.
Historical Particularism: Main Themes
1. To explain cultural customs one must examine them from three fundamental perspectives:
a. The environmental conditions under which they developed
b. Psychological Factors
c. Historical connections (Most Important)
2. Boas felt that societies were created by their own historical circumstances. So the best explanations of cultural phenomena were to be acquired by studying the historical development of the societies in which they were found.
3. Boas advocated a four-field perspective that included studying prehistory, linguistics, and physical anthropology in addition to the observation of culture.
4. The hallmark of Boas styled anthropology became the intensive study of specific cultures through long periods of fieldwork. It was only through living with a people and learning their language that one could develop an accurate understanding of a culture.
5. Salvage anthropology came about due to him and students thinking that if these cultures were not recorded immediately, knowledge of them would be lost entirely.
Historical Particularism: Cultural Relativism
1. Boas also pioneered the concept known as "cultural relativism"
2. Cultural evolutionists argued that all societies were following the same path of development rom savagery to civilization. If this was so, then it was perfectly reasonable to say that some societies were more or less advanced, more or less savage than others.
3. Boaz rejected parallel evolution and argued that societies were the result of their own unique histories. If this was the case then there could be NO universal yardstick to judge them.
4. Their traits were the result of their historical and environmental circumstance and could only be understood within that context. So terms such as primitive, inferior or superior could not be used.
Historical Particularism: Alfred Louis Kroeber (1876-1960)
1. Kroeber maintained a Boasian perspective and was also a keen antievolutionist, and also believed in integrating the four subfields of anthropology
2. Kroeber rejected the Boasian idea that anthropology was ultimately a discipline devoted to the study of humankind's origins.
3. Boas believed that individuals played a significant role in a culture's development and change. Kroeber argued that this was not the case, and approached an idea closer to that of Emile Durkheim.
4. He argues that although culture came from and is carried by human beings, it cannot be reduced to individual psychology. He maintains that culture is a pattern that transcends and controls individuals and plays a powerful determining role in individual human behavior. Similar to Durkheim's collective conscience.
5. Individual accomplishment results from historical trends within society rather than anything important about the individual.
6. Kroeber was more interested in studying cultures in relation to their environmental surroundings, but he like mapping the distribution of cultural traits into larger geographic patterns.
Historical Particularism and Culture and Personality: Benjamin Lee Whorf (1897-1941) & Edward Sapir (1884-1939)
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: this hypothesis contains two basic elements:
1. Linguistic determinism: deals with the manner in which the structure of a language affects cognition. Sapir and Whorf proposed that the grammatical and lexical categories of the language a person speaks organize the way they think and shape their behavior.
2. Linguistic relativity: the idea that the grammatical and lexical categories of a language are unique to that language and thus speakers of different languages inhabit separate conceptual worlds.
*Sapir was a student of Boas and Whorf was a student of Sapir.
Enculturation: the process by which an individual learns the traditional content of a culture and assimilates its practices and values
*Neo-Freudian approach: attempting to relate childrearing practices to adult personality types.
1. This school of thought is rooted in the Basin teaching that culture is a mental phenomenon.
2. It was popularized by his most famous students, Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, where it was taken in reaction to the psychology of Sigmund Freud.
3. Early psychological anthropologists were curious about the relationship between culture and personality.
4. Focuses mainly on how individuals contribute to culture and how, through enculturation, culture contributes to or shapes individuals.
5. Anthropologists understand that this relationship would differ from culture to culture.
6. Under the influence of Boas, they began to incorporate observations of human feelings, attitudes, and other psychological states into their fieldwork and publications
Psychological Anthropology: aka Culture and Personality
1. Benedict, Mead, Sapir and a few others examined different aspects of the problem of how humans acquired culture and cultures relationship to individual personality .
