Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Scientific Theory Of Culture

Malinowski´s language is quite antiquated. He uses terms like "primitve men", a phrasing not used in anthropology, anymore. The volume is easy to read and very interesting, Malinowski refers to many early anthropologists, like Lewis H. Morgan or James G. Frazer. He explains his view of science thoroughly and concedes a kind of scientific spirit to early human beings. Here are the contents for you:


Preface (Huntington Cairns)

A Scientific Theory of Culture

I. Culture as the Subject of Scientific Investigation

II. A Minimum Definition of Science for the Humanist

III. Concepts and Methods of Anthropology

IV. What is Culture?

V. Theory of Organized Behaviour

VI. The Concrete Isolates of Organized Behavior

VII. The Functional Analysis of Culture

VIII. What is Human Nature?

IX. The Derivation of Cultural Needs

X. Basic Needs and Cultural Responses

XI. The Nature of Derived Needs

XII. The Integrative Imperatives of Human Culture

XIII. The Instrumentalyl Implemented Vital Sequence

The Functional Theory

Sir James George Frazer


The book contains Bronislaw Malinowski´s outlines on the theory of culture. His approach is functional and in the chapter General Axioms of Functionalism he provides a list of axioms:

A. Culture is essentially an instrumental apparatus by which man is put in a position the better to cope with the concrete specific problems that face him in his environment in the course of the satisfaction he needs.

B.  It is a system of objects, activities, and attitudes in which every part exists as a means to an end.

C. It is an integral in which the various elements are interdependent.

D. Such activities, attitudes and objects are organized around important and vital tasks into institutions such as the family, the clan, the local community, the tribe, and the organized teams of economic cooperations, political, legal, and educational activity.

E. From the dynamic point of view, that is, as regards the type of activity, culture can be analyzed into a number of aspects such as education, social control, economics, systems of knowledge, belief and morality, and also modes of creative and artistic expression. (Malinowski 1964: 150)

Further on Malinowski states a cultural process, in which human beings are involved. He names three dimensions of this cultural process, which are artifacts, organized groups and symbolisms, whereas Function and form are related (Malinowksi 1964: 155 ff.) In his chapter Function defined, it is a very short one, Malinowski explains his approach through concepts of use or utility and relationship. Later Malinowski speaks of functional isolates, he values legitimate for cultural analyses.

   Malinowski, Bronislaw (1964) A Scientific Theory Of Culture. And Other Essays. New York: Oxford University Press


0 Conversations: