Spencer, Herbert. 1860. The Social Essay

Length: 11 pages Sources: 2 Subject: Anthropology Type: Essay Paper: #48573377 Related Topics: Superstition, Richard Iii, Anthropology, Attribution Theory
Excerpt from Essay :

However, one can still see remnants of Morgan's ideals as globalization takes hold in developing nations. Although differences are tolerated, the "westernization" of the rest of the world is still a growing reality. One need look no further than modern business attire to see that western ideals are quickly replacing traditional modes of dress and modes of doing business. Morgan's work makes the modern anthropologist aware that "globalization" may be a soft sell for "westernization."

Summary 6:

Fried, Morton H. 1960. On the Evolution of Social Stratification and the State. In Anthropological Theory: An Introductory Theory. Fourth Edition. R. McGee and Richard Warms. McGraw Hill.

Fried explored the development of social stratification, as opposed to a non-ranked society. His primary purpose was to explore the reasons for changes in society that lead to changes in social structure. He compared simple forms of social organization to more complex ones. Fried explored the connection between social organization and access of basic needs and resources.

In a non-rank society, there are many positions of higher rank, and there are many people to fill them. In a rank society, there are fewer positions of rank, with a higher value for those in these positions. Fried contends that society moves from egalitarian to rank as access to natural resources diminishes. He proposes that where resources are scarce, society may begin to stratify. This can occur due to increases in population, but not always. As long as resources are ample, society will not need to develop stratification. Often positions of rank have a greater access to resources. Fried considers stratification to appear as soon as communal ownership or property is replaced by private ownership.

Although Fried's principals are criticized for a lack of evidence, they still provide an interesting perspective from which to view western industrialized nations. For instance, in America, a privileged few have a majority of the wealth in the country. Most of the population must work hard to provide for their basis needs. Capitalism based on competition for resources. Money means the ability to have a secure supply of food and shelter. A lack of money can mean a lack of needed resources. Therefore, competition for money is fierce, with everyone competing for greater wealth. The purpose is to gain more for the individual; it is not for increases in wealth for the rest of society. Stratified societies are highly competitive.

Summary 7:

Appadurai, Arjun. 1990. Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy. In Anthropological Theory: An Introductory Theory. Fourth Edition. R. McGee and Richard Warms. McGraw Hill.

The purpose of Appadurai's examination of global cultural economy explores the effects of homogenization and heterogeneity of cultures participating on a global scale. Its key function is to explore and understand the forces that are shaping our world as we speak. They are Understanding how cultures blend is an important factor in understanding the forces that are shaping our new world model.

Appadurai explores culture and these issues of cultural mixing in terms of ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, finanscapes, and ideoscapes. He uses these concepts as the lens from which to view changes and cultural constructs of modern society. Appadurai feels that the freedom to move in society is unhinging the stability of the family unit, as people move into lands that are far from their families. Nations are now having to shift their policies regarding refugee populations as a result of this freedom of movement. The technoscape means the trading of specialized personnel among various states. These factors are creating homogeneity, as the internal politics of nation-states are in the global awareness.

Appadurai's work creates an excellent lens with which to view modern trends in globalization. His divisions of the various factors that influence the formation of the global economy provide an excellent ground for studying the impact of globalization on...


It is becoming increasingly difficult to retain cultural identity in the face of increasing international scrutiny. Nations are no longer completely independent in their actions. The global response can have a direct impact on decisions that were once only the business of the parties involved. Apparadurai's classification scheme will provide an excellent model for the development of theories regarding the global economy.

Summary 8:

Turner, Victor. 1967. Symbols in Ndembu Ritual. In Anthropological Theory: An Introductory Theory. Fourth Edition. R. McGee and Richard Warms. McGraw Hill.

Turner's work centered on the study of symbols, rituals and their interpretation. The purpose of his work is to understand ritual process and deeper cultural significance of rituals. Turner concentrated on the meanings of symbols and the setting of the ritual as instrumental in understanding the deeper cultural symbolism of the act. The key contribution of Turner's work is the development of methods for the interpretation of rituals outside of one's own cultural norms.

During his fieldwork with the Ndembu, Turner discovered two major principles. Matrilineal descent is the key organizational principal in Ndembu culture. Villages in this culture are not closely linked and there is a high degree of mobility between villages. Intervillage conflict is common. Political unity is lacking among villagers. Turner used symbols and rituals to study the differences in cultures, using ritual as the medium.

Turner's work is relevant in the study of today's society and the ritual that persist. His work demonstrates that value of studying ritual in understanding the culture itself. One could use rituals that exist in American and apply the same analysis that Turner used to gain a deeper understanding of the society. Let us take Thanksgiving, for example. Whether one realizes it or not, there are many symbols within the Thanksgiving meal that has cultural significance. Many of these symbols can be found in Native American traditions. However, the ritual of Thanksgiving is the symbolic blending of ritual elements. Exploring how these symbols have changed over the years gives us important clues into societal changes and values as well. Turners' classification scheme could be applied to many postmodern symbols and rituals, providing a valuable view of postmodern society and the contextual meanings behind it.

Book Review 1:

Eriksen, T. & Niesen, F. 2001. A History of Anthropology. London, UK: Pluto Press.

History of Anthropology, by Thomas Eriksen and Finn Nielsen explores the development of anthropological theory. It begins with an overview of Morgan and his theories of anthropological evolutionism and goes through the Weber. Much of the work is a general overview of the key concepts within the theories. The work serves as a summary of the major theories and works within the history of anthropology.

One of the key strengths of the book is that it provides a balanced perspective on the theories. It provides contextual clues into roots of the theory by providing a brief account of the theorist's life. This gives the reader an opportunity to get into the mind of the theorist and the influences that led to the development of their theory. This allows the reader to evaluate the theory within the proper historical context and develop deeper understanding of the outside influences that helped to shape anthropological thought.

Another key strength of the work is that it provides both sides of controversies surrounding the theories. For instance, it addresses the issues surrounding the debates of alliance and descent models of kinship. It also addresses the problem surrounding neo-Marxism and cultural ecology. It presents a balanced and unbiased perspective on these, and other important issues, in the history of anthropology.

The book presents a summary of the major topics in the development of anthropological theory and thought. It is intended for the student of anthropology and anyone interested in a general overview of the topic matter. The book is presents the material in an organized and easily understood format. It allows direct comparison of theories, and encourages the student to form their own opinions about the theories, theorists, and opinions of the major periods in anthropological history.

The book is comprehensive and covers a large time period of works. It ties the theories to current events and studies. This book gives the student an overview of the major theories and the controversies surrounding them. It is recommended for the student of anthropology who wants to gain an understanding of the general concepts, but not for those wishing to enter into an in-depth study of individual theories.

Book Review 2:

Erickson, P. & Murphy, L. 2003. A History of Anthropological Theory. Broadview Press.

This book is divided into two parts. The first part features writings that present key writings by nineteenth-century intellectuals that are the forerunners of modern anthropologists. The second part of the book explores the increasing complexity of post-modern anthropological thought. This work presents the development of society from primitive through civilized. It helps to set the stage for twentieth century ideals.

The most important contribution of the book to the field of anthropology is its presentation of the growing complexity of twentieth-century theory and…

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