A Brief History of
1st edition published April 25, 1719
first, I let him know his name
should be Friday, which was
the day I saved his life.
I likewise taught him to say
Master; and then let him
know that was to be my name
… as soon as it was day I
beckoned to him to come with
me, and let him know I would
give him some clothes; at
which he seemed very glad, for
he was stark naked
The Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, London,
1st May to 15th October 1851.
Over 13,000 exhibits were displayed and viewed by over 6,200,000
visitors to the exhibition the Great Exhibition of 1851. Visitors
marveled at the industrial revolution that was propelling Britain into
the greatest power of the time.
1850 inventions/discoveries
•first cast iron bridge
•2nd law of thermodynamics
•first submarine
•First electronic (telegraphic)
•theory of primary numbers
transmission of an image (FAX)
•measurement of speed of light to •speed
within 1% of true speed
•Theory of continental drift first
•refrigeration to -30C
•first cast iron railway bridge
•first delivery of piped water
•first submarine telegraph cable
under pressure
•first flash photograph
•first description of ion exchange •first typewriter with a ribbon and
•first use of a thermometer to
measure a patients temperature
•first daily weather maps (in USA)
•discovery that anthrax caused by •first rubber hoses
a bacterium
•steam hammer invented
•first public health organization
•first photographic paper (replacing
(in USA)
“anthropology is that great science which is now
engrossing the attention of all thinking men and
women' (anon. Anthropological Review 1868).
`at no previous time has the mind of thinking
men been fixed on the subject of human origin,
so generally, so intently, so discordantly, and, on
the whole, so rationally as now' (anon.
Anthropological Review 1869: 4).
The value of science and the
superiority of Western
civilization was confirmed by
the evidence of material
The rapidly expanding
European empires
 the contrast with less
advanced civilizations
It was self-evident to most that
European civilization was far
better than the savage condition.
Three Problems
1.Degenerationism Versus Progress
“We have no reason to believe any community ever
did, or ever can, emerge, unassisted by external helps
from a state of utter barbarism into anything that
can be called civilisation. Man has not emerged from
the savage state; the progress of any community in
civilisation, by its own internal means, must always
have begun from a condition removed from that of
complete barbarism, out of which it does not appear
that men ever did or can raise themselves.”
Richard Whately, the Archbishop of Dublin, On the Origin of
Civilization (1857)
ancient ruins in Egypt,
Rome, Greece and
Central America
seemed to confirm
2.Monogenism Versus Polygenism
Oliver Goldsmith’s (1728-74)
illustrated races (1774)
Did the various races
have a single, or
monogenic origin, or
did they have a
multiple or polygenic
threatened the notion
of progress
If the diversity of cultures was due to the diversity of human
minds then `primitive' humans lacked the capacity for selfimprovement and no theory of progress could arise
3. Diffusion vs. Independent Invention
Was culture the product of independent
invention or was it the result of
borrowing or diffusion
Diffusion supported the
argument and suggested
that savages lacked the
capacity for selfimprovement and had
to borrow ideas from
civilized cultures
Edward Gibbon
One of the favourite pastimes of historians in the late 18th and early
19th centuries was to write histories of civilization
Most `Histories of Civilization' were concerned primarily with
synchronizing the history of Greek, Roman, Egyptian and other
civilizations, with biblical history.
Based on a correlation of Middle
Eastern and Mediterranean
histories and Holy scriptures,
Ussher established the first day of
creation as Sunday 23 October
4004 BC.
James Ussher (1581-1656),
Archbishop of Armagh,
Primate of All Ireland
This date was incorporated into
an authorized version of the Bible
printed in 1701, and came to be
regarded with almost as much
unquestioning reverence as the
Bible itself.
Dr. John Lightfoot (1602-1675)
Vice-Chancellor of the University
The short chronology posed an of Cambridge refined the date to
obstacle to the development of
October 23, 4004 B.C., at nine
`prehistory'. Indeed, there was o'clock in the morning
no `prehistory' - only history
Lyell's uniformitarian
assumption, by demonstrating
that even the largest geological
formations could be accounted
for by ordinary laws of nature
given sufficient time, broke the
yoke of biblical interpretation
and firmly established the great
antiquity of the earth.
