Download A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays by Bronislaw Malinowski PDF

By Bronislaw Malinowski

Malinowski provides during this ebook his definitive assertion of the speculation of functionalism. because the crucial clue to the certainty of human habit, primitive and civilized, he analyzes the sensible precept that tradition is an exam of the basics of anthropology for the aim of making a basic process to provide an explanation for the evidence of tradition through this principle.

Originally released 1944.

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Sample text

Indeed, the positive contribution of this essay will show how far and under what conditions we can isolate relevant realities, and where the treatment of traits or trait complexes is inadmissible. This will obviously not be an attempt to substitute one word or phrase for another. Those who prefer to use such words as trait and trait complex, instead of speaking of institutions, organized groups, artifacts in use, or beliefs and ideas insofar as they pragmatically affect human behavior, are quite welcome to retain any labels or verbal usages.

Thus, in primitive and civilized communities alike, we see first and foremost that all effective human action leads to organized behavior. We begin to perceive that this organized behavior can be submitted to a definite analytic scheme. We probably have perceived that the type of such institutions, or isolates of organized behavior, presents certain fundamental similarities throughout the wide range of cultural variety. We can now, therefore, proceed to an explicit, almost diagrammatic definition of the concept of institution, which is, I submit, the legitimate isolate of cultural analysis.

Yet this approach, I submit, is essentially unscientific. It fails, first and foremost, to define, on the principles of relevancy, what can be regarded as the real and significant elements of a culture. It fails also to give us any clue, in comparing some of these apparently exotic "isolates," to customs or culture arrangements in other societies. As a matter of fact, we shall be able to show that some realities which seem very strange at first sight are essentially cognate to very universal and fundamentally human cultural elements; and this very recognition will admit of the explanation, that is, the description in familiar terms, of exotic customs.

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