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Lecture 14

Anth: Lecture 14 Oct. 27

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ANTH 3690
Marta Rohatynskyj

Lecture 14 Oct. 27. 2011 Function 20th Century Function • Function is unconscious • Function is applicable to all societies, not just ‘civilized’ ones • Function serves the function of distinguishing the 20th C, purpose in terms of contributing to the overall maintenance of society • This raised the issue of rationality • In early understandings, if our type of society was rational then this has to be extended to all other types It is not planned policy nor is it a response to the environment • • Function is different from intention which involves planning • Customs which are seen as functional often arise as an epiphenomenon of other factors • This aspect makes policy initiatives difficult in terms of planned social change. Function and Society • This idea that society exists above the individual mind brings certain aspects of function into play. • People may think that they are exercising their agency and making choices but in fact are acting according to larger social forces. • This is seen as mysticism by some • In terms of ‘primitive society’ the question of origins was replaced with the question of function • Customs are there because they work • In the structural functionalist model - they maintained the structure. Malinowski’s Functionalism and Monism • M research was largely focused on economic behaviour • His individuals were depicted as calculating and innovative individuals in an exotic setting • People do what they do because they are fulfilling basic human needs • The rationality of magic - as science and as comfort • indigenous attempting to control their world • Like the ‘superorganic’ for the American’s, the notion that exotic customs served a function acted against 19th C notions of exotic societies as irrational (subrational) Customs, then came to fulfill other ‘needs’ such as the reduction of anxiety • • No need to imagine overall, abstract structure for a society but other focus on day-to-day needs and in this way have a monistic perspective • vs Durkheim who is a dualist. Says he sees deeper meaning behind things M is a monist, sees people fulfilling basic needs • Radcliffe-Brown’s Functionalism and Dualism • Dualist • The idea of social structure and social organization • Durkheim postulated that there existed a collective consciousness which guided social behaviour • Radcliffe-Brown saw this as social structure The function of various customs or institutions could be seen as maintaining the structure • • This suggests an unchanging society, so that the two were paired together (structure/function) ininitely • in R-B there is a higher reality in the form of the social person which is divorced from the agency of the individual • The question last week was whether Appadurai and Geertz for example are monists or dualists ?? • Appadurai Monism: just individuals, • There is the comparative cultural question of the social person as a particular configuration of a social structure and the individual as an extension of our cultural value placed on individuals Structural Functionalism and Colonialism • 19th C anthropology emerged as a discipline for the elite in Britain • The US was more democratic in the immigrants contributed to the founding of the discipline • By the 1970s/1980s the former subjects of anthropological research were practitioners • The critique of structural functionalism was launched as a way of viewing ‘other’ societies as without history and trapped in ‘traditional forms’ • The association of anthropology with the colonial project • Not just were former subjects of study entering the discipline as practitioners but also large numbers of former subjects were literate Rituals of Rebellion in South-East Afr
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