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Concepts


Anthropology of Power

Power is commonly seen as the ability to influence the decision making of the other. In Michel Foucault’s term (1983) power is a ‘set of actions upon other actions.’ He also argues that “Power is employed and exercised through a net-like organisation. And not only do individuals circulate between its threads; they are always in the position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising this power. They are not only its inert or consenting target; they are always also the elements of its articulation.  In other words, individuals are the vehicles of power, not its points of application” Foucault, 1980 in power/knowledge). In turn power influences the behaviour of the other. Major anthropological descriptions of the dynamics and institutions of power have until recently had a markedly Western bias. Thus, other systems of power often have been described as alternatives or variations of those found in Western industrial contexts. Major issues informing the direction of research appear to have been influenced by the problem of order, as first laid out by Thomas Hobbes (1651) in his discussion of the need for the state. Undoubtedly, the centrality of this question for early anthropologists related to the imperial dominance of the West and the development of anthropology in such a context. An early and important focus of anthropological inquiry concerned so-called "stateless societies." EVANS-PRITCHARD's classic study of the Nuer (1940) became the model for such investigation and demonstrated that the forces located in KINSHIP and other social processes obviated any necessary need for the state in the promotion of order. Evans-Pritchard implied that state forms are a potential, given certain historical conditions such as invasion or colonial conquest, of non-state systems.

Preconditions for power:

Human beings having the capacity for symbolic interpretation of the world around them stems the primary basis on which power rests. Their set of psychological values lead to the emotions that makes them accountable to larger groups  like kinship, tribes, and nations. Individuals experience feel sorrow, joy or shame on behalf of the group or some of its members. To remove uncertainty human beings tend to follow the successful actions of others which lead to action in concert. This action in concert results in the tendency to call for leadership and adapt to hierarchical modes of organisation (DiMaggio, 1997). For Boudon (1994) another major attributes of human behaviour is self-delusion. Human beings are part rational with tendency to rationalise their own behaviour, cling to unfounded convictions and adhere ideologies based on false assumptions.
Viewed in a segregated manner these tendencies have significant cultural patterns without hidden power structures of any sort being involved. However, it is more important to understand that these dispositions serve as material for the exertion of power. Organising mass rallies, shaping public opinion, elaborating common symbolic systems, etc. are only possible because of common cultural and psychological predispositions. What makes the study of power more exciting is the fact that the tendencies of human beings discussed above are not deterministic blueprints but are shared to varying degrees among individuals and when they are aggregated researchers are facing an unaccountable variety of political behaviours, mechanics of exercising power.

Early anthropologies of power:

The concept of power is rooted from such nineteenth-century theorists of social evolution as Sir Henry MAINE (1861), who distinguished societies organized by status and by contract in LAW, and Lewis Henry MORGAN's (1877) distinction between kinship and territory as the basis for the organization of GOVERNMENT. In addition it owes much to the discussions about the relationships between moral order and SOCIAL ORGANIZATION found in the writings of Emile DURKHEIM (1933), Max WEBER (1968), and Karl Marx (1887). More recent infusions of theory have come from social scientists such as Michel Foucault (1977b), Pierre Bourdieu (1977), and Anthony Giddens (1984), who focus on the structure of POWER in society.

Power and inequality:

While most anthropological analyses of power have investigated social stratification and hierarchy, some have looked at forms of social organization which assure that power is not individually concentrated, as in the industrial collectives or collectives not organized within state societies. Just as Marx was preoccupied with the question of how labourers came to give up their labour power, anthropologists have studied historically, and prehistorically, the question of how individuals might have come to dominate groups and how one group might have come to dominate another. Archaeological theorizing of inequality has been accompanied with methodological innovations in studying relational power over time (McGuire and Paynter 1991).
Social theorists Max Weber and Émile Durkheim influenced anthropological conceptualization of bureaucratic power in state societies and the perpetuation of institutional authority. Anthropological studies of social movements and state-making, and of national policy, have furthered conceptualization of institutional power and the rituals of its replication. Legal anthropologists, too, have studied cross-culturally the different systems through which power is legitimized, enforced, and contested.

Studies on institutional power:

Anthropologists undertaking studies of institutional power must engage the debates formulated within sociology about structure and agency. C. Wright Mills (1956) argued influentially that social stratification and hierarchy are forcefully maintained by the ‘power elite’, those who, between themselves, mobilize the power to transcend ‘ordinary’ social environments and make decisions that pertain to the lives of people they will never meet, in nations they might never visit. This kind of structural analysis can be seen, for example, in anthropological studies of the itinerant power of transnational corporations. Class analysis has been used by anthropologists to study inequality in many social contexts, not all of them industrialized (see, again, McGuire and Paynter 1991). Anthropologists have also argued that class analysis has its limits, especially in contexts where exploitation is multidirectional, and have been drawn to reformulations of historical materialism, as in Giddens’s theory of structuration—in which ‘power is regarded as generated in and through the reproduction of structures of domination’ (Giddens 1981:4), across time and space, whether those structures of domination rely on the allocation of material resources (as emphasized by Marx) or on, for example, information and surveillance.

Colonial influence over the anthropology of power

 Colonial process has considerable influence over anthropology of power. While colonial political structures gave rise to early anthropological studies of the distribution of power through political systems, they also stimulated a variety of intriguing critiques, led most notably in anthropology by Asad (1973) and those in his collection, Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. Writers outside anthropology greatly influenced the way many anthropologists have conceptualized power and powerlessness, whether between colonizers and colonized or within societies as similar power relations, racialized, have been enacted. Colonial and neo-colonial relations between nations became a useful trope for anthropologists seeking to critique institutional power and the discipline of anthropology’s epistemological role in perpetuating institutionalized power relations. Colonial critiques made more obvious, for example, the ways in which ‘observers’ assigned themselves the power to summarize others’ experience (and that power was reinforced through institutional resources and legitimacy), and the ‘observed,’ as encapsulated in those analyses anyway, were without the power to define themselves or assert autonomy in many other ways. A ‘reinvented’ or ‘decolonized’ anthropology was envisioned as work done by anthropologists with diverse ethnic, class, and political identities on not only traditional topics, but also, as Nader put it (in Hymes 1969), ‘studying up’: to really learn how those who held institutional power did so, and to use that knowledge to address—rather than simply document—social inequalities.

A note on the evolution of political anthropology and anthropology of power:

Text Box: African Political Systems’ introduction and eight ethnographic articles established the problems, the theoretical foundation, the methodology, and the controversy for more than a decade of research into the politics of preindustrial societies.There are approaches to politics by nineteenth century evolutionists and their counterparts. British functionalists coupling with African experience made lasting contribution on the ways in which pre-capital, pre-colonial societies maintained power relations. The two trends, structural-functionalism and the African experience, came together in 1940 in a work that, at a single blow, established modern political anthropology: African Political Systems, edited by Meyer Fortes and E. E. Evans-Pritchard. In their introduction, the editors distinguish two types of African political systems: those with centralized authority and judicial institutions (primitive states), and those without such authority and institutions (stateless societies). A major difference between these types is the role of kinship. Integration and decision making in stateless societies is based, at the lowest level, on bilateral family/ band groups and, at a higher level, on corporate unilineal descent groups. State societies are those in which an administrative organization overrides or unites such groups as the permanent basis of political structure. This typology was later criticized as much too simplistic, but the detailed descriptions of how lineages functioned politically in several specific societies were lasting contributions. Social equilibrium was assumed, so that the major problem was to show how the various conflict and interest groups maintained a balance of forces that resulted in a stable, ongoing social structure. The integrating power of religion and symbol were also noted, especially the role of ritual in confirming and consolidating group values.
A more process oriented study is that of by Edmund Leach’s Political Systems of Highland Burma (1954), which signaled the shift to a more process-oriented, more dynamic form of analysis. In the Kachin Hills area of Burma, Leach found not one but three different political systems: a virtually anarchic traditional system, an unstable and intermediate system, and a small-scale centralized state. Meanwhile, Max Gluckman was also breaking new ground. In his chapter on the Zulu in African Political Systems, in Custom and Conflict in Africa (1956), and in Order and Rebellion in Tribal Africa (1960), Gluckman developed the theme that equilibrium is neither static nor stable, but grows out of an ongoing dialectical process in which conflicts within one set of relations are absorbed and integrated within another set of relations: cross-cutting loyalties tend to unite the wider society in settling a feud between local groups; witchcraft accusations displace hostilities within a group in a way that does not threaten the system; apartheid in South Africa, while radically dividing white from black, ultimately unites both groups within themselves.
Neo evolutionists especially in United States started more classificatory study of the different forms of political systems. The two major evolutionary works of the period, Elman Service’s Primitive Social Organization (1962) and Morton Fried’s The Evolution of Political Society (1967), were more taxonomic and descriptive than causal; the emphasis was on the characteristics of different levels of
sociocultural integration, rather than on the factors that triggered evolution from one level to another.
The 1980s and 1990s sees the emergence of a distinct feminist anthropology. Virtually all of the writers in the field were examining the relative power of women. Not only was the supposition of universal male domination challenged, but so were other anthropological assumptions, such as the Man-the-Hunter model of physical evolution. In addition to the expected cross-cultural statistical comparisons, two important theoretical schools developed within feminist anthropology—one analyzing the cultural construction of gender and the other, based on Marxist theory, examining the historical development of gender stratification. More recently, postmodern influences have refocused feminist studies away from concerns with male domination to analyses of identity and the ways in which power is subtly infused through every aspect of culture and discourse.
Eric Wolf’s Europe and the People Without History (1982) brought the World System perspective and so-called dependency theory into the mainstream of anthropology. Wolf contended that all, or virtually all, cultures can be understood only in relation to the expansion of European capitalism over the last centuries. In a closely related development, many researchers began to counter the natives-as-victims approach—which focused on the destruction of tribal cultures by the spread of Western civilization—with a new emphasis on the ways in which indigenous peoples fight back, often quite subtly, against the dominant state, either to maintain their group identity or to create for themselves niches of independence and pride. Political scientist James Scott’s Weapons of the Weak (1985) demonstrated how peasants resist—through gossip, slander, petty arson, and thievery—the marginalization that comes with large-scale capitalist agriculture.

Current issues in anthropology of power:

At present anthropology of power has effectively participated in the larger domain power with an interdisciplinary perspective. There are economists, political scientists, cultural geographer, and historians working on the cultural backdrop of power, which is indeed very much anthropological in nature. Following is a list of issues which are both anthropological and have loads of scope for making them anthropological.

Issues of legitimacy:

Among the anthropological concerns one of the spurring areas of research is the variety of works questioning the legitimacy of efficient use of power. Before explaining the issues of legitimacy it is important to clarify why legitimacy is important? While history has numerous examples of maintaining authority with threat and terror, but the cost of constant surveillance of large groups are formidable and next to impossible while governing larger groups. Hence, even the autocratic rulers tend to strengthen their regime by legitimising their strategy.
Legitimacy is inherently cultural phenomena. Legitimacy is attained and expressed by signs and arguments, attached to religious or political doctrines, popularised through slogans, publicised through posters, public decorations or monuments.
Perspectives of legitimacy – I: tale of origins
One of the special type of gaining legitimacy is that of the tale of origin, linked to Weber’s (1978) concept of traditional authority. A group claims the right to rule because its members in the past victoriously fought a common enemy or developed common resources or founded a kingdom or established a special relationship to a deity. The tales often becomes poetic-mythical, full of factual errors but nevertheless remains a powerful mechanism of maintaining legitimacy.  
Perspectives of legitimacy – II: non-rational sources
Legitimacy has a vast array of non-rational sources. Daloz (2007) for example argues that claims of legitimacy are often associated with aesthetic appearances. Elaborate and expensive dress, large palaces, breathtaking cathedrals all reinforce the feeling that the powerful deserves their power. Pierre Bourdieu (1996) with his concept ‘Misapprehension’ circles around the attempt to uncover and describe inauthentic versions of legitimacy in a bottom-up perspective. He argues with misapprehension members of a society are drawn into supporting present power holders against their interest, or at least to abstain from protest. This is primarily done by means of subtle mechanisms of persuasion. This is part of the so called concept of teaken for grantedness as Lerner (1980) with his “just world” hypothesis notes humans have a tendency to experience present conditions as generally fair and based on good reasons.

Power in rituals and performances:

Rituals are social occasions to recapitulate an ancient event. It is stylised and repeated. Goffman (1967) finds rituals in everyday interaction, in so far as they represent patterned ways of interaction. Alexander (2004) and Collins (2004) finds that rituals reinforce social relationships, hence social rules and legitimacies are also get reinforced. Religious communion, parades on national day, weddings and funerals all have the aspect of internalisation of common values, power structure and legitimacy.
There are aspects of conflicts in rituals. Gomard and Krogstad (2001) argue that in many modern democracies, election campaigns are concluded by television debates where the main contenders fight like gladiators over the confidence of their voters.

Power in communication:

The primary necessity of communication in the power is to make oneself understandable in order to impinge on the behaviour of the other. However, this does not mean that the power exercisers must let the others know their true intentions; rather, it requires strategic behaviour where the actor must suppress parts of actual intentions.
Power in direct communication:
Speech acts does not always mean exercising of power through only the said part. Grice (1989) finds that utterance refers to the meaning implied even without being directly expressed by the speaker. For example stating “window is open” often carries order or request (depending on the tone/voice/relationship/hierarchy) to the listener to “close the window.” Thomas (1996) studies the range of external sanctions and attributes to make the speaker’s intentions understandable.
There are understudied aspects of threats and promises, command and subordination, normative commitments, appeals etc. lying inherently in power in communication.
Construction of messages and world:
With the rise in social constructivism as a powerful theoretical tool the domain power in constructing the world and messages of the world becomes a plausible way of interpreting the mechanism of exercising power. In this communication system, the speaker does not make any requests or commands but pre-empts that the listener will make decisions on his own base on the new information.
Pernot (2005) explains this from the perspective of Aristotlian logos, pathos and ethos of speech. Logos stands for the subject matter under discussion, and how to articulate speech to make meaning optimal. Logos means the subject under discussion. Pathos means the pre-emption of reactions in the audience, i.e. how to make people listen. Ethos means the ways of making the speaker credible.
Scholars like Lamont (1990), Lamont and Fournier (1992) focus on the selection procedure, i.e. how selective reading, focusing and explaining part of given fact leads to the distinctions between worthy/unworthy, decent/indecent, high culture/low culture, right belief/heresy, national loyalty/treason.
Appeal of messages – the efficiency in communication:
The appeal of messages reflects its ability to speak to the hearts of the audience. Max Weber’s (1922) notion of bureaucratisation of charisma discusses the difficulties of striking balances between relatively abstract and generalised message construction in addressing complex and heterogenous audiences as the generalisation loses appeal. Addressing the deep concerns of people, often the messages conveyed by charismatic leaders is seen as highly efficient means of exercising control.
 Power in presentation of self:
One of the major aspects of communication termed as ethos (Pernot, 2005) concerns the speaker presenting himself or herself as a competent and trustworthy person. Baur and Esaiasson (2001) studied the different modes of making the self trustworthy. The major forms are: a) speaker’s lived and/or eyewitness experience, b) speaker’s referencing of earlier success, c) speaker’s general prestigious position in the social field. Bourdieu’s (1990) work on symbolic capital focus on the transfer of credibility of person acquired in one field to another. The most conspicuous example is film star’s participation in politics and election.
Varieties power and their location in the entire cultural field centre on the presentation and conception self. Studies include the variations in senses and meanings of the word charisma. In democratic countries it is difficult for a leader to strike the balance between being a part of the voters and yet being different and charismatic. Krogstad and Storvik (2007) with their detailed comparative studies argue that political charisma range from outer-directed, conquering form of charisma to more inner-directed, compassionate form. Daloz (2003, 2007) points that while Scandinavian leaders are expected to appear in modest way, Nigeria occupies another end of the spectrum. Here politicians must demonstrate their power ostentatiously, by their way of dressing, their cars and their residences.
Krogstad and Storvik (2007) examine the connections between power and sex in politician’s presentation of self. This ranges from most sublime way in countries like Scandinavia and most openly in France. With the rapid spread of mass media credibility of a politician is most commonly linked to sex appeal, and that lack of sex appeal easily gets translated to lack of political appeal. Although less studied, the dimensions of femininity and gender with charisma reserves unexplored aspects of femininity in power positions.

 Power in cultural formations:

Existing cultural formations, popularly known as social structure form the necessary context for action. Actions entail a reconfiguration of structures, and the actions in the next round contribute to shaping the identity of the actors themselves. The structure of dominance is studied from the lens of cultural dominance that requires a closer examination of the larger mechanisms at work (Mann, 1986).
Effects of cultural aggregation:
A widely studied aspect of cultural aggregation is the focus on the ways in which individually rational actions entail unintended, collectively irrational outcomes. Leiss et al. (1990) focus on the ways in which because advertisements people individually make rational choices of buying a product but it in turn lead to emergence of a commercial culture with significant elements of irrationality.
Sheer fact of numbers results in dominance of numerically strong group over the weak. This is especially true in case of two tolerant religious communities cohabiting together. Even though they are tolerant to each other isolated events of atrocities might lead to chain of events disrupting the equilibrium (Schelling, 1978).
Cultural diffusions and power:
Social prestige serves as a crucial factor in diffusion of cultural patterns. The mechanism of transmission of such cultural elements involves power. One of the earlier issues of such diffusion is that of trickling down of fashion which results in a situation where potentially everyone buys into style originated in the most prestigious layers of the society (Fallers, 1954).

Power and access:
Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955) link the attributes of power with the access. A well known power position is that of gate-keeping. The gate-keepers, whether secretary to a boss, or ministers, men of political leaders, and have a special opportunity in filtering information flows and regulating access.
Power in public sphere:
Public sphere represents an arena where citizens meet and exchange views on matters of common interest. More recently, especially after the rapid spread of internet there is over expanding boundaries and participation of public in public sphere. This new form of public sphere is a product of what is known as medialization.
Jurgan Habermas (1989[1962], 1994), a well known theorist of public sphere in his initial work The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere argues that the growing commercialisation of mass media has a negative effect as it restricts the free development of civil society and making discussing citizens to a passive audience. With similar tone Sennett (1977) characterises the fall of ‘public men’ with the rise of media. In a later work Further Reflections on the Public Sphere, (Habermas, 1994) he accepts the positive roles of the media and wide spread education in shaping public opinion. Others like, Schudson (1995) is of the view that the development of media is core component of the development of democracy. For Schudson economically and politically media is dependent on its readers, listeners and spectators, something that strengthens the power of the public. However, the power tend to flow on the opposite direction. The media cannot dictate their audience which opinions to hold , their power lies in their ability to turn the attention of the public in a given direction by selecting information, shaping perceptions and evoking core values (McCoombs and  Shaw, 1972)
Cultural power in the market:
One of the growing and still understudied areas of research is the focus on cultural power in markets of mass production. Due to growing affluence of the larger part of the population, design, advertising and distribution of everyday utensils has acquired a distinct aesthetic and cultural component. While Thorstein Veblen’s (1994 [1889]) conspicuous consumption, originally alluding to upper classes, has become relevant for the majority of the population in modern societies. In a parallel process the cultural industry has taken off as one of the major industries in the modern economy, creating a role model for larger number of people. The result is anesthetization of everyday life on an unprecedented scale.
The main power component lies in the process of branding of commercial goods by means of symbolic connotations. Through advertising campaigns the brand name is connoted to youthfulness, playfulness, sophistication or seriousness, depending on the target group. The crucial link in branding is the combination of confidence – the customer presumes that the soft drink will be of the same quality tomorrow that it is today – and identity – the quality and characteristics of the product spill over to the customer herself. These presumptions are reinforced by the observation that large groups of consumers think the same way.

Future directions of anthropology of power:

The above discussion represents major areas where research work on power has been done and still growing. These issues are mostly taken up from the studies which concentrate on the 20th century power relations. The dynamics of information technology and internet in the twenty-first century certainly opens up new avenues of research.
Global market dimension of power:
One of the obvious aspects of changing cultural power relations all over the world is the diffucion of branded consumption goods. The same jeans, snickers, hamburgers, soft drinks, watches or their pirate imitations are offered almost everywhere in the world. The few international corporations controlling the symbolic capital of international brands exert a formidable power in global market segments. Gereffi (2005) gives a descriptive analytical study of how the corporate power not only concerns the distribution of goods charged with symbolic messages, their production is globalised in chains of manufacturing as well. There are arrangements of countries hierarchical order where low-wage countries make up long hierarchical production chains. The parallel rise of media communication funded by these corporations, where no corner of the world is remote enough to receive a satellite signal to listen to pop music, see Hollywood movies, and soap operas contributing to the process of increasing commodification and for Larkin (2002) the growing homogenisation. On the other side, there is rising discomfort among many who suffer from the feeling of cultural inferiority. Henceforth, for Gray (2004) the fundamentalist movement like Al-Quaida is not a traditional one, rather, it is acutely modern phenomenon.
Internet and power
The power dimension in society has gained newer dimensions with the rise in internet usage. Internet has greatly facilitated the organising of social movements. Scholars mostly focus on the major strategies, or major strategic uses of internet in the dimension of power. Kolb (2005) and Porta at al. (2006) notes one of the major strategic use of internet in social movements is to gather mass support, organise rally, and spread news. Vegh (2003) focus on the exercise of power through hacktivism in cyberwars by attacks on websites. A third and much less studied dimension is the growth of discussion groups radically beyond physical boundaries but creating newer and micro boundaries based on particular taste and openion. For Engelstad (2009) this area needs much detailed studies in near future.    

Few contemporary theories of power:

Although there is immense and growing scope for anthropologists to explore some, or all of the above mentioned fields of power, yet what seems from the bulk of ethnographic materials is that early Anthropologists concentrated on the types of pre-industrial political systems, evolution of states, religious issues in politics and much later process theory and action theory. Issues of social movements, gender issues in power, ethnicity and nationalist issues of identity in the context of globalisation are gaining attention in much recent period.

