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History of Theory So Far 19 th -century evolutionists –Comte – organic analogy –Darwin – biological evolution, adaptation –Spencer – organic analogy, social.

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Presentation on theme: "History of Theory So Far 19 th -century evolutionists –Comte – organic analogy –Darwin – biological evolution, adaptation –Spencer – organic analogy, social."— Presentation transcript:

1 History of Theory So Far 19 th -century evolutionists –Comte – organic analogy –Darwin – biological evolution, adaptation –Spencer – organic analogy, social progress, evolution of social systems toward more complexity, 'survival of the fittest' –Marx & Engels – materialism, infrastructure (economic base/means & relations of production/subsistence) determines superstructure (social organization, ideology) societies evolve through stages based upon modes of production class struggle is the underlying dynamic –Morgan & Tylor – unilineal cultural evolution, savagery-barbarism-civilization

2 Boas: American Historicism Cultural relativism Rejected evolutionism Inductive (vs. deductive) Emic Historical particularism/American Historicism: –Detailed descriptions of particular peoples within their own historical contexts Anti-theory Methodological rigor in ethnography Famous Columbia students: –Lowie, Kroeber, Benedict, Mead Anti-racist Culture concept: –Culture, not biology, determines behavior

3 British Social Anthropology Functionalism Bronislaw Malinowski ( ) A. R. Radcliffe-Brown ( ) Society: Harmonious composition of structures functioning together Maintain social solidarity Satisfy needs All parts interrelated Comte  Spencer  Functionalists Organic analogy :

4 Functionalism Bronislaw Malinowski –Elements of culture satisfy individual needs –Everything has a useful function for individuals A. R. Radcliffe-Brown –Structural functionalism –Elements of culture contribute to well-being of society Every part of a culture has a function Interrelated parts in equilibrium –Change in one part produces changes in other parts Robert Merton –Dysfunction –Critiqued functional unity Critiques: It did not address –Social and historical change –Individuals as innovators

5 The Boasian School Alfred Kroeber, Edward Sapir, Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict Culture and the individual Enculturation and personality Culture Personality Child-rearing

6 Psychological Anthropology Culture and Personality Freud: Phases of human psychological development (oral, anal, genital, etc.) fixed by nature and universal Boas: Psychology varies, influenced by culture

7 Margaret Mead Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) –Adolescence experienced differently in different cultures –Enculturation vs. biological determinism –Developmental stages not biologically determined, not universal Sex & Temperament in Three Primitive Societies (1935) –Gender roles and temperaments vary in different cultures –‘Masculine’ and ‘feminine’ not biologically determined, not universal –Gender is culturally constructed Mead brought anthropology into popular culture Cultural relativism

8 Neoevolutionism and Cultural Ecology Late 1940s-50s Cross-cultural generalizations Some used HRAF (Human Relations Area Files) Based on environmental factors Reformulated 19 th -century cultural evolutionism Leslie White & Julian Steward –Materialist, influenced by Marx –Foundation for Cultural ecology Cultural materialism

9 Leslie White Neoevolutionism Culture evolves from simple to complex –Control of energy key –Driven by technology –Harnessing greater amounts of energy Thermodynamic law: E x T = C –Energy captured with Technology = Culture –Culture evolves as energy extraction & efficiency increases Human  animal  steam & internal combustion  nuclear 4 stages of cultural evolution –Invention of tools –Domestication of plants & animals –Fossil fuels –Atomic energy

10 Leslie White’s Layer Cake Ideology Social and Political Organization Technology and Economy Change/Cultural evolution driven by: Marx: relations of production, class conflict White: technology and extraction of energy

11 Julian Steward Cultural Ecology Specific cultures’ adaptations to particular environments 3 Types of Evolutionary Theories –Unilineal evolution (Tylor and Morgan) Places cultures into certain evolutionary stages –Savagery  barbarism  civilization –Universal evolution (White) Develop general laws that apply to all cultures –E X T = C –Multilinear evolution (Steward) Evolution of individual cultures No single evolutionary trajectory

12 Cultural Ecology Cultural adaptation to environment Similar environments  similar technological solutions  social & political institutions White: general, universal paradigm Steward: specific, relativistic, multilinear Materialist analyses influenced by Marx

13 Cultural Materialist Model of Society Infrastructure (means & mode of production + reproduction )  development of culture in certain directions Causality

