Branches of social and cultural anthropology
Cultural and social anthropology are distinguishable if not entirely separated intellectual 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. 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.
There are several specialized areas on which over the years anthropologists have focused. Following is a representation of such different areas which are also popularly known as branches of social cultural anthropology.
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. 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). Substantivists, by contrast, contend 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.
Therefore, because of the nature of economic anthropologist’s engagements with substantivist school they tend to focus on the varieties of ways in which production, and distribution is done.
Production refers to the processes of acquiring resources and transforming them into useful objects and actions. The objects include food, shelter, and craft goods, as well as symbolic items ranging from totem poles to pyramids. Before 1940 anthropologists were expected to write a chapter on material culture, which at least gave us a partial inventory of the objects the culture contained.
Food Production systems are often categorized into hunting and gathering (or foraging), horticulture, agriculture, and industry. The underlying dimension of this scale is probably energy input and energy output: both are low at the foraging end, and both are high at the industrial end (Leslie White 1943). Given the greater anthropological expertise with small-scale societies, this scale has more precision and validity at the low-energy end than at the high end.
Distribution is how goods (and services) are transferred from one person to another. Most of the effort in economic anthropology in the last 50 years has been on distribution rather than production. Very early on it was realized that "primitive" societies lacked MONEY, or at least our kind of money. How societies could distribute their goods without money was a key question. Implicated in the answer are questions of value and questions of property.
The work of economic historian Karl Polanyi dominated the scene for 30 years (K. Polanyi et al. 1957). Polanyi proposed that all economies were integrated by one of three major principles of distribution: Reciprocity, Redistribution, and Market, although the remaining two were often present in subordinate roles. More recently the dominant scheme, drawing on MAUSS and Marx, has been GIFT commodity. Reciprocity and redistribution, and the gift, are forms of distribution that do not require the use of money.
PROPERTY rights are implied by the transfer of goods from one person to another, but are one of the least well understood aspects of a society and economy. The transfer of a good from one person to another would seem to require either the concept of property or force. Yet most anthropological attention has been paid to transfers rather than the property aspects. Production may also be instrumental in creating property rights, in that there are natural resources (land, game, clay pits, etc.), tools, processes, and knowledge that can be, and in larger-scale economies usually are, the object of property rules.
SOCIAL STRUCTURE is a major concomitant of economic organization. Through the process of the division of labor societies create distinctive units of production, including work teams, households, men's houses, plantations, firms, and communities. There are also units of consumption (individuals, households, lineages, and communities). Property is held by a jural unit, which can be the individual, the household, a lineage, a village, or a polity. Thus the study of the economics of a society inevitably requires a clear description of some facets of the social structure.
Population has a curious history in economic anthropology. Anthropologists have long known that some economic features are associated with small populations with low population densities whereas others are associated with large populations and high densities. There is a strong correlation between population size and the basic form of production and the distribution of resources. Technology such as domesticated plants and animals, irrigation, and the wheel permits the emergence of much higher population levels than are possible in their absence. And some features of political structure are also correlated with the population size of the society: political office does not occur in the absence of unequal access to resources, which in turn does not normally occur in the absence of intensive agriculture.
This has led to hotly debated questions over whether technology, social organization, or population is the driving force in the system. Population has been granted the status of driving force by such scholars as Boserup (1965), M. Cohen (1977), and HARRIS (1979), who see a rising population as the stimulus for changing technology, which in turn permits higher population levels. But if this is the case it does not explain why some societies, particularly foragers, underproduce and maintain longterm populations that stay well below carrying capacity (see ORIGINAL AFFLUENT SOCIETY).
DIFFUSION of culture traits has always been of interest to anthropologists. One presumes that there has been a noncoercive diffusion of traits over very large areas (at least continental in scale) for millennia. Copper, obsidian, and gems are routinely found thousands of kilometers from their sources at very early times. Some sort of exchange mechanism is almost certainly implied. Although the spread of physical objects is easier to document, ideas, tools, and knowledge of processes can spread in the same way. This model of diffusion based on noncoercive borrowing has more recently been replaced by the impact of forcible change wrought by CAPITALISM, COLONIALISM, and an accompanying WORLD-SYSTEM that has disrupted small-scale societies at least since the beginning of European expansion in 1400. As a result diffusion is now routinely seen as the impact of more powerful societies on less powerful ones, although a few scholars have objected that a penetration subjugation model of the process is too simplistic, and that people in the smaller-scale societies exercise choice and creativity even in the face of powerful forces.
Political Anthropology devotes itself to the study of law, order, conflict, governance, and power. Its origins are grounded in concepts drawn 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.
Political anthropology today is the product of two different legacies. The first, primarily associated with cultural anthropology in the United States, remained focused on the comparative and historical questions of how and why political systems evolved. The second, associated with British social anthropology, was more interested in how politics worked in different societies and the roles of individuals.
