Anthropological Theory by yurtgc548


      Part II
    Paradigm IV. Functionalism
n   In Britain a very different reaction to
    19th C. evolution took place
n   Shift from change (evolution) to how
    societies maintained themselves, or
    stayed the same
n   Unlike Boas’ historical perspective,
    functionalism was synchronic

     Context for Functionalism
n   The world had been carved up into colonies
n   Now the problem was how to rule the
    peoples within them
    n   This required practical knowledge of their social &
        political structures
    n   Research focused on explaining how social systems
    n   This information served the purposes of colonial
n   The concern was with maintaining order &

Britain – Social Anthropology
n   Social Structure = an enduring pattern
    of relationships between individuals &
n   Function: Society is like an organism,
    the parts function together to maintain
    the whole system
n   Emphasis was on equilibrium;
    change would upset the equilibrium

    #1 – Bronislaw Malinowski
n   1915 WW I broke out & Malinowski was a
    Pole in English territory

            n He was forced to remain in New Guinea the
              duration of the war
            n Lived with the Trobriand Islanders &
              became one of the most noted fieldworkers

n   1922 Argonauts of the
         Western Pacific

n   Biopsychological Functionalism
    n Malinowski saw society as a structure that
      functioned to meet the needs of the individual
    n Every human has biological needs
         n Food,   shelter, reproduction
    n   Instrumental needs
         n Institutions   that meet biological needs
    n   Integrative needs
         n Religion,   symbolic aspects that encode values

Trobriand Kula Ring

n   HOLISM: Kula is an exchange system that
    relates to Trobriand politics & alliance
    formation, prestige, feasting, economic trade,
    & magic
n   It contributes to the
    integration of society

n   Ethnographic work
    must deal with the totality—an anatomy of
    n   To study only religion (or technology) cuts an artificial
        field of inquiry

    Making the Strange Familiar
n   “Ethnology has introduced law & order
    into what seemed chaotic & freakish. It
    has transformed for us the sensational,
    wild & unaccountable world of
    “savages” into a number of well-
    ordered communities, governed by law,
    behaving & thinking according to
    consistent principles”

n   “The individual, both in social theory & in the
    reality of cultural life, is the starting point &
    the end. Culture remains sound & capable of
    further development only in so far as a
    definite balance between individual interest &
    social control can be maintained. If this
    balance be upset or wrongly poised, we have
    at one end anarchy & at the other brutal
n   Key: Society exists to fulfill the needs of the
n   Set Fieldwork Standards
     #2 – A.R. Radcliffe-Brown
n   Structural Functionalism
    n Structure – organized arrange-
      ment of the parts of society
    n Function – the contribution of
      the parts to the maintenance
      of the whole
n   Made anthropology a positivist science
    n   A materialist approach

n   Key – People exist to meet the needs of
    n   Individuals are cogs in the social system
n   Malinowski: Funeral meets
    psychological needs of the individual
n   Radcliffe-Brown: Funeral creates
    social solidarity of the group

n   “I conceive of social anthropology as the
    theoretical natural science of human society,
    the investigation of social phenomena by
    methods essentially similar to those used in
    the physical & biological sciences. While I
    have defined social anthropology as the
    study of human society, there are some who
    define it as the study of culture. It might be
    thought that this difference is of minor
    importance. Actually it leads to two different
    kinds of study”

n   “In a hive of bees there are the relations of
    association of the queen, the workers & the
    drones. These are social phenomenon; I do
    not suppose that anyone will call them
    cultural phenomena. Let us consider what
    are the concrete, observable facts with which
    the social anthropologist is concerned. We
    can observe the acts of behavior of these
    individuals. We do not observe a culture
    since that word is but an abstraction. I use
    the term “social structure” to denote this
    network of actually existing relations”

        Strengths & Weaknesses
n   Strengths:
    n   Established the concept of cultural integration
    n   Emphasis on social context
    n   Refined fieldwork methods
n   Weaknesses:
    n   Treats subjects of study as objects
    n   Ignores assumptions researchers bring to the field
    n   Did not account for history or change
    n   Political implications

        Paradigm V. Cultural
n The context for paradigm change:
    n   1940-50s post-WW II breakup of colonial empires,
        civil rights movement
    n   World conflicts over economic resources,
        expansion of the world market system
n   Anthropologists observed the impact of
    colonialism & capitalist expansion on
    indigenous peoples
    n   Interest shifted to how the drive for material
        resources, political & economic power affected people
    n   Shift from equilibrium (synchronic)            to
        change (diachronic)
    n   Emphasis on positivist approach—testing hypotheses,
        measurable, quantifiable data
        Key = Adaptation to the
n   Cultural materialists assumed the way
    people organize to make a living from
    the environment determines their
    technology, social & political
    organization, belief system
n   This is a materialist approach drawn
    from Karl Marx

Marxian Model


 Economic Base

                #1 – Neoevolution
                   (Cultural Materialism)
n   Neoevolutionists created typologies to
    explain change in the social system over
n   Based on technological complexity

    n   Band

    n   Tribe

    n   Chiefdom

    n   State
          #1 A – Leslie White

n   General Evolution
    n Basic Law of Cultural Evolution:
      Culture evolves as the amount of energy
      harnessed per capita per year is increased, or
      as the efficiency of the instrumental means of
      putting the energy to work is increased
    n “The primary function of culture is to harness
      & control energy so that it may be put to work
      in man’s service”