Reflections on a few contemporary theories of power:

Several contemporary theories growing outside the strict domain of anthropology has significant influence on the anthropological concept of power.
Concept of Hegemony in anthropology and power:
Hegemony, the concept of totalizing power (in which the state and/or a popular majority dominate, through every means, ‘civil society’) articulated by Gramsci (1971), provided anthropologists with a way to think about pervasive institutionalized power. The Subaltern Studies group (Guha and Spivak 1988), worked through a critical deconstruction of colonial historiography to recognize the powerful ways in which colonial subjects had been left without a voice in strategic discussions of their identity, resources, and future. Earlier, as anthropologists in the US and in France rethought the political role of intellectuals in reaction to their nations’ protracted war in Vietnam, the concept of hegemony became a way to think about how the state did indeed have agency, through a militarized institutional apparatus, to repress—ideologically, socially, and physically– those citizens who held contradictory views about state actions. That was also a time when, in anthropology, theories of resistance took their cue from political movements.
Foucaultian influence over anthropology of power:
The social theorist who has most shaped anthropologists’ recent discussions of power is Michel Foucault (1977, 1980), although not all those writings influenced by him reproduce Foucault’s views of power.
Two of his writings a) Discipline and Punish (1977) and b) Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings have influenced and shaped whole lot anthropological discussions of power. His more recent publication with neologism “governmentality” which discusses the essential nature of power in governing virtually every human affair gives a new dimension to the study of power.
Concept of power in Discipline and Punish:
In his Discipline and Punish Foucault begins with an agonizingly detailed account of a public torture that took place on March 2, 1757, in the plaza in front of the main door of the Church of Paris. Over a period of hours, the accused’s flesh was torn with red-hot pincers and upon the wounds was poured “molten lead, boiling oil, burning resin, wax and sulphur melted together,” and then his limbs were pulled off by six horses. Finally, his still living body was thrown on a fire. The crime that justified such grisly spectacle was an attempted assassination of the king of France, within who resided the power of the state. Public torture was thus a form of ritual that symbolically reaffirmed and restored threatened sovereignty. In the preindustrial economy of France, society was based on a personal relationship between the sovereign and his subjects. Within the theatre of pain, spectators were not mere observers, but were active participants in the re-establishment of order.
Jump ahead 80 years—the period of the French Revolution. Foucault quotes from the rules governing a prisoner’s day. Gone is any deliberate attempt to inflict pain. Rather, what we see is dreary regimentation, based on the belief that the prisoner can be redeemed through control of his most minute behavior. Incarceration becomes the primary means not so much of punishment but of transformation. Public execution continues, but without the torture, and its meaning has radically changed. State killing is no longer an affirmation of the power of the king over his subjects, but has become a morality play in which the public is instructed in proper behavior.
This does not mean that the state has become more benign or less repressive, but only that a new political economy has brought about an alteration in the way that power functions. For Foucault, this was a crucial transitional period, when the mechanisms of power assumed a “capillary form of existence...where power reaches into the very grain of individuals, touches their bodies and inserts itself into their actions and attitudes, their discourses, learning processes and everyday lives. The eighteenth century invented, so to speak, a synaptic regime of power, a regime of its exercise within the social body, rather than from above it” (Foucault 1980: 39). In the world of feudalism, serfs could be easily regulated from above, but industrial capitalism required that the individual regulate himself. This would be accomplished through a process of disciplinary observation, or surveillance, which was aimed not only at the body but also at the subject’s very soul (a term Foucault takes seriously to represent the psyche, personality, consciousness, and subjectivity of the individual). The quintessential model of surveillance is found in Jeremy Bentham’s design for the panopticon prison, a circle of cells built around a central guard tower. In concept, each inmate is visible every moment. Of course, in practice every convict could not be under the guard’s gaze at all times, but the possibility and illusion of constant surveillance would be sufficient to induce proper prison behavior. Here we have an inversion of visibility. In the days of the sovereign, it was the powerful that were most visible; now the subject is visible and power is hidden.
Power in Power/Knowledge:
‘Power in the substantive sense, “le” pouvoir, doesn’t exist…power means…a more-or-less organised, hierarchical, co-ordinated cluster of relations’ (1980:198), despite the fact that it ‘is never localised here or there, never in anybody’s hands, never appropriated as a commodity’ (1980:98), never alienable or transferable. Foucault rejects what he calls the juridical/liberal/economic view of power as ‘that concrete power which every individual holds, and whose partial or total cession enables political power or sovereignty to be established’ (1980:88). Yet he sometimes reifies power as beyond individual or even collective control: ‘the impression that power weakens and vacillates…is…mistaken; power can retreat…reorganise its forces, invest itself elsewhere’ (1980:56).
In contrast to the binary views of power articulated by so many, whether cast in terms of gendered power relations focusing on patriarchy and those oppressed by it, or domination and resistance, Foucault saw power as being produced and reproduced through constant social interaction, from many different directions. He countered arguments about power as constituted through structural positions between individuals or social classes with arguments about power as being problematic, contested, and requiring constant, disciplined persuasion to convince those construed as powerless of their powerlessness and those construed as powerful of their powerfulness. Although he wrote about institutional sites as important for reproducing power relations, Foucault (1981:93) described power as ‘not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society’. Influenced by Foucault’s analysis, Kondo (1990:307) stated in her ethnography of the crafting of identity in Japan that power is ‘creative, coercive, and coextensive with meaning’. A view of power as not simply embedded in structural relations—maintained by force of one kind or another—but also as constituted through language and everyday practice (Bourdieu 1991) engendered many ethnographies exploring the specific, historicized ways in which power has been constructed and challenged in different social contexts (cf. Comaroff 1985). Foucault’s work has drawn anthropological attention to the relational aspects of power, with a concentration on the contexts of actions and interpretations, and away from structural control of resources by individuals with fairly static institutional authority. Some critics of Foucault think that attention has strayed, in the late 1980s and 1990s, too far from structural power; some feminist theorists, for example, have argued that Foucault and other writers of postmodern social criticism have—while meaning to eliminate ‘big stories’—replaced binary structural models of power which have been useful for theorizing oppression (especially by those working to understand the social mechanism of their own disempowerment) with a less useful totalizing model of over determination (e.g. power is everywhere, thus what social site does one go about working to transform?). They also argue that, once again, the ‘powerless’ have not been left space, or agency, in the discussion to articulate their own theories of power. (This, of course, has continued to happen despite the actions of any social theorist.)  The historical focus that Foucault brought to his discussion of the disciplining of bodies and minds through hospitals, prisons, courts, and schools, has had its effect in medical, legal, and educational anthropology, or at least coincided with trends in these and other areas of anthropological study, as more anthropologists have turned from synchronic ethnographic studies to diachronic discussions of social institutions. For example, Emily Martin’s comparative study of birthing practices (1987) demonstrates the institutional ways in which women are empowered or disempowered in relation to control of their own bodies and actions. Anthropologists have been informed, also, by researchers working in sociology and other disciplines on collective—or participatory—research strategies that challenge the epistemological leverage of an ‘expert,’ whether the researcher or some other person asserting ‘legitimate authority’ in a social setting, and recentre the ‘subjects’ of study as those with the power to legitimize research design and documentation.
Power in Governmentality:
The lectures of 1978 and 1979 focus on the "genealogy of the modern state" (Lect. April 5, 1978/1982b, p. 43). Foucault coins the concept of "governmentality" as a "guideline" for the analysis he offers by way of historical reconstructions embracing a period starting from Ancient Greece through to modern neo-liberalism (Foucault 1997b, p. 67). The semantic linking of governing ("gouverner") and modes of thought ("mentalité") indicates that it is not possible to study the technologies of power without an analysis of the political rationality underpinning them. But there is a second aspect of equal importance. Foucault uses the notion of government in a comprehensive sense geared strongly to the older meaning of the term and adumbrating the close link between forms of power and processes of subjectification. While the word government today possesses solely a political meaning, Foucault is able to show that up until well into the 18th century the problem of government was placed in a more general context. Government was a term discussed not only in political tracts, but also in philosophical, religious, medical and pedagogic texts. In addition to the management by the state or the administration, "government" also signified problems of self-control, guidance for the family and for children, management of the household, directing the soul, etc. For this reason, Foucault defines government as conduct, or, more precisely, as "the conduct of conduct" and thus as a term which ranges from "governing the self" to "governing others".
The concept of governmentality has correctly been regarded as a “key notion” (Allen 1991, p. 431) or a “deranging term” (Keenan 1982, p. 36) of Foucault’s work. It plays a decisive role in his analytics of power in several regards: it offers a view on power beyond a perspective that centers either on consensus or on violence; it links technologies of the self with technologies of domination, the constitution of the subject to the formation of the state; finally, it helps to differentiate between power and domination. There are several aspects of the concept of governmentality that needs attention:
  1. Introducing the problematics of government Foucault takes up this question. He now underlines that power is foremost about guidance and “Führung”, i.e. governing the forms of self-government, structuring and shaping the field of possible action of subjects. This concept of power as guidance does not exclude consensual forms or the recourse to violence, it signifies that coercion or consensus are reformulated as means of government among others, they are rather “elements” or “instruments” than the “foundation” or “source” of power relationships (Foucault 1982a, pp. 219-222).
  2. Governmentality is introduced by Foucault to study the "autonomous" individual's capacity for self-control and how this is linked to forms of political rule and economic exploitation. In this regard, Foucault’s interest for processes of subjectivation does not signal that he abandons the problematics of power, but on the contrary, it displays a continuation and correction of his older work, that renders it more precise and concrete.
  3. Foucault introduces a differentiation between power and domination which is only implicit in his earlier work. He insists that “we must distinguish the relationships of power as strategic games between liberties – strategic games that result in the fact that some people try to determine the conduct of others – and the states of domination, which are what we ordinarily call power. And, between the two, between the games of power and the states of domination, you have governmental technologies” (Foucault 1988b, p. 19). It follows that Foucault identifies three types of power relations: strategic games between liberties, government and domination.
Power as strategic games is a ubiquitous feature of human interaction, insofar as it signifies structuring the possible field of action of others. This can take many forms, e.g. ideological manipulation or rational argumentation, moral advice or economic exploitation, but it does not necessarily mean that power is exercised against the interests of the other part of a power relationship; nor does it signify that “to determine the conduct of others” is intrinsically “bad”. Moreover, power relations do not always result in a removal of liberty or options available to individuals, on the contrary power in the sense Foucault gives to the terms, could result in an “empowerment” or “responsibilisation” of subjects, forcing them to “free” decision-making in fields of action.
Government refers to more or less systematized, regulated and reflected modes of power (a “technology”) that go beyond the spontaneous exercise of power over others, following a specific form of reasoning (a “rationality”) which defines the telos of action or the adequate means to achieve it. Government then is “the regulation of conduct by the more or less rational application of the appropriate technical means” (Hindess 1996, p. 106). For example in his lectures on the “genealogy of the state” Foucault distinguishes between the Christian pastorate as a spiritual government of the souls oriented to salvation in another world and state reason as a political government of men securing welfare in this world. In much the same way disciplinary or sovereign power is reinterpreted not as opposite forms of power but as different technologies of government. 
Domination is a particular type of power relationship that is stable and hierarchical, fixed and difficult to reverse. Foucault reserves the term “domination” to “what we ordinarily call power” (1988b, p. 19). Domination refers to those asymmetrical relationships of power in which the subordinated persons have little room for manoeuvre because their “margin of liberty is extremely limited” (1988b, p. 12). But states of domination are not the primary source for holding power or exploiting asymmetries, on the contrary they are the effects of technologies of government. Technologies of government account for the systematization, stabilization and regulation of power relationships that may lead to a state of domination (see Hindess 1996; Patton 1998, Lazzarato 2000).
Pierre Bourdieu’s and possible anthropology of power:
For Bourdieu, the crucial question faced by the social sciences is one of power: How do hierarchical social systems maintain and reproduce themselves over time? Obviously, in modern democratic societies, social status is not maintained by force, nor is it—a la Marx—essentially a matter of economics, of who owns the means of production. Indeed, teachers, artists, writers, and other intellectuals are often represented in the status hierarchy at much higher levels than might be predicted by their incomes or political power. The answer lies partially in that all cultural symbols and practices embody social distinction and thus help to determine the hierarchies of power.
Crucial to this analysis is that culture itself is a form of capital, just as are money and property. Cultural capital is manifested in several different ways. It can be a largely unconscious set of predispositions that emerge from socialization into a particular class: ways of speaking and writing; a general awareness of how society works; preferences for certain types of art, music, and literature; and even posture and stride. Cultural capital can also be objectified in published books, in the possession of scientific instruments that require specialized knowledge, or in paintings that one has produced. Finally, cultural capital includes such things as graduate degrees or licenses to practice medicine that have been achieved within an educational credentials market. Side by side with such cultural capital is social capital: kin relations, circles of friends, and influential old-boy networks. Cultural capital, like economic capital, is a limited and often-scarce resource. One inherits a certain amount of it from one’s parents, but much has to be attained and maintained through intense competition throughout life.
Those with the most and most valued cultural capital at once reflect the norms of society and establish those norms. It is they who have the capacity to impose a taken-for-granted worldview on the rest of society. For the middle classes and under classes this worldview—an unquestioned acceptance of hierarchies of power and of inequalities—is close to what Marx refers to as “false consciousness,” but it does not necessarily emerge from nor is it reproduced among the wealthy alone. This is why Bourdieu puts such an emphasis on intellectuals; in France he finds in writers, artists, musicians, and philosophers the means of creating and legitimizing power. The social conditionings implicit in such legitimization are embraced within the individual’s habitus. Bourdieu (1990: 53) defines this term in The Logic of Practice, rather confusingly, as:
“Systems of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and representations that can be objectively adapted to their outcomes without presupposing a conscious aim at ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary to attain them.”
In other words, habitus is Bourdieu’s solution to the perennial problem of structure versus agency: how does society determine or at least circumscribe individual behavior when individuals are ostensibly free to act of their own accord? Why does the behavior of individuals follow statistically predictable patterns? For Bourdieu, social reality is objective and subjective, simultaneously in-here and out-there. Habitus is the largely unconscious internalization of the objective norms and rules of society that suggest how we might act within any given situation. It is not determinative, because norms and rules are not rigid; indeed, it may be conflictive; contested; and, within limits, malleable. In fact, in situations in which action is highly regulated, as in a prison or the military, habitus may play little or no role because decision making is minimized. Most human action does not result from consciously selecting among all possible alternatives, but is, rather, the result of mental habit. Given any situation, habitus will provide a framework that will direct action within a very limited number of improvisations.  

Holism in Anthropology


Definition:

Holism (from holos, a Greek word meaning all, entire, total) is the idea that all the properties of a given system (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) cannot be determined or explained by its component parts alone. Instead, the system as a whole determines in an important way how the parts behave.

Anthropological Sense:


Whether anthropology should be considered as holistic in spirit or not is a debatable issue. The supporters of holistic camp give the concept two senses, first, it is concerned with all human beings across times and places, and with all dimensions of humanity (evolutionary, biophysical, sociopolitical, economic, cultural, psychological, etc.). Further, many academic programs following this approach take a "four-field" approach to anthropology that encompasses physical anthropology, archeology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology or social anthropology. Each of these unique subdisciplines in anthropology contributes different aspects to the understanding of humans in the past and present. Rather than focusing on a single aspect of being human, such as history or biology, anthropology is distinct in its holism. These subdisciplines provide the basis for this holistic approach. Second, the functional school which strives for an approach of studying human society and culture in terms of integrated components together comprising a social hole.

According to McGee and Warms’s discussion of Boas in their history of anthropological theory, Boas “pioneered the concept of cultural relativism in anthropology.” Further, his approach of historical particularism emphasized the discipline’s holism, and drew upon the study of “prehistory, linguistics, and physical anthropology” (McGee and Warms 2000, p.131). Boas’s desire to introduce scientific rigor to this emerging academic field and his quest for holism were directly responsible for academic American anthropology acquiring the four-field signature of cultural (social) anthropology, archaeology (or prehistory), biological (or physical) anthropology, and linguistics anthropology (Miller 2004, p. 2). This holistic approach would distinguish American anthropology, going forward, from its European progenitors. Boas also brought to this emerging discipline a new “agenda for social reform” as well as theories of race that challenged the prevailing status quo beliefs. He believed that environment and nurturing were significant factors in human development. In his 1940 essay, “Anthropological Study of Children,” Boas noted, “Some observations have been made that illustrate the influence of environment, not only upon growth of the bulk of the body but also upon some of the forms that develop very early in life” (Boas 1982, p. 101). Boas’s students were the first generation of formally trained academic American anthropologists, and many would become leading figures in the discipline— Alfred Kroeber, Robert Lowie, Edward Sapir, and Ruth Benedict. Subsequent students included Margaret Mead and Zora Neale Hurston.

In contemporary cultural anthropology, the theoretical positions of the cultural materialists and the interpretive anthropologists correspond to two different definitions of culture. Cultural materialist Marvin Harris defines culture as the total socially acquired life-way or life-style of a group of people, a definition that maintains the emphasis on the holism established by Tylor. In contrast, Clifford Geertz, speaking for the interpretivists, defines culture as consisting of symbols, motivations, moods, and thoughts. The interpretivist definition excludes behavior as part of culture. Again, avoiding a somewhat extreme dichotomy, it is reasonable and comprehensive to adopt a broad definition of culture as all learned and shared behavior and ideas.

While, the holistic approach permits anthropologists to develop a complex understanding of entire societies, anthropology also adds another dimension of analysis through cross-cultural comparison. When examining any particular society, the anthropologist is interested in seeing how that society is similar to or differs from others. This perspective allows anthropologists to open their eyes to what may seem "obvious" or "natural" in the cultural world in which they are immersed. For example, an anthropologist studying Hutu-Tutsi conflict in Rwanda will understand this experience and its theoretical implications more fully by comparing it to the Serb-Croat-Albanian conflict in the former Yugoslavia and to other cases of nationalism which have not led to mass violence, such as the situation of nationalism and separatism in Quebec Click on the links below to find out more about social and cultural anthropology.

Holism as an approach and research strategy:

Holism is also seen as a research strategy that separates cultural anthropology from other disciplines. Holism is the search for systematic relationships between two or more phenomena. One of the advantages of lengthy periods of fieldwork and participant observation is that the anthropologist can begin to see interrelationships between different aspects of culture. One example might be the discovery of a relationship between ecological conditions, subsistence patterns, and social organization. The holistic approach allows for the documentation of systematic relationships between these variables, thus allowing for the eventual unravelling of the importance of various relationships within the system, and, ultimately, toward an understanding of general principles and the construction of theory.
In practical terms, holism also refers to a kind of multifaceted approach to the study of culture. Anthropologists working in a specific cultural setting typically acquire information about topics not necessarily of immediate importance, or even interest, for the research project at hand. Nevertheless, anthropologists, when describing the culture they are working with, will often include discussions of culture history, linguistics, political and economic systems, settlement patterns, and religious ideology. Just as anthropologists become proficient at balancing emic and etic approaches in their work, they also become experts about a particular theoretical problem, for which the culture provides a good testing ground, and they become experts about the cultural area, having been immersed in the politics, history, and social science of the region itself. Anthropology's holistic perspective helps fieldworkers understanding this pattern. Holism means that an anthropologist looks at the entire context of a society when analysing any specific feature. For example, to understand the Japanese tea ceremony, anthropologists might investigate Japanese religion, aesthetics and history, as well as the economy, social relations and the politics of gender. Their colleagues studying medical practices in Japan might find the tea ceremony interesting as an alternative therapy used by people who also rely on hospital-based physicians.

Functionalism and holism:


Functionalist assumption was that the constituent parts of every society, from individuals to the largest political and social institutions, must be seen as interrelated and from a holistic point of view. While variations on this assumption divided British anthropologists from their U.S./American colleagues (see below), the important methodological ramification of this assumption, holism, remained true on both sides of the Atlantic. In other words, all constituent parts of a society must be seen as interacting with and influencing all others. As a result, it was impossible to study, for example, kinship in this paradigm without also looking at religion, politics, subsistence, and all other aspects of society.

Every version of the theory is that functional characterization is holistic. Functionalists hold that mental states are to be characterized in terms of their roles in a psychological theory—be it common sense, scientific, or something in between—but all such theories incorporate information about a large number and variety of mental states. Thus if pain is interdefined with certain highly articulated beliefs and desires, then animals who don't have internal states that play the roles of our articulated beliefs and desires can't share our pains, and humans without the capacity to feel pain can't share certain (or perhaps any) of our beliefs and desires. In addition, differences in the ways people reason, the ways their beliefs are fixed, or the ways their desires affect their beliefs — due either to cultural or individual idiosyncracies — might make it impossible for them to share the same mental states. These are regarded as serious worries for all versions of functionalism (see Stich 1983, Putnam 1988).

Some functionalists, however (e.g. Shoemaker 1984c), have suggested that if a creature has states that approximately realize our functional theories, or realize some more specific defining subset of the theory particularly relevant to the specification of those states, then they can qualify as being mental states of the same types as our own. The problem, of course, is to specify more precisely what it is to be an approximate realization of a theory, or what exactly a “defining” subset of a theory is intended to include, and these are not easy questions. (They have particular bite, moreover, for analytic functionalist theories, since specifying what belongs inside and outside the “defining” subset of a functional characterization raises the question of what are the conceptually essential, and what the merely collateral, features of a mental state, and thus raise serious questions about the feasibility of (something like) an analytic-synthetic distinction. (Quine 1953, Rey 1997).

As the name implies, the primary quest for understanding among functionalists was the search for the biosocial or social structural function of any given institution for maintaining the integrity of society. Functionalists assumed that all social institutions or cultural traits, no matter how obscure or seemingly maladaptive, were somehow integral to maintaining the society or culture within the ecological and social contexts in which it existed. Methodologically, this contributed to the development and refinement of anthropological relativism, the belief that all cultures and societies, as well as their constituent traits and institutions, must be looked at in their own context rather than judged by the values and norms of the anthropologist.

Applications of Holism:

Cultures are integrated. To state that cultures are internally integrated is to assert the principle of holism. Thus, studying only one or two aspects of culture provides understanding so limited that it is more likely to be misleading or wrong than more comprehensively grounded approaches. Cultural integration and holism are relevant to applied anthropologists interested in proposing ways to promote positive change. Years of experience in applied anthropology show that introducing programs for change in one aspect of culture without considering the effects in other areas may be detrimental to the welfare and survival of a culture. For example, Western missionaries and colonialists in parts of Southeast Asia banned the practice of head-hunting. This practice was embedded in many other aspects of culture, including politics, religion, and psychology (i.e., a man’s sense of identity as a man sometimes depended on the taking of a head). Although stopping head-hunting might seem like a good thing, it had disastrous consequences for the cultures that had practiced it.
Anthropologists like La Barre emphasized holism in anthropology, as indicated by his classic 1954 work, The Human Animal. Here, he showed how specific human traits such a language, family, and culture were reciprocally related to the specific biology and evolution of the human species. He later continued this theme and argued for the role of human biology in religion and even gender. In his 1970 classic, The Ghost Dance, he argued that religion’s origins must be sought in its creators, human beings, and their experiences of socialization and society, a theme to which he returned in his last book, Shadow of Childhood (1991).

