Elements of Social Organization

Elements of Social Organization

Elements of Social Organization

Elements of Social Organization

Excerpt

Since this book was first published, ten years ago, there has been a great development of interest in social anthropology. Public interest in the study has been stimulated partly by a desire to know more about the peoples of Asia and Africa who have recently attained political independence, and partly by a wider concern for any scientific discipline which can appear to throw more light on the refractory problems of modern social living. In more professional circles, colleagues in allied fields, e.g. sociology, psychology, political science, and even economics, have found it possible to integrate concepts from social anthropology, and some of the material provided by anthropological study, more closely with their own ideas and work. As a result, there is more understanding of what an anthropologist does, and more appreciation of the value of his comparative analyses of human behaviour, than ever before. At the same time, anthropologists have profited by this cross- fertilization of ideas. They have tended to give a less exotic, more precise and realistic air to their analyses. They have begun to give more attention to problems of recognizably general social import -- migration, land tenure and utilization, social stratification, feudalism, local government, public health. They have increasingly left the primitive field and have examined with more confidence the institutions of rural, and even some urban, communities in the developed societies of the Orient and the West. They have given more depth to their work in various directions, notably in their increasing care for historical perspective.

Looking at the anthropological field in general terms, we can recognize marked developments in the study of problems of descent and kinship systems, of ritual, of witchcraft belief, and of symbolic behaviour. One great advance has been in the analysis of political institutions. A moderate interest in the allied subject of primitive law has long characterized social anthropology, but it is only recently that the study of the . . .

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