2. They focused on the interaction between individual personality and culture.
3. There are two broad themes in the culture and personality school.
A. The relationship between culture and personality [Benedict]
B. The relationship between culture and human nature [Mead]
Psychological Anthropology: Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
[Although anthropologists rejected Freud's evolutionism, they were interested in the relationship between culture and the individual and were drawn to his ideas about the importance of early childhood and the significance of sexual symbolism. They believed psychoanalysis was a powerful too for probing the human psyche]
1. Freud founded the field of psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytic theory with its emphasis on unconscious psychological processes and psychological defense mechanisms such as repression, projection, and sublimation, captured the popular imagination of his day.
2. He proposed that a person's mind contained three "mental organs" called:
(All of these struggled for control over behavior)
3. He postulated that certain psychological processes and responses were innate and universal, believing, for example, that all humans evolved through a series of psychosexual phases he named the:
e. genital primacy
(stages of development)
Psychological Anthropology: Robert Lowie (1883-1957)
Psychological Anthropology: Ruth Benedict (1887-1948)
*Friend to Sapir, student of Boas, teacher of Mead [Many of these anthropologists all influenced one another personally]
1. Benedict was influenced by Gestalt psychology and psychoanalysis. (Gestalt psychologists examined personality as an interrelated psychological pattern rather than a collection of separate elements).
2. Benedict focused on the psychological concept of personality as her unifying theme.
3. Benedict was an ardent cultural relativist, she argued that normal and abnormal were culturally determined and that what was abnormal in one culture might be perfectly acceptable in another.
4. In "Patterns of Culture" she proposed that each culture had a unique pattern, called a "cultural configuration" which determined the fundamental personality characteristics of its members. She described the configuration for each society based on the dominant personality characteristics observed in those cultures.
5. She argued that culture was "personality writ large.'
Psychological Anthropology: Margaret Mead (1901-1978)
1. Mead was keenly interested in the effect of early childhood influences on adult personality and behavior. She was influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud.
2. Following Ruth Benedict's teachings of cultural configuration, Mead focused on discovering its sources.
3. Investigations centered on the interplay of biological and cultural factors, most significantly on Freud's notion that childrearing practices had profound effects on adult personality.
4. In her famous books, Mead attempts to separate the biological and cultural factors that control human behavior and personality development.
Functionalism: Two Schools of Thought
Group originated from [Aflred Cort Haddon]
a. Functionalism in anthropology is generally divided into two schools of thought, each associated with a key personality.
1. These theorists were strongly influenced by Herbert Spencer and Emile Durkheim, and intended to carry out the research agenda implied by Spencers's organic analogy and Durkheims Rules of Sociological Method.
2. If as Spencer claimed, society was like an organism, anthropologists should be able to describe the different social "organs" that composed a society.
3. If as Durkheim claimed, a positivist science of society was possible, then anthropologists should be able to find social facts and discover the laws that determine hoe they operate.
4. The Functionalists set out to accomplish these previously stated things.
5. Functionalists typically were only marginally interested in history. Whereas American anthropology at the time was based largely on reconstructing cultures from interviews with informants, British anthropologists were directly observing native societies in action (or thought they were).
6. They believed that that tissues of the functioning of the current system were of primary importance. They asserted that historical reconstruction did little to clarify the current functioning of social institutions.
7. They were deeply critical of historical reconstructions. Many functionalists held that since most of the societies they studied lacked writing, such reconstructions could be little more than fictions.
8. As a result, they examined societies as if the were timeless and thus were unable to account for social change.
Functionalism: Psychological Functionalism & Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942)
*Malinowski emphasized these ideals in "The Essentials of the Kula"
1. This form of functionalism is linked to Bronislaw Malinowski.
2. For these theorists, cultural institutions function to meet the basic physical and psychological needs of people in a society.
3. Malinowski's method [like Boas] was based on extensive in-depth fieldwork during which he gathered evidence to support his theoretical position.
4. Conducted Trobriand Island research from 1915 to 1918 during WWI. His intensive day-to-day contact with his informants and his familiarity with the local language set a high standard for modern ethnographic fieldwork.