Contemporary relevance in Anthropology:

American anthropology continues to embrace holism, and although the four-field approach, the culture concept, and cultural relativism have drawn sharp criticism and debate, they remain cornerstones of the discipline’s distinctiveness. American anthropology’s history of contributing to social reform has also attracted new thinkers that include women, nonwhite, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered anthropologists. Their contributions include ongoing interrogations of evolutionist
theories, positivism, modernization, critiques of ethnocentrism, homophobia, sexism, and racism, both in the society and within the academy, and challenges to the scientific validity of the concept of race, while acknowledging the power of social race. Their interpretive approaches and use of identity politics support methodologies quite different from the empiricism that H. Russell Bernard (1998) claims is ubiquitous to the discipline. These characteristics, along with the persistence of the four-field approach, and a long-standing tension between humanism and science, continue to distinguish American anthropology from its British and French cousins.





Culture Change

Culture change is both a process underway in all societies and a field of study in anthropology which has undergone complex development and several important transformations.

History:

The cultural evolutionists of the late nineteenth century, such as Edward B. TYLOR (1881) and Lewis Henry MORGAN (1877), regarded non-Western cultures as relatively static (see EVOLUTION). For them societies could be ranked hierarchically on a single scale from the savage to the civilized, with the peoples at the bottom being less intelligent than those at the top. Therefore, on utilitarian grounds, the institutions of lower societies were less worthy, and non-Western peoples were seen as comparatively unreflective, their customs as tightly binding, and change as very slow. By contrast, civilized peoples were conceived of not only as more intelligent, but as less bound by the fetters of tradition and more amenable to progressive change. Combined with these notions was the view that there is an overall pattern to cultural change in which all societies are moving in the same direction, and that as a consequence, even the most savage societies will over time become more and more like the Western peoples who are at the top of the scale. The mechanism behind this development is the intellect: as savages apply their minds, they replicate the same, superior institutions that were invented by higher societies long ago.
The notion of a hierarchy of societies was widely criticized by anthropologists (most notably Franz BOAS) before the turn of this century, and it had been generally discredited by the 1920s. A variety of new ideas about cultural change then emerged in this context. Theories of DIFFUSION, according to which a key process in cultural change is cultural borrowing, or the diffusion of cultural traits (such as design motifs, folktales, and values) from one society to the next, became important in the first few decades of this century among North American anthropologists. An element of CULTURAL RELATIVISM was inherent in the diffusion concept, because the borrowing of traits implied that the cultures or institutions of a society reflected not the level of the people's intelligence, but their position on the map. Even European cultures were now conceived of as unique concatenations of cultural traits, most of which had diffused from elsewhere, particularly the Middle East and Asia. The course of human history (and the overall direction of cultural change) became less a matter of progressive development and more a product of historical accident (see HISTORICAL PARTICULARISM).

Approaches:

A particular kind of cultural change that the American anthropologists were interested in was ACCULTURATION, by which was usually meant the changes that come about when Western and non-Western societies come into long-term contact, and especially the effects that dominant societies have had on indigenous peoples. In British anthropology, on the other hand, theorists of SOCIAL CHANGE looked at similar problems but from a different perspective.
Another important approach to cultural change in North American anthropology was that of cultural ecology, which was first articulated by Julian STEWARD (1955) and became very influential in the 1960s (Service 1971; see ECOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY). Steward was critical of diffusionism, with its implication that change can be explained primarily as a product of historical accident, or the chance occurrences of contact among cultures. Rather, Steward sought to demonstrate that cultural change can be explained largely in terms of the progressive adaptation of a particular culture to its environment, with the result that the direction of change is predictable: given the subsistence base of a society, it should be possible, in principle, to predict how that society will change over time as a response to certain environmental conditions.
A strong alternative to cultural ecology soon emerged in cultural anthropology (Frake 1962b). The cultural ecologists tended to assume that all peoples will respond the same way under the same circumstances, and that such features as cultural values and beliefs do not play a significant role in influencing cultural change. The alternative view is that the environment is culturally mediated: people do not experience the world directly, but through cultural systems of thought, with the result that peoples with different conceptions of the world will respond to it in different ways. Thus, by this view, the cultural ecologists were mistaken when they failed to take cultural systems of thought into account in their analyses of cultural change.
In Britain a different approach to cultural change held sway from the 1920s through the 1950s. This was FUNCTIONALISM, which was associated with both RADCLIFFE-BROWN and MALINOWSKI. Functionalism took a conservative approach to change, since it assumed that societies and cultures are relatively well integrated and stable. By this view, if a culture undergoes change, then typically it is the result of outside influences. The functionalists were not oriented toward the study of change; their main interest was the functional interrelationships of cultural and social systems, not how they were transformed.
In the early 1970s the interest in cultural change took yet another important turn, a large majority of the work from that time has focused less on the problem of indigenous changes in culture or on how "traditional" cultures came to be the way they are independently of the West and more on understanding them in terms of the larger economic and political developments of the world. Particularly influential in this regard was WORLD-SYSTEM THEORY, which is associated with Immanuel Wallerstein (1974). Similarly, Eric Wolf (1982) and others have argued that the changes in local, indigenous cultures around the world are to be seen to a large extent in relation to several centuries of confrontation with and domination by Europeans. Consequently cultural change in non-Western societies is seen as an extension of the history of the West.

Perspectives explaining culture change:

1) Materialistic perspectives (materialistic factors are usually economic production and technology)
Marxist perspective: economic production, economic classes form the basic anatomy of society, and everything else arises in relationship to them
Other materialistic perspectives: Cultural lag theory (W. Ogburn) technological causes of change, material culture (technology) changes more quickly than nonmaterial culture (values, ideas, norms, ideologies), i.e. there is a period of maladjustment (a lag time) during which nonmaterial culture is still adapting to new material conditions
Technology causes change in 3 ways:
- increases alternatives available to society, creates new opportunities
- alters interaction patterns among people, changes structures of human groups
- creates new problems
2) Idealistic perspectives (idealistic factors/ideational aspects are values, beliefs and ideologies)
Weber’s perspective: in essence, values and beliefs, both religious and secular, have decisive impact on shaping social change, as well as other factors such as those outlined by Marx:
Protestanism: He argued that values of Protestanism, esp. Calvinism and related, produced a cultural ethic which sanctified work and worldly achievement, encouraged frugality and discouraged consumption. Unintended consequences of this religious worldview, this-worldly asceticism, encouraged development of large pools of capital through encouraging work, savings and non-frivolous consumption, and encouraged rational reinvestment and economic growth. Work was a religiously sanctioned calling. Each man is a moral free agent, accountable only to God. Suspicious of material consumption beyond bare necessities believing it led to moral corruption.
In Catholicism, work is merely mundane activity to keep one alive, encouraging other-worldly asceticism where highest form of activity was devotion to God, men were accountable to the Church which sought to regulate the operation of the economy and other secular aspects of society in terms of religious values. No reason in values to ban consumption.
Discussed China and India, whose faiths, Confucianism & Taoism and Hinduism respectively, also weren’t favorable to the development of capitalism.
Other ideational perspectives: Lewy focused on role of religion in social change citing examples of Puritan revolt in England, Islamic renaissance in Sudan in 1800s, Taiping & Boxer Rebellion in China, Islamic fundamentalism in Iran.
Cultural ideas, values, and ideologies that have broadly shaped directions of social change in modern world:
freedom and self-determination
material growth and security
nationalism, e.g. French & English Canadians, English & Irish, Germans & French, Palestinians, Kurdish, Basque separatists and Spanish
capitalism: not only type of economic system but also ideology, connected set of values and ideas emphasizing positive benefits of pursuing one’s private economic interests, competition and free marketS
Marxism
Ideas and values can cause change or be barriers to change, can be barriers at one time or promote change at another time. Ideational culture can cause change by:
legitimizing a desired direction of change, e.g. promoting further equality and democracy
providing a basis for social solidarity necessary to promote change, i.e. integrative mechanisms, neutralizing the conflicting strains found in society, e.g. mobilizing force during war
highlighting contradictions and problems, e.g. US cultural value of equality of opportunity have highlighted racism and sexism
Not all anthropological research on cultural change today looks to world-systems theory for its inspiration, but nearly all of it is strongly influenced by the idea of the global society, or the view that a variety of transnational processes are critical for understanding cultural change among all peoples. The world is viewed as increasingly integrated economically, politically, socially, and culturally.

Major Factors and processes of Culture Change:

Acculturation:

Acculturation is the process of culture change set in motion by the meeting of two autonomous cultural systems, resulting in an increase of similarity of each to the other. It always involves a complex interaction with attendant social processes, the parameters of which were most carefully laid out in two important memoranda commissioned by the Social Science Research Council (Redfield et al. 1936; Broom et al. 1954). In such conjunctions the donor culture may not present the full range of its cultural elements, and the recipient culture's own value system may act to screen out or modify certain elements. Acculturation may also be sharply socially structured, as in the case of conquest or other situations of social or political inequality, which channel the flow of cultural elements. Acculturation subsumes a number of different processes including DIFFUSION, reactive ADAPTATION, various kinds of social and cultural reorganization subsequent to contact, and "deculturation" or cultural disintegration. The range of adjustments that results includes the retention of substantial cultural autonomy ("stabilized pluralism") or, more typically, the assimilation of a weaker by a stronger contacting group, and (though rarely) cultural fusion, whereby two cultures may exchange enough elements to produce a distinctive successor culture.
Inasmuch as acculturation involves the interaction of two or more distinct groups, social interaction among them strongly conditions the outcome. The extreme social pressure attendant upon conquest, for example, may prove effective in breaking down the mechanisms by which the conquered group has maintained its culture. In other cases, a high degree of enclosure may preserve a politically weak culture in spite of seemingly overwhelming odds. Furthermore, the lessening of culture distance (acculturation) may not be accompanied by a symmetrical lessening of social distance (assimilation) if, for whatever reason, one group refuses to validate the other's acculturation.

Cultural adaptation:

Cultural adaptation is a relatively new concept used to define the specific capacity of human beings and human societies to overcome changes of their natural and social environment by modifications to their culture. The scale of culture changes depends on the extent of habitat changes and could vary from slight modifications in livelihood systems (productive and procurement activity, mode of life, dwellings and settlements characteristics, exchange systems, clothing, and so on) to principal transformation of the whole cultural system, including its social, ethnic, psychological, and ideological spheres.

Diffusion:

Diffusion is the transmission of elements from one culture to another. Such elements are transmitted by agents using identifiable media and are subject to different barrier or filter effects. It is one of the processes of accuturation but may lack the close contact between peoples that acculturation presupposes. Diffusionism refers to any learned hypothesis that posits an exogenous origin for most elements of a specific culture or cultural subset. An example is the proposition advanced by some nineteenth-century folklorists that most popular European story frames had been transmitted to Europe by Gypsies from India. Robert Lowie emphasizes on the association of diffusion and historicism, independent invention, and evolutionism (Harris 1968: 173 6).

Assimilation:

Assimilation refers to that result of culture change whereby the members of one society modify their behavior and values to become very similar to, or identical with, those of another society possessing a different culture. It is to be distinguished from the potentially rapid processes of culture change due to internal innovation and invention and external borrowing through intermittent diffusion of culture elements from outside the society, and the very gradual process by the absence of exact replication by a younger generation of the beliefs and behavior of an older generation. Innovation and diffusion are ongoing features of human life, and their effects are usually gradual (over many generations), limited to distinct subsets of a cultural system, and, more important, typically greatly modified in turn to mesh with the existing culture. The process of change giving rise to assimilation, however, is acculturation. Acculturation is the complex and dynamic set of processes resulting from close, prolonged contact between two societies, one of them dominant. This imbalance of power is necessary for assimilative change, since the drastic and total character of assimilation requires that the dominant society monopolize prestige, resources, and force and possess an ideology that rewards and/or demands corresponding change in the subordinate society. There are modifications to both societies in the acculturative situation, the dominant as well as the subordinate.

Modernisation:

Modernisation is a process of economic, social, and cultural development that is expected to lead to a level of organization and production, along with belief systems, similar to those already achieved by INDUSTRIAL SOCIETIES, primarily based on examples from the West. Consistent with a general Western idea of progress according to which human knowledge and rationality increasingly triumph over ignorance and adversity and improve the conditions of human life, it was generally assumed that modernization was inevitable and global. But as former colonial societies in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and the Caribbean became independent nations following World War II, much concern was expressed over how, or even if, this modernization process would occur. This concern was also directed at Latin America, which was similarly regarded as "underdeveloped."

Demographic factors:

A population change is itself a social change but also becomes a casual factor in further social and cultural changes. When a thinly settled frontier fills up with people the hospitality pattern fades away, secondary group relations multiply, institutional structures grow more elaborate and many other changes follow. A stable population may be able to resist change but a rapidly growing population must migrate, improve its productivity or starve. Great historic migrations and conquests of the Huns, Vikings and many others have arisen from the pressure of a growing population upon limited resources. Migration encourages further change for it brings a group into a new environment subjects it to new social contacts and confronts it with new problems. No major population change leaves the culture unchanged.

Technological factors:

The technological factors represent the conditions created by man which have a profound influence on his life. In the attempt to satisfy his wants, fulfill his needs and to make his life more comfortable man creates civilization. Technology is a byproduct of civilization .When the scientific knowledge is applied to the problems in life it becomes technology. Technology is a systematic knowledge which is put into practice that is to use tools and run machines to serve human purpose. Science and technology go together. In utilizing the products of technology man brings social change. The social effects of technology are far-reaching. According to Karl Marx even the formation of social relations and mental conceptions and attitudes are dependent upon technology. He has regarded technology as a sole explanation of social change. W.F Ogburn says technology changes society by changing our environment to which we in turn adapt. These changes are usually in the material environment and the adjustment that we make with these changes often modifies customs and social institutions. A single invention may have innumerable social effects. The development of mass media, from Radio to internet for example have made a rapid change and global cultural integration possible.

Policy factors:

The government policies especially the economic policies which makes it possible to communicate, use and see other cultural products accelerates culture change. The opening up of national boundaries especially after the adoption of neo-liberal policies worldwide have made significant impact on previously existing power relations and people’s commodity procurement and usage pattern. The social policies, promoting particular behavior, for example in India the Total Sanitation Programme, Sarva Sikhsha Mission, etc. help making significant change in the society.

Books used:
Barfield, T. (Ed. 1997). The Dictionary of Anthropology. Massachusetts: Blackwell
Birx, H. J. (Ed. 2006). Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Thousand Oaks: Sage
Bernerd, R and Spencer, J. (2002). Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. London: Routledge

Social Institution (Brief idea)

Social Institution (Brief idea)
Contents

Introduction:

Any pattern of behaviour which by repetition, traditional sanction and legal reinforcement acquires a degree of coercion could be described as a social institution: marriage would be a good example. The use of the term institution in sociology, meaning established aspects of society, is close to that in common English usage. However, there have been some changes over time in the exact conceptualization of the term, and there are differences in the analytical precision with which it is used. In some ways an institution can be seen as a sort of ‘super-custom’, a set of mores, folkways, and patterns of behaviour that deals with major social interests: law, church, and family for example. Thus, a social institution consists of all the structural components of a society through which the main concerns and activities are organized, and social needs (such as those for order, belief, and reproduction) are met.  Social institutions are forever being modified because they rest on repetition
(and hence may change if large numbers of people stop acting in accordance with them or become selective in precisely how they will support them) but they have a degree of solidity that allows us to forget that they are human creations. In many traditional societies social institutions are bolstered by being given supramundane origins: marriage, for example, is often presented as a divine obligation. Modern societies are more likely to admit the human origins of social institutions and justify them by claims for efficiency: in the West marriage is now commonly defended with the claim that it provides the most effective way of meeting a wide variety of personal and social needs.

A very useful way of grouping social institutions is as follows:
(a) kinship institutions deal with marriage, the family and primary socialisation;
(b) political institutions regulate access to and the use of power;
(c) cultural institutions deal with religious, artistic and scientific activities;
(d) stratification institutions deal with the distribution of social positions and resources; and
(e) economic institutions produce and distribute goods and services.

A term used to describe the adverse psychological effects on individuals of residence in institutions, especially of long stays in large-scale institutions, such as mental hospitals and prisons. Most frequently mentioned effects, whose precise causes are debated, are dependency, passivity, and lethargy. These effects are sometimes termed institutionalism. Therefore, institutionalisation is the process whereby social practices become sufficiently regular and continuous to be described as institutions. The notion is a useful corrective to the view that institutions are given and unchanging entities, indicating that changes in social practice both modify existing institutions and created novel forms. This is the correlate of the idea in role theory that people have some freedom to role make in their interactions with others and do not simply act our prescribed patterns of behaviour.

Approaches:

The concept of institution is widely used in sociology, though often without precise specification. Different schools of sociology treat it in different ways. For example, funcionalists can see institutions as fulfilling the needs of individuals or societies. This is the sense in which Kingsley Davis and Wilbert Moore (1945) used the term. For both of whom it was central to the notion of society as an organism or functioning system. However, as the functionalist perspective gave way to ideas based on society as being in a state of flux, with fewer consensuses over values, so the functionalist association between institution and function also withered away. The phenomenologists may concentrate on the way in which people create or adapt institutions rather than merely respond to them.
The new institutional theory, developed in the 1970s and 1980s. The basic proposition is that the actions of organisations are not determined solely by the logic of economic and technological factors, but also by the institutions which comprise their social environments. These include, for example, the state, professions, and other organisations, together with the values of culture of the broader society in which an organisation is embedded. Institutional pressures influence both organisational goals and means.

It follows from the basic proposition that organisations within a particular institutional environment should tend to be similar. For example, it is a leager rewuirement of the Germand system of Industrial democracy in large firms that employees’ representatives occupy a certain proportion of seats on company’s top board of directors and that managers also consult regularly with employees about workplace issues vial works councils. This legal framework, enacted by the state, reflects, and is reinforced by, a wider culture that values participative management. Thu business organisations in Germany are likely o share similarities in their stricture and how they are managed and to doffer from organisations in, say, the UK or USA. Institutionalists contend that organisations select institutionalised practices which are appropriate within a particular environment.
Institutional theory is a useful corrective to the notion that there is a simple link between economic and technological variables and how organisations act. This link is made in the contingency approach to organisational theory and also in the rational profit-maximising assumptions of neo-classical economics.
The current concept of institution is more fluid, seeing the family or church, for instance, as comprising changing patterns of behaviour based on relatively more stable value systems. This allows sociologists to consider the moral ambivalence of human behaviour as well as its creative effects on social change. In addition to these more global and theoretical concerns, there is also a tradition of the ethnographic study of institutions that constrain, or from some points of view determine, the behaviour of specific social groups. Chief among these are Erving Goffman's studies of total institutions—for example the mental hospital (Goffman, 1961).
In a more recent synthesis, Richard Scott (2008) argues:
Institutions are comprised of regulative, normative and cultural-cognitive elements, that, together with associated activities and resources, provide stability and meaning to social life.

Further reading:

Scott, W.R. (2008). Institutions and Organisations. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage







Anthropology of Power
Power is commonly seen as the ability to influence the decision making of the other. In turn power influences the behaviour of the other. Major anthropological descriptions of the dynamics and institutions of power have until recently had a markedly Western bias. Thus, other systems of power often have been described as alternatives or variations of those found in Western industrial contexts. Major issues informing the direction of research appear to have been influenced by the problem of order, as first laid out by Thomas Hobbes (1651) in his discussion of the need for the state. Undoubtedly, the centrality of this question for early anthropologists related to the imperial dominance of the West and the development of anthropology in such a context. An early and important focus of anthropological inquiry concerned so-called "stateless societies." EVANS-PRITCHARD's classic study of the Nuer (1940) became the model for such investigation and demonstrated that the forces located in KINSHIP and other social processes obviated any necessary need for the state in the promotion of order. Evans-Pritchard implied that state forms are a potential, given certain historical conditions such as invasion or colonial conquest, of non-state systems.

Early roots:

The concept of power is rooted from such nineteenth-century theorists of social evolution as Sir Henry MAINE (1861), who distinguished societies organized by status and by contract in LAW, and Lewis Henry MORGAN's (1877) distinction between kinship and territory as the basis for the organization of GOVERNMENT. In addition it owes much to the discussions about the relationships between moral order and SOCIAL ORGANIZATION found in the writings of Emile DURKHEIM (1933), Max WEBER (1968), and Karl Marx (1887). More recent infusions of theory have come from social scientists such as Michel Foucault (1977b), Pierre Bourdieu (1977), and Anthony Giddens (1984), who focus on the structure of POWER in society.

Power and inequality:

While most anthropological analyses of power have investigated social stratification and hierarchy, some have looked at forms of social organization which assure that power is not individually concentrated, as in the industrial collectives or collectives not organized within state societies. Just as Marx was preoccupied with the question of how labourers came to give up their labour power, anthropologists have studied historically, and prehistorically, the question of how individuals might have come to dominate groups and how one group might have come to dominate another. Archaeological theorizing of inequality has been accompanied with methodological innovations in studying relational power over time (McGuire and Paynter 1991).
Social theorists Max Weber and Émile Durkheim influenced anthropological conceptualization of bureaucratic power in state societies and the perpetuation of institutional authority. Anthropological studies of social movements and state-making, and of national policy, have furthered conceptualization of institutional power and the rituals of its replication. Legal anthropologists, too, have studied cross-culturally the different systems through which power is legitimized, enforced, and contested.

Studies on institutional power:

Anthropologists undertaking studies of institutional power must engage the debates formulated within sociology about structure and agency. C. Wright Mills (1956) argued influentially that social stratification and hierarchy are forcefully maintained by the ‘power elite’, those who, between themselves, mobilize the power to transcend ‘ordinary’ social environments and make decisions that pertain to the lives of people they will never meet, in nations they might never visit. This kind of structural analysis can be seen, for example, in anthropological studies of the itinerant power of transnational corporations. Class analysis has been used by anthropologists to study inequality in many social contexts, not all of them industrialized (see, again, McGuire and Paynter 1991). Anthropologists have also argued that class analysis has its limits, especially in contexts where exploitation is multidirectional, and have been drawn to reformulations of historical materialism, as in Giddens’s theory of structuration—in which ‘power is regarded as generated in and through the reproduction of structures of domination’ (Giddens 1981:4), across time and space, whether those structures of domination rely on the allocation of material resources (as emphasized by Marx) or on, for example, information and surveillance.