Acceptance of Lyell's theory made his time scale available to
other sciences such as biology and anthropology.
But establishing the great age of the earth was one thing
establishing the great age for Human beings was another.
low [i.e. recent] antiquity of our
species is not controverted by any
experienced geologist. It is never
pretended that our race co-existed with
assemblages of animals and plants of
which all or even a large proportion of
species are extinct” (Lyell 1837: 249;
emphasis original).
Anthropology: A Branch of History
`the history, not of tribes or nations, but of the
condition of knowledge, religion, art, custom, and the
like among them' (Tylor 1871 I: 5).
"no conception can be understood except through its
history is a maxim which all ethnographers may adopt
as a standing rule". (Tylor 1871).
`the past is continuously needed to explain the present
and the whole to explain the part' (Tylor 1865: 2).
`there seems no human thought so primitive as to have
lost its bearing on our own thought, nor so ancient as
to have broken its connection with our own life' (Tylor
The Savage Becomes
the Primitive
Making Stone Tools New Guinea
`the master-key to the
investigation of man's
primeval condition is
held by Prehistoric
This key is the evidence of the Stone Age, proving that
men of remotely ancient ages were in the savage state'
(Tylor 1871 I: 58).
“Looking over a collection of their [quaternary man's]
implements and weapons on a museum shelf we may
fairly judge by analogy that in their moral habits, as in
their material arts, they had much in common with the
rudest savages of modern times, users like them of
chipped stone and flint.” (Tylor 1873a: 702)
“The condition of
savage and barbarous
tribes often more or
less fairly represent
stages of culture
through which our
own ancestors passed
long ago' (Tylor 1871)
Central tenet
“The condition of savage
and barbarous tribes
often more or less fairly
represent stages of
culture through which
our own ancestors passed
long ago' (Tylor 1871)
Anthropologists could then use
the `indirect evidence' provided
by contemporary savagery `as a
means of re-constructing the
lost records of early or
barbarous times' (1865: 5).
universal sequence
of “stages” through
which it was
hypothesized all
societies will sooner
or later pass unless
their development is
arrested by some
(extinction, conquest,
absorption by
another society or
achieving a perfect
equilibrium with the
Writing, urban life;
flowering of arts,
settled life; markets,
rise of chiefs and kings,
agriculture, arts develop
and gathering; no surplus
production; no permanent
cohesive unit wider than
band, stone tools
Uniformitarian principle
The same kind of development in culture which has gone on
inside our range of knowledge has also gone on outside it, its
course of proceeding being unaffected by our having or not
having reporters present. If any one holds that human thought
and action were worked out in primæval times according to
laws essentially other than those of the modern world, it is for
him to prove by valid evidence this anomalous state of things,
otherwise the doctrine of permanent principle will hold good,
as in astronomy or geology. That the tendency of culture has
been similar throughout the existence of human society, and
that we may fairly judge from its known historic course what
its prehistoric course may have been, is a theory clearly
entitled to precedence as a fundamental principle of
ethnographic research. (1871a I: 32-33)
The phenomena of Culture may be classified and arranged, stage by
stage, in a probable order of evolution” p. 6
Hand Gonne
A present day society in
the stage of Barbarism
(e.g. Hawai’i or Samoa)
could shed light on the
distant past when
northern European
society was in the stage
of Barbarism
just as an Australian
Aboriginal society could
inform Europeans of
their history in the stage
of Savagery
Among evidence aiding
us to trace the course
which the civilization of
the world has actually
followed, is that great
class of facts to denote
which I have found it
convenient to introduce
the term”Survivals”.
Maypole Dancing Outskirts of London, 1891
These are processes, customs, opinions, and so forth which have been
carried on by force of habit into a new state of society different from
that in which they had their original home, and they thus remain as
proofs and examples of an older condition of culture out of which a
newer has evolved…. Such examples lead us back to the habits of
hundreds and even thousands of years ago, p. 16. “games, popular
sayings, customs, superstitions, and the like”.