5. Malinowski was concerned with how individuals pursued their own ends within the constraints of their culture. He believed that culture existed to satisfy seven basic human needs:
c. bodily comforts
6. He wished to demonstrate how various cultural beliefs and practices contributed to the smooth functioning of society while providing individual biological or psychological benefits
7. Malinowski gave his theory of culture a universal character. Because these needs were satisfied through cultural institutions, he was able to identify particular cultural and societal formations set up to fulfill them
Functionalism: Structural Functionalism & A.R. Radcliffe-Brown (1881-1955)
1. Structural Functionalists drew heavily from Durkheim's work.
2. They sought to understand how cultural institutions maintained the equilibrium and cohesion of society.
3. Radcliffe-Brown was more interested in deriving social laws governing behavior from the comparative study of different cultures than in cultural description based on intensive fieldwork in one culture.
4. Durkheim's influence is evident in Radcliffe-Brown's attempts to illustrate how cultural system's function to maintain a society's equilibrium.
5. He believed that culture was an abstract concept and that, because the values and norms of a society could not be observed , a science of culture was impossible.
6. Radcliffe-Brown preferred to limit his research to social structures--to the principles that organize persons in a society (such as kinship) and to the actual roles and relationships that can be observed firsthand.
7. He argued that it is more useful to study kinship systems than to study the individuals in a society because, although people die, the kin structure remains the same from generation to generation. He asserted that Malinowski's focus on individuals led nowhere.
Structural Functionalism: On Joking Relationships
1. Radcliffe-Brown argues that structural relations between people in certain positions in kinship systems lead to conflicts of interest. Such conflict could threaten the stability os society.
2. This problem is solved through ritualized joking or avoidance between people in such positions.
3. Thus, when conflict threatens stability, society develops social institutions to mediate oppositions and preserve social solidarity.
Structural Functionalism: Max Gluckman (1911-1975)
1. Founder of the Manchester school. Forged a distinctive anthropological style focusing on process, change, and the maintenance of social order.
2. Represents culmination of British Functionalist thought.
3. Gluckman shows how ritualized reversals of social roles, seemingly acts of rebellion, act instead to support a society's social order and political systems.
Universal and Multi-lineal Evolutionism: Julian Steward (1902-1972)
1. Steward interested in studying the causes of cultural traits.
2. He proposed that cultures in similar environments would tend to follow the same developmental sequences and formulate similar responses to their environmental challenges. He termed those cultural features most closely associated with subsistence practices the "cultural core."
3. Cultures that shared similar core features belonged to the same "culture type." Having identified these culture types, he compared and sorted them into a hierarchy arranged by complexity.
4. Steward's original ranking was family, multifamily, and state-level societies. Modernly they have been refined as classifications of band, tribe, chiefdom and state.
5. He did not believe that cultures followed a single universal sequence of development. He proposed instead that cultures could evolve in any number of distinct patterns depending on their environmental circumstances. He called his theory "multilinear evolution" to distinguish it from 19th century unilinear evolutionary theories.
6. Steward outlined a field of study called cultural ecology, his work on the patrilineal band clearly shows how he viewed culture as an evolutionary adaptation to the environment.
Cultural Ecology: Leslie White (1900-1975)
White (inspired by Marx) separated culture into three analytical levels.
* He believed that all the institutions of society contributed to the evolution of culture; however, technology played the primary role in social evolution and changes in technology affected a societies institutions and value systems.
George Peter Murdock-created the Human Relations Areas Files (HRAF): a huge bank of ethnographic data on more than one thousand societies indexed according to standardized categories.
1. White influenced by Morgan and Spencer. White agreed with Morgan that cross cultural comparison showed that cultural evolution did exist and that this evolution was in the direction of increasing complexity.
2. Problem w/ evolutionary thinkers of 19th century, White argued, was that they failed to develop a non-ethnocentric, scientific method of accurately assessing cultural complexity. So although their general idea was correct, many of their specific ideas were in error.
3. White wanted to remedy this by proposing a quantifiable universal standard of measurement. He proposed that the control of energy was a key factor in cultural evolution and could serve as the standard by which timesaver evolutionary progress.