Colonial influence over the anthropology of power

Colonial process has considerable influence over anthropology of power. While colonial political structures gave rise to early anthropological studies of the distribution of power through political systems, they also stimulated a variety of intriguing critiques, led most notably in anthropology by Asad (1973) and those in his collection, Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter. Writers outside anthropology greatly influenced the way many anthropologists have conceptualized power and powerlessness, whether between colonizers and colonized or within societies as similar power relations, racialized, have been enacted. Colonial and neo-colonial relations between nations became a useful trope for anthropologists seeking to critique institutional power and the discipline of anthropology’s epistemological role in perpetuating institutionalized power relations. Colonial critiques made more obvious, for example, the ways in which ‘observers’ assigned themselves the power to summarize others’ experience (and that power was reinforced through institutional resources and legitimacy), and the ‘observed,’ as encapsulated in those analyses anyway, were without the power to define themselves or assert autonomy in many other ways. A ‘reinvented’ or ‘decolonized’ anthropology was envisioned as work done by anthropologists with diverse ethnic, class, and political identities on not only traditional topics, but also, as Nader put it (in Hymes 1969), ‘studying up’: to really learn how those who held institutional power did so, and to use that knowledge to address—rather than simply document—social inequalities.

Concept of Hegemony in anthropology and power:

Hegemony, the concept of totalizing power (in which the state and/or a popular majority dominate, through every means, ‘civil society’) articulated by Gramsci (1971), provided anthropologists with a way to think about pervasive institutionalized power. The Subaltern Studies group (Guha and Spivak 1988), worked through a critical deconstruction of colonial historiography to recognize the powerful ways in which colonial subjects had been left without a voice in strategic discussions of their dentity, resources, and future. Earlier, as anthropologists in the US and in France rethought the political role of intellectuals in reaction to their nations’ protracted war in Vietnam, the concept of hegemony became a way to think about how the state did indeed have agency, through a militarized institutional apparatus, to repress—ideologically, socially, and physically– those citizens who held contradictory views about state actions. That was also a time when, in anthropology, theories of resistance took their cue from political movements.

Foucaultian influence over anthropology of power:

The social theorist who has most shaped anthropologists’ recent discussions of power is Michel Foucault (1980), although not all those writings influenced by him reproduce Foucault’s views of power.
‘Power in the substantive sense, “le” pouvoir, doesn’t exist…power means…a more-or-less organised, hierarchical, co-ordinated cluster of relations’ (1980:198), despite the fact that it ‘is never localised here or there, never in anybody’s hands, never appropriated as a commodity’ (1980:98), never alienable or transferable. Foucault rejects what he calls the juridical/liberal/economic view of power as ‘that concrete power which every individual holds, and whose partial or total cession enables political power or sovereignty to be established’ (1980:88). Yet he sometimes reifies power as beyond individual or even collective control: ‘the impression that power weakens and vacillates…is…mistaken; power can retreat…reorganise its forces, invest itself elsewhere’ (1980:56).
In contrast to the binary views of power articulated by so many, whether cast in terms of gendered power relations focusing on patriarchy and those oppressed by it, or domination and resistance, Foucault saw power as being produced and reproduced through constant social interaction, from many different directions. He countered arguments about power as constituted through structural positions between individuals or social classes with arguments about power as being problematic, contested, and requiring constant, disciplined persuasion to convince those construed as powerless of their powerlessness and those construed as powerful of their powerfulness. Although he wrote about institutional sites as important for reproducing power relations, Foucault (1981:93) described power as ‘not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society’. Influenced by Foucault’s analysis, Kondo (1990:307) stated in her ethnography of the crafting of identity in Japan that power is ‘creative, coercive, and coextensive with meaning’. A view of power as not simply embedded in structural relations—maintained by force of one kind or another—but also as constituted through language and everyday practice (Bourdieu 1991) engendered many ethnographies exploring the specific, historicized ways in which power has been constructed and challenged in different social contexts (cf. Comaroff 1985). Foucault’s work has drawn anthropological attention to the relational aspects of power, with a concentration on the contexts of actions and interpretations, and away from structural control of resources by individuals with fairly static institutional authority. Some critics of Foucault think that attention has strayed, in the late 1980s and 1990s, too far from structural power; some feminist theorists, for example, have argued that Foucault and other writers of postmodern social criticism have—while meaning to eliminate ‘big stories’—replaced binary structural models of power which have been useful for theorizing oppression (especially by those working to understand the social mechanism of their own disempowerment) with a less useful totalizing model of overdetermination (e.g. power is everywhere, thus what social site does one go about working to transform?). They also argue that, once again, the ‘powerless’ have not been left space, or agency, in the discussion to articulate their own theories of power. (This, of course, has continued to happen despite the actions of any social theorist.) The historical focus that Foucault brought to his discussion of the disciplining of bodies and minds through hospitals, prisons, courts, and schools, has had its effect in medical, legal, and educational anthropology, or at least coincided with trends in these and other areas of anthropological study, as more anthropologists have turned from synchronic ethnographic studies to diachronic discussions of social institutions. For example, Emily Martin’s comparative study of birthing practices (1987) demonstrates the institutional ways in which women are empowered or disempowered in relation to control of their own bodies and actions. Anthropologists have been informed, also, by researchers working in sociology and other disciplines on collective—or participatory—research strategies that challenge the epistemological leverage of an ‘expert,’ whether the researcher or some other person asserting ‘legitimate authority’ in a social setting, and recentre the ‘subjects’ of study as those with the power to legitimize research design and documentation.

Further reading:

Cheater, A. (Ed.).(1999). The Anthropology of Power: Empowerment and Disempowerment in Changing Structures. London: Routledge
Lem, W., and Leach, B. (2002). Culture, Economy, Power: Anthropology as Critique and Praxis. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Lewellen, T. C., (2003). Political Anthropology: An Introduction. London: Praeger



ECONOMIC ANTHROPOLOGY
At the most basic, economic anthropology is the description and analysis of economic life, using an anthropological perspective. It is therefore important to understand what an anthropological perspective in economic life of people mean? The anthropological perspective approaches and locates aspects of people’s individual and collective lives, which is to say their lives and societies, in terms of how these aspects relate to one another in an interconnected, though not necessarily bounded or very orderly, whole. Economic anthropologists study how humans use the material world to maintain and express them-selves in social groups. Researchers examine both the material practices in which humans engage and the ideas they hold about them. As a field, economic anthropology developed in the twentieth century, but it encompasses studies of the past and draws on theories from earlier eras. A single opposition informs much of the subject: either humans live by what they produce or they produce to exchange with others from whom they secure their livelihood. All economies represent combinations of the two practices, but the patterns vary, and their interpretation occasions controversy.
Economic anthropology focuses on two aspects of economics: (1) provisioning, which is the production and distribution of necessary and optional goods and services; and (2) the strategy of economizing, often put in terms of the formalist-substantivist debate. Earlier anthropologists devoted almost all their time to the study of provisioning, but in the last half-century economizing has received substantially more attention.

Empirical approach: provisioning

The first of the approaches that gained prominence in anthropology is that the perspective is fundamentally empirical and naturalistic. It rests on the observation (empirical) of people’s lives as they live them (naturalistic). Extended participant observation, empirical naturalism, has come to define the field. Their findings report how humans gain their livelihood? The answer was a thorough understanding of Production, distribution and consumption. Subsistence strategies including agriculture, pastoralism, fishing, hunting and gathering and industrial production has been locus and focus of study. Ethnographers gather information about these and other economic features through intensive observation, through lengthy conversations and by using a variety of sampling techniques to secure quantitative data. They have been especially alert to how people are recruited and rewarded for their work, to the gender division of labour, and to the ways that burdens and rewards for women shift as the market expands into new areas.
Since the early studies of Mauss ([1925] 1990) and Malinowski (1922), exchange has also been of special interest to anthropologists who have explored how transactions may range from pure gifting to obligated gifting to barter, theft and market trade; this research in turn has stimulated studies on consumption and display. Economic anthropologists have examined as well the many ways that resources are distributed, goods are allocated, and political regimes are supported. Early on, this led to lengthy discussions concerning the conditions under which a surplus is produced in society, who secures it, and how it may be measured in non-monetary contexts. More broadly, economic anthropologists focus on the ties between material life and power, ranging from gender control of food in households to financial control of monopolies in capitalist markets. Much ethnographic data defies our common sense categories, however: for example, today farmers on marginal land may work the earth with wooden implements and seed potatoes for home consumption, while listening to tapes on headphones.

The substantivists: Polanyi

Karl Polanyi (1886–1964) was a Hungarian lawyer turned journalist and economic historian whose reading of anthropology, especially the work of Bronislaw Malinowski and Richard Thurnwald, led him to produce work that made major contributions to economic anthropology, classical Greek studies and post-Soviet eastern European social policy (Polanyi, 1936, 1944). Polanyi attempts to explain the causes of great depression and the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s (Goldfrank, 1990). His larger aim was to lay the groundwork for a general theory of comparative economics that would accommodate all economies, past and present (see Polanyi 1957; Halperin 1988, 1994a; Stanfield 1986, 1990).
In anthropology, his influence was great during the 1960s and 1970s; subsequently, his work became strongly identified with the ‘substantivist’ side of the strident and irresolvable ‘formalist–substantivist’ debate, and his prominence faded when the formalists largely won the day.
Polanyi’s master work was The great transformation (1944), in which he analysed the emergence and (in his view, disastrous) consequences of a new type of economy, market capitalism, first in England during the early nineteenth century and then in the rest of the industrialising world and its global extensions. This new economy was unique in being disembedded from the social matrix; in ideal form, at least, it commercialised and commoditised all goods and services in terms of a single standard, money, and set their prices through the self-adjusting mechanism of supply and demand. At all previous times, in contrast, ‘man’s economy … [was] submerged in his social relationships’ (Polanyi 1944: 46), and the factors of production were neither monetised nor commoditised. Instead, access to land and labour was gained through ties of kinship (birth, adoption, marriage) and community. Many pre-capitalist economies had marketplaces, but they did not have self-regulating, supply-and-demand market economies. Similarly, many employed money but only in transactions involving a limited range of goods and services.
By commoditising not only goods but also labour (‘another name for a human activity which goes with life itself’) and land (‘another name for nature’), the disembedded capitalist (market) economy of nineteenth-century England threatened to remove ‘the protective covering of cultural institutions’, leaving the common people to ‘perish from the effects of social exposure’ (Polanyi 1944: 72–3). Accordingly, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw a ‘double movement’: first, the disembedding of the economy under the self regulating market, then the emergence of countermeasures ‘designed to check the action of the market relative to labor, land, and money’ (1944: 76). These countermeasures accomplished their purpose politically, by partially re embedding the economy, typically culminating in state socialism or the welfare state.

Formalist – Substantivist debate

Formalist-Substantivist debate is the dispute in ECONOMIC ANTHROPOLOGY between those scholars who argue that formal rules of neoclassical economic theory derived from the study of capitalist market societies can be used to explain the dynamics of premodern economies ("formalists") and those who argue that goods and services in the substantive economy are produced and distributed through specific cultural contexts ("substantivists"). Formalists contend that because all economies involve the rational pursuit of, access to, and use of, scarce resources by self-interested, maximizing social actors, formal economic rules can be used to explain them (H. Schneider 1974). The subject of economics, according to the formalists, is a kind of behavior—“economizing”—that is universally applicable to situations where only limited means are available for achieving a range of ends. Herskovits endorsed this position in the 1952 reissue of his 1940 text The Economic Life of Primitive Peoples. Scarcity, he maintained, is universal, as is maximizing behavior on the part of the individual. It is only the cultural matrix within which these occur that varies. The same means are everywhere applied to achieve different ends.
The opposing view was championed by Polanyi and a group of his students from Columbia University. Polanyi analyzed the identity of the economy in contemporary capitalist society and argued that the extent of its autonomy was an absolutely novel historic development. Therefore, not only could other societies not be assumed to have assigned the same independence to economic processes, but the science premised on that independence was, ipso facto, only appropriate to our own society. The difference between the industrial capitalist economy of the West and both contemporary and historic premarket economies was one of substance—hence “substantivist”— and different forms of economy were not susceptible to analysis by a uniform method. It contends that different forms of exchange have different sets of rules and expectations (Dalton 1961). Following Karl Polanyi the substantivists argue that there are three major forms of exchange: reciprocity, redistribution and market exchange (K. Polanyi et al. 1957). By this view, the rational, maximizing strategizing that lies at the heart of neoclassical economics and formalist economic anthropology is characteristic only of market economies.

The impact of neo-classical economics: the formalists

Starting in 1966, a formalist school of economic anthropology arose in opposition to the Polanyi group’s substantivist school (see Cook 1966a , 1966b , 1969; LeClair and Schneider 1968; Schneider 1974). The formalist attack was two-pronged: (1) that the models developed by microeconomics were universally applicable and, thus, superior to substantivism for both economic anthropology and comparative economics; and (2) that economic anthropology was no longer primarily concerned with the kinds of economies (primitive, ‘archaic’ state, peasant) for which the substantivists’ tools were developed.
Harold Schneider (1974: 9), who eventually became the dominant figure in the formalist school, stated it this way: ‘The unifying element among … formalists is, in contrast to substantivists, the partial or total acceptance of the cross-cultural applicability of formal [microeconomic] theory’. The underlying methodological question was that of the proper unit of analysis. Because the formalists focused upon choice, which is always individual, their approach necessarily entailed methodological individualism. The substantivists, on the other hand, focused upon the institutional matrix in which choice occurs (see Cancian 1966: 466).
To illuminate their diverse findings, anthropologists draw upon four theories or approaches to economy, three of which were developed outside the field. Most economic anthropologists employ concepts from neo-classical economics to interpret their data. Material behaviour is seen as an organized way of arranging means to secure valued ends. The human is assumed to be self interested and rational; land, labour and capital are said to be the scarce and productive components in the economy. Livelihood practices are presumed to occur as if they were in a market: they demonstrate ways that humans calculate marginal returns, diversify risk, and measure benefit/cost ratios, often in light of imperfect information. Because social arrangements in other cultures frequently limit the working of markets, neoclassical theorists find their challenge in showing how their model of behaviour can be adapted to diverse ethnographic contexts.

The anthropological concerns:

While economists are concerned with how markets direct the actions of profit-maximising actors, anthropologists have been interested in exploring how actors’ perceptions, social relations and obligations affect their economic decisions.
The Farming Systems Research:
This wider social perspective became necessary when agricultural research stations began to design programmes to increase the productivity of small farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It became clear that an economic evaluation of the technical packages designed by agronomists did not suffice. To avoid failures, researchers had to incorporate in their analysis an evaluation of the ecological, social and political conditions of the region and the goals and preferences of farmers. They also had to consider the information that was available to producers and the risks that they had to assume. This wider approach was known as Farming Systems Research and relied on interdisciplinary teams that included anthropologists and sociologists, though in secondary roles.
One of the key findings that anthropologists and sociologists brought to Farming Systems Research was that, in non-Western societies, resources were often controlled by household or larger kin-based units rather than by individuals. Hence, production and investment decisions had to be made at the household or homestead level. Farming Systems Research adopted their recommendation; the household became the unit of analysis in surveys and assessments of production decisions (Mook 1986; Shaner, Philipp and Schmehl 1982; Turner and Brush 1987).
Research on Problem solving actors:
Rational choice is the heart of the microeconomic model of economic man, who is portrayed as a logical thinker who evaluates options and inputs consistently and coherently, and selects those that maximise his utility. Economic men and women are expected to decide ‘rationally’ how much to produce or buy and sell. If their decisions do not conform to predictions, it raises questions about social or market impediments to an efficient allocation of resources. Some economists even argue that when rational choice is possible, it is unnecessary to protect individuals from the consequences of their choices.
Anthropologists have challenged some of the assumptions of microeconomic models by focusing on how culture and social relations frame the decision process. Mayer and Glave (1999: 345) suggest that Peruvian ‘peasants evaluate profit and losses in terms of a simple cash-out and cash-in flow, ignoring household inputs and family labor’. Appadurai (1991) shows that food provision decisions by Indian women are made as part of other decisions, in a pre-attentive manner except when the problem becomes crucial. Other anthropologists have focused on how power and social conditions define options. Psychologists, instead, have focused on how decisions are made. They have examined how individuals simplify information in order to attend to their preferences and how they evaluate the uncertain outcomes they experience. Some of their findings and propositions have been used by some anthropologists to explore cropping decisions (Gladwin 1975, 1979a, 1979b, 1980) or marketing decisions (Quinn 1978).
Bargaining decisions:
Most peasants are not lone decision makers. They are forced to interact with others in order to gain access to land or labour. Peasants can expand production by borrowing, renting or sharecropping land. However, unless they have a large family they will also need to hire labourers or negotiate a reciprocal labour exchange. In either case, peasants cannot solve their problem by simply evaluating costs, risks and preferences. They have to negotiate a solution with others for labour and land. Bargaining peasants must cope with preferences and consider the transaction cost associated with each offer and counter-offer. Borrowing land may engage him in some future debt, sharecropping may limit how he can use the land.
Studies on sharecropping by anthropologists focus on power imbalance in bargain. A powerful landlord can limit access of inputs and bias the outcome of the bargain. Wells’s (1984, 1996) account of the adoption of share contracts by strawberry producers in California and the subsequent return to day- and piece-rate contracts serve to illustrate the multiple characteristics of sharecropping and the role played by government, unions and growers’ organisations in defining the nature of the contract.

Political economy and anthropology:

From the point of view of economics, the central concept in political economy is that of the ‘mode of production’. This focus on production is in sharp contrast to various forms of exchange theory, which characterised the work of both the formalist and substantivist schools of economic anthropology and which continues unabated in recent work on anthropological theories of value (Graeber 2001). The discussion begins with the themes raised in the work of the most influential group of political economists in the field of anthropology to date; the French structural Marxists, also known as the ‘articulation’ school. This trend arose in the late 1960s and exerted a major influence on economic anthropology and anthropology in general through the entire decade of the 1970s. Here the critical representatives were Claude Meillassoux, Maurice Godelier, Emmanuel Terray, Pierre-Phillipe Rey, Georges Dupré, Marc Auge as well as historians of Africa – Jean Suret-Canale and Catherine Coquery- Vidrovitch – with whom they worked closely (Seddon 1978). Today all of these anthropologists have abandoned or substantially modified their theoretical outlook with the consequence that this once highly influential school of economic anthropologists is now largely defunct. Where their influence is still strongly felt is in South African anthropology and social science, where structural Marxism was one of the inspirations leading to the efflorescence of neo-Marxist political economy (Asad and Wolpe 1976).
Structural Marxism was primarily an Africanist school, except for Godelier whose speciality is Melanesia. Their work was characterised in particular by a detailed empirical knowledge of the societies of West and Central Africa and Madagascar, which had been a part of the French African colonial empire. This was by no means the first application of a Marxist-influenced political economy in anthropology. The work of Godfrey Wilson and of Ronald Frankenberg, strongly influenced by the more processual functionalism of Max Gluckman, preceded that of the French by decades (Frankenberg 1978; Wilson 1939). This group of early British political economists was not theoretically oriented. They were primarily interested in analysing and documenting empirically the impact of British colonialism: the transformation of land tenure relations; the effects of copper mining in Zambia and of diamond and gold mining in South Africa; the breakdown of ‘tribal cohesion’ in the economies and societies of Central and Southern Africa; the rise of large scale labour migration, forced or otherwise, leading to urbanisation and ‘detribalisation’. Their work in the application of political economy in anthropology, economics and history was pioneering. It provided an invaluable account of the dire economic and social impact of colonialism in the inter-war and early post-war years.

World systems and anthropology:

Popularised by Wallerstein in his three-volume work The modern world-system (1974, 1980, 1989) and in numerous essays (for example, Wallerstein 1975, 1979, 1983, 1984, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2001). Once again there was a period of intense theoretical debate, but by the late 1980s many of the main features of world-system theory had been generally agreed (for a synthesis, see Shannon 1989).
1. The world-system arose as the different regions of the world became linked through exchange and trade into a single economic system with a distinctive division of labour between core and peripheral areas.
2. The system is based on capitalist exploitation: the appropriation of surplus value through the exploitation of the labour of the poor by the rich.
3. Individual parts of the system cannot be analysed in isolation from the others, but only in relation to the whole.
4. The world-system is an inter-state system: the world is divided into nation-states which vary widely in size and wealth, and which compete with one another for power and wealth within the capitalist system.
5. Zones within the world-system can be divided into ‘core’, ‘semiperipheral’ and ‘peripheral’ regions. The core consists of the most technologically advanced and powerful states. These rise and fall over time, so that the core moves over time. Since the start of international maritime trade in Europe, the core has been centred on Spain and Portugal, followed by Holland and England, and more recently by the United States. The states in the periphery are poorer, less advanced technologically, and their economies are often based on the export of raw materials. In between the core and the periphery lies the semiperiphery. This consists of states which are poor relative to the core but which are capable of making the transition to core status if the conditions are right. This may come about through the use of their low-wage advantage to take over some forms of production from the core countries, thus generating economic growth. The usual pattern in worldsystem theory is not for the most advanced states to continue to develop, but rather for them to be overtaken by new arrivals that find it easier to adopt the latest technology.
6. The concept of social class takes on a new meaning in world-system theory as classes are seen as transcending national borders, to become world-wide strata. They include not only capitalists and proletarians, but also petty commodity producers and a middle class of skilled and professional workers. In some cases different forms of production may exist in the same household. For instance, wage earners whose wages do not cover their living costs may have to supplement their incomes through various forms of petty commodity production. These workers have been described as ‘semi-proletarian’ and ‘super-exploited’: wages can be kept low because part of the cost of reproducing the household is met through non-wage labour economic activities. Much of the debate about the ‘informal sector’ of the economy in the 1970s and 1980s revolved around the status and role of these nonwage forms of production within the capitalist system.
7. The global class system is also cross-cut by status groups whose unity is based on culture, including nations. Nationalism is seen as a major factor preventing members of the same social classes from uniting across international boundaries.
8. Political relations with the periphery can involve various forms of domination, ranging from seizure and colonial occupation to the establishment of networks of client states by a major power, as during the Cold War. Semi-peripheral states may therefore be co-opted as regional allies of the major powers.
9. Even though the interests of the state and the national capitalist class may not be identical, they are often symbiotic. The capitalist class provides the resources on which the state depends, while the state performs a number of important roles for the capitalist class: control of the workers, foreign relations initiatives in support of local businesses and opening up new areas for exploitation as part of the periphery.
10. In the core areas, states have acquired legitimacy by allowing workers political rights and bargaining powers, concessions made possible by the inflow of resources from the periphery. On the other hand, continued exploitation of the periphery tends to result in protest and instability, and in the growth of repressive and authoritarian states.
The work of Frank and Gills (1993) on the date of the origins of the worldsystem, mentioned above, has led to other interesting possibilities for worldsystems analysis. If the world-system developed long before the capitalist period, then pre-capitalist and non-capitalist world-systems are also theoretically possible. Frank and Gills’s own analysis was historical, tracing the origins of the modern world-system back to ancient Mesopotamia, via the civilisations of Mediterranean Europe. But another possibility for the use of the world-system concept is to refine it as an ideal type for use in comparative analysis, and this has been carried out most systematically in the work of Chase-Dunn and Hall during the 1980s and 1990s. They define their core concept in the following way:
We define world-systems as intersocietal networks that are systemic … [that is] they exhibit patterned structural reproduction and development. We contend that the developmental logics of world-systems are not all the same, though they do share some general properties … We envision a sequence of changes in which thousands of very small-scale world-systems merged into larger systems, which eventually merged to become the global modern world-system … How and why did these many small systems coalesce and transform over many millennia into a single, global world-system? (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997: 4–5)
This brings out well three propositions that are central to their work. First, world-systems are intersocietal; that is, they link together societies. This derives from the old political-economy critique of modernisation theory, that societies cannot be studied in isolation from one another. Second, they are systemic, sharing general properties of development. Third, over time many world-systems have merged together, finally creating the single integrated capitalist world-system that we see today.
Chase-Dunn and Hall offer other variations on the world-system theme. Unlike many authors, they do not take core–periphery relationships for granted, but as something to be investigated in each case. In their view, a world-system could theoretically consist of a network of partners of equal status (1997: 28). They also spell out the different kinds of networks through which societies are connected with one another, based on flows of information, prestige goods, power, basic foodstuffs and raw materials. The largest networks are usually those within which information flows, followed by those in which prestige goods are exchanged. Next in size are what they call ‘political/military networks’ (PMNs), forming political units, while ‘basic goods networks’ based on the exchange of foods and raw materials tend to be smaller still.
The key dynamic for the evolution of world-systems, however, lies not in modes of production as in orthodox Marxist theory, but in modes of accumulation, defined as ‘the deep structural logic of production, distribution, exchange and accumulation’ (1997: 29). Chase-Dunn and Hall (1997: 30) distinguish four modes of accumulation: kinship modes, ‘based on consensual definitions of value, obligations, affective ties, kinship networks, and rules of conduct’; tributary modes, based on political (including legal and military) coercion; capitalist modes, based on the production of commodities; and socialist modes (which they describe as ‘hypothetical’), that is, democratic systems of distribution based on collective rationality. Different modes can co-exist within the same system, and there are also transitional and mixed systems. The final concept they use to tie all this together is that of incorporation, the process through which separate systems become linked (1997: 59). The nature of this process changes with the mode of accumulation (1997: 249).
This leads to a typology of world-systems based on the mode of accumulation, which incorporates many of the classic categories of earlier anthropology (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997: 42–4):
1. Kin-based mode dominant
a. Stateless, classless
i. Sedentary foragers, horticulturists, pastoralists
ii. 2. Big-man systems
b. Chiefdoms (classes but not states)
2. Tributary modes dominant (states, cities)
a. Primary state-based world-systems (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, Ganges Valley, China, pre-Columbian Mexico and Peru)
b. Primary empires in which a number of previously autonomous states have been unified by conquest (Agade, Old Kingdom Egypt, Magahda, Chou, Teotihuacan, Huari)
c. Multicentred world-systems composed of empires, states and peripheral regions (Near East, India, China, Mesoamerica, Peru)
d. Commercialising state-based world-systems in which important aspects of commodification have developed but the system is still dominated by the logic of the tributary modes (Afroeurasian worldsystem, including Roman, Indian, and Chinese core regions)
3. Capitalist mode dominant
a. The Europe-centred sub-system since the seventeenth century
b. The global modern world-system