E.B. Tylor 1832-1917
1871 Primitive Culture
correlates the three levels
of social evolution to types
of religion:
•Savagery — animatism
•barbarism — polytheism
•civilization — monotheism
Also linked to morality
John Ferguson McLennan, (1827-81)
1865 Primitive Marriage: An Enquiry into the Origin of the
Form of Capture in Marriage Ceremonies
first stage was a time of
sexual promiscuity
Female infanticide led to a
shortage of women, who had
to be shared in a polyandrous
matriarchal situation
Because men don’t like to
share wives they captured
them from neighbors
(exogamy) – patriarchy and
Lewis Henry Morgan
1851 League of the Iroquois
(1818 – 1881)
1871 Systems of
Consanguinity and Affinity
1877 Ancient Society
Assumptions of Nineteenth Century
1. Like the natural world the cultural world is
governed by laws that science can discover.
2. These laws operated on the distant past as they
do on the present. - Uniformitariamism
3. The present grows out of the past by a
continuous process - developmentalism
4. This growth is simple to complex.
5. All humans share a single psychic nature.
6. The moving force of cultural development is
interaction with the environment.
Assumptions of Nineteenth Century Evolutionism
7. Different development is due to different environments.
8. These differences can be measured.
9. In these terms cultures can be ordered in a hierarchical
10. Certain contemporary cultures are like earlier stages.
11. In the absence of data these stages can be reconstructed
by the comparative method.
12. The results of the comparative method can be
confirmed by the study of survivals.
What was wrong with evolutionism?
EVOLUTION = the directional nature of the pattern of change of
human societies and cultures over time — in the direction of
increasing complexity, internal integration, and control over
DIFFUSION = the movement of cultural phenomena (inventions,
objects, ideas, or even whole cultures) in space, from one place to
DIFFUSIONISM: a conception of human cultural development
which sees diffusion as a more common source of evolutionary
change in societies than independent evolution — that is, the
forces that lead to change are more commonly external rather
than internal
The criticism of the Diffusionists vis-à-vis the Evolutionists
was not that social evolution did not occur…
They believed it did — but not nearly so regularly as the
Evolutionists believed
Most human history, they believed, was shaped by
 diffusion
 borrowing
 migration
Important advances (agriculture, animal domestication,
metallurgy, state organization) were not invented multiple
times in different places — they were typically invented
once, then widely diffused
Human Nature
Evolutionists saw humans as
inventive, opportunistic, questing,
possessing a “psychic unity”
which made disparate groups
equally likely to invent
Diffusionists saw humans as
much more conservative…
 clinging to old cultural patterns
and with a bias against accepting
new patterns…
 and, when they did change, more
inclined to borrow than to invent
A typical diffusionist culture complex:
• an item of technology which
diffused into Africa from the Middle
East circa 1100 CE — husbandry of
dairy cattle
• first appears in Horn and Eastern
Sudan, then diffuses progressively
southward to the Cape (with
exception of zone or tse tse fly
infestation in Central Africa)
• everywhere social values become
oriented to and expressed in terms
of cattle (wealth, power, beauty, and
even God)
• “cattle complex” cultures share a
broad similarity of economic
structure, social organization and
2 1
5 3
In the Vienna School view, the human race had originated in Asia,
and the earth settled by processes of migration, which could be
traced thanks to the great conservatism of the “culture circles”,
which retained their basic patterns despite subsequent borrowing
Finally, the diffusionist idea was taken
up in England by a pair of Cambridge
Smith and Perry carried the diffusionist
idea to its ultimate conclusion — all
cultural advancement came from one
single source, the ancient Egyptians, who
made the great leap forward to
civilization, and who (through migration
and borrowing) diffused it throughout the
The British diffusionist school is
usually called “heliocentric” because
of the centrality of sun symbolism in
ancient Egyptian religion
Smith and Perry cited as “evidence”
of these cultural connections the
frequency of pyramids and sun
symbolism among world civilizations
(e.g. Aztec, Cambodian, Chinese,
Dravidian and Hindu, Greek)
Much of their theory suggested that
most of the cultures of the world,
having once been “civilized” through
contact with the Egyptians,
“degenerated” to more “primitive”
stages of organization
The Growth of Fieldwork
N. Chagnon in Brazil with the Yanomamo
3 Impetuses
1. Increasing knowledge of other cultures
2. dissatisfaction with the quality and
quantity of much of the data contained in
the ethnological writings
3. the belief that the `savage' tribes in their
`natural' state were rapidly disappearing in
the face of contact with the more civilized
Increasing knowledge of other cultures
 Explorers and travellers were replaced by
government officials and missionaries who formed a
closer association with the people they were in
contact with.