4. He traced the history of human culture, arguing that changes in technology marked evolutionary stages.
5. White understood cultures as the means by which humans adapted to nature. As members of society learned to capture energy, they were able to make their lives increasingly secure and so culture advanced.
6. White proposed a grand, universal law of cultural evolution: Culture advances as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year increases, or as the efficiency with which energy is used increases.
1. The examination of the cultural adaptations formulated by human beings to meet the challenges posed by their environments
New Physical Anthropology
Cultural Materialism: Marvin Harris (1927-2001)
1. Cultural materialism was an importance part of the resurgence of nomothetic anthropology in the post-Boasian era. It was an unabashedly scientific perspective developed by Marvin Harris (1927-2001).
2.Harris developed cultural materialism in an effort to purge modern anthropology of some of the legacy of Boas and continued to develop it in an effort to combat the spread of new non-scientific and anti-scientific attitudes in the profession.
3. Cultural materialism addresses a central problem for scientific anthropology: people can be both subjects and objects of scientific investigation. They can think and say things about themselves, just as scientists thinkg and say things about them.
4. Where does true knowledge reside?
a. Etic behavioral: what the observer observes about others behavior.
b. Etic mental: what the observer observes about others thoughts (problematic b/c it is difficult to find out what it going on inside someone's head).
c. Emic behavioral: what people think about their own behavior (also problematic because people can develop false consciousness and misinterpret the meaning of their own behavior to themselves and others).
d. Emic mental: what people think about their own thoughts.
Cultural Materialism: Main Ideas
*Harris writes, "Empirical science...is the foundation of the cultural materialist way of knowing" Epistemologically, cultural materialism focuses only on those entities and events that are observable and quantifiable
In keeping with the scientific method, these events and entities must be studied using operations that are capable of being replicated
Using empirical methods, cultural materialists reduce cultural phenomena into observable, measurable variables that can be applied across societies to formulate nomothetic theories.
Core of cultural materialism is the principle of infrastructural determinism. According to Harris, more often than not, culture changes first in the etic infrastructure and then reverberates through etic structure and superstructure to affect emic superstructure last. Infrastructure as primary interface between culture and nature and the place where people are obliged to start using culture to cope with nature in orderly ways. Harris took the materialism from Marx, but revised his and Engels's dialectical materialism. Cultural materialism was in league with neo-evolutionism, both were very pro-science.
*Cultural materialism promotes the idea that infrastructure, consisting of "material realities" such as technological, economic and reproductive (demographic) factors mold and influence the other two aspects of culture. The "structure" sector of culture consists of organizational aspects of culture such as domestic and kinship systems and political economy, while the "superstructure" sector consists of ideological and symbolic aspects of society such as religion. Therefore, cultural materialists believe that technological and economic aspects play the primary role in shaping a society. Cultural materialism aims to understand the effects of technological, economic and demographic factors on molding societal structure and superstructure through strictly scientific methods. As stated by Harris, cultural materialism strives to "cre ate a pan-human science of society whose findings can be accepted on logical and evidentiary grounds by the pan-human community"
French Structuralism: Rose from Structuralism. Structuralism developed as a theoretical framework in linguistics by Ferdinand de Saussure in the late 1920s, early 1930s. De Saussure proposed that languages were constructed of hidden rules that practitioners known but are unable to articulate. In other words, though we may all speak the same language, we are not all able to fully articulate the grammatical rules that govern why we arrange words in the order we do. However, we understand these rules of an implicit (as opposed to explicit) level, and we are aware when we correctly use these rules when we are able to successfully decode what another person is saying to us
1. A theoretical approach stating that all cultures reflect similar underlying patterns and that anthropologists should attempt to decipher these patterns.
2. Structuralists believed that culture was all in the mind.
3. Interested in social organization , cross-culturally, he also looked at elemental structures and what this meant. He worried less about what people did, and more about what they thought. Levi-strauss wanted to know how underlying mental structures were creating a balance within society.