Recent synthesis:

The most recent ‘grand narrative’ to provide a framework for explaining the political economy of the modern world is that of Castells in his three-volume work, The information age (1996, 1997, 1999). This work traces the impact of information technology on the world economy and social structure. It brings together a number of Castells’s earlier interests, including the role of the state in consumption (compare Castells 1977), social movements (Castells 1983) and the relationship between information technology and urban development (Castells 1989; Castells and Hall 1994). It also shows how the new technology is leading to a process of polarisation between the rich and the poor, as well as to the erosion of the nation-state and the internationalisation of organized crime. A large part of the third volume deals with regional polarization between a ‘fourth world’, consisting of much of Africa and the former Soviet Union, and the major growth poles of Europe, North America and East Asia (Castells 1999).

Further reading:

Carrier, J. G. (2005). Handbook of Economic Anthropology. Cheltenham, UK: Edward: Elgar
Castells, M. 1996. The information age: economy, society and culture, volume I. The rise of the network society. Oxford: Blackwell.
Castells, M. 1997. The information age: economy, society and culture, volume II. The power of identity. Oxford: Blackwell.
Castells, M. 1999. The information age: economy, society and culture, volume III. End of millennium. Oxford: Blackwell.
Dalton, G. 1990. Writings that clarify theoretical disputes over Karl Polanyi’s work. In The life and work of Karl Polanyi (ed.) K. Polanyi-Levitt. Montreal: Black Rose Books.
Dalton, G. and J. Köcke 1983. The work of the Polanyi group: past, present, and future. In Economic anthropology: topics and theories (ed.) S. Ortiz. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America.
Polanyi, K. 1944. The great transformation: the political and economic origins of our time. New
York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Polanyi, K. 1957. The economy as instituted process. In Trade and market in the early empires
(eds) K. Polanyi, C. Arensberg and H. Pearson. Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press.
Polanyi, K. 1977. The livelihood of man. (H.W. Pearson, ed.) New York: Academic Press.
Polanyi, K., C. Arensberg and H. Pearson (eds) 1957. Trade and market in the early empires.
Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press.
Schneider, H.K. 1974. Economic man. New York: Free Press.
Wallerstein, I. 1989. The modern world-system III: the second era of great expansion of the capitalist world-economy, 1730–1840s. San Diego: Academic Press.
Wallerstein, I. 1991. Geopolitics and geoculture: essays on the changing world system. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wallerstein, I. 1995. After liberalism. New York: New Press.
Wallerstein, I. 2000. The essential Wallerstein. New York: New Press.
Wallerstein, I. 2001. Unthinking social science: the limits of nineteenth-century paradigms. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.







CULTURE





Painting: "Binding Culture" by Joseph Muchina. http://fineartamerica.com/featured/binding-culture-joseph-muchina.html


Culture:

Culture (from Latin: cultura, meaning. "cultivation")is a term that has many different meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. However, the word "culture" is most commonly used in three basic senses:
· Excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture
· An integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning
· The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution, organization or group
The earliest anthropological use of "culture" was by E. B. TYLOR (1871), who defined it memorably as that "complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society."
Tylor's formulation can still serve today to express anthropologists' views. First, culture comprises those human traits that are learned and learnable and are therefore passed on socially and mentally, rather than biologically. Second, culture is in some sense a "complex whole." Although hotly debated, the fundamental idea that all those "capabilities and habits" can and should be considered together is a powerful one. It means that vast areas of human life, spanning everything from techniques of food production to theories of the afterlife, have some coherence and a distinct logic that can be discovered by a single discipline.

The debate: Culture plural or singular?

The focus of anthropology is upon the diversity of ways in which human beings establish and live their social lives in groups, and it is from this diversity that the anthropological notion of culture, at least in the twentieth century, is derived. This idea of the plurality of culture contrasts with the idea of culture in the singular, an interpretation that began its development in eighteenth century European thought (see Williams 1983a), and became predominant in the nineteeth century. Framed through the social evolutionary thought linked to Western imperialism, culture in the singular assumed a universal scale of progress and the idea that as civilizations developed through time, so too did humankind become more creative and more rational, that is, people’s capacity for culture increased. The growth of culture and of rationality were thought to belong to the same process. In other words, human beings became more ‘cultivated’ as they progressed over time intellectually, spiritually and aesthetically.
It was Franz BOAS who championed the concept of culture, and with it the discipline of anthropology, to challenge the elaborate and influential late-nineteenth-century theories that attributed most human differences to RACE that is, biological inheritance. Anchored in the new science of biology by evolutionary ideas, they suggested that some races, when compared to northern Europeans, were more primitive and therefore more animal-like in bodily form, mental ability, and moral development.
Boas (1911) broke the evidently seamless simplicity of this theory by showing that bodily form was not linked to language nor to any of the matters we associate with culture. In addition, he challenged the assumption that other "races" were less moral or less intelligent than northern Europeans. Whereas Tylor had spoken of "culture" in the singular, on the assumption that all societies possessed a more or less advanced version of the same heritage, Boas wrote of plural "cultures" that were different and could not be measured against some supposed single standard of advancement. Moreover, he argued that the complex forms and patterns in human life, when investigated through FIELD-WORK, were so various that they could not arise from a uniform process of social or cultural EVOLUTION, or from biological or geographical causes, but were fruits of complex local historical causes that escape simplification.
In contrast, the modern anthropological stance, on the side of cultural relativism and in confrontation with racism (cf. Boas 1911), has been startlingly liberal in its insistence that culture must always be understood in the plural and judged only within its particular context.

The Boasian influence:

These ideas were later elaborated by his students, including Edward SAPIR, Alfred KROEBER, Margaret MEAD, and Ruth BENEDICT. They argued that although human beings everywhere possessed much the same biological heritage, human nature was so plastic that it could sustain kaleidoscopically different sets of values, institutions, and behaviors in different cultures. Margaret Mead, for example, spent a long career of fieldwork demonstrating how matters that might appear to be easily explained by human biology the experience of ADOLESCENCE, patterns of SOCIALIZATION, SEX roles in society vary so greatly that no simple natural scientific explanation could comprehend them. And Kroeber espoused the notion that culture is "superorganic," possessing a unique character within itself that goes beyond anything that could arise in the course of biological evolution.
Other Boasians devoted themselves to exploring the notion of culture within the bounds of anthropology. Benedict (1934a) argued that a culture was not simply a "planless hodgepodge" or an affair of "shreds and patches," as her older contemporary Robert LOWIE supposed. Rather, each culture "discarded elements which were incongruous, modified others to its purposes, and invented others that accorded with its taste" (p. 34). The result was a way of life arranged around a few aesthetic and intellectual principles that produced a unique Weltanschauung, a WORLDVIEW. These arguments contributed to setting an aspiration that is still very powerful today: the task of the anthropologist is not just to record a myriad of details about a people, but to demonstrate a deeper unity integrating different features of a culture. Running through her, and others', arguments were an aspiration to tolerance and a mutual informing and respect among societies.

The cultural homogeneity and objectivity: a critique

Although Boas was the most important force in introducing the idea of the plurality of historically conditioned cultures into anthropology, the discipline has not always followed his insistence that culture itself is an ongoing creative process through which people continually incorporate and transform new and foreign elements. A later version of anthropology being influenced by Functionalism and Structural – functionalism and later structuralism is that the notion of the aesthetic autonomies of cultures. The idea that culture refers to a systematically harmonized whole with each therefore comprising a shared and stable system of beliefs, knowledge, values, or sets of practices held sway for a very long time in anthropology. Thus this notion of the homogeneity of culture flourished and developed through many versions, but in the direction that assumed (unlike Boas) the fixity, coherence and boundedness of cultures. In what Fabian (1998:x–xi) refers to as this ‘classical modern concept’, a position of ‘ontological realism’ is assumed with respect to culture which understands tradition as something real, to be found outside the minds of individuals, and objectified in the form of a collection of objects, symbols, techniques, values, beliefs, practices and institutions that the individuals of a culture share. On the whole, however, we see that Boas‘s most important argument, that creative process, historical contingency, and learned, socially transmitted behaviour are not in conflict, has not been widely explored until fairly recently. We find instead that the notion of culture as a coherent, bounded, and stable system of shared beliefs and actions has been a powerful twentieth-century idea that has been very difficult to shift. As intimated above there were reasons for such neglect.

The crisis of representation:

In the 1960s there was a move away from the earlier emphasis upon culture as customary or patterned behaviour, to a stress upon culture as idea systems, or structures of symbolic meaning. Each culture was understood in this later view to consist of a shared system of mental representations. As David Schneider saw it, culture consists ‘of elements which are defined and differentiated in a particular society as representing reality—the total reality of life within which human beings live and die’ (1976:206). In this view culture is not just shared, it is intersubjectively shared (cf. D’Andrade 1984). Culture, as a conceptual structure made up of representations of reality, was understood to orient,
direct, organize action in systems by providing each with its own logic. Culture gave purpose to the social system, and ensured its equilibrium. Behaviour out of sync with the system’s cultural valuations was said to be abnormal, deviant, dysfunctional, with the implication being that it was aculturally, or anticulturally, driven. It took some time for this powerful law-and-order (as Fabian dubs it) concept of culture to be seriously questioned.
However, over the past couple of decades anthropology has increasingly been involved in a crisis over its representational theories of meaning, and at the same time expressing deep regret over its former misdirected scientific hopes—those as envisioned by our more sociologically oriented masters, who used the natural sciences as the yardstick for judging our own success. What is particularly being called into account is the understanding of cultural (collective) representations as a template for social action, with its related unfortunate effect—all those anthropological portrayals of cultural dopes who act unconsciously in accordance to underlying structures of shared symbolic meaning. The world of meaning, as Roy Wagner insists (1986, 1991), cannot articulate with a natural science format, which must by the very nature of its task (of objectification) ignore, mystify, disdain, doubt personal invention and concrete imagination. Wagner, one of the most persuasive in his critique of the idea of shared, stable systems of collective representations, suggests that cultural meanings are not constituted of the signs of conventional reference, but instead ‘live a constant flux of continual re-creation’. He goes on to say that ‘the core of culture is…a coherent flow of images and analogies, that cannot be communicated directly from mind to mind, but only elicited, adumbrated, depicted’ (Wagner 1986:129).
Any fieldworker who has worked carefully with the telling and learning of myths, or the performance of rituals, should recognize the wisdom of Wagner’s insight into the poetics, creativity, individuality, inconsistencies, contradictions of such cultural processes (also see Dell Hymes (1981) on the poetics of the American North West Coast telling of myths, and Overing (1990) on the tropes and performance of Amazonian myths). As Ingold says (1994b:330, his italics), ‘what we do not find are neatly bounded and mutually exclusive bodies of thought and custom, perfectly shared by all who subscribe to them, and in which their lives and works are fully encapsulated’. What we do find can be much more challenging, and, as one antidote to the treatment of culture through the lens of representational theories of meaning and other grand theory, many anthropologists today are focusing upon the dialogics and poetics of everyday behaviour. In so doing the primary concern is with living, experiencing, thinking, affectively engaged human beings who follow (in varying degrees and a myriad of manners) particular lifeways. It is antagonistic toward all those attempts to create ‘objective’ abstract structures that have the effect of dismissing much of what the rest of the world has to say.

The question of practice:

There is much, it would seem, that representational theorists omit in the experiencing of culture (also see Ingold 1994b). First, while it is meaning systems that is their primary concern, it is cogent to stress that these systems are creations of the anthropologist, and not of the people who supposedly ‘follow’ them. The usual claim is that, for the people, the ‘system’ and the mental representations that comprise it are unconsciously followed. Thus the meaning-creating, speaking, socially occupied person (whether from Chicago, Italy or Timbuktu) is omitted. As too is all practice in which he or she engages, and this by definition since the symbolist view of culture excludes behaviour.
What, we may ask, is the relation between meaning and practice? between mind and body? concept and performance? The present trend is to oppose the representational view of the body as a passive instrument, and thus time and again we find in today’s literature across a range of disciplines—in anthropology (e.g. Wagner 1986, 1991; Fabian 1983, 1998; Ingold 1994b), cognitive psychology (e.g. Shanon 1993), philosophy (e.g. Meløe 1988a, 1988b) and culture theory (e.g. de Certeau 1997)—the plea to recognize embodied meaning, that is, to wed concept and practice, the perceiving with the acting agent. We might say that there is no such thing as ‘a culture’, or rather that ‘culture should
not be a noun, but a verb: “to culture”, or “culturing”’ (Overing 1998; also see Friedman 1994:206). As Ingold notes (1994b:330, his italics), ‘it might be more realistic…to say that people live culturally rather than they live in cultures’. For most people around the world, culturing is an endless and ever ongoing, overt activity, which ill fits the social scientist’s categories. From the Amazonian perspective culture time and again refers to the skills for action, which conjoin (independent) thinking and a sensual life, that individuals have, mould and use to live a particular human life. However, to reunite the body, the sensual, acting, feeling, emotive aspects of self, with the thinking, language-knowing self creates havoc with most modernist versions of culture. As should only be expected, debates today on the implications of a more phenomenological approach to culture for the future development of anthropology have a certain edge, a passion and often a political as well as academic challenge to them.

Further reading:

Rapport, N. and Overing, J. (2000). Key concepts in Social and Cultural anthropology, London: Routledge
Barfield, T. (1997). The Dictionary of Anthropology, Oxford: Blackwell
The sage encyclopedia of Anthropology. (These books are available in the E-book section of the department)



Social Movement



Introduction

Social movements are fuzzy phenomena with unclear boundaries. They may relatively quickly expand or shrink and change their structure and strategy. This makes it difficult to identify, let alone empirically study social movements. Besides political parties and formal pressure groups, social movements can be seen as a major form of collective will formation and interest representation in modern societies. They usually signal structural strains in a given society and tend to challenge the established power holders by various means of protest. While many social movements failed to reach their aims, others had partial and few even had full success. In exceptional moments of history, social movements were able to bring about a new social and/or political order.

Definition and features

The term social movement refers to a specific kind of collective actor, namely a network of individuals, groups, and organizations who, based on a sense of collective identity, aim at changing society (or to resisting such a change) mainly by means of public and collective protest (della Porta & Diani, 1999; Rucht & Neidhardt, 2002).
Therefore, first, in structural terms, a social movement is a loosely coupled conglomerate of different components. Contrary to specific social movement organizations which may have formal statutes, a rigid division of labor, and a clearly defined membership, social movements are networks
which, by definition, are mainly horizontally and informally coordinated. Such a network can include one or several core groups. Yet there is no central body which would be able to control and dominate the movement as a whole. In terms of degrees of involvement of individuals, a social movement can be conceived as a set of concentric circles ranging from highly committed activists in the core section to the periphery of mere sympathizers who only occasionally express their support to the movement.
Second, in terms of its aims, a social movement seeks to fundamentally change society (or to resist such changes). Ultimately, it targets the prevailing social order including its power structure and basic values. Because a power structure also crystallizes in political institutions and processes, a social movement is necessarily involved in political struggles. Still, it makes sense to distinguish a broadly conceived social movement from more narrowly defined collective actors who primarily focus on political, cultural, or religious matters and could be termed as political, cultural, or religious movements, respectively.
Third, regarding its means of cohesion, a social movement rests on a sense of collective identity, i.e., a we feeling based on shared worldviews, values, claims, and practices that allow to separate the movement as an (imagined) entity from mere bystanders and, above all, from the movement’s opponents. Collective identity is not a pre-existing and stable property based on a self definition only. Rather, it emerges and develops in interaction with the movement’s environment which, to some extent, also shapes the movement’s identity.
Fourth, social movements strongly rely on the commitment of their constituents who, from time to time, are mobilized in protest activities. These are the major tool to make the movement seen and heard beyond its own ranks. It depends on structural and situational factors whether or not a social movement mainly engages in direct confrontation with an adversary or, especially in democratic systems, tries to influence its opponents indirectly by attracting public attention and, hopefully, support. The strategies and, even more so, the specific forms of protest may vary greatly within and across movements. Some movements tend towards a reformist, others towards a revolutionary strategy. But as many historical examples demonstrate, the same movement may include a moderate and a radical tendency. Accordingly, the specific protest actions range from friendly (e.g., collection of signatures) to confrontational (e.g., blockades) to violent means (physical aggression and destruction). Whether or not terrorism should be included in the concept of social movements is disputed. Based on the broad definition proposed here, there would be no reason to set terrorism completely apart, though very few movements systematically resort to extreme violence.

Theories of social movements:

Several perspectives used for understanding social movement include classical approach, rational choice, resource mobilization, new social movement, and political opportunity structure.









A social movement, although it may have secondary aims to promote the development of a subculture, is inherently and fundamentally a political phenomenon since its target is the state. This contention is more clearly demonstrated if we start with Max Weber's (1958) definition of the state as ``a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.'' Since the state holds this legal use of coercive power, it reserves a position as the primary distributor of rights and resources. A social movement, in its attempt to acquire these resources to promote structural change, must view the state as both an objective and an antagonist. Thus, a movement requires the resources of the state it abhors in order to alter that state. An antagonistic relationship exists between the state and the social movement, or between those individuals who hold political power and those who are effectively disenfranchized. Hence, social movements embody sustained collective challenges against political elites and authorities led by people with a common purpose and who lack regular access to existing political institutions.

Classical and Rational Choice theory:

Classical and rational choice theories are micro-level analyses, which mean that they focus on individual motivation to participate in a social movement. Why does an individual choose to participate? As such, these theories concentrate on the existence of individual grievances. Given their base assumption that democratic society is essentially pluralistic or that all voices are heard, classical and rational choice theories perceive collective behavior as fundamentally irrational and indicative of some kind of psychological imbalance; collective action thereby falls outside the realm of legitimate politics.

Resource mobilisation theory:

Encountering the increase of collective behavior in the 1960s, the evidence that participants in such action did not suffer from some psychological dysfunction, and increasing belief that American politics was elitist rather than pluralistic, students of social movements developed a new theory, resource mobilization, to understand the formation of such activity. A caveat of an elite-managerialist theory of democracy is that grievances perpetually exist: ``there is always enough discontent in any society to supply grass-roots support for a movement if a movement is organized and has at its disposal the power and resources of some established elite group;”[1] the centrality of organizational needs and resources, e.g., money, labor, office space, is established as a primary factor in movement development. The research question is altered from why individuals participate to how such participation is possible. In short, resource mobilization is a mesolevel analysis focusing on organizational requirements of social movements.
Classical theory, rational choice, and resource mobilization cluster about the stereotypical American school, which emphasizes individual or collective agency, as opposed to the more Marxist perspective, which places stress on structure. In none of the three theories discussed above is any reference made to traditionally Marxist notions of solidarity, collective identity, or collective (class) consciousness.

New Social Movement theories:

The aim of new social movement theory is to explain the existence of post-1960 movements which do not turn on class consciousness, but on identity – a phenomenon of advanced industrial and/or late-capitalist society – while simultaneously reviving a traditional Marxist interpretation through the incorporation of the participants' collective identity.[2] New social movement theory is a collection of neo-Marxist theories operating at the intersection of micro- and macro-analytic spheres; it seeks to understand why individuals participate in collective behavior via reference to grievance articulation while also claiming the structuralist view that identity is shaped by the overarching circumstances and dynamics of advanced industrial society.