For decades evolution-minded anthropologists, along with archeologists, have busily classified societies into categories such as bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and states, and then debated the merits of one another's typologies (Fried 1967; Service 1975). Conflict is often accorded a central if not catalytic role in virtually all these schemas. Yet though war has traditionally been studied as a means to an evolutionary end (Otterbein 1970), it has only recently been studied as an institution in and of itself (Turney-High 1949; R. Ferguson 1995; Otterbein 1994). This new focus on violence in the contemporary world has made this branch of political anthropology much more salient than in the past. For example, although the FEUD (as a form of containable conflict) was one of the first political institutions to be studied, only recently have the uncontainable effects (and not just the causes) of organized violence in their various ethnic, political, sectarian, religious, and economic manifestations become subjects of research by anthropologists (Nordstrom & Martin 1992), along with possible solutions such as mediation and conflict resolution.
The second, and perhaps more 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.
Later on Manchester School especially through the work of Max Gluckman have focused on the central concern of the conflict and conflict resolutions. Political anthropology, however, was not confined to Africa or the Manchester school. Edmund Leach (1954) examined the connection between ritual, identity, and ethnicity among the Kachin of Burma in terms of an oscillating political system that regularly shifted between ranked and egalitarian forms of social organization (gumsa and gumlao). Leach's suggestions about the role of individual agency in politics were followed up by F. G. Bailey (1960) in India and Fredrik Barth (1959a) among the Swat Pathans to explore the aggregate effects of political maneuvering.
Psychological Anthropology approaches the comparative study of human experience, behavior, facts, and artifacts from a dual sociocultural and psychological most often psychodynamic perspective. It emerged in the early twentieth century as an attempt to understand our common humanity, led by such figures as Franz Boas and his students Edward Sapir, Ruth Benedict, Margaret Mead, Melville Herskovits. Psychological anthropology displays an arc of theoretical approaches ranging from scientific positivism, which embraces objectivity and the scientific method, through various hermeneutic humanisms that emphasize the role of subjectivity in fieldwork and writing (Suárez-Orozco 1994).
The origin of such approaches in rooted to Culture and Personality school, which was a broad and unorganized movement that brought together anthropologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists who agreed on the mutual relevance of their disciplines but lacked a common theoretical position, an acknowledged leader, and an institutional base. Its founders were Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Edward SAPIR, all students of Franz Boas, whose influential concept of Culture had implied a psychological dimension they attempted to spell out and translate into research. They argued that culture played a role in individual psychological development (Mead) and in the emotional patterns typical of particular cultures (Benedict), and also that individuals of a particular society realized its culture in different ways (Sapir). They criticized psychological theories that posited Universals for the human species without taking into account human variability as revealed by anthropological fieldwork in diverse cultures. At the same time, they were influenced by those psychological and psychiatric theories that emphasized social influences on the individual, such as the neo-Freudian formulations of Karen Horney and the interpersonal psychiatry of Harry Stack Sullivan. Although the movement had no formal organization, its anthropological founders were joined at seminars, conferences, and in publications by sociologists, psychologists, and psychoanalysts including W. I. Thomas, John Dollard, Erik Erikson, Abram Kardiner, Henry A. Murray and by a growing circle of anthropologists Ralph Linton, A. Irving Hallowell, Gregory Bateson, Cora Du Bois, Clyde Kluckhohn, and John W. M. Whiting, to name but a few. The field of culture and personality studies was very active during the 1930s and in the postwar period 1945 50, as a new generation of anthropologists conducted studies among Native American peoples and in the Pacific.
Psychological anthropology has made one of its enduring tasks to cultivate the theoretical space where the individual emerges as an active agent in the cultural realm. Historically, psychological anthropologists have been critical of approaches to the human condition that privilege one level of analysis (such as the cultural) at the expense of others (such as the psychological). Sapir, for example, rejected Alfred Kroeber' (1917a) cultural overdeterminism as espoused in his "superorganic" model of culture. Sapir (1917) argued that anthropology could not "escape the ultimate necessity of testing out its analysis of patterns called 'social' or 'cultural' in terms of individual realities," and that "we cannot thoroughly understand the dynamics of culture, of society, of history, without sooner or later taking account of the actual relationships of human beings."
Cognitive Anthropology is the study of the relationship between mind and society. Traditionally, cognitive anthropology examines cultural knowledge in terms of its organization and application in everyday life, in activities such as classification and making inferences. Early in its development, in the 1950s, cognitive anthropology was synonymous with ethnoscience or ethnosemantics. Studies focused on the structure of conceptual categories in folk classification systems and the meanings encoded in these systems, in areas such as kinship, ethnobotany, and color classification. The central unit of analysis was the shared conceptual category, a conjoined set of distinctive features.
