Comparative Ideas in Anthropological Thinking Essay

Comparative Ideas in Anthropological Thinking Essay

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Anthropology, akin to other academic disciplines, has stirred among its colleagues debates of theories. As anthropologists have attempted to explain human behavior and culture a few of these premises have been discredited, others dismantled and portions renovated, and still others have become staples of anthropological analysis. Regardless of modern opinion regarding the theories of past anthropologists, elements of each concept remain essential to study. By utilizing the resources of McGee and Warms, Moore, Perry, Salzman, Sokolvosky, and Spencer, I will evaluate pairs of ideas in anthropology that include ideographic and nomeothetic, unilinear evolution and neoevolution, and organic and superorganic, while also indicating their influences on other aspects of anthropological thought.
One of the main debates in anthropological theory is ideographic versus nomothetic explanations, which encompasses the dispute if the discipline of anthropology is historical or scientific. Ideographic is defined according to A.R. Radcliffe-Brown as “patterns found in a particular place and time” (Salzman 2010:26). An ideographic approach is most notably associated with Historical Particularism, which was founded by Franz Boas and advocated by Alfred Kroeber. Boas believed that cultural practices were to be understood in specific cultural contexts, not evolutionary stages (Perry 2003:141). Thus, he emphasized ethnographic fieldwork of individual cultures, which remains the major concern of cultural anthropology. Boas believed that to comprehend a culture’s customs, one must study the environmental conditions during their development, psychological factors, and historical connections, but its history was the most imperative (McGee and Warms 2012:114)...

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...Introductory History. 5th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill
Companies, Inc.

Moore, Jerry D.
2009 Visions of Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theories and Theorists. 3rd
edition. United Kingdom: AltaMira Press.

Perry, Richard J.
2003 Five Key Concepts in Anthropological Thinking. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

Salzman, Philip Carl
2010 Thinking Theoretically. In Thinking Anthropologically: A Practical Guide for Students.
3rd edition. Pp. 26-35. Boston: Prentice Hall.

Sokolovsky, Jay
2012 4034 harris. PowerPoint Presentation. ANT 4034 Canvas Course Web site at University
South Florida. Accessed February 24, 2014 from https://

Spencer, Herbert
1860 The Social Organism. In Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History. 5th edition.
Pp. 13-30. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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