Anthropology encompasses four main aspects in the field: archaeology, linguistics, physical anthropology, and cultural anthropology. All four areas must collect data and find a way to interpret the data collected. Data is then interpreted with the use of theories. The data would be useless to any anthropologist without any meaning. Theory helps an anthropologist choose what data to collect and how to interpret the results.
Authors McGee and Warms assert that theory “helps us think about who and what we are as human beings,” (2). Basic understanding of different anthropological theories enlightens anthropologist about different cultures by attempting to understand and learn from each other. Overtime some theories have been disregarded due to lack of efficiency as well as cultural shifts. Some of the current theories used today by anthropologists have been influenced by past theories. Two theories that still have some influence in the present are historical particularism and functionalism. Both theories had a major impact in the field of anthropology along with their key figures.Order now
Franz Boas, known as the father of American anthropology, is a key figure for the historical particularism theory. Boas is still influential in anthropology since modern American anthropology is still based on his idea to encompass all four areas of anthropology. Likewise, Functionalism still has influence with modern anthropologist. Bronislaw Malinowski became the father of participant observation that is still prevalent today. No anthropologist today would state that they are a functionalist or rely on the historical particularism school of thought, but particular aspects of these schools of thought are still valued today. Beginning with historical part.
.is that civilization is apart from the individuals that create it (Kroeber 2012). Social aspects and cultural concepts are greater than the individual. The same can be said for the ideas by Radcliffe-Brown. A. R.
Radcliffe-Brown studied at Cambridge University and accepted the concepts of functionalism. In his writing On Joking Relationships, he stated that “it is evident that the whole maintenance of a social order depends upon the appropriate kind and degree of respect being shown towards certain persons, things and ideas or symbols ” (Radcliff-Brown 2012: 171). What he is explaining is the concept that the most important thing above else is maintaining the social order over the individuals. He was more interested in understanding how the society sustained itself than how it affected the inhabitants. These ideas are very similar to Kroeber’s super-organic analogy.