Interpretive & Symbolic Anthropology
1. Symbolic and Intreptive approaches to anthropology were mainly a response to structuralism and Boasian-inspired frameworks such as the culture and personality and cognitive schools of anthropology. Structuralism was critiqued for constraining people by seeing them as simply vehicles for social and psychological structures and not the other way around. Historical particularism remained equally unpalatable, mainly for its narrowness of focus and its relative lack of theory. An emerging consensus was that new ways had to be found to explain society and culture without appealing to minutely controlling social structures or to inaccessible psychological ones. In the 1960s and 1970s, this fresh interest in exploring meaning was expressed in the language of symbols.
2. The roots of what came to be called symbolic anthropology in Great Britain and interpretive anthropology in the US can be traced back (at least indirectly) to the neo-Kantian philosophy of Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) and others, who helped formulate the distinction between the natural sciences, or naturwissenschaften, and social sciences, or geisteswissenschaften. According to this distinction, promulgated by Franz Boas, the natural sciences deal with entities amenable to generalizations, while the social sciences deal with "mental" entities unique to individuals and groups. To this distinction phenomenologist-philosopher Edmund Husserl (1854-1938) added the observation that natural science is unsuitable for the study of cultural life because cultural life has meaning, which is best understood subjectively as "lived experience."
3. These assertions notwithstanding, it would, finally, be difficult to argue that interpretive and symbolic anthropologists were inspired by anything less than a desire to do sound empirical research in the best anthropological tradition. What differentiates symbolic and interpretive anthropologists from their colleagues working in explicitely materialist or ecological traditions is their relentless insistence that human societies are distinctive because of their capacity for culture and that social and cultural life is held together by interpenetrating networks of symbols, each of which is a carrier of cultural meaning.
Symbolic Anthropology: Victor Turner (1920-1983)
Symbolic anthropology studies the way people understand their surroundings, as well as the actions and utterances of the other members of their society. These interpretations form a shared cultural system of meaning--i.e., understandings shared, to varying degrees, among members of the same society.
Symbolic anthropology studies symbols and the processes,such as myth and ritual, by which humans assign meanings to these symbols to address fundamental questions about human social life.
1. This theory draws on Durkheim idea that shared systems of symbolic logic function to achieve solidarity.
2. This theory also draws from the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, in thinking that symbols are like language: a shared system that makes life meaningful and creates a particular "reality." 3. Turner, reflecting his English roots, was much more interested in investigating whether symbols actually functioned within the social process the way symbolic anthropologists believed they did.
1. Symbolic theorists believed that culture is mental AND can be empirically studied, BUT cannot be mathematically modeled.
2. It understood culture to be systematic, symbols appeared for reasons. 3. Interested in cultural change sought to account for flexibility of culture in a more systematic way than previous approaches.
Symbolic Anthropology: More main themes
1.Things like symbols and rituals were used to create social solidarity--This balance was NOT a given, it had to be created. 2. They wanted to plum the depths to find hidden meaning 3. Looking through the lens of social cohesion (Durkheimion), Perspective (solidarity) 4. Still interested in laws of man 5. Took a more general science of man approach 6. They believed in or took interest in social order and the nature of society and the way it is organized in society.
Interpretive Anthropology: Clifford Geertz (1926-2006)
1. According to Geertz, man is in need of symbolic "sources of illumination" to orient himself with respect to the system of meaning that is any particular culture. 2. Culture is a lived experience made meaningful and understandable through shared systems of symbols, shared nature of relationships , and emphasize the webs of stories that a particular group of people tells about themselves that they keep telling.
