Structuralism and Functionalism. The Difference between Lévi-Strauss, Malinowski and Evans-Pritchard in Reference to Kinship

GRIN Verlag
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Essay from the year 2013 in the subject Ethnology / Cultural Anthropology, grade: 62%, University of Cambridge, language: English, abstract: Even though scholars directly involved in the discourse were themselves not able to clearly differentiate between structuralism, functionalism and the various combinations of the two terms, retrospectively, two lines have been drawn. The first is between functionalism which was brought forward by Malinowski and his followers at the LSE and structural-functionalism. The latter was historically developed as a direct reply to a Malinowskian individualism by Radcliffe-Brown, Fortes and Evans-Pritchard. The line this essay is going to blur separates structural-functionalism from originally French structuralism as coined by Levi-Strauss. I argue that those retrospective lines are nowadays often as artificial as they were for contemporary scholars in the early 1900s. Many commonalities – in their striving for universal laws, and even their fallacies – are contrasted by some differences, mainly in their treatment of fieldwork and the concept of structure. The different schools of thought were organically growing out of each other rendering the continuity of features natural. Only paying attention in passing to the earlier, ‘purely’ functionalist school of Malinowski, I compare the structural functionalism most clearly visible in Radcliffe-Brown with Levi-Strauss’ structuralism. Let me briefly put forward his arguments on methods in general as well as function and structure in particular before Levi-Strauss enters the analysis.
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GRIN Verlag
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Jul 10, 2015
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Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General
Social Science / Ethnology
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