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Lecture 3

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Jude Fokwang

Culture & Society inAfrica ANTB05 9/24/2012 Lecture 3: Kinship and Social Organization What keeps a society/family together ? This question, initially addressed by French sociologist Emily Durkheim in the early 20 century became the basis of much anthropological studiesx in the 1930s and 1949s through the 1960s Scholars likeA.R Radcliffe-Brown and E.E. Evans- Pritchard became famous for the theory of structural fucntionalism aimed Durkheim Investigagtes the following questions : What keeps society together? What maintains social solidarity? His work inspired functionalism because he argued that society was a kind of organization that could not be reduced to the motives and intentions of individuals That society precedes the individual, therefore the individual is in the service of societal needs Society exerted a moral force upon individuals through collective representations or the “conscience collective” Society is coercive; it carries moral authority Mechanical Solidarity This type applies to societies in which all members have a common, shared, social experience, but who do not necessarily depend on each other to survive Asociety integrated by mechanical solidarity was presented as “an absolutely homogeneous mass whose parts werenot distinguished from one another, and which consequently had no structure” Asociety where people do not need to rely on each other to survive Small-scaled societies / rural Organic Society : This applies to societies in which diverse, interdependent subdivisions are linked by formal institutions into a single society Societies integrated by organic solidarity are “formed not by the repetition of similar, homogenous segments, byt by a system of different organs each of which has aspecial role, and which are themselves formed of differentiated parts..” Need each other to function, so there is a regulator needed Connected with societies that are urbanized All societies that are mechanical, will process into organic is what was assumed Social Solidarity & Functionalism Inspired by Durkheim’s ideas, functionalists in anthropology began to study the “systems of relations of particular cultures, that is, the ways in which the parts of a culture operated together to form and maintain the whole” Ex. Radcliffe-Brown theorized that bride wealth functioned to legalizeAfrican customary marriage Competing brands of functionalism Functionalism: Functionalists showed how kinship or religion structure economic institutions, how the ritual system stimulated economic It sought to describe and account for cultural traits and social behavior “here and now”(synchronic) - Functionalism is the direct product that each culture, society has a solidarity and each society plays to the function of the whole Proposed that even the strangest practices were rational in their own terms once the context and social function were properly understood Culture is a response to biological needs says Malinowski ,Structural functionalism specific aspects of society served to meet the needs of social structure in other words, they kept society together Critiques of Functionalism: Functionalist theory has been criticized for its disregard of the historical process and for its presupposition that societies are in a state of equilibrium The theory plays down power and
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