More recent studies of classification systems have concentrated on the psychological reality of conceptual categories. If such categories are only conjunctions of features, then the members of a category should not vary in terms of their psychological salience. But they do. Take the category "bachelor," defined in traditional ethnoscience terms as the conjunction of three distinctive features: male, adult, and unmarried. Men are categorized according to whether or not they represent the conjunction of these features; there is no middle ground. This does not represent classification in real life, however, since popes and priests are not normally viewed as bachelors. It is more likely that we apply categories like bachelor by matching potential instances to prototypes, which are stereotypical representations of concepts that serve as standards for evaluation (Rosch & Lloyd 1978). Since the prototypical bachelor is promiscuous, non-domestic, and also potentially marriageable, applying the category to popes and priests would strike most speakers of English as unnatural.
Research has shown that many categories are organized around prototypes, from kin terms to furniture (Lakoff 1987; Lakoff & Johnson 1980). Most of this work has been done by linguists, while cognitive anthropologists have focused on a related knowledge structure, the "schema," a term borrowed from the early work of F. C. Bartlett (1932) in social psychology. The difference between a prototype and schema is that while both are stereotypical, a prototype consists of a specified set of expectations, while a schema is an organized framework of relations that must be filled in with concrete detail. Schemas are highly generalized, culturally specific knowledge structures that help generate appropriate inferences. They fill in the gaps by supplying information that is usually taken for granted, thus enabling individuals to identify actions, events, and consequences based on only brief exposure to only partial information.
Although the evidence that cultural knowledge structures are highly schematized is strong, studies by cognitive anthropologists generally avoid making encompassing ethnographic or psychological statements about whether some knowledge structures are universal, and (if they are) the extent to which they depend on universal cognitive processes. For such answers one must turn to the theorists who draw on research in artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology. They have proposed three basic models: information-processing models, cognitive-developmental models, and perception and experiential models.
(1) Information-processing models attempt to employ important general principles about the architecture of artificial intelligence systems and their implications for research in human cognition. Computer models provide a means of assessing the plausibility of particular proposals. Occasionally, such models have proved sufficiently well formulated to be subjects in experimental testing with human subjects. At present there is interest in parallel distributed processing (PDP) and connectionism, the idea that things that consistently occur together in an individual's experience become strongly associated in that person's mind (Bechtel & Abrahamsen 1991).
(2) Cognitive-developmental models compare cultures to find common developmental traits and themes. Most of this literature has focused on religious systems and ritual practices. E. Thomas Lawson and Robert McCauley (1990) borrowed the notion of "competence" from Chomsky to argue that participants in religious systems represent knowledge to generate definite intuitions about the "well-formedness" of religious phenomena. These intuitions are the basis of universal principles of religious ritual, specifically with regard to the relative centrality of specific ritual actions. Similarly, Boyer (1994) found that intuitions about religious phenomena spring from universal principles that act as tacit theories that are not in themselves intuitive and may require a "leap of faith". For example, the most widespread ontological assumption of religious systems postulates the existence of agencies such as SPIRITS whose physical properties are counterintuitive. Boyer hypothesized that because counterintuitive assumptions are the focus of more cognitive investment and more emotional effects than representations of other types, they are more likely to survive cycles of transmission.
(3) Perception and experiential models argue that shared perceptual processes and experiences in the environment shape cognitive forms cross-culturally, a view influenced by studies of human perception. Most notable in this category are the works of Lakoff (1987) and M. Johnson (1987), who argued for an "experiential realism" that is not prey to the conceptual trappings of subjectivism and objectivism. Lakoff and Johnson began with the premise that the movements of our bodies and their placement in space generate knowledge structures and modes of reasoning that are evident in linguistic usage. A central component of their argument is metaphor. Our thoughts, works, and even our actions are affected by networks of systematically structured metaphors, which reflect basic kinds of physiological experience. The difference between up and down, for example, is an essential aspect of human experience and is evident in English in the pervasiveness of expressions in which the words "up" and "down" metaphorically conceptualize moods, states, and emotional experiences. Other work has focused
Watch this brilliant explanation on how we actually think in terms of categories. by Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky
Anthropological studies of law have been conducted within historical and cross-cultural frameworks and have contributed to the development of evolutionary, correlational, and ethnographic theories of social and cultural control. Among eighteenth-century European intellectuals the idea of Law as universal was common. Nineteenth-century anthropologists, though armchair speculators, first began to document the differences between Western and non-Western law. In 1861, Sir Henry Maine examined materials from Europe and India, arguing that changing relations in law (from status to contract) were the result of shifts from kinship-based societies to territorially organized societies. Later researchers, focusing on dominant modes of subsistence, argued that human societies could be scaled along a progressive sequence of legal systems from self-help to penal or compensatory sanctions. For example, Hobhouse (1906) correlated level of economy with types of law, while Durkheim (1933) associated sanctioning patterns with degrees of societal integration, repressive law in primitive societies being progressively replaced by restitutive law in civilized ones.
