Graber, Robert Bates. 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. “Social Evolution.” In 21st Century Anthropology: A Reference Handbook, Vol. Anthropologists generally consider interconnections of different cultural domains when they analyze cultures, e.g., the connections between subsistence strategies and family organization or religion. In other words, all constituent parts of a society must be seen as interacting with and influencing all others. Functionalism considers a culture as an interrelated whole, not a collection of isolated traits. Accessed March 5, 2015. http://anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php?culture=Culture%20and%20Personality. (Original work published 1915), Malinowski, B. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Reference, 2006. “Postmodernism.” In Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Vol. 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. Start studying Anthropology (class) Functionalism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2013. Functionalism Emphasized. Functionalism in Anthropology Functionalism is one methodology used by certain anthropologists, a methodology by which they explain the data they gather on different cultures. The Functionalists examined how a particular cultural phase is interrelated with other aspects of the culture and how it affects the whole system of the society; in other words, cause and effect. Key Works. The elementary forms of the religious life. Even so, the basic idea of Functionalism has become part of a common sense for cultural analysis in anthropology. Margolis, Maxine L. “Cultural Materialism.” In Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 2, edited by R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms, 841-846. His approach to anthropology was based on functionalism and culture. The first functionalist assumption is that all healthy societies and cultures are well integrated and in a state of homeostasis. 3, edited by H. James Birx, 1012-1013. Structural functionalism was a form of functionalism that arose in Great Britain. As a result of their reliance on this organic metaphor, functionalists came to their work with a variety of assumptions. “Cultural Ecology.” In Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Encyclopedia, Vol. Buzney, Catherine and Jon Marcoux. The structural functionalist school of thought, with contributors such as Meyer Fortes and Sir Raymond Firth, believed that the important level of analysis was society and its constituent institutions and roles. (1965). “Culture and Personality.” In Encyclopedia of Anthropology, Vol. Functionalism considers a culture as an interrelated whole, not a collection of isolated traits. Deriving largely from French sociologist Emile Durkheim’s work, this school of thought saw societies largely through the lens of an organic metaphor, so that societies were believed to be parallel to living organisms, institutions parallel to bodily organs, and individuals parallel to cells. In reaction to the theorizing and historical guesswork of early anthropological work such as that of E. B. Tyler and Lewis Henry Morgan, functionalists abandoned the search for origins and the ranking of all societies in an evolutionary framework. Culture defines that whole, and it constitutes the entity in which the various functional elements act and are interdependent. Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1940. 4, edited by H. James Birx, 1912-1915. 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. Sullivan, Gerald. 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. 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. 2, edited by H. James Birx, 576-585. 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. Kelly, Petrina, Xia Chao, Andrew Scruggs, Lucy Lawrence, and Katherine Mcghee-Snow. The resulting ethnographic writing produced by most functionalists took a “snapshot” view of the society or culture, primarily written in the present tense, the so-called anthropological present, to illustrate the assumed timelessness of what is being presented. 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. Instead, functionalism developed a mode of synchronic analysis, such that each society or culture was to be studied as bounded and timeless. Functionalism ascribes meaning, function, and purpose to the elements within a whole. -importance of social relationships between individuals in groups. In its widest sense, it includes both functionalism (narrowly defined) and structural-functionalism. At the same time, the functionalist imperatives of primary fieldwork, holism, and the “anthropological present” have continued to be cornerstones of most social and cultural anthropological research and writing to this day. One of the first ethnographic works written by a professional anthropologist. 2007. 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. Tucker, Bram. Durkheim, É. The theory of Functionalism emerged in the 1920s and then declined after World War II because of cultural changes caused by the war. This meant that most functionalists assumed that societies and cultures, if left alone, would not change significantly. Malinowski and later U.S./American cultural anthropologists focused primarily on the ways that different cultures fulfilled the biological, psychological, and social needs of individual members, as well as the needs of the cultures themselves to maintain and reproduce themselves. 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. A theoretical orientation in anthropology, developed by Bronislaw Malinowski. The Nuer. Harris, Marvin and Orna Johnson. Cultural Materialism. While the synchronic method of analysis contributed many advancements in the field, such as the abandonment of historical speculation, later anthropologists began to seek ways to combine the strengths of synchrony with historical, or diachronic, views and to include change in their theoretical models. -importance of fieldwork. 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. Lukas, Scott A. Cultural traits supported or helped to preserve social structures. Individuals were seen as largely irrelevant as units of analysis. Social Anthropology and Other Essays. 2, edited by H. James Birx, 641-645. Oxford. 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. “Culture and Personality.” The University of Alabama Department of Anthropology, Anthropological Theories: A Guide Prepared by Students for Students. London. Since the theory did not emphasize social transformations, it was replaced by other theories related to cultural changes. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2013. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2013. 2, edited by R. Jon McGee and Richard L. Warms, 860-861. Functionalism emerged as a sharp methodological break with the facile and de-contextualised comparisons of evolutionary anthropology and grand narratives illustrating the progress of reason (Frazer).##Required a comparative method: looking at what institutions/beliefs mean for people in a socially interconnected way [e.g.how myth regulates and codifies behavior].##Commitment to … Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference, 2013. (1984). 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.

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