Social Anthropology: The Science of Human Society and Culture

Social Anthropology: The Science of Human Society and Culture

Social Anthropology: The Science of Human Society and Culture

Social Anthropology: The Science of Human Society and Culture

Excerpt

This volume is an attempt to provide a systematic introduction to social anthropology, which in recent decades has developed as an empirical and comparative study of human societies and cultures, including our own. From time to time it is worth while to evaluate the developments made in a field of knowledge by summarizing and organizing its current findings, and this I have tried to do. Only the more important propositions are dealt with in order to bring the whole within the limits of a single book.

It includes a systematic body of what I conceive to be fundamental theory concerning the nature and effects of human society and culture. The technique used for demonstrating the propositions given is to present comparative data selected from sources which not only illustrate the generalizations but, whenever possible, also give some insight into the processes involved. Concepts are analyzed and defined as rigorously as possible. Finally, the earliest formulations of the more important propositions known to me from Western civilization, will be found in numbered historical notes at the end of each chapter, in order to give the reader some historical perspective of the field.

In presenting the data I have followed these conventions: statements within quotation marks are by participants in the culture; those not in quotation marks are by outside observers.

I do not know how successfully I have achieved my aims, but the fact that such an ambitious undertaking has even been completed is due to the help and encouragement of my wife, Elizabeth J. Slotkin. I also want to thank the publishers who permitted me to quote from their publications; specific acknowledgments are given separately.

The manuscript was written during the war, but various difficulties have delayed its publication.

J. S. SLOTKIN

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