Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Study of Tepoztlan: A Mexican Village

In 1930 Robert Red field ( 1897-1958) published Tepoztlan: A Mexican Village where he combined Boasian functionalism with evolutionist and German sociological traditions to focus on the normative rules that governed social behavior.He produced an idealist representation of a village where people lived in peaceful harmony. Red field developed the concept of the Great and Little traditions the urban-folk continuum.


Red field's distinction is between the literate ,urban(great) culture of the elite and the largely oral and informal 9(little) tradition of the peasant community.Elements from the little tradition are constantly being taken up and reworked by the Great Tradition.In time these filter back down to be reinterpreted or transformed in the folk tradition,in accordance with local customs and values.

Tepoztlan was revisited by Oscar Lewis,in Life in a Mexican Village: Tepoztlan Restudied (1951) where he used a  processual approach that focused on behaviour itself and it turned out not to conform to Red field's rules.He found a village full of factionalism,personal antagonism,drunkenness and fighting.Lewis went on to develop the concept of the culture of poverty.His books about Tepoztlan are classics and became highly popular.

The question is what accounts for this diametrical inversion of the same village.The answer lies in the two anthropologists as their views of the village were not merely theory -driven but related to radically different orientations.

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