 Appearance of Literary journals such as
•The Fortnightly Review (1865-1934),
•The Nineteenth Century (1877),
•The Academy (1871)
•The Contemporary Review (1866- )
 First Monographs
Eg. The Native Tribes of Central Australia (1899), B.
Spencer and F. Gillen's
 Questionnaires
Notes and Queries on
Anthropology 1874
Purpose: `to promote accurate
anthropological observation on the part
of travellers, and to enable those who are
not anthropologists to supply the
information, which is needed for the
scientific study of anthropology at home'
(BAAS 1874: vii).
Fear that “primitive” tribes were rapidly disappearing
Ona family of
Tierra Del
`In view of the fast vanishing "primitive" cultures, and
the rapid extinction of some of the more primitive and
ethnologically interesting races the importance of such
efforts to secure information ere it is too late cannot be
over-estimated' (Balfour 1905: 15).
Alfred Court Hadddon (1855-1940)
W H R Rivers 1864-1922
1898 Cambridge Expedition to the Torres Straits
Survey Versus Intensive Fieldwork
A typical piece of intensive work is one in which the worker
lives for a year or more among a community of perhaps
four or five hundred people and studies every detail of their
life and culture; in which he comes to know every member
of the community personally; in which he is not content
with generalized information, but studies every feature of
life and custom in concrete detail and by means of the
vernacular language. It is only by such work that one can
fully realise the immense extent of the knowledge which is
now awaiting the inquirer, even in places where the culture
has already suffered much change. It is only by such work
that it is possible to discover the incomplete and even
misleading character of much of the vast mass of survey
work which forms the existing basis of anthropology”
Rivers 1913
Still Evolutionary Theory
 Rivers’
“the goal of anthropology is the
reconstruction of the history of `primitive' peoples
 Balfour “the ethnographer's purpose
determine their `place in time' (1905: 18)
 Haddon's aim “to elucidate the `nature, origin and
distribution of the races and peoples of a limited
ethnological area and to define their place in the
evolutionary tree‘
Two things were absent from fieldwork at this time
1. participation
 `at Bendiyagalge we were particularly well situated to
observe their behaviour, our camp being out of sight of the
Vedda camp but within two hundred yards of it, here we
could listen to their unrestrained chatter and laughter'
(Seligman and Seligman The Vedda 1911: 85).
 Most ethnographers at this time also relied heavily on
 Fieldwork conducted under an evolutionary paradigm did
not necessitate participation. Since ethnographers were
interested in establishing historical links with other cultures,
the meanings which the myths and ceremonies they were
describing had for the people concerned was of little interest
2. sociological theory
Emile Durkheim
1858 - 1917
 The Division of Labour
in Society 1893
 Rules of the
Sociological Method 1895
 Suicide 1897
Elementary Forms of
the Religious Life, 1912
What is a Social Fact?