14 Cultural Materialism Marvin Harris Provide causal explanations Infrastructural determinism –Causes for institutions and behavior are found in infrastructure (subsistence based upon resources in the environment & technology) Material aspects  cultural variation Emphasized etic, scientific, objective –Environment, material circumstances –Like cultural ecology but less concerned with evolution –Functionalist Synchronic Practical adaptations Function in context of whole The Cultural Ecology of India’s Sacred Cattle –Materialist: ideology result of economic rationale –Functionalist: practical function of cattle

15 Claude Lévi-Strauss ( ) French Structuralism Universal structures of human mind Linguistics – binary opposition –Words get their meanings by contrasts E.g., up/down, male/female, raw/cooked, sacred/profane Human brain –Programmed to think in pairs of opposites –These dichotomies give shape to culture Psychic unity of humankind

16 Ethnoscience 1950s-60s Influenced by linguistics Emic How language classifies things Classificatory logic that creates meaning Different cultures have different meaning systems, world view

17 Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis Influence of language on culture English vs. Hopi concepts of time & space –English time Objectified, quantified, linear, past, present, future Separate from space –Hopi Time Manifested – past and most of present Manifesting – coming-to-be, future, hoped for, intended, expected, in the heart Same as space Language shapes perceptions, world view

18 Symbolic Anthropology Cultural meanings Culture as mental phenomenon Ways people interpret and give meaning to their world How this world is expressed in cultural symbols Interpretation of symbols  cultural meaning Agency = potential to act creatively Victor Turner, Clifford Geertz

19 Victor Turner ( ) British social anthropology –Structural-functionalism –Maintenance of social order Marx: normal state of society is conflict and contradiction Social unity is problematic –Not primordial need for togetherness –Must be continually maintained through effort Centrality of ritual symbols –Symbols create social solidarity out of conflict –E.g. national flag, singing national anthem, statue of liberty –Function to reproduce of social order

20 Victor Turner – Anti-structure ‘Anti-structure’ & ‘communitas’ –Van Gennep Rituals of rebellion –E.g. Mardi Gras, Carnival, Holi –Expressions outside of structure –Communitas = emotional connection and equality –Safety valve that enables maintenance of social solidarity

21 Clifford Geertz ( ) American cultural anthropology Emphasis on culture and meaning Symbols –Carriers of cutural meanings –Communicate worldview, values, ethos –Shape and reflect how people see, feel, and think about the world Culture embodied in public symbols – e.g. flag, 4 th of July Turner: function to reinforce social solidarity Geertz: represent cultural values –History, independence, patriotism, democracy, freedom, etc. “Actor-centered” Emic

22 Interpretive Anthropology How people themselves explain and interpret their own values and behaviors Ideas, meanings Reflexivity –Ethnographer’s position vis-à-vis informants included in description –Combines self-knowledge with knowledge of the people studied Emic, relativistic, reflexive Interpretivism vs. Cultural Materialism –Meaning, beliefs, emic vs. material environment, economic system, etic

23 Feminist Anthropology ‘Radical’ movements of 1960s and 1970s Internal critiques in anthropology Androcentric bias –Most anthropologists were male –Limited access to women in cultures studied –Emphasis on men, war, politics, economics, religion –Women only described in passive terms & relationships with men 1970s focus on women & subordination Gender socialization, cultural construction Differences (race, class, ethnicity, etc.) Gender and power

24 Contributions of Feminist Anthropology Importance of gender in all aspects of social life Power relations –Critique of all inequalities Overlap with postmodernism Rejection of positivism (objective, scientific) Subjective, reflexive ethnography –Mitigate power relations, –Collaborative, qualitative, emic Promote interests of women, oppressed Multivocality (variety of viewpoints) –E.g. Weiner’s vs. Malinowski’s Trobriand fieldwork

25 Postmodernism Modernism –1920s-70s –Detachment, objectivity –Scientific neutrality –Rationalism Postmodernist critique/rejection of: –Grand theories (e.g., evolutionism, cultural materialism) –Positivism: Idea that human progress is based on scientific knowledge –Idea that objectivity is possible Extreme relativism –We can never be value-free Ethnography –Always subjective –Cannot discover ‘truth’ –Reflexive approach Dialog, collaboration Take account of power relations, class, gender, etc.

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