Malinowski (1926) used direct ethnographic field observations to question widespread myths about law and order among preliterate peoples. He called attention to the important connection between social control and social relations, foreshadowing a generation of anthropological research on how order could be achieved in societies lacking central authority, codes, and constables. Radcliffe-Brown (1933: 202) employed a more jurisprudential approach, making use of Roscoe Pound's definition of law as "social control through the systematic application of the force of politically organized society." By defining law in terms of organized legal sanctions, Radcliffe-Brown concluded that in some simpler societies there was no law.
Henceforth whether all societies had law became a hotly debated topic (Pospisil 1958). If law was defined in terms of politically organized authority, then not all societies had law. If law was defined as "most processes of social control," then all societies did have law, but social control became synonymous with law. Today most anthropologists do not seek to define law either so narrowly or universally. For purposes of analysis, they increasingly report data in the categories used by the people studied or in the analytic categories of the social scientist. Debate continues over whether Western jurisprudence is itself a folk or an analytic system.
Although the environmental sciences and environmentalism, including conservation, have roots extending back many centuries (Glacken 1967), they have crystallized mostly since the 1960s and their use in anthropology has been part of this historical process. Each of the subfields of anthropology has developed its own approach to human ecology: paleoecology in archaeology (Butzer 1982); primate ecology (Richard 1985), human adaptability or more narrowly physiological anthropology (Frisancho 1993), and human behavioral ecology (Eric Smith & Winterhalder 1992) in biological anthropology; cultural ecology and later systems ecology in cultural anthropology (Ellen 1982; Hardesty 1977; Netting 1986); and ethnoecology in linguistics (Berlin 1992). Here it must suffice to briefly review the most important developments in attempts by cultural anthropologists to understand human ecology and adaptation since the pioneering work on cultural ecology of Julian Steward and others in the first half of this century.
Although continuities remain from the work of Steward (1955) and his cohorts and predecessors, many of the subsequent ecologically oriented cultural anthropologists have developed new approaches in response to perceived deficiencies in the work of their predecessors (Sponsel 1987). Among these are Andrew Vayda and Roy Rappaport (1968), who developed a systems approach to investigate the interplay of culture and ecology as human populations adapt to their ecosystem(s). They systematically applied concepts from biological ecology to human ecology, including population as the unit of analysis, ecosystem as the context, and adaptation as the dynamic process of interaction between population and ecosystem. They first focused on an analysis of energy input and output in the technology and social organization of work to collect and produce food. All of this was set within the biological framework of limiting factors and carrying capacity. Components of culture such as religion and warfare were viewed as regulating mechanisms that helped to maintain a balance between the population and its resources. This theoretical framework was elegantly implemented by Rappaport (1967) in his fieldwork with the Tsembaga of New Guinea. He viewed their ritual and warfare as regulating the delicate balance between the human and pig populations to reduce competition between these two species. (Humans and pigs are surprisingly close in physiology, body and group size, and omnivorous diet). This "biologization" of the ecological approach in cultural anthropology led to the label "ecological anthropology" replacing Steward's label of "cultural ecology," although the two are sometimes used as synonyms (Bennett 1976, 1993).
Marvin Harris (1979) attempted to advance the ecological explanation as well as description of cultures by developing a more explicit and systematic scientific research strategy, which he called "Cultural Materialism." In this strategy he assigned research priority and causal primacy to infrastructure over structure and superstructure because it is most fundamental for human survival and adaptation. Harris and his students have applied this research strategy to explain many puzzling customs and institutions. The classic case is the sacred cow of India. Harris (1985) argued that the cow is not sacred simply because of Hindu and other religious beliefs, but ultimately because the cow is indispensable to the agricultural economy in the environments of India, especially for plowing, fertilizer (dung), cooking fuel (dried dung), and milk (instead of meat).
The work of Rappaport, Harris, and others working along similar lines has been criticized on many points, but especially for confusing origins and functions (Moran 1990) and for assuming that almost anything that persists is adaptive (Edgerton 1992).
Whereas Harris concentrates on observable behavior because he is impressed with the discrepancy between what people say and do, ecologically oriented linguistic anthropologists have emphasized the investigation of native thought about environmental phenomena. Much of this work has concentrated on constructing hierarchical classifications of native terms referring to particular environmental domains such as soil types for farming or wild plants used for medicinal purposes. Ideally, ethnoecology encompasses local environmental knowledge, beliefs, values, and attitudes, and links environmental ideas with actions and their adaptive or maladaptive consequences. In practice, ethnoecology has often been confined simply to a native taxonomy of some environmental domain or a mere descriptive inventory of the names and uses of a subset of animal or plant species (Berlin 1992). However, some ethnoecologists, such as Harold Conklin (1957, 1980), have gone much further and published unusually detailed data, as exemplified by Conklin's research integrating the ethnoecology and cultural ecology of the agroecosystems of the Hanunoo and Ifugao in the Philippines.