“A social fact is every way of acting, fixed or
not, capable of exercising on the individual
an external constraint; or again, every way
of acting which is general throughout a
given society, while at the same time existing
in its own right independent of its individual
Social Facts Characteristics
External to the Individual
• found ready-made at birth
• Objective
Endowed with coercive power
A new variety of phenomena
•source is not the individual but in society a
collective phenomenon
Rules of the Sociological Method
Society is part of nature and a science of society must be
based on the same principles as those of the natural
 Social facts must be treated as things I.e. objectively
The properties of the totality cannot be deduced from
those of the individuals who combine to form it. Rejection
of “methodological individualism”
Social facts have to be explained in terms of their
Functional Explanation
function of a social item refers to its correspondence with “the
general needs of the social organism not the individual
Function must be clearly distinguished from intention or purpose
The root idea in functionalism:
 Human societies consist of a number of institutions
over time achieve a harmonious “fit” to one
 integration
serve adaptive ends — i.e. contribute to the
survival of the overall society
 function
do not just reflect universal human nature, but
shape it in distinctive ways
 determinism
Functionalist view of a society (1)
• A society consists of a distinct set of institutions
which introject distinctive motivations into its
members from earliest childhood
Functionalist view of a society (2)
• Different institutions produce different
persons with different motivations
Functionalism in a Nutshell
how does a social phenomenon
contribute to the survival of the
society as a whole
1884 - 1942
1884 born in Kraków, Poland, then
part of the Austro-Hungarian
1910: emigrates to England to
begin postgraduate work in
anthropology at the LSE
1912 receives a Ph.D from the LSE
for a library dissertation on the
Australian aborigines
1914 travels to the British
Association for the Advancement of
Science’s meeting in Melbourne
Sept 1914 War is declared while en
route and Malinowski is classified as
an enemy alien.
 spends 2 ½ years in the
Trobriand Is.
“Imagine yourself suddenly set down surrounded by all your gear on
a tropical beach close to a native village while the launch or dinghy
which has brought you sails away out of sight”.
“Imagine yourself then, making your first entry into the village”
“Some natives flock around you, especially if they smell tobacco”
“He ought to put himself in good conditions of work, that is, in the
main, to live without other white men, right among the natives”
“One step further in this line can be made by the Ethnographer who
acquires a knowledge of the native language and can use it as an
instrument of inquiry.” (p. 23)
The Goal of Ethnography
The goal [of the Ethnographer] is, briefly; to
grasp the native's point of view, his relation to
life, to realise his vision of his world” P. 25
Perhaps through realising human nature in a
shape very distant and foreign to us, we shall
have some light shed on our own. P. 25
• It is good for the Ethnographer
sometimes to put aside camera,
note book and pencil, and to
join in himself in what is going
on p. 21
• An ethnographic diary, carried
on systematically throughout
the course of one’s work in a
district would be the ideal
instrument for this sort of study
A functional account is an analyst’s account which
asks what is the `sociological function of these customs
what part do they play in the maintenance and
development of civilization?”
Functional accounts don’t worry about how an
institution arose
–most institutional origins lost in the mists of time
–can at most speculate about them (“conjectural
For functionalists, what is important is not how
things originated but how they work (function)…
–how they contribute to peoples’ lives
Various Institutional Functions
language  binds the community together
Magic  warrants a myth's truth,
Myth  expresses, enhances, and codifies belief; it
safeguards and enforces morality'
Scientific knowledge  ensures Man's survival
Religion  establishes, fixes, and enhances all valuable
mental attitudes, such as reverence for tradition, harmony
with environment, courage and confidence in the struggle
with different cultures and at the prospect of death
law  curbs certain natural propensities, to hem in and
control human instincts and to impose a non-spontaneous,
compulsory behaviour'
Malinowski’s Hierarchy of needs
‘Basic’ needs
Food, shelter, sex, etc.
this supplies a certain commonality to all human
cultures and is ultimately what makes them comparable.
Also makes ethnology scientific
each culture responds to the particular needs of its
members through institutions
every institution centers around a fundamental need
For example, tools function to provide Man's food, and
construct his shelters
The variation in the form of the institution is culturally
instrumental’ needs
but tools require skilled artisans and trade groups etc.
In a sense, the tools themselves have needs.
These are instrumental needs
 the three primary ones being economic organization,
law, and education
integrative needs
these institutions must in turn be functionally adjusted
to each other in order to form a more or less consistent
this produces requirements not of individuals but of the
cultural system itself
The dominant theoretical
paradigm of the British
school of social
anthropology, 1930–1955.
