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SOC 250 Lecture 5

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University of Toronto St. George
Joseph Bryant

SOC 250 Lecture 5  Bronislaw Malinowski o 1884-1942 o Pioneer of ethnographic fieldwork  Trobriand islands o Founder of the “Functionalist” approach  Opposes evolutionary stage models o The goal of the cultural anthropologist is “to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world” o “Yet it must be remembered that what appears to us an extensive, complicated and yet well- ordered institution is the outcome of so many doings and pursuits, carried on by savages, who have no laws or aims or charters definitively laid down. They have no knowledge of the total outline of any of their social structure. They know to them, but how, out of these, the whole collective institution shapes, this is beyond their mental range. Not even the most intelligent native has any clear idea of the Kula [an elaborative inter-island exchange/reciprocity ritual] as a big, organized social construction, still less of its sociological function and implications…the integration construction still less of its sociological function and implications…the integration of all the details observed, the achievement of a sociological synthesis of all the various, relevant symptoms, is the task of Ethnographer…the Ethnographer has to construct the picture of the big institution, very much as the physicist constructs his theory from the experimental data, which always have been within reach of everybody, but needed a constant interpretation” o Malinowski rejectsreligionscience stage theories o “Primitives” have practical sciences  Hydraulics, botany, engineering, etc.  They display astonishing “rational mastery” of their environments o Magic, therefore, is not
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