Summary Anthropological theory : an introductory history

ISBN-10 0078034884 ISBN-13 9780078034886
722 Flashcards & Notes
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This is the summary of the book "Anthropological theory : an introductory history". The author(s) of the book is/are R Jon McGee, Richard L Warms. The ISBN of the book is 9780078034886 or 0078034884. This summary is written by students who study efficient with the Study Tool of Study Smart With Chris.

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Summary - Anthropological theory : an introductory history

  • 1.1 Ninetheenth-century evolutionism

  • The discipline of anthropology  combined three long/existing streams of thought. 1. cultural differnces among societies. 2. struggle to explain the antiquity of humans and the artifacts left from thee ancient lives. 3. the investigation of the biological origins of humans and other species. 
  • progressivists believed that, rather than deteriorating from a previously civilized condition, societies had started out primitive but were progressing toward a more advanced state. 
  • Maillet outlined a scheme for biological evolution. The age of the earth was much greater than popularly believed. 
  • buffon outlined an evolutionary theory that  he called degeneration. 
  • Lamarck believed that changes in geographic and climatica areas places pressures on plant and animal life. 
  • Darwin held that change within species must follow natural laws like those found in the physical sciences. 
  • Spencer was one of those whose work gained increased credibility because of darwin
  • spencer coined the term survival of the fittest and was also famous for his organic analogy. 
  • social darwinists interpreted theories of evolution to mean  that progress could only be achieved throug the strong dominating the weak.
  • Morgan believed that eovlutionary progress was not achieved through competition but was propelled by the flowering of germs of thougt. 
  • Marx believed that all thought was a product of cultural institutions rather than their cuase. 
  • 1.1.1 herbert spencer, the social organism

  • For spencer, society reflects natural laws. It is the ever-changing result of conflict and struggle. spencer sees society as growing from the past. 
  • spencer claims that societies were not supernaturally manufactured but evolved through a natrual process of growth.
  • For spencer, social evolution was driven by competition among people, through wich the best suited to survive were selected. 
  • Spencer: survival of the fittest would lead to perfection
  • spencer her suggests that there is some palpable force in a society that conditions its members to act in certain ways. Social force
  • Spencer: society change from simple to complex
  • spencer writes that societies are like organisms in three ways : 1. they grow from small groups to large aggregations. 2. they grow from simple to complex. 3. they grow from a collection of independent units to an organism composed of interdependent parts. 
  • spencer writes that communities and businsses exist independently of the individuals who compose them
  • spencer tells us that the stat exists solely for the benefit of its citizens
  • spencer: soicial arrangements are the result of natural law and the power of elites is justified by evolution.
  • 1.1.2 sir edward burnett tylor, the science of culture

  • tylor believed that culture was a single body of information of which different human groups had greater of lesser amounts. 
  • he saw human history as proceeding toward incresing rationality
  • Tylor argues that the succes of a philosophy of history depends on restricting the subject matter: by focusing on culture, the historian may ignore specific events in favor of general developmental trends. 
  • Tylor understood culture as a unitary phenomenon that characterized peoples to one degree or another, the project was practical. 
  • Tylor: simple societies could be understood as living history or living fossils. 
  • in tylor's view, the ethnographer's job is to catalog all the practices of humankind and then arrange them into evolutionary and hierarchical order, producing something analogous to the linnaean classificaiton off plants and animals
  • tylor didn't believe that  it was necesary for anthropologists to be involved in data collection
  • to tylor, almost any practice that seemed illogical or smacked of supersititon was an example of the survival of the traits and beliefs of an earlier social form
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What is the Sapir Whorf hyphotesis?

The grammatical and lexical categories of the language a person speaks organize the way they think and shape their behavior.

1.     Linguistic determinism: the manner in which the structure of a language affects cognition.

2.     Linguistic relativism: is the idea that the grammatical and lexical categories are unique tot that language and thus speakers of different languages inhabit separate conceptual words. 

What does Whorf claims?

Whorf claims: one must see important interconnections between language, culture and psychology as Sapir did. 

What is the effect of language on culture according to Lee Whorf?

The language we use for things can affect our actions because it influences the way we thing about things. Whorf is saying that is very difficult to understand the effects of language on culture because we perceive all cultures through our own language, which is filled with fundamental assumptions about the nature of the world. A way around this problem is to study exotic languages to give us a new perspective on our own language.






Lee Whorf is best know for? 

Best known for studying linguistics of the Boasian era. He worked with Sapir. Inspired research on the relationship between language and culture.






What did Kroeber believe?

Kroeber believed you can’t reduce culture to individual psychology; culture was in his view a pattern that transcends and controls individuals and plays a powerful role individual behavior. 

Kroeber didn't agree with Boas about everything. On what?

1. Kroeber rejected the idea of Boas that anthropology was ultimately a discipline devoted to the study of humankind’s origin and

2. Kroeber didn’t agree on the idea of Boas that indiviuals played a significant role in a culture’s and change. 

Who was Kroeber and where did he believe in?

Student of Boas. Also a anti-evolutionist. Believed in integrating the 4 field perspective.  (prehistory, linguistics, physical anthropology and observation of culture)

What is diffusionism?

A german respons to evolutionism was that similarities between societies across the globe were not caused by following and unilinear evolutionary path, but by diffusion of cultural elements from one society to another. Diffusion (verspreiding) could not be traced by comparing functional cultural forms (e.g. sharpened point to an arrow), but only by forms that were not required by function.

o   Diffusionisme benadrukte studie van de verspreiding van culturele kenmerken. Terwijl evolutionisten aannamen dat elke gemeenschap de bouwstenen voor haar eigen ontwikkeling bevat gaan diffusionisten er vanuit dat verandering vooral plaatsvindt d.m.v. contact met anderen en het “lenen” van hun ideeën.

What is the best way to study according to Boas?  

Intensive study of specific cultures through long periods of fieldwork (learning the language).   

Why  can societies show similarities according to Boas?  

Societies might show similarities since they find solutions to problems and there is a best solution that might be used by several societies.