1. Thought there was no hidden meaning 2. This was looking for the historical perspective or the uniqeness in concepts 3. Leans more towards history and more interested in social change
4. still trying to move anthropology to a mor imperical place
5. Culture is expressed by the external symbols that a society uses rather than being locked inside people's heads. He defined culture as "an historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which men communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and their attitudes toward life"
*Geertz argues that social Anthropology is based on ethnography, or the study of culture. Culture is based on the symbols that guide community behavior. Symbols obtain meaning from the role which they play in the patterned behavior of social life. Culture and behavior cannot be studied separately because they are intertwined. By analyzing the whole of culture as well as its constituent parts, one develops a "thick description" which details the mental processes and reasoning of the natives Thick description, however, is an interpretation of what the natives are thinking made by an outsider who cannot think like a nativebut is made possible by anthropological theory
Immanuel Wallerstein (b. 1930) Andre Gunder Frank (1929-2005) Eric Wolf (1923-1999) Eleanor Leacock (1922-1987)
Political economy is an anthropological perspective that came to prominence in the 1970s, viewing sociocultural form at the local level as penetrated and influenced by global capitalism. The first incarnation of "political economy" dates to the 18th century and was originally devised by Enlightenment-era social theorists in their investigation of the origin and nature of, and relationships between, nation-states and their colonial holdings around the world. By way of definition, in his work A Discourse on Political Economy (1755), Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) distinguished between the terms "particular economy," which signified "the wise and legitimate government of the house for the common good of the whole family," and "general" or "political" economy, which extended the particular meaning to "that great family, the State."
In the 20th century, as the political and economic disparities between the "developed" and "underdeveloped" worlds grew following the breakup of colonialism following WWII, Andre Gundar Frank (b.1929) and Immanuel Wallerstein (b.1930) began critiquing modernization and put forth development and underdevelopment theory and world-system theory. Frank believed that underdevelopment was not a product of local conditions, but the result of progressive capitalist exploitation. Wallerstein expounded on this by introducing to world-systems theory the core (nations like Europe and America) and periphery (the rest of the world). Wallerstein understood the proletariat ot be trapped in a world-system of unequal exchange in which Euro-American society penetrated, politically subjugated, and economically exploited external populations and their produce.
In contrast to world-system theory, however, anthropologists working within this perspective remained resolute in their commitment to understanding the autonomy and integrity of local societies and cultures, especially in the non-Western world. These, it was argued, were not culturally fragile communities that could (or should) be simply dissolved by the imperialist policies and agendas of global capitalism. They argued there was not one world-system, but many. Explicit in this research objective was the idea that the effects of capitalism did not constitute a one-way street and that local peoples and cultures exercised a degree of agency in accepting, transforming, or even rejecting the expanision of market economies.
Political Economy/Neo-Marxism: Main Themes
*Karl Marx was concerned with means of production and how sytems of production structured society into certain groups. Political Economy looked at how groups within a particular system or two, and how the modes of productuin structured society into certain groups.
*The political economic tradition within anthropology has viewed culture as being shaped in the context of unequal access to wealth and power. This perspective drawing as it does on Marxist assumptions about conflict between social and economic groups, may be thought of as meaterialist because the material conditions of human existance are understood to condition the character of social relations.
1. Political economy, like structural Marxim, has considered the material conditions giving rise to these as being grounded in ideology. Because ideologies are constructed systems of ideas, they reflect and perpetuate the specific interests of their authors 2. Interests are inscribed in the ways a society differentiates itself according to socioeconomic class, gender, and ethnicit, to name but a few prominent criteria. Whoever controls the means of producing wealth and power, it is argued, also controls conditions for the production of knowledge itself. 3. When knowledge about the world is taken for granted, or unquestioned , it loses its arbitrary character and comes to be seen as "natural." 4. Ideology at this stage ceases merely to embody the interests of one group within society and becomes a dominant perspective of the society; it it taken for granted by the powerful and powerless alike.
Poststructuralism: Michel Foucault (1926-1984) & Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002)
* Poststructuralism's goal was to try and "deconstruct" this structure levi-strauss had created and identify the the role of human agency. Interested in 'power relations'
1. Post-structuralism believed that culture was not "bounded" and its difficult to place these boundaries anywhere around it. Culture is not fluid. 2. Human action or "practice" produces and reproduces culture and the particular nature of social organization in any context. 3. Culture lies in the relations (or relationships) between people. Focusing on culture as a group of people that share interactions w/ eachother. Values and practices shared among people. 4. Essentially culture is looked at as a person being "dipped" in a vat of culture, so your walking around "doing it" without thinking (culture is habit forming, you don't have to think about it)
1. "Society" is created and reproduced through discourse, or narratives, that circulate about "who" we are and "what we do" 2. Discourses are grounded in the actions and interactions of real people. Thus, they are always embedded in power relations and give only a partial view of reality. 3. Society is made up of forms of capital (Financial, Cultural and Social Capital)
1. Power isn't something that comes from the topdown or necessarily institutional . Power derives from how knowledge is produced and who has control over access to power.
