The History of Human Marriage - Vol. 1

By Edward Westermarck | Go to book overview

THE HISTORY OF HUMAN MARRIAGE

INTRODUCTION
ON THE METHOD OF INVESTIGATION

THE method followed in the present work is the comparative method, which for half a century has been dominant among British students of social anthropology. When applied to the study of human civilisation, this method starts from the fact that there are great similarities between the products of culture--such as implements, weapons, objects of art, customs, institutions, and beliefs--among different peoples in different countries. Weapons, for example, are classed under spear, club, sling, bow and arrow, and so forth. Myths are divided under such headings as myths of sunrise and sunset, eclipse-myths, earthquake-myths, and local myths which account for the names of places by some fanciful tale. Under religious beliefs and practices there are animism, totemism, ancestor-worship, polytheism, monotheism. Under institutions occur, for instance, marriage, clanship, chieftainship, slavery; and under each heading there are sub-headings, like marriage by consideration, monogamy, polygyny, polyandry, group-marriage. These classifications of the various details of culture, as Tylor remarks, may be compared with the species of plants and animals as studied

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