Sunday, February 16, 2014

Durkheim and Structural Functionalism


The fundamental theoretical premises of British social anthropology and structural -functionalism are based upon Emile Durkheim's apothesis of social solidarity.The theories of structural-functionalism have everything in common with Durkheim's approach to socio-cultural phenomena via the conditions of social cohesiveness or social solidarity.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ethnographic Monographs

Ethnographers of the early 20th century tried to explain the social phenomena in terms of the societies studied.Publications arising out of these efforts came to be known as ethnographic monographs.As an early example of this approach H Junod's The Life of a South African Tribe published in 1912-13,Malinowski's Argonauts of the Western Pacific published in 1922 can be considered as the examples of the scientific study of a primitive society.This book analyses the kula system of exchange of gifts among the Trobrinaders.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tradition of Folklore Researches

Folklore is regarded as prehistory of a society.The folklore researches which were at the level of spordic collection of tribal songs and taken to be included in the monograph received a systematic treatment with Verrier Elwin to begin  with under the influence of F Boas and E B Taylor.With the passage of time social elements hidden in folklore were unearthered by few anthropologists  and also by several scholars  of literature.Now days anthropologists  are attempting to collect information on folksongs,balled,folk tales,folk belief,folk traditions,folk music and folk medicine,plays,proverbs etc under broad subject of folklore to explore folk culture of an area or region.

Sir James George Frazer views on Totem and Taboo

Sir James George Frazer wrote articles on totem and taboo for Encyclopedia Britannica which appeared in 1888.For him these articles were beginning of a systematic application to anthropology and study of backward race of men.Frazer gave his reason for concentrating on savagery than on civlilization : 

Civilization is extremely complex,savagery is comparatively simple.Savagery is undoubtedly the source from which all civilization has been ultimately derived by a slow process of evolution.It seemed to me therefore that if we are to understand the complex product  we must begin by studying the simple elements out of which it has been gradually compounded.In other words  we must try to understand savagery before we can hopefully to comprehand civilisation.

In his article on totemism and taboo Frazer has given a general idea about social origins which became the guiding principle for much of his work. That from irrational beginning ,system of great adaptative value for society are evolved.In taboo Frazer remarks we shall scarcely err in believing that even in advanced society the moral sentiments in so far as they aer merely sentiments are not based on an induction from experience,desire much of their force from an original system of taboo.Thus on the taboo were grafted the golden fruits of law and morality.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Nadel's Contribution to Structural Functionalism

Nadel developed the theory of social structure in his book entitled Theory of Social Structure  in 1957.In his book Nadel pointed out that the concept of society may be viewed from two angles -action such as kinship and economics  and groupings such as family,clans.He also says that there are some social and cultural facts which fall outside the social and cultural scheme.These refer to an action autonomous.

Nadel held view that the concept of social structure is still in a sense on trial.The variety of definitions lead us to fear that it is a concept the width of whose usages renders it analytically fruitless.There are two choices open to us.We may remove the concept of structure from the vocabulary of anthropology on account of its lack of precision or we can attempt to narrowly define it by giving a specific and limited connotation.

George Peter Murdock's View on Structure -Function

G P Murdock's book Social Structure written in 1949 was most explicit on the point of functionalism.In this book historical,functional ,psychological and statistical methods are brought together to form a harmonious synthesis of cross-cultural comparisons.When Murdock wrote his book on social structure he used data from some 250 different societies about which coded material was already available.

His approach may be illustrated by his analysis of incest taboos.Prohibitions of sexual intercourse within the nuclear family are universal but in every known societies these taboos are extended beyond father-daughter,mother -son and brother-sister relationship.These extentions are not same everywhere.Sometimes they include maternal cousins only or parental ones only.Murdock grasped the complexity of the problems and showed that it could not be explained by the anthropology alone.He credited Sigmund Freud with the explanation of the universality of incest taboos because he had shown that nuclear family was constituted in such a waythat it generated oedipus complex so that rather than having instinctive aversions a boy desired his mother sexually.Social training strongly repressed his desire which accounted for the emotional quality of the prohibition of incest and often very severe punishments for breaking the rules.

Murdock demonstrated the extension in the direction of maternal relatives is most common in matrilineal societies in the patrilineal directions in patrilineal societies and in both directions incase of double descent.These and many other findings of cross-cultural regularities are in turn functionally interrelated with other cultural rules such as exogamy,preferential marriage,family organisations and residence rules.

Murdock's book Social Structure although giving new dimensions to this subject is but is a publication emphaizing kinship.

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