Recently, a few anthropologists have started to transcend some of the limitations of the approaches previously discussed by adding a diachronic dimension in examining how both culture and environment mutually influence and change each other over time, an approach called "historical ecology" (Crumley 1994). Most notable is the work of William Balée (1994) on the Kaapor in the Amazon of Brazil, who recognize 768 species of plants from seed to reproductive adult stages, the largest ethnobotanical repertoire reported for any people in the Amazon. Moreover, Balée has applied historical ecology to integrate aspects of ethnoecology, cultural ecology, biological ecology, political ecology, and regional ecology in a processual framework. In this context he has analyzed the Ka'apor's response to adaptive constraints and opportunities in both their social and natural environments, including other indigenous societies, Afro-Americans, and European migrants who have each had an impact on their natural environment.
Urban Anthropology examines the social organization of the city, looking at the kinds of social relationship and pattern of social life unique to cities and comparing their different cultural and historical contexts. It emerged as a separate subdiscipline of sociocultural anthropology during the 1950s and 1960s. In contrast to earlier studies of urbanism, urban anthropology applied anthropological concepts and field research methods to urban populations where the city was the context of the research rather than the phenomenon under study.
This focus is most readily apparent in the tendency of urban anthropologists to examine the social organization of small social worlds within the city, analyzing their social life in terms of larger institutional structures of power. Some of these studies are based on territorial units such as neighborhoods; others examine social networks, webs of relationships linking people who may or may not live nearby. Social networks in cities are frequently nonlocalized, stretching from rural areas of origin to larger ethnic settlements in the cities (Boissevain 1974; Gmelch & Zenner 1995).
Urban anthropology also examines social problems characteristic of large cities such as crime, social disorder, poverty, homelessness, and transience. These studies examine the social organization and cultural practices of distinct groups within the city such as gangs (Suttles 1968), ethnic villagers (H. Gans 1962), kinship networks (Stack 1974), homeless alcoholics (Spradley 1970), and criminals and prostitutes (Merry 1981). These studies usually include the systems of bureaucratic regulation, urban politics, welfare administration, urban renewal, and economic conditions that shape local communities. Other research focuses on systems of formal social control such as police, courts, and prisons.
Despite the concentration of research on the United States and Great Britain, urban anthropology is a comparative field. Studies of kinship and neighborhood in British (Michael D. Young & Willmott 1957) and American cities (Liebow 1967; Lamphere1987) are paralleled by similar studies in India (Lynch 1969), South Africa (Philip Mayer 1961), Japan (Bestor 1989), and many other parts of the world. Some anthropologists explore the changing nature of work and union movements in urban centers in developing countries (Epstein 1958). Others examine the disproportionate growth of primate cities at the expense of regional towns as a result of economic development in Third World countries.
Urban anthropologists have worked extensively on the migration of rural peasants to the cities. This research has challenged the proposition that as rural migrants settle in cities their social order and cultural life disintegrates, an argument fundamental to the theory of urbanism as a way of life. Studies of the squatter settlements that grew up as a result of rural migrants flooding into the cities of developing countries during the 1960s and 1970s revealed not anarchy, but emerging forms of social order, planning, and institutional structure (Peattie 1968; Mangin 1970; B. Roberts 1978).
Urban anthropology has always focused particularly on the plight of the urban poor. In his controversial work, Oscar Lewis (1966) argued that there was a culture of poverty, a uniform way of life that emerged among the poorest groups in a variety of urban environments such as Mexico, Puerto Rico, and New York. Although this concept has been extensively criticized, it was an important effort to theorize the social impacts of living on the economic fringes of a large industrial city (Valentine 1968). More recent research views local communities in large industrial cities as the product of late-capitalist development and the progressive impoverishment of the poor. Susser (1982), for example, explored how the changing political economy of the city shapes the life situations of poor people. D. Harvey (1989b) examined changes in urban life as a result of global capital and labor flows. Anthropologists examine political and economic forces that transform urban neighborhoods such as urban renewal, gentrification, disinvestment in cities, the flight of jobs from the city, racial discrimination in the private housing market, public housing policies, and the creation of new towns. Some work explores the way features of architectural design and urban planning shape social life or foster criminal behavior (J. Jacobs 1961; Merry 1981). There has been considerably less published on the way Postmodernity is redefining urban life.
