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Lecture 14

ANTH 3690 Lecture Notes - Lecture 14: Hilda Kuper, Epiphenomenon, Adam Kuper

Course Code
ANTH 3690
Marta Rohatynskyj

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Lecture 14 Oct. 27. 2011
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
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
The idea of social structure and social organization
Durkheim postulated that there existed a collective consciousness which guided social
Radcliffe-Brown saw this as social structure
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