Associated with the
theoretical writings of A.
R. Radcliffe-Brown in
Structure and function in
primitive society
A. R. Radcliffe-Brown 1881-1955
Biopsychological Functionalism
or “Needs” Functionalism
Structural Functionalism
Exchange Functionalism (Mauss)
Structural Functionalism
Structuralism: theory examines cultures in terms of
systems of structured relationships between social
Functionalism: theory that all social facts can and
should be explained by their function in relation to
Structural Functionalism: societies seen as having
structure and order, and all phenomena occurring
within the culture are seen to have the underlying
goal of maintaining the overall societal structure and
order, despite individual motivation..
1. Society is seen as an organically structured whole akin
to a biological organism.
2. Society has a social structure - an ordered arrangement
of parts.
3. Structure is ideally integrated, unified, and exists in
4. This structure is the object of analysis; the most valued
data is the structure you can abstract.
5. The function of Social activities and institutions is
ultimately interpreted in terms of maintaining the whole
social structure of the society
 Distinguishable sets of roles, norms, and statuses
within a social system e.g. kinship system
 it is to institutions that the concept of “function” is
 the function of an institution is its contribution to the
overall perpetuation and adaptation of the society
 For social life to persist or continue the various
institutions must exhibit some kind of measure of
coherence or consistence
 The problem for society is to survive — to maintain its
 But basic human nature is inherently selfish and is
therefore inimical to that survival.
 Therefore the behaviour of individuals must be
molded to the requirements society needs to survive
 Conflict must be restrained and the conduct of
persons in their interrelations with each other must be
controlled by norms or rules of behaviour
 Failure of the individual to follow these norms results
in sanctions.
MALINOWSKI: Society seen
as a nurturing, comforting,
cocoon emanating from, and
responding to, human needs
seen as a tyrannical entity,
often at odds with human
nature, which controls humans
by injecting fears and anxieties
into their psyches, and if
necessary sacrificing them for
its own sake
Radcliffe Brown
What is the Functionalist view of Human Nature?
What is the Relationship between the individual
and the society?
How do Functionalists account for change?
How do functionalists deal with conflict?
How is the function of a given institution
Must all institutions have a function?
Boas en route to Baffin
Island 1883 and Central
Inuit; to study of
reflectivity of sea-water
Inuit can perceive and name hundreds
of colors and qualities of sea-water and
surfaces unknown in European
distinctions which can be
described ‘scientifically’ in
physics and optics
and which are of adaptive value
to a sea-mammal hunting culture
Boas’ study: earliest anthropological
attempt to describe a non-European
‘ethno-science’ in phenomenological
Analyst seeks to understand phenomena by grasping
how they make sense within the framework of the
subject’s thought-world i.e relatively
posing as a Kwakiutl dancer for a National Museum diorama, 1895
1885: First expedition
to Northwest Coast
(Bella Coola)
1886: First collecting
trip for American
Museum of Natural
History (New York City)
to Nootka and Kwakiutl
— massive
documentation of
Northwest Coast culture
 Evolutionism assumes what it is trying to prove
 Order of cultural traits is arbitrary, eg representative
and geometric art forms
positioning individual cultures on the savagerybarbarism-civilization ladder discounts their particularity
and integrity
 sidesteps the important task of reconstructing unwritten
histories for non-Western peoples
Rational psychological explanation is misleading i.e.
people did not reason themselves out of their primitive
state because one of the fundamental characteristics of
people is that they act automatically and unconsciously
 Claims for historical contact for enormously large areas
 Improbable that cultural traits remained unchanged for
thousands of years
 traits are arbitrarily selected only to prove the theory
 No attempt to demonstrate whether similar cultural
traits are due to independent invention eg. Marriage
 Uninterested in how cultures change
Three pillars explain cultural customs
1. Cultures can only be understood with
reference to their particular historical
development. Therefore each culture is
2. Environmental conditions
3. Individual psychological factors
idea was not to make a preconceived hypothesis,
but to collect as much data about a particular culture without
any theory
general theories of human Behaviour would arise once
enough data had been collected
“We refrain from the attempt to solve the fundamental
problem of the general development of civilization until we
have been able to unravel the processes that are going on under
our eyes”
Hallmark of historical particularism became the intensive
study of specific cultures through long periods of fieldwork
• superorganic —the product of collective or
group life; but the individual has an influence
• unconscious — a filter through which reality is
perceived, but which is not itself the object of
• adaptive — culture ultimately helps indivudlas
adapt to their environment.