Race, ethnic group, class, and gender as forms of differentiation and exclusion are fundamental to the field, and studies frequently examine how categories of race and ethnicity shape migration and settlement patterns, job opportunities, voluntary organizations, community institutions, access to work and leisure, and the maintenance of kinship relationships (Philip Mayer 1961; Mullings 1987). Ethnicity, in particular, persists in urban areas in the form of ethnic neighborhoods or in such voluntary associations as rotating credit associations and burial societies (Hannerz 1980). Thus, urban anthropology, although inspired in its earlier years by theories of urbanism, now examines social life in the city as it exists for the people who live in it, rather than the city itself.
Symbolic Anthropology takes as its basic tenets the ideas that indigenous meanings are the goal of research and that these meanings, though not explicit, may be discovered in the symbolism of such things as myth and ritual. It is a term that marks both an intellectual movement of the 1970s and 1980s and an anthropological method.
The interpretation of symbolism per se is nothing new, of course. Presumably, it is as old as literature. Moreover, it was the stock in trade of the first generation of anthropologists, in the late nineteenth century. For example, Edward Burnett Tylor (1871) based a reconstruction of the stages of human mental evolution on what was then known about "primitive religions," that is any other than a handful of world religions. By contemporary standards, however, Tylor's interpretations are naive and ethnocentric. They are naive because, in the rationalist mode of his time, Tylor began with the assumption that all the complex rites of primitive religions are a result simply of faulty logic: wrong answers to questions about real phenomena. Tylor's program is often characterized as "intellectualist" in a derogatory sense, but J. W. Burrow caught it better: "the sociology of error" (1966: 7 9). Tylor's interpretations are ethnocentric because he saw no need to delve into other cultures; on the contrary,he assumed that he could see directly into the mind of "primitive man," so that his approach is also called "empathic," again in a derogatory sense.
In the middle decades of this century, interest in symbolism retreated as functionalism advanced. The new paradigm emphasized sociological topics, such as kinship and politics, at the expense of religion. Moreover, the old symbolic studies were tarnished by their association with nineteenth century evolutionism, which functionalism condemned. British functionalists like A. R. Radcliffe-Brown saw themselves as building a new science of society, and they distrusted, with good reason, the manner in which Tylor and his contemporaries had dwelt on the bizarre and the sensational. A concern with symbolism survived only where functionalism failed to gain the ascendancy, notably in the American culture and personality school, which included several members with psychiatric training. But their predisposition toward the universalizing theories of Freud obstructed culturally specific interpretation and tended to perpetuate the ethnocentrism of the evolutionists.
In one important respect, however, functionalism prepared the way for symbolic anthropology by its insistence on holism. Where nineteenth-century anthropologists had made customs seem odd by tearing them out of their proper cultural contexts, functionalism sought to make sense of them by putting them back. It escaped Ethnocentrism by expecting institutions to be intelligible only as parts of whole social systems, and symbolic anthropology does the same with regard to ritual and belief.
Consequently, there was no major break between functionalism and symbolic anthropology. Moreover, interest in religion had never completely disappeared; Max Gluckman wrote interestingly about ritual while remaining the archfunctionalist, for instance in his study of Swazi royal rites (1954). A re-study by T. O. B. Beidelman (1966) demonstrates nicely how a symbolic approach might differ from a functionalist one.
In bridging the two approaches, the most important figure was Gluckman's student Victor TURNER. Turner began his research among the Ndembu of northwestern Zambia with issues of SOCIAL ORGANIZATION, which he found intractable because of the instability of Ndembu villages. By degrees, he realized that the true continuity of Ndembu life lay in its rituals and the ideas and values they expressed. To arrive at these ideas, he devised or adapted methods of interpretation that are best described in the essay "Symbols in Ndembu ritual," which was first published in a collection (Gluckman 1964) and later as a chapter in Turner's most widely read book The forest of symbols (1967). Turner listed three sources of relevant information: "(1) external form and observable characteristics; (2) interpretations offered by specialists and laymen: (3) significant contexts largely worked out by the anthropologist" (1967: 20). In arriving at his interpretations, Turner moved constantly between these sources, checking one against another. The key point is that an interpretation arrived at with one source of data gains conviction when it provides insight elsewhere; it was an inductive process that genuinely sought Ndembu meanings, and in that lies its power and appeal.
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.
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 qualita-tive 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).
Feminist Anthropology takes as its major premise the idea that the study of women's roles, beliefs, and practices in society is critical to understanding both the particulars and potentials of human social life. Although feminist anthropology focuses on women and women's roles its goal is to provide a more complete understanding of human society. Most feminist anthropologists believe that the insights gathered in Western and non-Western contexts should be used to better the lives of people throughout the world.
