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Harrison, Anthony Kwame. 2007. Like a human being has various organs that are interconnected and necessary for the body to function correctly, so society is a system of interconnected parts that make the whole function efficiently. Instead of relying on comparative work or grand theorizing, functionalism demanded of its practitioners that they engage in long-term participant observation to experience life in the society or culture firsthand. On the cultural side, Bronislaw Malinowski, one of the earliest functionalist anthropologists, focused his attention on the social and psychological functions of various cultural traits in the reproduction of both individuals and cultures. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Reference, 2006. Even so, the basic idea of Functionalism has become part of a common sense for cultural analysis in anthropology. University of Alabama Department of Anthropology Anthropological Theories: A Guide Prepared by Students for Students. Accessed March 5, 2015. http://anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php?culture=Culture%20and%20Personality. In its widest sense, it includes both functionalism (narrowly defined) and structural-functionalism. 1, edited by R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms, 142-147. Functionalism emerged in reaction to earlier schools of thought in anthropology, primarily those focused on social evolution and the quest for the origins of social institutions and cultural traits, as well as those focused on the spread or diffusion of these institutions and traits. Durkheim, É. Functionalism considers a culture as an interrelated whole, not a collection of isolated traits. (Original work published 1915), Malinowski, B. Structural functionalism is a theoretical framework utilized by both anthropology and sociology. In addition, functionalism’s belief in the possibility of a scientific, objective study of human societies and cultures has likewise caused later anthropologists to turn away from its somewhat mechanistic models and assumptions and toward more interpretive, humanistic, phenomenological, and “postmodern” approaches. Two different kinds of functionalist theory emerged in anthropology fairly early on and served as the primary split between British Social and U.S./ American cultural anthropology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2013. Margolis, Maxine L. “Cultural Materialism.” In Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Vol. Functionalism is similar to Radcliffe-Brown 's structural functionalism, in that it is holistic and posits that all cultural "traits" are functionally interrelated and form an integrated social whole. Functionalists assumed that all social institutions or cultural traits, no matter how obscure or seemingly maladaptive, were somehow integral to maintaining the society or culture within the ecological and social contexts in which it existed. The roots of functionalism are found in the work of sociologists Herbert Spencer and Émile Durkheim. Within cultural anthropology, various forms of functionalism emerged to explore different aspects of these individual and cultural needs, such as cultural ecology and its focus on the adaptation of cultural traits to ecological niches. Harris, Marvin and Orna Johnson. I use it mainly in the narrower sense, that is, to refer to ideas associated with Bronislaw Malinowski and his followers, notably Sir Raymond Firth. 2, edited by R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms, 860-861. 3, edited by H. James Birx, 1012-1013. Graber, Robert Bates. As a result, it was impossible to study, for example, kinship in this paradigm without also looking at religion, politics, subsistence, and all other aspects of society. (Original work published 1922), Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. (1964). As a result of this assumption, functionalism as a theoretical paradigm was left without any method for studying change, other than to show the ways that a society regains homeostasis after “damage” is incurred from outside influences. 2, edited by R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms, 639-645. functionalism, in anthropology and sociology, a theory stressing the importance of interdependence among all behavior patterns and institutions within a social system to its long-term survival. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2006. Instead, functionalism developed a mode of synchronic analysis, such that each society or culture was to be studied as bounded and timeless. -importance of social relationships between individuals in groups. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2013. Cultural Materialism. Functionalism in Anthropology Functionalism is one methodology used by certain anthropologists, a methodology by which they explain the data they gather on different cultures. (1984). His approach to anthropology was based on functionalism and culture. 2, edited by H. James Birx, 641-645. Anthropologists were to describe various cultural institutions that make up a society, explain their social function, and show their contribution to the overall stability of a society. 2, edited by H. James Birx, 576-585. “Postmodernism.” In Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, edited by H. James Birx, 1912-1915. This approach had little interest in the individual, which contrasts with the approach advocated for by Bronislaw Malinowski. “Culture and Personality.” In Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Vol. The second assumption is that societies or cultures are best studied synchronically, in one time period, rather than diachronically, or over time. The functionalists have contributed much to the field of anthropology, and they have also addressed certain specific issues identified with their approach to the study of human cultures. British anthropologist, A.R Radcliffe-Brown, was its most prominent advocate. “Functionalism.” In International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. The Functionalists examined how a particular cultural phase is interrelated with other aspects of the … New York: Free Press. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1940. The Nuer. On the British side, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, proponent of what has been called “structural functionalism,” focused primarily on social structures and their systems of relationships in maintaining a well-integrated society. The Andaman Islanders. The elementary forms of the religious life. Buzney, Catherine and Jon Marcoux. functionalism, in anthropology and sociology, a theory stressing the importance of interdependence among all behavior patterns and institutions within a social system to its long-term survival. While variations on this assumption divided British anthropologists from their U.S./American colleagues (see below), the important methodological ramification of this assumption, holism, remained true on both sides of the Atlantic. This move in the discipline coincided with a greater push toward positivism, the belief in value-free scientific method, and the development of the methods of participant observation. Functionalism Emphasized. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. This meant that most functionalists assumed that societies and cultures, if left alone, would not change significantly. Functionalism emerged in reaction to earlier schools of thought in anthropology, primarily those focused on social evolution and the quest for the origins of social institutions and cultural traits, as well as those focused on the spread or diffusion … Academia.edu is a platform for academics to share research papers. Oxford. Functionalism was the predominant underlying theory in both British Social and U.S./American cultural anthropology from the beginning of the 20th century up through the early post-World War II era. 2, edited by R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms, 841-846. It was supported by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in the late 19th cent., a reaction against the evolutionary speculations of such theorists as E. B. West, Barbara. (Original work published 1922). 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