WEEK 2 How do Anthropologists Study Culture?
People who practiced anthropology without field work.
Claimed that one must look at a particular society and get all the information one can. Thought that the
people would disappear, so recorded everything.
A.R. Radcliffe-Brown: Structure
Field work west of Thailand. He wanted to know how society worked (institutions). He wanted to know
what held societies together.
Bronislaw Malinowski: Function
Participant - Observation
Looking for the Native's Point of View
We can’t become natives of another society, we already are natives. Wasn’t interested in society, he
was interested in the individual, psychological needs (food, shelter, safety). He theorized if enough
individual needs changed, the societal practices would change to meet those needs, certain practices
would fall by the wayside and others would be created.
Positivism Positivist Science
Facts = What is
Values = What ought to be
Reality can be known through sight smell touch and sound. Materialistic view of reality. Values deviate
Goal = discover natural laws
Student of Boaz. Studied adolescents
Mead's Question – is adolescence different in different societies
Hypothesis - If adolescence is biological, it should be emotionally the same in all societies. But if there
are cultural stresses on adolescents there should be widespread differences
Method – travelled to Samoa.
Conclusions – cultural values change adolescents
Family Structure – everyone acts as each other’s relatives
Life is Simpler in Samoa – children not faced with the number of choices. (what are you going to be
when you grow up) the children in Samoa have basic chores but don’t spend their days streamlining
themselves towards a career
Life is Less Controlled in Samoa – sexual freedom, encouraged to experiment sexual. Once you are
married, they stop. It’s as much a part of learning as learning to cook.
Life in samoa is much more constrained, not as different as mead assumed
Life After Positivism EX) Annette Weiner and Malinowski
Similar field work, differences in time, however made huge differences in findings. Gender, race, age
of anthropologist makes a difference in wha