Four Field Approach
Influential generation of anthropologists trained under
Boas at Columbia University and established Boasian
doctrines in North American universities:
 Alfred A. Kroeber
 Ruth Benedict
 Margaret Mead
 Rhoda Métraux
 Robert Lowie
 Edward Sapir
 Paul Radin
 Alexander A. Goldenweiser
 Clark Wissler
 Cultural/historical particularism
 “race, language, and culture” as independent
 Relativism
 superorganic
 Cultural Determinism
 Data Collection “without” theory
 Emphasis on Fieldwork
 4-field approach
Alfred Louis Kroeber
1897 enrolled in a course in
American Indian languages at
Columbia University offered by
Franz Boas
1901 completed his dissertation on
symbolism in Arapaho art in
Montana and received the first
doctorate in anthropology to be
awarded by Columbia
1901-1946 first instructor of newly
created anthropology dept. at U of
California, Berkeley
“ no culture is
wholly intelligible
without reference
to the noncultural
or so-called
factors with
which it is in
relation and
which condition
it" (Kroeber,
1939: 205).
Arapaho camp with buffalo meat drying near
Fort Dodge, Kansas 1870. William S. Soule
“cultures occur in nature as wholes; and these wholes can
never be entirely formulated through consideration of
their elements.
Cultural and
areas of
Native North
The Superorganic
“The superorganic or superspsychic or super-individual
that we call civilization appears to have an existence, an
order, and a causality as objective and as determinable as
those of the subpsychic or inorganic”
 individuals have very little if any impact on a culture’s
development and change
 Culture plays a determining role in individual human behaviour.
 Culture has an existence outside of us and compelled us to
conform to patterns that could be statistically demonstrated
 e.g. changes in fashion show that cyclical patterns of change
have occurred beyond the influence or understanding of any
given individual. Kroeber showed that hem length, height, and
width tended to move up and down in regularcycles,
Alfred Kroeber
 Culture Areas
 Superorganic
 Deterministic
 First American Textbook
in anthropology (1923)
Culture and Personality
seeks to understand the growth and development
of personal or social identity as it relates to the
surrounding social environment
Ruth Benedict
Margaret Mead
1922 begins teaching at
Barnard College as assistant
to Franz Boas and meets
Margaret Mead
1934 Patterns of Culture
1946 The Chrysanthemum and
the Sword: Patterns of
Japanese Culture
Ruth Fulton Benedict
Patterns of Culture 1934
Demonstrated the primacy of
culture over biology in
understanding the differences
between people
Contrasted the ways of life of
the Zuni, Natives of Dobu and
– Wealth is a sign of
– Individual fame is a sign
of selfishness
– Solutions
• Share all the wealth with
other members of the
• Dare not to do anything
that brings them
individual fame.
– Extremely passive.
The Dobuan…is dour, and
passionate, consumed with
jealousy and suspicion and
resentment. Every moment of
prosperity he conceives himself
as having wrung from a
malicious world by a conflict in
which he has worsted his
opponent. The good man is one
which has many such conflicts
to his credit…
paranoiac and mean spirited
Zest for life
Strive for ecstasy
in ceremonies
Why are they so different?
 Can’t be “fixed human nature.”
 Why not?
 Suppose - Newborn Zuni baby is raised by Dobu
parents (or vice versa).
 How would this baby behave when he or she becomes
 Like their adopted parents.