2. "Discourse" controls all people/subjects (The narratives people tell about how the world works effectivley creates tha world and how reality is constructed)
3. There is not really one truth, only counter discourse.
4. worked to try and discredit science, saying that it was not "more fundamentally right" (people started looking at science as simply a method of discourse)
Postmodernism: This theory was concerned with relations of power, not just within a cultural group, but within the "ethnographic encounter"
*Because understanding of cultures most reflect the observers biases, culture can never be completely or accuratley described.
1.Baldly stated, postmodernity seeks to transcend and supplant modernity. However, the logic of modernity is not easily dispensed with because it is embodied in key Western assumptions about an objective world that can and should be subdued and controlled--politically, economically, and ideologically--by orderly, dispassionate, and rational Europeans and Euro-Americans. Postmodernity is often credited with "exploding" the culture concept once and for all. While not properly labeled a homogenous movement as such, postmodernists working within a variety of disciplines have certainly shared a perspective that emphasizes the subjectivity of experience and, consequently, the impossibility of any one form of authoritative knowledge. In anthropology, the so-called "postmodern turn" had the effect of advancing and refining debate over the theoretical and ethical issues 1st raised by political economists and others.
This initial flood of interest in deconstructing mental, cultural, and social structures as manifested in literary and philosophical discourse, has had a deep impact on the shape and focus of anthropological theory, notably in the work of Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu, and has understandably become identified with a broader philosophical and political-economic critique of Enlightenment objectivity within anthropology and other human sciences.
Post-modernism: Main ideas
1.In postmodernism anthropolgoy there is a shift of what is being written about, a slimming down of the focus. (Not so broad and generalized) 2. People are more focused on the everyday and (mundane)& things earlier anthropologists wouldn't deem interisting, postmodernists incorporated in their works. 3. They were more specific and situated in their understanding
*Postmodernism was one of the first frameworks to think about , who you are as an ethnographer and how who you are...effects everything, encounters, who you are able to work with and who speaks with you and what type of information you have access to.
Sees writing ethnography as both crucial to anthroplogy and as a partial truth, emphasizes literary aspects of ethnography. Since an anthropologist chooses what they write about, they cant possible show the full picture
*situates knowledge as particularistic, specific to only the context of the fieldwork itself.
Globalization: This came about at a time when postmodernism theorizing had appeared to plateau, wane or morph into other theoretcial vocabularies, one of those being globalization, which had been on the rise for the last two decades. There also seems to be a trend away from grand, or meta-, theories and toward a deeper interest in the practices of anthropologists themesleves. Rise in public anthroplogy, and concern for anthropological ethics and public accountability.
1. The phenomenon of globalization describes both the etic compression of the world through processes of increased technological, economic, and cultural interdependence, what is called intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole.
2. Globilaization oriented anthroplogists ask the question, what other sociocultural phenomenon do we observe to be consequences of the interpenetration of western and non-western cultural world and hwo are we to characterize and account for these?
1.This was a latter day heir to "World Systems Theory" and also anthropological systems economy, this was the stream of thought that globalization derived from.
2. Globalization is not uni-directional, the pathway goes both ways among cultures.
*The contact between two cultures always emerges in a varied and different way.
*Thinking about the ways culture comes into contact with each other.
3. Many globilization theorists talk about "flow" (continous and flowing like water, it moves from place to place but always remains connected). Continuous movement and continous Change as well.
4. Societies the world over, would inevitably and inexorably become less heterogenous, forever conditioned by a new global orientation and sensibility.
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