Political Opportunity Structure (POS):

In response to new social movement theory, the American school was forced to focus more fully on macro-level analysis, that is, the interaction between the state and the social movement without relying on a Marxist interpretation. Political opportunity structure (POS) filled this theoretical gap. Political opportunity structures refer not to necessarily permanent nor formal configurations of political institutions and historical precedents for social mobilization which protesters can exploit to promote collective action.[3] In essence, at a macro-level then, social movement formation boils down to a question of timing; as sociologist Sidney Tarrow notes, ``People join in social movements in response to political opportunities and then, through collective action, create new ones. As a result, the `when' of social movement mobilization – when political opportunities are opening up ± goes a long way towards explaining its `why.'' Therefore, political opportunity structure is a macro-analysis that evaluates how different governing structures affect mobilization by providing possible institutional opportunities such as electoral realignments; hence, POS is useful when comparing and contrasting similar movements in different countries.

Political Process Model (PPM):

All theories are relatively incapable of accurately depicting and evaluating historical circumstance; however, some are better able to minimize the distorting lens. The aim, when understanding social movements, is not to develop a totalizing theory that accounts for every potential variable, but to derive a model which can answer the foundational questions of any given analysis. In this case: why people participate (micro-level), how they (afford to) participate (meso-level), and when they participate (macro-level). Each of these questions underlies a specific focus whether it be oriented toward individual motivation, organizational resources, or the external/institutional environment.
The political process model (PPM) accomplishes this by successfully navigating the junctures of the micro-, meso-, and macroanalytical levels to isolate three crucial factors in the development of collective insurgency: changing opportunity, pre-existing organizational strength, and cognitive liberation coupled with collective identity formation. PPM is essentially made up of two distinct but related dynamics: movement formation and movement maintenance. The first part is represented by the tri-factor interaction of a changing opportunity structure, organizations to seize control of this opportunity, and the psychological alteration of a minority group from an isolated victimized perspective to a sense of collective empowerment. The second part of the model refers to the actions of the organizations that make up the movement. These networks are sometimes called pressure groups, special interests, or interest groups. Unlike a movement, interest groups are characterized by defined membership, permanent staff, and fiscal responsibilities. More importantly, whereas a movement is sometimes characterized as acting outside of the political system, interest groups navigate from within it.[4] They interact with the political institutions – the legislative-executive system, the judiciary structure, and the political party dynamics of a state - in an attempt to reform the ruling ideology.

[1] For more detailed synopsis of the classical approach see Doug McAdam, ``The Classical Model of Social Movements Examined'' in Social Movements: Perspectives and Issues, eds. Steven M. Buechler and F. Kurt Cylke, Jr. (Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1997) 135±48; William Kornhouser, ``The Politics of Mass Society'' in Social Movements: Perspectives and Issues, eds. Steven M. Buechler and F. Kurt Cylke, Jr. (Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1997), 91±7; Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965); John Elster, Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 22±42, 124±73.
[2] Hank Johnston, Enrique Larana, and Joseph Gusfield, ``Identities, Grievances, and New Social Movements'' in Social Movements: Perspectives and Issues, eds. Steven M. Buechler and F. Kurt Cylke, Jr. (Mountain View, California: May®eld Publishing Company, 1997), 274±94. Alberto Melucci, ``The New Social Movements: A Theoretical Approach,'' Social Science Information 19 (2) 1980, 119±26.
[3] Herbert Kitschelt, ``Political Opportunity Structures and Political Protest: Anti-Nuclear Movements in Four Democracies'' in American Society and Politics, eds. Theda Skocpol and John L. Campbell (New York: McGraw Hill, Inc., 1995), 321. Tarrow, Power in Movement, 85.
[4] Ronald J. Hrebenar, Interest Group Politics in America (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1997)










Contents:



History of Anthropology: with special emphasis on European continent

The word ‘anthropology’ is ultimately from the Greek (anthropos, ‘human’, plus logos, ‘discourse’ or ‘science’). Its first usage to define a scientific discipline is probably around the early sixteenth century (in its Latin form anthropologium). Central European writers then employed it as a term to cover anatomy and physiology, part of what much later came to be called ‘physical’ or ‘biological anthropology’. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, European theologians also used the term, in this case to refer to the attribution of human-like features to their deity. The German word Anthropologie, which described cultural attributes of different ethnic groups, came to be used by a few writers in Russia and Austria in the late eighteenth century (see Vermeulen 1995). However, this usage did not become established among scholars elsewhere until much later.

The confusing beginning:

If we restrict ourselves to anthropology as a scientific discipline, some would trace its roots back to the European Enlightenment during the eighteenth century; others would claim that anthropology did not arise as a science until the 1850s, yet others would argue that anthropological research in its present-day sense only commenced after the First World War. It is beyond doubt, however, that anthropology, considered as the science of humanity, originated in the region we commonly but inaccurately call ‘the West’, notably in three or four ‘Western’ countries: France, Great Britain, the USA and, until the Second World War, Germany. Historically speaking, this is a European discipline, and its practitioners, like those of all European sciences, occasionally like to trace its roots back to the ancient Greeks.

The enlightenment:

The eighteenth century saw a flowering of science and philosophy in Europe. During these years, the self-confidence of the bourgeoisie increased, citizens reflected on the world and their place in it, and would soon make political demands for a rational, just, predictable and transparent social order. As Philosophers like As Hobbes, Locke and Descartes had argued, the free individual was to be the measure of all things – of knowledge and of the social order – the authority of God and Ruler was no longer taken for granted.
Traditional religious beliefs were increasingly denounced as superstitions – roadblocks on the way to a better society, governed by reason. The idea of progress also seemed to be confirmed by the development of technology, which made its first great advances at this time. New technologies made scientific measurements more accurate. Industrial machinery began to appear. Descartes’ purely theoretical attempt to prove the universal truth of mathematics suddenly became a practical issue of burning relevance. For if mathematics, the language of reason, could reveal such fundamental natural truths as Newton’s laws, did it not follow that nature was itself reasonable, and that any reason-driven enterprise was bound to succeed? All of these expectations culminated abruptly in the French Revolution, which attempted to realise the dream of a perfectly rational social order in practice, but was quickly superseded by its irrational opposite: the revolution devoured its children. And then all the dreams, the disappointments, the paradoxes of the Revolution spread during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s to all of Europe and deeply influenced the ideas of society that later generations would develop.

Few early works:

In eighteenth century with the age of reason, it was the beginning of considering anthropology as science. An important early work was by Italian scholar Giambattista Vico’s (1668–1744) La scienza nuova (1725; The New Science, 1999). This was a grand synthesis of ethnography, history of religion, philosophy and natural science. Vico was among the first to embrace the idea of social progress explicitly. He proposed a universal model of social development, arguing that all societies must go through three stages, with particular, formally defined characteristics. The first stage was the ‘Age of Gods’, an age of nature worship and rudimentary social structures, traits that Vico associated with ‘primitive’ peoples. Then came
the ‘Age of Heroes’, with widespread social unrest due to great social inequality – both the European Middle Ages and Vico’s own time have doubtlessly served as models here. The final stage, the ‘Age of Man’ was an envisioned future era ruled by reason.
Baron de Montesquieu’s work on comparative, cross-cultural study of legislative systems uses first hand and second hand data to find out general principles in legal systems. He is sometimes identified as being proto functionalist. It is because he sees polygamy, cannibalism, paganism, slavery and other barbarous customs could be explained by the functions they fulfilled within society as a whole.
Yet another step towards a science of anthropology was taken by a group of young, idealistic French intellectuals. These were the Encyclopaedists, led by the philosopher Denis Diderot (1713–84) and the mathematician Jean Le Rond d’Alembert (1717–83). Their aim was to collect, classify and systematise as much knowledge as possible in order to further the advance of reason, progress, science and technology. Diderot’s Encyclopédie was published in 1751–72, and included articles by illustrious intellectuals like
Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu. The encyclopaedia quickly established itself as a model for later projects of its kind. It was a liberal and wide-ranging, not to say a revolutionary work, which was censored in many parts of Europe for its crude criticism of the Church. One of its youngest contributors, Marquis de Condorcet (1743–94), who was to die prematurely in a Jacobin jail, wrote systematic comparisons between different social systems, and tried to develop a synthesis of mathematics and social science that would allow him to formulate objective laws of social development.
For Rousseau development was not progressive, but degenerative, and that the source of this decline was society itself. Starting from an initial, innocent state of nature, where each individual lived by herself in harmony with her surroundings, people went on to found institutions of marriage and kinship, and settled in small, sedentary groups. Eventually, these groups grew in complexity, and invented priests and chiefs, kings and princes, private property, police and magistrates, until the free and good soul of man was crushed under the weight of social inequality.
Between Nepolian war and First World War Europe becomes ‘modernize’ and in consequence it ‘modernizes’ the entire world. The major change that has taken place is that the Europe has transformed from the an agriculture nation to industrially sound nation. In 1830s the railway was established. A massive social change was on the row. In consequence, several peasant economics have now been transformed to a working class labourers. This social change leaves profound influence over the country at large. Several social thinkers have seen it as something having a detrimental effect over the society at large. the French, Austrian and Italian revolutions in 1848–9, the Paris Commune of 1870, also clearly indicate the potential for violence that industrialisation unleashed. And along with the protests, a new, socialist ideology grew. Its roots go back to social philosophers such as Rousseau and Henri de Saint-Simon (1760–1825), and to the German neo-Hegelians, but its decisive formulation came with Karl Marx.
Around the same time period, Charles Darwin’s massive work “origins of species” appears with a potential for a Global science.

The Rigorous Anthropological practice: a possibility

It is hardly surprising that anthropology arose as a discipline at this time. The anthropologist is a prototypical global researcher, dependent on detailed data about people all over the world. Now that these data had suddenly become available, anthropology could be established as an academic discipline. So could sociology. If anthropology grew from imperialism, sociology was a product of the changing class relations brought about by industrialisation in Europe itself – all the founding fathers of sociology discuss
the meaning of ‘modernity’, and contrast it with ‘pre-modern’ conditions.

Anthropology in Europe:

Giving an account of the history of Anthropology in Europe is a challenging to task to apprehend, primarily because the anthropological work in Europe is quite complex and often does not follow any linear progression.

The British Social Anthropology:

The British tradition of anthropology is known as "Social anthropology". It is a term applied to ethnographic works that attempt to isolate a particular system of social relations such as those that comprise domestic life, economy, law, politics, or religion give analytical priority to the organizational bases of social life, and attend to cultural phenomena as somewhat secondary to the main issues of social scientific inquiry.

The evolutionist paradigm:

Inspired by enlightenment philosophy of progress based on reason Early anthropologists tend to focus on society and culture in progress. Among the early evolutionists, H. Spencer is an important figure. Like his older contemporary Auguste Comte, whom he admired and to some extent sought to emulate, he set himself the task of covering all the fields of human knowledge, from physics to ethics. Like Comte, he felt the task only possible if he could discover an overall unifying principle. Sometime in the 1840s Spencer decided that this principle was evolution. First enunciated in an essay of 1852, "The development hypothesis," evolution became the guiding thread of a whole "system of synthetic philosophy" that he expounded in a succession of major works stretching over half a century: The principles of psychology (1855), First principles (1862), The principles of biology (1864 7), The principles of sociology (1876), and The principles of ethics (1892 3). In between came a stream of essays on such subjects as population, progress, parliamentary reform, manners, morals, the philosophy of style, the physiology of laughter, and the function of music many of which were collected together by him as Essays: scientific, political and speculative (1858 74). Although these too tended to take evolution as the axiomatic principle, they mostly managed to evade its restrictive and rigid embrace and although as much ignored today as his larger works they contain some of Spencer's most imaginative and interesting ideas. The fundamental argument to his idea was that human society moves from instable homogeneity to relatively stable heterogeneity.
One of the most notable among the evolutionists is E.B.Tylor. The theory, outlined in his two-volume Primitive culture (1871), laid out an idea of progress in which human societies evolved and improved through time. Tylor argued that all human beings had similar intellectual potential. He rejected the notion, common at the time, that contemporary primitive societies had degenerated after a common Biblical origin. As a basis for demonstrating his evolutionary sequences, Tylor employed what he called the "doctrine of survivals." Survivals were obsolete or archaic aspects of culture preserved from one stage of social evolution into another. Living cultural fossils, they could provide clues to the past and proved that contemporary stages of culture must have evolved from earlier ones. Tylor's evolutionism differed from that of SPENCER and MORGAN by concentrating more on such humanist topics as the evolution of RELIGION, particularly ANIMISM, and less on material culture. He defined animism as the belief in spiritual beings and argued it was the basis of all religions, developing an elaborate evolutionary sequence that ran from a multiplicity of spirits to monotheism.
The functionalist paradigm.

Diffusionist and historical particularist:

Franz Boas German anthropologists started his fieldwork investigation in 1883 when Anthropology did not have any solid ground. Boas (1938) argued that although the independent invention of a culture trait can occur at the same time within widely separated societies where there is limited control of individual members, allowing them freedom to create a unique style, a link such as genetic relationship is still suspected. He felt this was especially true in socities where there were similar combinations of traits (Boas 1938:211). Boas emphasized that culture traits should not be viewed casually, but in terms of a relatively unique historical process that proceeds from the first introduction of a trait until its origin becomes obscure. He sought to understand culture traits in terms of two historical processes, diffusion and modification. Boas used these key concepts to explain culture and interpret the meaning of culture. He believed that the cultural inventory of a people was basically the cumulative result of diffusion. He viewed culture as consisting of countless loose threads, most of foreign origin, but which were woven together to fit into their new cultural context. Discrete elements become interrelated as time passes (Hatch 1973:57-58).

The functionalist:

Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942, Poland-Britain-The United States)

Bronislaw Malinowski is credited with Functionalism, which explains a culture as an interrelated whole, not a collection of isolated traits. Based on his fieldwork in various areas of the world, particularly the Trobriand Islands in New Guinea, Malinowski established the theory of Functionalism. A culture is composed of many different elements, such as food acquisition, family relationships, and housing. Malinowski believed that all of these elements are connected and work together for one purpose, which is to meet the needs of individuals in the culture. In other words, culture exists to satisfy the basic biological, psychological, and social needs of individuals.
Malinowski is known for his psychological analysis. A classic example is his analysis on magic. In Trobriand Islands, magic was used for various purposes, such as to kill enemies and prevent being killed, to ease the birth of a child, to protect fishermen, and to ensure harvest. Malinowski hypothesized that magic is reliable in domains where there is a limited amount of scientific knowledge. Magic appears to work in these areas because people cannot handle situations with systematic knowledge. For example, the Trobriand Islanders did not practice magic when they fished inside a protected coral reef because they were able to predict catch and safety by weather and the conditions of the sea. In contrast, they did rely on magic when they went ocean fishing because it was difficult to predict unknown dangers and the amount of fish they might harvest. Based on this data, Malinowski argued that magic has a profound function in exerting human control over those dimensions that are otherwise outside of our element. The essential function of magic is to extend control over uncontrollable elements of nature and thereby reduce anxiety.
Malinowski is also known as a pioneer of fieldwork, which is intense and long-term research conducted among people in a particular community. He set criteria for fieldwork and brought this method to a fundamental element of the discipline. His criteria require anthropologists to actually live in communities and to acquire the language of the people among whom they are conducting their researches.

Alfred Radcliffe-Brown (1881-1955, Britain)

Alfred Radcliffe-Brown is credited with Structural Functionalism, which analyzes particular social systems in a wider context of many different societies. Radcliffe-Brown was concerned with what keeps societies from falling apart. He identified similar customs in different societies and compared them in order to discover the customs’ inherent functions. Through this comparative method, he attempted to explain underlying principles that preserve the structure of each society.
For example, Radcliffe-Brown analyzed exogamous moieties in aboriginal societies of Australia, Melanesia and America. An exogamous moiety is a custom in which a population is divided into two social divisions and a man of one group must marry a woman of another. Since these three different aboriginal societies had almost no contact in history, it is surprising that they shared the custom of exogamous moieties. How can this phenomenon be explained? Radcliffe-Brown found that the two social divisions of exogamous moieties within each culture were named after a pair of animals or birds which are similar, such as coyote and wild cat, or eaglehawk and crow. He argued that these animal pairs represent opposing characteristics of a society, for example, friendship and conflict, or solidarity and opposition. According to Radcliffe-Brown, those aboriginal societies incorporate the dual divisions in their kin systems in order to keep the balance between these opposing characteristics. This balance is important for the stability of the whole society.
Radcliffe-Brown successfully explained many aspects of family structures that other anthropologists viewed as primitive customs. His analysis of social structure and function encouraged anthropologists to look at how a particular custom plays a role in maintaining social stability. At the same time, his analysis was criticized for not considering historical changes of traditional societies, especially those caused by Western colonialism.

The African Political System: An Anthropological Landmark

Influential, branch of political anthropology has its origins in the experience of anthropological FIELDWORK and the very practical concerns associated with locating order in non-Western societies. This was the explicit aim of the founding work in the field, African political systems (Fortes & Evans-Pritchard 1940b). Based on a set of descriptions and analyses of centralized and decentralized systems of governance in Africa, societies were divided into two types: "primitive states" that possessed government institutions and "stateless societies" that did not. This work, and examples of detailed fieldwork on political systems such as EVANS-PRITCHARD'S (1940) among the Nuer and FORTES's (1945) among the Tallensi, inspired a generation of fieldworkers to concentrate on the varied ways in which political order might be embedded in KINSHIP relations, RITUAL practices, AGE SYSTEMS, and other order-keeping institutions that did not require separate institutions of government. Such a focus was of clear concern to colonial administrators anxious to understand how to govern and control "subject" peoples, and the role anthropologists may have played in aiding COLONIALISM has been the subject of considerable debate in recent decades (Asad 1973; Kuklik 1991). It is clear, however, that the results of such work, particularly in Africa, pushed anthropology in a number of new directions.

The Early post war anthropology:

The devastation that brought forth by the Second World War brings immediate challenge of making policies and arranging funding for revival of their economy. One of the immediate responses was the formation of International Monetary Fund an outcome of Bretton Woods’ agreement.
The primary problem encountered by policy makers was to implement the development agenda based on the principles of Modernisation. The modernization theory argued that development can be achieved through Fund Injection based on the principles of Evolutionist paradigm, i.e. society progresses through unilinnear stages of social evolution. In this context, it becomes important to understand the cultural differences and not to take it as unnecessary barrier to implement market economy. In consequence peasant values and their interaction with state becomes a central concern. In USA, studies along this line gains prominence. Redfield (1971, 1956); Foster 1973 (1962); Friedl (1958) find their works as having practical application to policy making and development discourse. The growing interest in peasant societies prompted a number of ethnographic studies, focused initially on Central and South America and on Southern Europe, but rapidly coming to include other areas, and more general discussions and a dialogue between anthropologists and other specialists. Psychological tests utilized by Banfield were also resorted to by other researchers, such as Anne Parsons (1967) in her study of the urban poor of Naples. The anthropologist was concerned not only with defining cultural institutions and values, but also with the enculturation of individuals. In some instances this was linked to the recognition of wider sets of allegiances and a wider cultural context (Benedict 1946a,b; Friedl 1959; Lowie 1954). Although the dominant themes at this time were peasant orientations rather than national cultures (but see Lowie 1954) and 'community', meaning small, homogeneous and relatively self contained groups, there was an increasing awareness of the links between such 'communities' and wider entities and processes. It is in recognition of these connections that, in the Mexican context, Redfield proposed the 'folk-urban continuum' and the distinction between the 'great tradition' and the 'little tradition' (Redfield 1971 [1956]). There was some convergence at this time between the work of US and British anthropologists, although in Britain, owing to its position within the post-colonial world, most anthropologists were not fired with the same enthusiasm over the applicability of their research as were their North American counterparts. Here the agenda was less clear, and the concern with 'applied anthropology' was less prominent at this point. However, the continuing (though increasingly beleaguered) influence of the structural-functionalist paradigm did result in some interesting parallels between cultural and social anthropology - particularly when the focus of study was European societies.

The 1960s: the construction of Mediterranean

In 1959, a conference sponsored by Winner-green foundation anthropologists first discuss on the Mediterranean value of Honour and Shame. Following this, in 1963, several seminars discuss on 'continuity and persistence of Mediterranean modes of thought'. Peristiany (1974 [1966]) clearly finds this meetings as the initial steps in the formulation of a problematic that could define and orientate a Mediterranean field of investigation, based on his belief that the cultural parallels encountered within the area made for the possibility of systematic comparisons. Pitt-Rivers, who in many respects represents a landmark in the development of anthropology of Europe, discusses the concept of Honour in the literature of Western Europe. In spIte of his more general treatment of honour, his discussion reinforces the view, already stated by Peristiany, of honour as a ­ode relevant to a social system which had largely been superseded in North-Western Europe; a value-system associated largely with aristocrats, clergy and poets of former times. Pitt-Rivers suggests that the mobility of the upper classes, combined with urban life in Spain to expose individuals to cosmopolitan influences, and these influences are incompatible Wl­ ­e values of honour and shame. This constitutes a way of defmmg the area of expertise of the anthropologist: the area of study appears to correlate with the relative progress of modernization and of the 'great tradition', restricting research to smaller populations where 'traditional' values might persist. Pitt-Rivers' work as an anthropological account because it is based primarily on direct observation. 'The people he writes about are real people and not figures taken from the printed page of units in statistical tables' (Pitt-Rivers 1971 [1954]: x). What constitutes an anthropological study is, therefore, the specific object of study (a complex set of interpersonal relations and their value systems) and the method of research employed (participatory observation).