Culture and Personality
A set of core values shapes larger cultural practices
resulting in a distinctive pattern of culture
cultural differences were multifaceted expressions
of a society’s most basic core values
cultural values relative
Societies have a dominating cultural personality
Culture is “Personality writ large”
The goal of anthropology was to document these
different patterns
Culture and Personality
“We have seen that any society selects some segment
of the arc of possible human behaviour”… and in so
far as it achieves integrations its institutions tend to
further the expression of its selected segment and
inhibit opposite expressions”.
Individual psychology is plastic, i.e. Is molded
principally by cultural experience
During World War II,
Benedict worked for the
Office of War Information,
applying anthropological
methods to the study of
contemporary cultures.
1946 The Chrysanthemum
and the Sword: Patterns of
Japanese Culture
Culture and Personality - Critique
Where’s the history?
How are culture & individual psychology related? For
example, does culture somehow 'cause' individual
Is individual behaviour patterned? How? What best
accounts for the observed patterns?
Circular -- Basic personality structure was inferred
from some aspects of behaviour then used to explain
other behaviour
linked anthropology with psychology
1922 Barnard College
under Boas, Meets Ruth
1925-26 8 months
Fieldwork in Samoa
Margaret Mead 1901-1978
Coming of Age in Samoa 1926
Is adolescence a
universally traumatic
and stressful time due
to biological factors or
is the experience of
adolescence dependent
on one's cultural
nature vs nurture
based on a detailed study of 68 girls between 8 and 20 in three
contiguous villages
Mead described sexual relations as frequent and usually without
consequence – or issue
The basic conclusion was
that adolescence in Samoa
was not a stressful period
for girls
Because, in general, Samoan
society lacked stresses
“This tale of another way of life is mainly
concerned with education with the process by
which the baby, arrived cultureless upon the
human scene, becomes a full-fledged adult
member of his or her society. The strongest
light will fall upon the ways in which Samoan
education, in its broadest sense, differs from
our own. And from this contrast we may be
able to turn, made newly and vividly selfconscious and self-critical, to judge anew and
perhaps fashion differently the education we
give our children (1928: 13)
1983 Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making
and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth
Mead did not spend enough time in Samoa
and lived in naval dispensary with an American
family rather than in a Samoan household
 was not familiar with the Samoan language
 ignored violence in Samoan life,
Derek Freeman
Failed to consider the influence of biology on
Mead had been lied to by two of her female informants and
thus came to erroneous conclusions about Samoan culture and
the sexual freedom of the girls
She also went to Samoa with preconceived intention of showing
that culture, not biology, determined human responses to life’s
Growing Up in New Guinea 1930
Mead wanted to study the
thought processes of children
in preliterate cultures and the
way they were shaped by adult
developed psychological tests
to administer to the children of
Pere New Guniea
collected approximately
35,000 pieces of children's
central idea: that
differences between
peoples are usually
cultural differences
imparted in
specific childrearing practices
shape personalities
that in turn give
specific societies their
essential natures
Sex and Temperament in Three
Primitive Societies (1935)
sought to discover extent
temperamental differences between
the sexes were culturally determined
rather than innate biological
 Mead found a different pattern of
male and female behavior in each of
the cultures she studied, all different
from gender role expectations in the
United States at that time.
The gentle mountain-dwelling Arapesh
Arapesh child-rearing responsibilities
evenly divided among men and women
The fierce cannibalistic Mundugumor
a natural hostility exists between all members of
the same sex”. Mundugumor fathers and sons,
and mothers and daughters were adversaries.
The graceful headhunters of Tchambuli,
While men were preoccupied with art the
women had the real power, controlling fishing
and manufacturing
Mead's contribution in separating biologicallybased sex from socially-constructed gender was
groundbreaking, gender roles."
1942 And Keep Your Powder Dry,
a book on American national
character for War effort
National Character studies
•Small scale techniques applied
to large scale societies
•Culture at a distance
•guide government and military
early 1960s a vocal commentator
on contemporary American life.
Characteristics of Mead’s anthropology
Participant observation
Humans select their culture, choosing some
traits and ignoring others.