Historically, anthropology, like other academic disciplines, was androcentric with a 'deeply rooted male orientation" (Reiter 1975b: 12). Bronislaw Malinowski, the founder of the contemporary anthropological method of participant-observation, typified a variant of this bias when he quipped that "Anthropology is the study of man embracing woman" (Moore 1988: 1). But alongside a general demeaning of the agency of women and the importance of their social roles to the central meaning of human life, anthropologists were likely to present men's perspective as the general perspective of a social group.
For example, when anthropologists wished to study the ritual beliefs of an Australian Aboriginal group they would study the ritual practices of male Australian Aborigines in the mistaken belief that they were the most sociologically important practices. In short, men's roles were not only more centrally studied, but they were also presented as representative of the entire community's beliefs and experiences. Some of the earliest works in feminist anthropology countered this presumption by demonstrating the importance of women and their social and cultural roles to the anthropological endeavor. They studied women and women's roles in the evolution of human society, in the maintenance and negotiation of kinship and the family, and in the operation of global capitalism. Feminist anthropologists posit that it is only by studying women and men across their various age groups that anthropology can truly consider itself a student of the cross-cultural variety of human social experience.
Feminist anthropology and the broader field of contemporary feminist studies arose in the late 1960s and early 1970s during what is commonly referred to as the "second wave of feminism." During these years, Western European and American women in the feminist liberation movement petitioned for their civil and economic rights. The academic, social, and political goals of the feminist liberation movement were developed alongside the black power, native American, and gay and lesbian liberation movements. All these social groups, with representatives in and outside the academy, argued that their social perspectives, experiences, and cultural practices were critical to a proper understanding and appreciation of modern society. The movements came to be known as "identity politics" and helped lead to the institutionalization of women's studies programs, ethnic studies programs, and queer studies programs and to the increase of women and minorities in various academic disciplines.
The analytic concepts sex-difference, gender, and sexuality are critical to the methods and theories utilized in feminist anthropology. The meaning and use of these three terms has changed over the last one hundred years and are currently undergoing significant revision. Generally, "sex-difference" is used to refer to the biological and anatomical differences that exist between males and females. Thus, whether ultimately referred to genetic, genital, hormonal, brain, or physiological differences, sex-difference was privileged over sex-similarities between women and men. This was not always the case even in Western history, where women and men were once believed to share one sex (Laqueur 1990). Throughout history, moreover, there have been "hermaphroditic" humans whose sex organs include components of both female and male physiology.
"Gender" is commonly used to indicate the meanings and roles that a society assigns to sex-difference. Gender is what a society makes of the physical, anatomical, and developmental differences it recognizes. The concepts of masculine and feminine behavior the type of demeanor, activities, and speech that "real men" and "real women" are expected or allowed to have are gender constructs. They are cultural beliefs that organize social practice, not biological facts. Indeed, feminist anthropologists have shown that there are no universal gender roles for women or men. Thus, more than 50 years ago, Margaret Mead (1935: 16, 18) could speculate that,while every culture has in some way institutionalized the roles of men and women . . the temperaments which we regard as native to one sex might be mere variations of human temperament, to which the members of either or both sexes may, with more or less success in the case of different individuals, be educated to approximate.
Recently, a number of poststructural feminists and gender theorists have argued that, in a similar manner to how it constructs gender, culture constructs sex (Butler 1990). In other words, all societies, these theorists argue, construct the body differently, selecting which anatomical differences will be construed as sex-differences and which will not. Moreover, sex is as available for cultural manipulation and alteration as gender, especially in technologically advanced nations. Much of this research has been inspired by, and conceptualized within, the study of sexuality.
"Sexuality" generally refers to how a society and individuals within it organize, act on, conceive of, and represent their erotic and reproductive acts (see sex). Influenced by the emergence of modern psychoanalysis and psychology, anthropologists have studied both institutionalized and noninstitutionalized forms of heterosexuality and homosexuality. Harriet Whitehead (1981: 80) has, however, noted a parallel between the androcentrism of early anthropology and a contemporary "anthropological solecism that often appears in studies . . . interpreting the styles of homosexuality that are fully institutionalized in the light of those that are not." Irrespective, anthropologists have now demonstrated that sex, gender, and sexuality are often closely linked concepts in other cultures and are often utilized for social control. For instance, a society may attempt to control the sexual practices of some age and gender groups but not others. Moreover, societies often represent the sexuality of men and women quite differently: the former as active, virile, and productive, and the latter as dangerous, polluting, or socially problematic. Societies also vary widely in how they think about, represent, and regulate the sexual practices of same-sex couples and cross-sex couples. In the West, same-sex partners suffer political and economic discrimination. But in many societies same-sex sexuality is accepted as a vital erotic practice, part of religious ceremonies, or part of the kinship and alliance systems. Influenced in part by the works of Michel Foucault, recent theorists of culture and sexuality have begun to question the applicability of Western notions of homosexuality and heterosexuality to non-Western cultures.