The 1970s: expansion and fragmentation – work at home

Changes in the discipline during the 1970s were prompted not only by the limitations and failures of the structural-functionalist paradigm and the modernization perspective, but also by developments in the wider political arena. The late sixties saw a wave of protests and unrest across Europe. The thirdworld perspective was established. The Cold War division of Europe into Soviet and Nato camps was again showing signs of strain. In this situation, Cole (1977) argues that Europe has provided funding to carry our anthropological research on allies and enemies in Europe. Davis (1977) finds Anthropologists lack of interest in doing fieldwork on Europe, as they find it more anthropological to carry out fieldwork in remote corners of African world. Nonetheless, this is perhaps the period when a distinctive anthropology of Europe develops. Freeman (1973) is one of the first anthropologists who attempts to outline the scope and achievements of studies in rural European social Organisation. Analysis of patron-client relations (Wolf 1966b) becomes one of the central concers of Mediterranean anthropologists. Boissevain’s (1975) essay entitled “Towards a social anthropology of Europe” was the first systematic attempt to define an agenda for the emerging “anthropology of Europe”. He further argues that the concepts like equilibrium, corporation, balanced opposition, reciprocity and consensus, developed from the study of Non-Western, Tribal societies were of limited value for dealing with complexity of European societies. Nor was the traditional research technique of participant-observation alone any longer sufficient. For him, anthropologists needed new methods to enable them in studying the liks between different levels of organizations – Local, Regional, National, Core and Periphery. In short they need to focus on the interrelationship between local events and macro social processes of “State formation, national integration, industrialization, urbanization, bureaucratization, class conflict and commercialization (Boissevain 1975).
One alternative to functionalism was the 'action' approach, pioneered by Barth (1966; 1969), Goffman (1959), and Barnes (1972), and elaborated, in European anthropology, in the work of Boissevain and Bailey and their students. Their work focused on individuals and the stratagems they employ within a given socio-political framework. 'Action theory' covered a variety of approaches, including transactionalism, network analysis, systems analysis and game theory. What united them was an emphasis on the dynamic character of interpersonal exchanges. Instead of looking at the individual as a passive and obedient slave to group norms and pressures, Boissevain stressed that 'it is important to see him as an entrepreneur who tries to manipulate norms and relationships for his own social and psychological benefit' (Boissevain 1974: 6).
For European anthropologists it did provide new research foci and a framework for analyzing elements of the complexity of European societies that had been invisible to functionalist analysis - even if its micro-perspective tended to obscure the wider picture. However, that shift of focus led to the elaboration of a number of new analytical concepts, as well as to a re-evaluation of some old concerns, such as 'patron-client relations', 'micro-politics', 'brokers', 'middlemen', 'informal and non-corporate groups', 'cliques', 'factions and action-sets' and 'instrumental friendship' (d. Banton 1966; Bailey 1971; 1973; Blok 1974; Boissevain 1966, 1968, 1974; Gellner and Waterbury 1977; Wolf 1966b).

1980s and 1990s the conceptualization of Europe:

The economic interdependence among European states and expansion of market economy as well rising increase in contact have made it possible to take Europe as an unit of analyisis. There is political level integration in Europe which brings forth ever increasing consolidation forming the European Union. In this context the study of different religious possibilities including the Catholic-Protestant debate. The nature of anthropological enquiry includes correlation between Protestantism, Liberalism and economic development (MacFarlane, 1978), and Orthodoxy, authoritarianism and economic underdevelopment (Haller, 1990). Anthropological phenomena such as religion, family form and political orientation (Todd, 1985) become the locus and focus of research. Wallace (1990) illustrates the ways in which Europe has been defined in recent years on the basis of shared values, culture and psychological identity (Wallace 1990).

Future directions:

The close of the twentieth century represents a momentous period in the history of Europe, but at present we can only have a hazy picture of what is likely to emerge in the future. As social scientists we have had to confront major international events: the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe, the end of the Cold War, increasing integration of the economies of the European Union, the breakdown of Yugoslavia and protracted war throughout Bosnia. We have simultaneously witnessed prolonged economic recession and mass unemployment, as well as increasing right-wing violence throughout eastern and western Europe. Yet we face these phenomena often bereft of suitable anthropological categories. Although many' classical' anthropologists have contributed to the issues of nationality and nationalism anthropology as a whole has been limited by its emphasis on small-scale units. Where progress has been made, largely through profitable exchanges with sociologists and social historians, this has been limited to developments appropriate only to the national state.

Further reading:

Barfield, T. (1997). The Dictionary of Anthropology, USA: Blackwell.
Goddard, Victoria A., Uobera, Josep R., Shore, Cris. (1996) The anthropology of Europe. Washington: Oxford.
Erikson, T. H (2004). What is anthropology. Londong: Pluto Press.
Erikson, T. H. and Neilson, F. S. (2001). The history of Anthropology, London: Pluto Press.
Metcalf, P. (2005). The Anthropology Basics. USA: Routledge.






SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY








































Cultural and social anthropology are distinguishable if not entirely seperated intellectual or academic traditions. The use of the terms "cultural" and "social" to draw the distinction became common in the 1930s, but the divergence arose earlier, most directly from the differences between the studies advocated by Franz BOAS (1858 1942) in the United States from the 1890s, and the new directions anthropology had begun to take in England around that time at the initiative of R. R. Marrett (1866 1943), C. G. Seligman (1873 1940), W. H. R. RIVERS (1864 1922), and Alfred Haddon (1855 1940).
Today the two terms do not denote a precise division of approaches and for this reason some anthropologists have dispensed with the distinction (e.g., R. Barrett 1984: 2). For many others, however, the difference remains important, at least as a shorthand way of characterizing ethnographic styles.

Definitional issues:
The rubric "cultural anthropology" is generally applied to ethnographic works that are holistic in spirit, oriented to the ways in which culture affects individual experience, or aim to provide a rounded view of the knowledge, customs, and institutions of a people. "Social anthropology" is a term applied to ethnographic works that attempt to isolate a particular system of social relations such as those that comprise domestic life, economy, law, politics, or religion give analytical priority to the organizational bases of social life, and attend to cultural phenomena as somewhat secondary to the main issues of social scientific inquiry.

National and international influences:




























Cultural anthropology continues to be the dominant tradition in the United States; social anthropology in Britain and the Commonwealth. The two traditions do not, however, correspond precisely with this division. The British anthropologist Edward TYLOR (1832 1917) is more clearly a forerunner of cultural anthropology, and the American anthropologist Lewis Henry MORGAN (1818 81) become a central figure in British social anthropology. Other anthropologists Bronislaw MALINOWSKI (1884 1942), for example defy simple categorization.















Malinowski with Trobriand Islanders.
Moreover, the genealogy of these traditions only partially reflects their national character. Social anthropology drew from nineteenth-century British theorists such as Henry Sumner MAINE (1822 88), William Robertson SMITH (1846 94), and J. F. McLennan (1827 81), but also from such important figures as J. J. Bachofen (1815 87), who was Swiss, Carl Starcke (1858 1926), who was Danish, Edward Westermarck (1862 1939), who was Finnish, Arnold van GENNEP (1873 1957), who was Dutch, and above all from Emile DURKHEIM (1858 1917) and other French ethnologists of the Année sociologique circle, including Marcel MAUSS (1872 1950) and Robert HERTZ (1882 1915). Cultural anthropology at the beginning of the century looked as much to the tradition of such German historical geographers as Karl Ritter (1779 1859) and Adolf Bastian (1826 1905) as it did to the contributions of Morgan, Henry Schoolcraft (1793 1864), and the fieldworkers associated with the Bureau of American Ethnology under the directorship of John Wesley Powell (1834 1902).

The usage:
Social anthropology has been more strongly associated with the contributions of A. R. RADCLIFFE-BROWN (1881 1955) than with those of Frazer. In 1923, Radcliffe-Brown distinguished between ethnology as "the attempt to reconstruct the history of culture" and social anthropology as "the study that seeks to formulate the general laws that underlie the phenomena of culture" (1958: 8, 25). He illustrated his idea of ethnology by citing the work of BOAS and Boas's students. Radcliffe-Brown's emphasis on typology and rigorous abstraction also entered into the connotation of "social anthropology," if not into the practice of all social anthropologists.




"Cultural anthropology" is a more diffuse term. Boas himself did not place his studies under this heading, referring to his approach simply as "anthropology." Some of his students, however, noted the lack of a term to distinguish investigations of culture per se from physical anthropology, and, to a lesser extent, from ARCHAEOLOGY and LINGUISTICS. These students, including Clark Wissler (1870 1947), Alfred KROEBER (1876 1960), Robert LOWIE (1883 1957), Paul Radin (1883 1959), and Edward SAPIR (1884 1939), were clear about the focus on "CULTURE," but did not settle on a single nomenclature until the late 1930s. Sapir (1916) early on referred to "cultural anthropology" in its current sense. But the term did not immediately stick. In his 1929 textbook, Introduction to social anthropology, Wissler, for example, defined his field as "social anthropology" because:
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our concern will be with the social life of man, rather than with his anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Sometimes we speak of this social life as civilization, but in social anthropology, the term culture is preferred; and culture, when used in this technical sense, includes all the group activities, or conventionalized habits, of a tribe or a community. (pp. 11 12)
Paul Radin's (1932) textbook, Social anthropology, continued this usage. The term "cultural anthropology" appears to have gained prominence first from the title of Lowie's (1934) text, An introduction to cultural anthropology, in which he declared: "The general goal of anthropological study is to understand the whole of culture in all periods and ages, and to see each humblest fragment in relation to that totality" (pp. 384 5). Lowie nonetheless remained rather circumspect about the term, acknowledging in 1936 that the discipline "has been variously ticketed 'culture history,' 'ethnography,' 'ethnology,' or 'cultural anthropology,"' (1960: 391). In any case, by the end of the 1930s, American anthropologists whose studies focused on culture and whose work was largely informed by Boas's teachings generally called themselves cultural anthropologists.

Source:
Barfield, T. (Ed.).(1997) The Dictionary of Anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell publications.

Author's comment: I find this dictionary exceptionally helpful for students to build up initial concepts in anthropology along with list of references to work out later. However, currently the book is not available in markets but one can always go to library.

Links:
http://anthropology.ac.uk/Teach-yourself/
Social anthropology: an alternative introduction. Read the first chapter "theoretical underpinnings" Click here

Anthropology, by Robert Marett. To find the book click here





CULTURE
Given the fact that Anthropology has usually been defined as the study of other cultures, it is not surprising to find ‘culture’ to be one of the most crucial concepts of the discipline. The focus of anthropology is upon the diversity of ways in which human being establish and live their social lives in groups, and it is from this diversity that the anthropological notion of culture, at least in the twentieth century is derived. Among a diverse range of several approaches three clearly identifiable approaches are the totalist, mentalist and symbolist perspectives of culture.
The Totalist perspective:
The idea of totalitarianism is rooted in the idea that culture is singular. It means everywhere human beings possess more or less advanced version of the same heritage, an interpretation began in eighteenth-century European thought (Williams 1983a). This singularity is framed through evolution minded anthropologists like Tylor, Morgan and Spencer. The concept of “psychic unity of mankind” is most frequently advocated. It means that everywhere people possess same fundamental mental and intellectual components. Therefore, everywhere different societies over time would follow the same course of socio-cultural evolution. The evolutionists therefore assumed that a universal scale of progress will take place and that civilizations developed through time. With increasing closure to the civilization, human being would be more creative and more rational, i.e. people’s capacity for culture will be enhanced.
Although the use of the term totalist is not in standard practice, it denotes a phase in cultural thought most prominently advocated by Edward Burnett Tylor and other evolution minded anthropologists. Culture, Tylor (1871) wrote, is "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society." The totalist perspective comes first from his idea of the “complex whole.” Although it is hotly debated, the holistic notion powerfully integrates all human capabilities and habits together. It means that vast areas of human life, spanning everything from techniques of food production to abstract ideas of after life have some coherence and a distinct logic that can be discovered by a single discipline.
The totalist perspective articulates a number of different views. Anthropologically important views include that of Spercer’s, Morgan’s and Tylor’s schemes. Herbert Spencer (1876) formulated a general law of cultural evolution. He asserted a tendency of all societies to change from a state of incoherent homogeneity to a state of coherent heterogeneity. Spencer identified four evolutionary types of human society: simple, compound, doubly compound and trebly compound. Louis Henry Morgan (1877) in Ancient Society identified three major ethnical periods in human history, viz. Savagery, Barbarism and Civilisation. He divided human history of progress in this particular scheme on the basis technological changes. Edward Burnett Tylor (1871) uses the concept of “survivals” as a basis for demonstrating evolutionary sequences. According to this theory, human culture had originated at a fairly "high" level, after which some cultures "degenerated" to "lower" levels while others "rose" to yet "higher" ones.
The mentalist perspective:
Tylor’s explanation of culture as learned and learnable essentially describes the mental dimension of culture. As culture is something based on socially and mentally rather than biologically. However, strictly the mentalist perspective is rooted in Boasian rejection of evolutionism, which insisted that cultures must always be understood as cultures not as culture (Franz Boas 1911). The assessment of a particular culture should be done within its particular context. Each culture pertains to a specific ensemble of artifacts, institutions and patterns of behaviour. He argued that complex form and patterns of human life, when investigated through fieldwork, were so various that they could not arise from a uniform process of social or cultural evolution. From here on, the investigation of mind and society began. Later scholars like Sapir, Kroeber, Mead and Benedict elaborated his idea of historical particularism and relationship between culture and personality.
The fundamental argument of the mentalist is that, despite of more or same biological heritage, human nature is so plastic that it can sustain kaleidoscopically different sets of values, institutions and behaviours in different cultures. They investigated culture’s role in patterning individual mind, modal personality types and people’s perception of culture. The differences between people in various societies usually stem from cultural differences installed in childhood. In other words, the foundations of personality development are set in early childhood according to each society’s unique cultural traits. They described distinctive characteristics of people in certain cultures and attributed these unique traits to the different methods of childrearing. The aim of this comparison was to show the correlation between childrearing practices and adult personality types.
A more recent mentalist position is that of Cognitivists. The cognitivists focus on the knowledge which people employ so as to make sense of the world and also the ways in which that knowledge is acquired, learnt, organized, stored and retrieved. It covers the major modalities of human experience: the ways in which people think, feel and sense, and so make their lives meaningful and more or less ordered. Study of scholars like Frake (1980) and Atran (1993) have showed that logic of reasoning and rationality is historically and culturally specific. The study on the processes of language acquisition, social learning and continual transformation of existing knowledge has increasingly focused on the underlying, universal cognitive principles. Culture is then seen as a matter of the same cognitive principles being applied on a range of limited alternatives to create limited variations.
The symbolist perspective:
The symbolist perspective of culture began with Leslie White (1940), who argued for the symbolic dimension of human behaviour that was perhaps remained unseen before him. Later he asserted that, in some hypothetical beginning, “Between mand and nature hung the veil of culture, and he could see nothing save through this medium… the meanings and values that lay beyond the senses.”
Later two different views of culture developed. First, is to treat culture as systems of symbols that included language, art, religion, morals and anything else that appears organized in human social life. This has the effect of giving to culture some of the orderliness and concreteness that one observes, and can study systematically, in language. An alternative to this focus on culture as symbol has been to take as an object of study those material dimensions undervalued by symbolic anthropologists, such as food production, crafts and relationships t the physical environment.
The 1960s onwards was a move away from the earlier emphasis upon culture as customary or patterned behaviour, to a stress upon culture as idea systems, or structures of symbolic meaning. Each culture was understood in this later view to consist of a shared system of mental representations. David Schneider (1976) found culture consisting of elements which are defined and differentiated in a particular society as representing reality – the total reality of life within which human beings live and die. In this view culture is not just shared, it is intersubjectively shared (D’Andrade 1984). With this shift, culture became a conceptual (mental and symbolic) structure made up of representations of reality, was understood to orient, direct, organize action in systems by providing each with its own logic. The view which considers culture as conceptual category and symbolically reliable guide to perform social action makes a methodological shift. The earlier emphasis on detection of concrete, objective and stable system of collective representation is no longer valid (Wagner 1986, 1991). As Ingold (1994) says that we do not find neatly bounded and mutually exclusive bodies of thought and customs perfectly shared by all who subscribes to them. The methodology as Clifford Geertz (1973) noted should be interpretation of meaning of webs within which human beings live.
Further reading:
Barfield, Thomas. (1997). The dictionary of anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell.
McGee, R. Jon and Richard L. Warms. 2004 Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History. New York: McGraw Hill.
Moore, Jerry D. 1997 Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.
Rapport, Nigel and Overing Joanna. (2004). Key concepts in Social and Cultural Anthropology. New York: Routledge.


ANTHROPOLOGY AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Awarded Runner-Up Prize, Amnesty International Human Rights 2006 Exhibition, 2006.















In the past fifty years, human rights has become ‘one of the most globalised political values of our times’ (Wilson 1997:1). Human Rights are those that any person naturally deserves, merely by virtue of being human, in order to survive, enjoy well-being, and gain fulfillment. Moreover, not only does every human being have a right or claim to these essential rights, they are simply right in the sense of morality and justice. Although there are many different kinds of rights, human rights are the most fundamental, universal, and inalienable, and governments are expected to advance and defend them (Donnelly 1989).
Ideas about human rights:
Ideas about universal rights for all people developed during the Enlightenment in Europe, were codified in international conventions following worldwide concern over Nazi GENOCIDE and other horrors of World War II, and have increasingly become a central concern in modern political theory and legal practice. There are substantial international conventions on human rights, such as the International Bill of Human Rights of the United Nations, which includes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant of Political and Civil Rights, and the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. In general, these conventions encompass the following: the right to life and freedom from physical and psychological abuse including torture; freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and accordingly, the right to a fair trial; freedom from slavery and genocide; the right to nationality; freedom of movement, including leaving and returning to one's own country, as well as the right to asylum in other countries from persecution in one's homeland; rights to privacy and the ownership of property; freedom of speech, religion, and assembly; the rights of peoples to self-determination, culture, religion, and language; and the right to adequate shelter, health care, and education (Edward Lawson 1991).

Initial isolation of anthropology from human rights concerns:












Most anthropological literature has isolated itself from mainstream discussion of these values; it has tended to regard the legalistic language and the nation-state frameworks of much discussion as falling outside its professional scope (cf. Messer 1993), and questions of better or worse socio-cultural practice as value-judgements which go against its professional ethos (cf. Wolfram 1988). While ‘human rights’, as discourse and as international law, has enjoyed enormous growth, anthropology has therefore remained aloof, if not skeptical. Anthropologists have usually remained on the periphery of human rights for several reasons: anthropology developed with colonialism and the latter depended on the violation of human rights; human rights have been largely a governmental and legal matter; scientists are supposedly neutral to maintain objectivity; and since human rights are politically sensitive, involvement may endanger the personal safety of the anthropologist, informants, or host community as well as jeopardize future research in a foreign country. Nevertheless, since the time of Franz BOAS anthropologists have occasionally become involved in human rights, as in providing expert testimony in court cases on ancestral land and resource rights for indigenous societies. In recent decades the profession has given much more attention to human rights, as evidenced mainly by the growing literature on the subject (Downing & Kushner 1988; Messer 1993) and the emergence of advocacy anthropology (R. Wright 1988; Paine 1985) and corresponding organizations like Cultural Survival, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, and Survival International. Professional organizations such as the American Anthropological Association, Society for Applied Anthropology, and European Association of Social Anthropologists have all also established committees on human rights. anthropologists have insisted, must needs be regarded by those affected as a ‘problem’ before cultural outsiders may intervene and provide information for change. Little wonder that, as Richard Wilson puts it, anthropology is often viewed by human-rights theorists and activists as ‘the last bastion of cultural absolutism’ (1997:3); as if somehow believing that cultures contain an inherent moral rectitude, whereby one might always expect ‘underlying cultural values’ ultimately to assuage immoral political systems (American Anthropological Association 1947:543). This stance can be seen as anachronistic if not irresponsible and reactionary. In a ‘post-cultural’ world (Wilson again), a world where ‘[t]he ‘fantasy’ that humanity is divided into [discrete groups] with clear frontiers of language and culture seems finally to be giving way to notions of disorder and openness’, anthropologists remain committed to a romantic communitarianism and relativism (Wilson 1997:10). They continue to believe that, as canonized by the 1947 statement of the American Anthropological Association executive board (penned chiefly by Melville Herskovits), it is upon ‘a respect for cultural differences’ that respect for all other social and individual differences should be based (1947:541).
Cultural relativism and human rights: anthropological skepticism continues
Inasmuch as anthropology has seen its pedagogic mission as the furtherance of respect for ‘other cultures’—has argued for the rights to cultural difference, and posited cultural differences as the grounds for all others—it can be seen to have adopted a collectivist and relativistic logic. The thinking behind anthropological relativism is well rehearsed (cf. Crawford 1988; Downing and Kushner 1988). It is said that ethnography evinces no universal notion of humanity, and no commonality among those notions that do exist concerning the distribution of rights, duties and dignity. It is further said that there is no universal ‘individual’—that unified human subject with a knowable essence whom a naturalistic logic posits as the bearer of rights—only socially constructed persons. Those notions of ‘human nature’ and of ‘rights’ which derive from the fact of being human are historically and culturally bounded, it is argued; there can be no essential characteristics of human nature or rights which exist outside a specific discursive context. In particular, the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was a charter of European, post-Enlightenment, liberal—humanist and idealist, political philosophy which came to be formulated in the wake of the Second World War and the Holocaust. It can be seen as a continuation of Kantian attempts to establish an Archimedean point that provides rational foundations for universal norms of justice; and it must be understood as part-and-parcel of the rise of capitalism—a means for
individual profiteering enterprises to proceed unencumbered by communitarian obligations, traditional custom or a localized morality. In its application—in Western interference in moral issues internal to other cultures—the Universal Declaration has been responsible for a particular normative blindness towards indigenous peoples and their collectivist narratives of land ownership, political determination, selfhood and so on. Meanwhile, Western governments, such as that of the USA, feel free to pull out of UN bodies, such as UNESCO, when they feel too much emphasis is being placed on collective rights of peoples; a strengthening of group interests at the expense of the human rights of individuals is decried as the so-called ‘socialist bias’ of non-democratic societies.
But then what are the so-called human rights and freedoms of individuals as distinct from rights which people practise in the context of cltural, national and spiritual communities? To enjoy individual human rights requires community rights; individual rights cannot be exercised in isolation from the community—individual rights to join a trade union or to enjoy their culture, for instance, necessitate rights of groups to preserve their trade unions or their culture. Even in a laissez-faire Western democracy, individual rights are not absolute or immutable:
they are balanced by the rights of others and by the interests of society, so that freedom of expression, of association and assembly, for example, are subject to the maintenance of national security, public order, and health and morals. In short, removed from his communities, ‘man loses his essential humanity’ (Moskovitz 1968:169–70).
Alternative space for anthropology of human rights:
Arguments against relativistic thinking in anthropology is logically (if not equally) strong. It has morally nihilistic, politically conservative and quietist consequences. It is also imbued with a relativistic meta-narrative concerning cultural difference which is logically inconsistent; for, cultural relativism must also include the relativity of the concept of ‘cultures perse (cf. Gellner 1993). It further implies a modelling of society and of culture which many
would now see as outmoded. That is, society and culture are depicted as sui generis: as reified and as ontologically secure. They are modelled as entities not processes: hermetically discrete and internally integrated; the basis of all similarities and differences between people, the ground of their being, the bank of their knowledge. This illusion of holism might have been legitimate currency in nineteenth-century nationalism and in Durkheimian sociology (cf. Barth 1992), but it is of little account in contemporary existential contexts. Mechanistic, social-structural notions of society and culture as organically functioning wholes must now give way to notions of human groupings as purposive and contingent political entities (ethnicities, religiosities, localisms, occupational lobbies) which live on as sets of symbols and interpreted meanings in the minds of their members. As Wilson sums up, ‘bounded conceptions of linguistic and cultural systems’ are out of place in a context where ‘culture’ may be characterized as ‘contested, fragmented, contextualised and emergent’ (1997:9).












