Tuesday, February 4, 2014

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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