Visual Anthropology is the visual and perceptual study of culture, material culture, and forms of human behavior in different communities and environments. As a foundational capability for doing observational fieldwork, the visual and perceptual capacities have been a part of anthropological research since the inception of the field. As a systematized subfield of anthropology, visual anthropology has been undergoing rapid expansion since the 1960s in terms of theory and practice, as well as the availability of resources for teaching and carrying out research. Today, advancing communication technologies are making it possible for anthropological researchers and film- and videomakers to present elements of their visual and intellectual experience to a much wider audience worldwide.
Certain basic elements have been of central concern in visual anthropology since Felix Regnault first shot four short film sequences of a Wolof woman in Paris in 1895. These include purpose, depth of knowledge of the subject, nature of the relationship to the subject, techniques and strategies of expression such as the storyline, themes, editing, intertitles, narration, voice-over, dialogue, subtitles, style, artistic and aesthetics sensibilities, and accuracy and film truth (Hockings 1995; Crawford & Simonsen 1992).
What exactly is an "ethnographic" film has been a source of anguish to many, and the debate has not necessarily helped produce more accurate or telling renditions of social life and behavior. Notwithstanding all the problems of intervention, interpretation, positionality, and subjectivity, today, with the high-level word and image interface, film, video, and television are playing a crucial role in making people better informed cross-culturally. The actual record as images, films, videos is much in demand by audiences, academic and otherwise, worldwide.
More recently issues of levels and acknowledgment of collaboration, gender, authorship, indigenous media, and power have been of concern. Indeed, the concern with power, politics, and poetics of representation is a serious one for cultural translation, comparison, and identity. To be behind the camera is to possess technology, power, and operational knowledge. The dynamics of power sharing and collaboration in the field and in the sites of production and consumption are complex, and morally and ethically delicate. To have control and influence over the distribution of media into today's global market is to have an overriding power to represent and define the terms of cultural identity and cross-cultural recognition (L. Taylor 1991; Crawford & Turton 1992; Lutkehaus 1995b).
Applied Anthropology is the use of anthropology beyond the usual academic disciplinary concerns for research and teaching to solve practical problems by providing information, creating policy, or taking direct action. The process takes many forms but is always shaped by the practical problem at issue, the available disciplinary knowledge, and the role the anthropologist is expected to play. Since the mid-1970s the term "practicing anthropologist" has increasingly come to replace "applied anthropologist" for those in the field. Practicing anthropologists who apply their knowledge to particular domains (such as health, development or education) also are increasingly defining themselves more specifically (i.e., as "medical anthropologist," "development anthropologist," or "educational anthropologist").
The number of practicing anthropologists has increased significantly in the last 25 years. This trend has been disguised because the anthropologists often hold titles and play a variety of significant roles that do not explicitly highlight their disciplinary background. Such roles currently include those of policy researcher, evaluator, impact assessor, planner, research analyst, advocate, trainer, culture broker, program designer, administrator, and therapist, among many others, and the range is increasing.
Conventional wisdom often assumes that academic anthropology arose first and that it came to be applied. In fact, in many areas the relationship was opposite: applied anthropology was often the starting point of research financed because its sponsors stressed the potential of its practical benefits. Only later did more exclusively academic projects emerge and receive support. For example, the first departments of anthropology in Britain appear to have been touted as kinds of applied anthropology training programs for colonial administrators. The term "applied anthropology" itself was, in fact, first used in a 1906 article describing a program for training administrators at the University of Cambridge. In the United States, The American Bureau of American Ethnology was established in the nineteenth century as a matter of national policy. Its voluminous research on native Americans greatly exceeded that of any university program at the time. This trend continues today. Much foundational work in legal anthropology, medical anthropology, urban anthropology, diet, and demography was first done for applied reasons. Many of the anthropologists who are now regarded as founders of new fields in academic anthropology were at the time they conducted this research regarded as not doing "real" anthropology.
Applied anthropology falls into two general categories: applied research and intervention. Much of the former is done for reasons of social policy, that is, to help inform the policy development process either in a specific or general sense, assess the impact of policy or policy decisions, or evaluate something done because of a policy. It is often conducted under the rubric of social impact assessment, evaluation, cultural resource assessment, or technology development research. Intervention practices most commonly focus on communities rather than individuals. They attempt to (1) identify community perceptions of need as an important part of the program-design process and (2) foster the development of empowered community organizations. Such intervention practices include action anthropology, research and development anthropology, advocacy anthropology, cultural brokerage, participatory action research, and social marketing. Although some anthropologists have served as policymakers, this is still rather rare.
1. Thomas Barfield. 1997. Dictionary of Anthropology, USA: Blackwell.
2. M.D. Murphey introductory notes from the website. Type M.D. Murphey Anthropology in google.
3. Alan Bernard and Jonathan Spencer. 2002. Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology. New York: Routledge