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Anthropological school

of thoughts
What is Theory?
DEFINATION Definitions for the central
concepts used for
A set of related explanation or prediction
hypotheses that Logical connections
provide a better between concepts to create
explanation than a system of explanation
any single and/or prediction
Explanation and/or
hypothesis. prediction
The development of
assumptions that affect the
way a problem or issue is
The World of Theories
Theories can be based on logic, ideas or belief without the use of
empirical evidence
Grounded theories are derived from empirical evidence, and are
continuously tested against new empirical evidence
Many different and sometimes conflicting theories can coexist and be
used for different purposes
Theories are the basis from which world views are developed and
General Types of
Materialist Theories Theories
Focus on practical, concrete economic
factors such as technology and
distribution systems as the shapers of
Ideological Theories
Focus on ideas, beliefs and symbols such
as religion and values as the shapers of
Why we need social
Intuition is believing something to be true
because a persons emotions and logic
support it

Intuition is not proof of fact this is why we

need social scientists they prove or
disprove what we BELIEVE to be true

Question: According to your intuition,

would introducing the death penalty into a
society decrease the murder rate?
Anthropological Theories
and Their Proponents
Theory Major Assumption Advocates

All societies pass

Evolutionism through a series of Tylor, Morgan

All societies change

Diffusionism as a result of Graebner, Smith
cultural borrowing,
The nineteenth-century school of
cultural anthropology, represented
by Tylor and Morgan, that attempted
to explain variations in world
cultures by the single deductive
theory that they all pass through a
series of evolutionary stages.
19 Century Evolutionists

Lewis Henry Morgan Edward

Evolutionism in
All cultures pass through the same
developmental stages in the same
Evolution is unidirectional and leads
to higher levels of culture.
Ethnocentric because evolutionists
put their own societies at the top.
Evolutionary Stages
Lower savagery: From the earliest forms of humanity
subsisting on fruits and nuts.
Middle savagery: Began with the discovery of fishing
technology and the use of fire.
Upper savagery: Began with the invention of the
bow and arrow.

Lower barbarism: Began with the art of pottery

Middle barbarism: Began with domestication of
plants and animals in the Old World and irrigation
cultivation in the New World.
Upper barbarism: Began with the smelting of iron
and use of iron tools.
Civilization: Began with the invention of the phonetic
alphabet and writing.
Diffusionism in Brief

Societies change as a result of

cultural borrowing from one another.

Overemphasized the essentially

valid idea of diffusion.

Very popular in Europe especially

American Historicism in
Ethnographic facts must precede
development of cultural theories
Any culture is partially composed of traits
diffused from other cultures.
Direct fieldwork is essential.
Each culture is, to some degree, unique
because of the specific history of events
that caused it to change over time.
Ethnographers should try to get the view of
those being studied, not their own view.
Franz Boas
Franz Boas, the teacher
of the first generation
of cultural
anthropologists in the
United States, put the
discipline on a firm
empirical basis.

Developed the theory of

American Historicism
AKA Historical
Anthropological Theories
and Their Proponents
Theory Major Assumption Advocates

Understand how cultures

Functionalism satisfy the needs of Malinowski

Determine how cultural

elements function for the Radcliffe-Brown
well-being of the society.
Functionalism in
Through fieldwork, anthropologists can
understand how cultures work for the
individual and the society.
Society is like a biological organism with
many interconnected parts.
All parts of a culture are interconnected
so a change in one part of the culture is
likely to bring about change in other
Empirical fieldwork is essential.
The cultural traditions of a society persist
because serve a purpose in society.
MalinowskiDuring one of the
longest uninterrupted
fieldwork experiences
on record, Bronislav
Malinowski not only set
the standard for
conducting fieldwork
but also developed an
important new way of
looking at cultures
known as functionalism.
Anthropological Theories and
Their Proponents
Theory Major Assumption Advocates

Psychological Show the relationship Benedict, Mead

anthropology among psychological
and cultural variables.

Cultures evolve in
proportion to their
Neoevolutionism White, Steward
capacity to harness
Anthropology in Brief
Anthropologists need to explore the
relationships between psychological
and cultural variables.
Concluded that nurture was more
important than nature with regard
to personality and gender traits.
Focused on socialization and
enculturation of children.
BenedictRuth Benedict Benedict
Margaret Mead
devoted much of her described whole
long and cultures in terms of
distinguished career individual personality
in anthropology to characteristics.
the study of how
culture affects the
process of growing
Interested in exploring relationship
between culture and the individual.
Benedict studied Native Americans
and wrote about the Japanese during
World War II to make them intelligible
to Americans
Meads early research brought her to
Samoa to study emotional problems
associated with adolescence.
Later she studied male and female
gender roles in New Guinea.
Neoevolutionism in
Cultures evolve in
proportion to their
capacity to harness
Culture is shaped by
Human populations
continuously adapt to
Leslie White
Anthropological Theories
and Their Proponents
School Major Assumption Advocates

Human cultures are

shaped by the
preprogrammed way
the human mind is

Cultures must be
Ethnoscience described in terms of
native categories.
Culture as Mental Structures
Human mind tends to see things in
terms of two forces which are
opposite to other e.g. day and night.
Its goal is to seek those rules that
underlie each cultural trait or
custom. binary opposites differ
from society to society and are
defined in a particular culture in a Structures of meaning
way that is logical to its members within myths. Myths
Ie) shoes are good when you consist of (1) elements that
wear them outside but bad if you oppose or contradict each
put them on the table. other and (2) other elements
that "mediate", or resolve,
those oppositions.
An attempt at
cultural description
from a totally emic
standpoint, using
only the concepts
and categories of
the people being
Interviews to elicit
native categories.
Charles Frake
Anthropological Theories and
Their Proponents
School Major Assumption Advocates

Material conditions Harris

Cultural determine human
materialism consciousness
and behavior.
Human behavior comes
from how people
Postmodernism Rosaldo
perceive and classify
their world.
All aspects of culture
can be explained by
economic factors.
Similarities and
differences in human
ideas and behaviour
are because of
material constrains.
Material constrains
arieses from need of
food, shelter and
Rejects the existence of
objective facts in favor
of emic perspectives.
Studies culture as a
phenomenon that
creates different
realities for each person
and each society.
Writes descriptions
rather than research
Renato Rosaldo
Anthropological Schools of
School of thought: when a certain way
of interpreting a disciplines subject
matter gains widespread credibility, it is
considered to be a school of thought

Anthropology Schools of Thought

1. Functionalism
2. Structuralism
3. Culturalism
Comparing the Schools
Functionalism Structuralism of Cultural
Similaritie -attempts to -attempts to -attempts to
s understand understand cultures understand
cultures as a whole based on common cultures though
properties of the technology and
human mind economy
Difference Investigates the -seeks out and -explores
s social functions of explains rules that members
institutions are based on binary decisions
opposites (ie. Day / regarding human
night; male; reproduction and
females) economic
Criticisms -presents societies -overemphasizes -tries to establish
as being more logic and stability in laws that apply to
stable than they human societies; all cultures and
are and downplays societies wouldn't their
the negative die out if they development;
results of some always met the observes cultures
practices needs of their through biased