Summary Anthropological theory : an introductory history Book cover image

Summary Anthropological theory : an introductory history

- R Jon McGee, et al
ISBN-10 0078034884 ISBN-13 9780078034886
722 Flashcards & Notes
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A snapshot of the summary - Anthropological theory : an introductory history Author: R Jon McGee, Richard L Warms ISBN: 9780078034886

  • 1 Evolutionism

  • What did Morgan and Tylor and other anthropological evolutionists thought?

    Lewis Henry Morgan, Edward Burnett Tylor and other anthropological evolutionist thought of change as a process of societies going from one stage of development to the next. 

  • theoretical approaches as critique for evolutionists
    historical particularism, diffusionism, and 
    functionalism
  • What do societies go to according evolutionism?

    Societeies go to a number of successive stages. It is a process of unilinear (based on the general idea that all societies evolved through the same stages and  were progressing towards civilization and it was rooted in the comparative method) change.

    o   Morgan: Savagery à barbarism à civilization

    o   Tylor: animism à polytheism à monotheism 

  • What was the highest state in evolutionism?

    • The highest stage, invariably, was Victorian England or nineteenth-century USA.
    • This approach was therefore clearly ethnocentric.
  • What were strong points with evolutionism?

    A strong point was to integrate all societies into one whole. Another strong point was that despite the differences in development of various societies, all humans belonged to one species and were essentially the same. Precisely because of the difference between cultures and the unilineal development path, all human societies had to have an equal amount of human skills (intelligence etc). 

  • 1.1 Additional theory

  • what is a paradigm?
    When a certain theory has a relatively broad applicability and many followers, it is useful to speak of a theoretical school of thought or a theoretical paradigm
  • definition of a paradigm by kuhn
    Paradigms are ‘universally recognized scientific achievements that for a time provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners’ (Thomas Kuhn)
  • characteristics of a good paradigm
    • Accurate and precise statements
    • Internally consistent
    • Large span
    • Simple, bringing order in the chaos
    • Fruitful, stimulating new ideas
  • 1.2 Critiques

  • What were the four biggest critiques on evolutionism?

    1.     The ethnocentrism: best developed societies are the best. Measured by technological advances.

    2.     Strong focus on change (neglecting the way societies achieved a degree of stability)

    3.     The way each known society was forced to fit into prefabricated evolution schemes (in other words: evolutionists operated from a weak empirical basis).

    4.     The way constitutive elements of a society (kinship, economy, politics, religion) were studied in isolation from each other (e.g. kingship systems are compared between different societies, but kingship was not studied together with the political, economic and ecological factors within one particular societies)

  • 1.4 Herbert Spencer

  • natural selection (darwin)
    the most succesful in procreation will survive
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