          White’s Basic Law
n   EXT=C
n   3 Factors:
    n Energy harnessed per capita
    n Technological efficiency

    n Amount of goods produced

n   C = cultural development

Is there a problem with White’s model?
Input of all energy Daily per capital calorie
No fire             2,000 (1 calorie expended,
                    50 food calories produced)
Hunting &           4,000
Gathering (wood)
Horticulture        12,000
Agriculture (coal) 26,000
Industrial (steam)   70,000
Electricity          230,000 (10 calories expended, 1
                     food calorie produced)
The Assumption of Neoevolution
n   Technological improvement is the
    prime mover of sociocultural change; it
    results in PROGRESS

n   Scissors, rocks, paper

Hint: remember these cartoons

Before paper and scissors

          #2 A – Julian Steward

n   Specific or Multilineal Evolution
n   Steward worked with the Shoshoni,
    noted the influence of the environment
    on culture
    n   Cultures in similar environments were
        organized similarly
    n   Cultures in different
        environments were organized differently
n   Founder of cultural ecology
Steward: The Patrilineal Band
n   The cultural type of the patrilineal band
    is found in similar environments
    throughout the world
    n South Africa
    n Australia
    n Tasmania
    n Great Basin

n   Patrilineal, patrilocal, exogamous

           White vs. Steward

n   White:
    General Evolution

n   Steward:
n   Steward rejected universal stages
n   Objective: to find an acceptable view
    of evolution without neglecting the
    uniqueness of individual cultures
n   Culture Core: traits directly related to
    exploitation of the environment
n   Secondary Features: irrelevant to
    adaptation to the environment
n   Environmental Possibilism
         #3 B – Marvin Harris
n   Harris was a staunch cultural
    materialist (but not neoevolutionist)
n   India’s Sacred Cow
    n Interest in how each culture uses resources,
      but no interest in ranking
    n Explains how “exotic” customs & beliefs are
      influenced by the
      economic base
n   Technology & Environment
        Strengths & Weaknesses
n   Strengths:
    n   Methodological rigor, measurable criteria, explanatory
    n   Examined change over time
    n   Less ethnocentric than 19th C. evolutionists
    n   Attention to the relationship of sociocultural systems &
n   Weaknesses:
    n   Progress & ranking are implicit
    n   Material determinists (reductionist)
    n   Ignore symbolic aspects of culture

Paradigm VI. Political Economy
n   Marxist theory in anthropology
n   Structural functionalism assumed an
    orderly world, but conflict is endemic
n   Context: Post WW II struggles for
    independence & capitalist expansion
n   Marx’s life work was a
    critique of capitalism

              Marx’s Theory:
n   I. Dialectical Materialism

    n A materialist theory that accounts for historical
    n Conflict between opposing forces

    n Class struggle is a dialectical process over
      control of the means of production
    n Out of conflict arises something new

n   II Political Economy

    n The roots of capitalism are in the private
      ownership of the means of production
    n Labor is key; labor power as a commodity

    n Bourgeoisie & Proletariat

    n Exploitation – the worker creates value, the
      capitalist appropriates surplus value

n   III. Historical Materialism

    n History develops through a series of class
    n The unequal distribution of wealth & power
      creates conflicts
    n Cultural evolution is a history of the evolution
      of modes of production

Modes of Production

                    c es o n
               •For uctio
                Pro            of
                        ti ons
                 • Rela ction
                   Pro         f
                         a ns o n
                    •Me uctio

Evolution of Modes of

Why is Marxist Theory Important
       to Anthropology?
n   Anthropologists began to examine the
    impact of colonialism & capitalism on local
n   Unlike functionalists who viewed
    communities as isolated, Marxists address
    how they are inserted into the global system
n   They take history into account—communities
    are a product of centuries of global economic
    & political processes
n   Concern is with exploitation, the widening
    gap between rich & poor

              #1 - June Nash
n   Devil Worship & Bolivian Tin Miners
    n Miners are incorporated into the capitalist
      relations of production
    n They are exploited,

      low wages,
      dangerous working
      conditions, dynamite
      blasts kill many


n   Tin miners
    worship the devil, “Tio”
    n   Make offerings to Tio in Ch’alla
        rituals so Tio won’t let accidents
        kill them; Tio is ruthless, gluttonous, powerful
    n   Dynamite blast: “Tio is eating us”
    n   Tio owns the mine; the ore is the “crop” of the devil
    n   Ritual to transform exploitive relations

        Strengths & Weaknesses
n   Strengths:
    n   Attempt to understand the impact of economic &
        political power on powerless people
    n   Concern with inequality
    n   Emphasis on history
n   Weaknesses:
    n   Exploited people are often viewed only as passive
    n   Often ignores environmental issues, gender, ethnicity
    n   Evolutionary view (of modes of production)

          6 Major Paradigms
n   Unilineal Evolution
n   Historical Particularism
n   Culture & Personality
n   Functionalism
n   Cultural Materialism
    n Neoevolution

n   Marxist / Political Economy
       Most divisive: idealist - materialist

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