In this situation, ‘culture’ cannot be raised as a right-bearing entity over and against human individuals. Individuals may have rights to cultural attachment and belonging, rights to membership of one or more cultures (of their choosing), but cultures do not have rights over individuals or members. Hence, on this view, ‘female circumcision’ is a violation of: (a) the right to freedom from physical and psychological abuse, (b) the right to corporal and sexual integrity, and (c) the right to health and education (Boulware-Miller 1985:155–77). More generally, the noble anthropological goal of seeking to understand others in their own terms cannot be employed as an excuse to avoid making moral and ethical judgements. Individuals have the right to resist and opt out of the norms and expectations of particular social and cultural groupings and chart their own course.
For instance, an individual’s rights freely to choose a marriage partner take precedence over a group‘s rights to maintain cultural patterns of marital preferences—even if it is argued that these norms are basic to a definition of the groups identity. As the testaments of refugees and asylum-seekers attest, many women have recourse only to suicide in order to avoid being forced into an unwanted marriage, and it is the responsibility of the anthropologist to support those disenfranchised individuals who find themselves under the power of others (cf. Gilad 1996). However that power is locally framed and legitimated (as that of elder kinsmen, religious experts, or whatever), here are relations of domination which anthropology should oppose. Moreover, even though such conceptions of individuals taking precedence over groups, of individual freedom contra cultural hegemony, derive from Western liberalism, the United Nations International Bill of Rights which these conceptions have given onto (comprising the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)) is the only framework we have by which to make decisions on globally appropriate action.
Finally, if the discourse and law of human rights are manifestations of liberalism as a modern political philosophy, then its opposition is no less political or ideological. To decry the seeming atomism of individually conceived human rights—as opposed, say, to notions of collective attachment, common good, public interest, patriotism, group loyalty, respect for tradition, and so on—is to extol the virtues of communitarianism: to wish to replace a politics of individual rights with a politics of common good, and an emphasis on collective life and the supreme value of the community. This has long had its (equally Western) social-philosophical exponents, from Toennies and Durkheim (‘[T]o experience the pleasure of saying “we”, it is important not to enjoy saying “I” too much’ (1973:240)), to MacIntyre, Taylor and Sandel today. However, as an ideology it can also be critiqued (cf. Phillips 1993). As with the aforementioned illusory notions of society and culture as sui generis, communitarianism can be said to represent a backward-looking myth of a situation of cognitive and behavioural commonality that never existed. In practice, communitarianism is often hierarchical, and always exclusionary with regard to those who do not belong—women and slaves, savages, pagans, Jews, Communists, homosexuals. In sociological usage, moreover, the ideology represents an attempt to ‘colonize’ the consciousness of individual members so that the latter are pressed into the matrices of perception of socio-cultural groupings and identify with
them completely (cf. Cohen 1994).
Relevance of an anthropology of human rights:













Anthropology has conceptual and practical relevance to human rights. Human rights are predicated on a theory of human nature, and anthropologists can contribute to this through their cross-species and cross-cultural comparisons (D. Brown 1991). Yet one of the greatest challenges to universal human rights is the concept of CULTURAL RELATIVISM, which Franz Boas and other anthropologists originated (Herskovits 1972) and others have criticized (Edgerton 1992; Hatch 1983). Some countries accused of violations of human rights have tried to hide behind cultural relativism and criticized their accusers of being Western moral imperialists. Every culture has its own ideas about morality, but these are usually not readily extended beyond its boundaries to other groups, let alone formulated as universals encompassing all of humankind. Anthropologists can help explore, understand, and mediate the cultural diversity of ideas about human rights (An-Naim 1992; K. Dwyer 1991), and they can attempt to reconcile the fundamental issues of universality vs. relativity (Renteln 1990).

At a practical level it must be acknowledged that violators of human rights often target individuals and groups based, at least in part, on their apparent biological, social, cultural, or linguistic differences. Anthropology can address this situation as the humanistic science that documents, interprets, and celebrates the biological and cultural unity and diversity of humankind. Moreover, during their FIELDWORK anthropologists often have a special opportunity to monitor and document human rights, although they must do so discretely because of potential dangers.

Anthropologists in rights:













Part of the explanation for the shift away from relativism in recent anthropological thinking must be due to the recognition that there are no isolated and bounded cultures and societies to reinforce an ‘archipelago’ view of culture. This observation comes at a point when some voices in the discipline are arguing that we live in a post-cultural world with greater emancipatory potential for individual autonomy and agency. The desire to go ‘beyond culture’ in some quarters of anthropology has led to a variety of attempts to construct new forms of anthropological inquiry – new types of ethnographic research – that transcend notions of isolated, bounded cultures. In some cases, this has provoked an interest in transnational, diasporic populations who are explored through multilocale fieldwork. In other cases, it has led to an ethnography that focuses on global institutions and global processes themselves. Such a move displaces the universalism–relativism polarity, opening space for new – or rehabilitated – forms of critical evaluation based on an analysis of power and agency.
For John Gledhill, to give one example of this new thinking, the problem is not about relativism or universalism, but access to global justice and the lack of accountability of rights institutions. Newer debates on power, globalization and transnationalism seem to have displaced the terms of the relativist–universalist polarity. The discussion has been reframed in terms of interconnections, networks and movements of people, ideas and things rather than static and discrete cultures in conflict. Nevertheless, the problem remains of ow to steer a path between the rarified and decontextualized ethics of neo-Kantian political philosophers such as Gewirth (1978) and the radical populism of simply reinforcing what informants say about justice, rights and political claims. Even more challenging is how to make that path meet the requirements of being ethical, empirically informed and conceptually sophisticated.

Recent works are increasingly focus on the anthropological issues of human rights. For example Good and Navaro-Yashin focus on the processing of asylum claims in UK and European contexts, a political issue which has moved centre stage with the rise of anti-immigration right-wing parties in European elections in 2002. These two authors raise significant questions both about the transnational processes of asylum and about the legal process more generally. In both cases, they chronicle the paradoxes of claims caught between the letter of the law and its interpretation in specific contexts. The question of rights, and the influence of debates about transnationalism within the social sciences more generally, have increasingly pushed social anthropologists into thinking harder about the problem of comparison. Social anthropology since the 1980s (excepting the Marxian political economy tradition of Sidney Mintz, Eric Wolf and others) has largely eschewed large-scale comparison in favour of fine-grained description and analyses of local social practices and beliefs.21 It has been asked, what is to be compared, when the meaning of elements being compared (religion, ethical values or political structures) not only varies enormously, but is highly dependent on local context? The expansion of rights makes rights discussions more ubiquitous but at the same time it makes comparison more difficult since social researchers must always ask themselves if they are comparing the same kinds of social processes and, if so, then what characteristics do they share?

Further reading:

Wilson, R. A. and Mitchell, J. P. (Eds.) (2004). Human Rights in global perspective: anthropological studies of rights claims and entitlements.London: Routledge

To visit a good blog on anthropological issues of human rights can be found by clicking here

To know more about Human Rights go to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: click here

Universal declaration of Human Rights - click here

1948 Roosevelt's lecture to the United Nation's general assembly click here (VIDEO)

The Rule of Law in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Click here, pdf

United Nation's Rights Council click here

Inter American Commission on Human Rights Click here

African Union click here

















PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Philosophical Anthropology is a branch of philosophy concerned to show that, owing to his preponderantly underdetermined nature, man is that animal who must, in large part, determine himself. Although its roots are diffuse and its boundaries fuzzy, in its modern form philosophical anthropology got its beginnings in the 1920s and was especially prevalent in German philosophy. It has ties with existentialism, phenomenology, and Dilthey's "philosophy of life" (in which consciousness is understood in terms of lived or immediate experience). In its development it has drawn on a number of outstanding thinkers, including Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Pascal, Herder, Goethe, Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, and von Humboldt. Recent prominent scholars who may be associated with philosophical anthropology include Max Scheler, Adolf Portmann, Helmuth Plessner, Arnold Gehlen, F. J. J. Buytendijk, Medard Boss, Ludwig Binswanger, Erwin Straus, and Michael Landmann.
Why philosophical anthropology?
What distinguishes philosophical anthropology is its ontological focus on man as the mediator of his own nature. According to Herder, in whose ideas philosophical anthropology is rooted, in man instinct is replaced by freedom; the deficit of specific determinations becomes a condition for the emergence of reason, understanding, and reflection. "No longer an infallible machine in the hands of nature, [man] becomes a purpose unto himself." In effect, a qualitative leap is postulated by philosophical anthropology: " in man something is not simply added to the animal . . . [rather] he is fundamentally based on a completely different principle of organization . . . he is the only one who has an open world" (quoted in Landmann 1982).
The critical problem of philosophical anthropology is, then, how man's creaturely limitations lead to their own transcendence. As a result, an outstanding element of philosophical anthropology concerns itself with the meaningful, rather than simply physical, character of human biology. For example, in his study of upright posture, Erwin Straus (1966) argued that man's moral capacity is tied to this posture, not causally, but immanently. Again for example, according to Plessner (1970) man's position in the world may be distinguished as "eccentric," since, unlike the other animals, man always stands to some significant degree outside his own center which is to say, outside his given nature. In light of this distinction, Plessner interpreted both laughter and crying as singularly human responses to situations in which man's (mediatory) capacity for eccentricity is stultified. As these examples suggest, one outstanding preoccupation of philosophical anthropology is the study of the dynamic of human creativity by virtue of which body and mind may be regarded as both different from and identical to each other.
Each branch of philosophy has its unique effect on anthropological theory and practices. It is an impossibility to single out each of them. Only major perspectives are discussed here.
Constructivism in philosophical pragmatism: our creation of our worlds.

In the second lecture of Pragmatism (Broadly means to act according to the situation), William James (1907, p. 37) metaphorically remarked that "the trail of the human serpent is [...] over everything". For James, the world was essentially a human world, structured through human life, through human experience and practices. Many other pragmatists, early and late, have held more or less similar humanistic conceptions of reality. If we attempt to understand our human life in this human world, we should inquire into the ways in which our life itself affects the world within which it takes place. Broadly speaking, pragmatism is the doctrine that practice and theory are inextricably entangled in human affairs. We cannot neatly separate our theoretical concerns [not even ontological (/ prior position) ones] from the practical interests and values that guide whatever we, as women and men, do. The pragmatist's philosophical point of departure is the undeniable fact that we are human beings acting in a more or less problematic environment. In our various limited ways, we try to solve our practical problems—in a very broad sense of "practical". The world does not come "ready made" to us; we regard it as our environment, as our world, that is, as the world in which we live and act.
Constructivists dwell on the the idea that the world is a human world, made or constructed by human beings, through practical and conceptual activities. It seems to be a natural conclusion invited by James's pragmatism. If the way the world is depends upon our choices of ways of describing or "structuring" it—choices based on our practical purposes—it might seem that these purposes in effect constitute reality. Whatever is real must be relevant to our practical interests. Human beings create reality by choosing to consider some aspects of it relevant to some particular purposes, that is, by choosing to see it under a certain aspect. As purposes change, reality is, in a sense, re-created.
Contemporary Constructivism (Neo pragmatism?):
Jamesian-Schillerian constructivism is, therefore, well alive in Nelson Goodman's theory of "woridmaking" and also to some extent in Putnam's internal realism. Some sociologists of science, who speak about scientists’ "constructing" scientific objects in the laboratory, come also quite close to this view, at least according to the standard interpretation. Furthermore, one could interpret the views of postmodernists and deconstructionists, for whom reality has become internal to language or "text", as forms of constructivism (even though pragmatists usually prefer reconstructions to Reconstructions). As the famous slogan by Jacques Derrida says, "il n'y a pas de hors-texte". These ideas were ridiculed by the physicist Alan Sokal in his controversial "scientific parody" in the journal Social Text in 1996, and Sokal is not the only one who thinks that postmodern views about the textuality of reality are just crazy.
The basic idea of Nelson Goodman's theory of worldmaking is that there is no single ready-made reality, but plurality of worlds (or "world-versions") constructed for different purposes, possibly conflicting with each other. According to Goodman, the multiple worlds there are do not exist independently of our "making" of them by means of our systems of symbols. We are, hence, worldmakers.
In Goodman's (1978, p. 4) view, "many different world-versions are of independent interest and importance, without any requirement or presumption of reducibility to a single base". Thus, "the movement is from unique truth and a world fixed and found to a diversity of right and even conflicting versions or worlds in the making" (ibid., p. x). Goodman endorses a radically relativist and pluralist ontology: there is no unconstructed world "in itself" which we could just describe and represent; instead, there are many versions or, equivalently, many worlds. Physics, everyday experience, art, and other symbol systems we use produce several different versions, none of which is the absolutely true or right one. We cannot make sense of an absolute reality.
[[[[ explanation: Why do not find any ready-made stars or constellations of them up there on the sky, even though it seems quite natural to think that stars (like dinosaurs) existed long before the emergence of human beings on the earth. Stars seem to be causally unaffected by our use of concepts and symbols; yet, we have to use those concepts and symbols in order to make, and to live within, a worldversion in which there are stars or constellations of stars. "We have to make what we find, be it the Great Dipper, Sirius, food, fuel, or a stereo system." We are both worldmakers and "starmakers". As James (1907, p. 121) puts it, we, making a human "addition" to "some sensible reality", "carve out groups of stars in the heavens, and call them constellations, and the stars patiently suffer us to do so". Stars do not themselves decide, let alone inform us, that they are stars or that they are arranged in constellations. Both stars and constellations of stars exist only in a humanly structured world. ]]]]
For yet another, quite different example of contructivism, we may note that constructivism is a fashionable cultural phenomenon in the age of virtual reality and "media philosophy". This is what Mark C. Taylor and Esa Saarinen teach us in their postmodern "anti-book" Imagologies (1994). "With the inexorable expansion of the mediascape, all reality is mediaized and thus becomes virtual", we are told (ibid., 'Virtuality', p. 6). "In virtual worlds, thought becomes reality and reality becomes imaginary" (ibid., p. 9). "Insofar as the real is figural the figural is, in some sense, real" (ibid., 'Electronomics', p. 4). Is this anything but constructivism or anti-realism (or perhaps Schopenhauerian quasitranscendental idealism) all over again, in new "mediaized" clothes metaphysical idealism, paradoxically, in a postmodern media culture in which metaphysical worries should not be taken seriously any longer? Taylor and Saarinen seem to think that the world-wide network of electric communication has so profoundly altered our reality that there is no "real world" beyond the media any longer. The media, originally human constructions, now create reality; hence, we ourselves create reality.
However, more recently, Putnam suggests that [o]ne might say, not that we make the world, but that we help to define the world. The rich and ever-growing collection of truths about the world is the joint product of the world and language users. Or better (since language users are part of the world), it is the product of the world, with language-users playing a creative role in the process of production. (Putnam 1991, pp. 422-423; cf. 1994a, p. 265.)
Knowledge and action perspective:
The intrinsic connection between knowledge and action is one of the basic insights of Dewey's pragmatism (which he also called "experimentalism" and "instrumentalism"). In traditional epistemology, which is characterized by its "quest for certainty", knowledge and action—or theory and practice—have, mistakenly, been sharply distinguished from each other. According to Dewey, knowledge is action and theory is practice. This simple statement can more generally be regarded as the core of the pragmatists' teaching. The openness and undefinability flowing from the link between knowledge and practice can also be illuminated on the basis of the "classical" concept of knowledge: if by knowledge we mean "justified true belief", and if beliefs are (as Peirce, the founder of pragmatism, insisted) "habits of action", our notion of knowledge must reflect the plurality of our ways of acting.
The transcendental perspectives:
In the Kantian tradition, transcendental philosophy deals with those "epistemic conditions" that alone render human cognitive experience of the world (that is, representation of objects or objective reality) possible (see, e.g., Allison 1983, Leppakoski 1993). These conditions must obtain in order for us to experience any world whatsoever—an objective world with a certain order. They are, indeed, transcendental conditions of there being a world (for us), and they are conditions that we ourselves—or rather our transcendental subjectivity—impose on the world of which we have experience. For other kinds of beings, these conditions might be different; a being with an intellectual intuition (i.e., God) would not need any such conditions but might be able to comprehend things directly as they are in themselves, without any intermediaries.
In order to be both a pragmatist and, in a sense, a Kantian, the crucial point that the present-day pragmatist-Kantian philosopher should make is that the transcendental conditions for there being a world as the object of our experience and representation can, and should, be understood as dynamical, that is, as socially and historically relative and mutable—as themselves always already "conditioned" in many ways. For us humans, who lack the "God's-Eye View", there are no absolute, ahistorically given conditions of experience, no conditions that could be recognized as necessary sub specie aeternitatis. This view is characteristic of modern naturalism, which emphasizes the continuity between philosophy and empirical science.
In any event, transcendental reflection or transcendental philosophy in a quasi-Kantian (pragmatically historicized and relativized or, perhaps, to some extent de-transcendentalized) sense is, for the pragmatist, an essential element of philosophical reflection on human nature. In pursuing such issues, we are trying to find out, by philosophical means, what it is like to be a human being in the natural world—a being for whom there exists an objective reality (from the point of view of both ordinary experience and science).
The post-modern age:
We arrive at some nagging questions. Is there any serious role for the philosopher, or academic intellectual in general, to play in the 21st century? Aren't we now in a postmodern condition, in which all we have got is a hopeless mixture of incommensurable language-games, frameworks, and styles of cultural conversation a la Rorty? Should the philosopher, especially if she or he is a pragmatist, therefore go into the media and discuss the "concrete" problems people are facing in our (post)modern world instead of reflecting on dry, unnecessarily complicated academic puzzles? What about the role of philosophy in such enormous global issues as the ecological crisis, with which all humans should be concerned?
Even though our (post)modern media culture is first and foremost an American phenomenon, to be found everywhere in the almost completely Americanized world, what has been called "media philosophy" is not. There are few public intellectuals in the United States—at least fewer than in countries like France and Germany. Everyone knew who Jean-Paul Sartre was; outside academic circles, virtually no one knows who W.V. Quine is.
Let us take a look at "media philosophy", as it is defended in Mark C. Taylor's and Esa Saarinen's Imagologies (1994), a book (or anti-book) dealing with the postmodern information society and media culture.4 Taylor and Saarinen tell us, among other things, that the "simcult" (their term for the culture of postmodern, Baudrillardian "simulations" or "simulacra" which the media construct) is a culture of pure instrumentality, in which there are no "ends-in-themselves": "the essential is nothing, and nothing is essential" Generally speaking, there are no deep cultural ends any longer; in our media age, there is no time for anything like that. Following pragmatists, the media philosopher, or "imagologist", observes that she or he has to act in an uncertain world without any given, secure foundations (ibid. 'Superficiality', pp. 10-11). Thus, the media philosopher attacks "the institutions of rational, systematic, uncommercial, analytic, supposedly valuefree, unmediated, objective thought" and urges that in the media, "one-liners are everything" (ibid., 'Media Philosophy', p. 5). She or he has to know how to be naive and superficial (ibid., 'Naivete', p. 3). The public philosopher E. Saarinen certainly knows this, or so many people think. Taylor and Saarinen show us a way of approaching philosophy. It is compatible with this attitude to admit, as they do, that it is merely one way among many, albeit a way which should be given priority in contemporary media culture. Saarinen's argument here—implicit in all of his public activity— is simple: the justification of media philosophy lies in the fact that it is his, Saarinen's, particular way of philosophizing right now, at this particular historical moment in this particular social, political, economic (etc.) context.
The post philosophy: reflexivity concerns
Self-referentiality, or reflexivity, is the trademark of fully developed pragmatism and naturalism as well, we may analogically express my main metaphilosophical conclusion as the thesis that pragmatism establishes its own pragmatic acceptability through the process of showing how all philosophical positions should be pragmatically evaluated. Insofar as the assessment of philosophical views in terms of the human practices (and practice-involving temperaments) they are based on is itself a human practice, pragmatism also "shows that it itself makes sense".31 Hence the relevance of Kant and Wittgenstein from the pragmatist's point of view. Hence also the relevance of James's reflexive notion of a philosophical temperament.
Reflexivity and philosophical self-consciousness can also be accommodated by thinkers who do not sympathize with transcendental philosophy—for example, by Quinean and Rortyan philosophers, as we have seen. However, the pragmatist recognizing the transcendental background of the pragmatic tradition need not accept these radical pragmatists' and naturalists' views. Apart from a few critical remarks, I have not seriously tried to refute those views here. On the basis of my philosophical temperament, which differs substantively from Quine's and Rorty's but is in rather substantial agreement with some other philosophers' temperaments (in particular, Putnam's), I have tried to make that
effort in the chapters above—admitting, though, consistently with my own view, that such an effort will always remain seriously inconclusive.33 Putnam's alternative to Quinean and Rortyan positions is, I believe, (meta)philosophically more plausible, even though it is not unproblematic, either.
We can, and should, actively learn something by studying reflexive but insufficiently transcendental philosophers like Quine and Rorty. Refusing to listen to them would be refusing to wake up from a dogmatic slumber. After their critique of traditional philosophy, there is no innocence left. The philosopher in these confusing days should acknowledge this situation. As Prado (1987, p. 24) has put it, following Rorty and giving up "Truth" with a capital 'T' is like losing one's belief in God. Following the postmodern and postanalytic turns in philosophy is like losing one's religion. Quine and Rorty have given us valuable material to contrast our less radical philosophical temperaments with. Therefore, I have claimed that by studying their work we can study the limits of philosophical argumentation. But we— even those of us who are tempted to agree with these thinkers' radicalism- should be equally prepared to learn from James and Putnam, or, for that matter, from Plato, Kant, or von Wright. To understand that we should try to learn from highly different philosophers manifesting highly different temperaments is to understand that we must work hard in order to avoid the metaphilosophical relativism of clashing temperaments briefly described in section 10.3 above. We should, if our temperament allows, accept the challenge of making critical philosophy pragmatically reflexive. As human beings, we reflect on our own lives anyway—more or less philosophically. That is a most pragmatic thing to do.
Finally, this demand of reflexivity must be applied to my own metaphilosophical discussion of that very demand itself, that is, to this metaphilosophical chapter and this work as a whole. I ought to recognize that my pragmatistic point of view, as well as my insistence on the reconciliation of pragmatism and transcendental philosophy culminating in the notion of reflexivity, lies also, in the last analysis, beyond argumentation. But this ultimate reflexive reflection—a reflection on my practice of being philosophically reflexive with regard to the notion of reflexivity—does not lead to a sigh of relief. If I am honest to myself as a philosopher, I must find the need to engage in such a reflection a deeply problematic fact of my philosophical life. Yet, it is a fact which invites me (and, I hope, some others as well) to go on with that kind of life, to continue our human dialogues on topics of vital importance.