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Underlying functionalist theory is the fundamental metaphor of the living organism, its several parts and organs, grouped and organized into a system, the function of the various parts and organs being to sustain the organism, to keep its essential processes going and enable it to reproduce. Similarly, members of a society can be thought of as cells, its institutions its organs, whose function is to sustain the life of the collective entity, despite the frequent death of cells and the production of new ones. Functionalist analyses examine the social significance of phenomena, that is, the purpose they serve a particular society in maintaining the whole (Jarvie 1973). Functionalism, as a school of thought in anthropology, emerged early in the twentieth century. Bronislaw Malinowski and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, two prominent anthropologists in Great Britain at the time, had the greatest influence in this development. Functionalism sought to be a corrective to the excesses of the evolutionary and diffusionist theories of the nineteenth-century and the historicism of the early twentieth century (Goldschmidt 1996:510). Two versions of functionalism developed between 1910 and 1930: biocultural (or psychological) functionalism, the approach advocated by Malinowski, and structural- functionalism, the approach advanced by Radcliffe-Brown. Malinowski suggested that individuals have physiological needs and that social institutions develop to meet these needs. There are also culturally derived needs and four basic "instrumental needs" (economics, social control, education, and political organization), that require institutional devices. Each institution has personnel, a charter, a set of norms or rules, activities, material apparatus (technology), and a function. Malinowski believed that uniform psychological responses are correlates of physiological needs. He argued that satisfaction of these needs transformed the cultural instrumental activity into an acquired drive through psychological reinforcement (Goldschmidt 1996:510; Voget 1996:573). Radcliffe-Brown focused attention on social structure. He suggested that a society is a system of relationships maintaining itself through cybernetic feedback, while institutions are orderly sets of relationships whose function is to maintain the society as a system. Radcliffe-Brown, following Auguste Comte, believed that the social constituted a separate "level" of reality distinct from those of biological forms and inorganic matter. Furthermore, he believed that explanations of social phenomena had to be constructed within the social level. He believed that individuals were replaceable, transient occupants of social roles. Unlike Malinowski's emphasis on individuals, Radcliffe-Brown considered individuals irrelevant (Goldschmidt 1996:510).
Points of Reaction
innumerable and sometimes conflicting pseudo-historical accounts of the origin and development of the totemic institutions of the Australian aborigines.The view taken here is that such speculations are not merely useless but are worse than useless. In light of readily available and abundant historical sources encountered in subsequent studies. This does not in any way imply the rejection of historical explanation but quite the contrary (Radcliffe-Brown 1952:3). Langness 1987). Consequently. if events were to be understood it was their contemporary functioning that should be observed and recorded (Lesser 1935:55-56). Such criticism may have led to efforts to combine diachronic and synchronic interests among later functionalist studies.Functionalism. it was suggested that this reasoning was a rationalization for avoiding a confrontation with the past. There was a shift in focus from the speculatively historical or diachronic study of customs and cultural traits as "survivals" to the ahistorical. Functionalists presented their theoretical and methodological approaches as an attempt to expand sociocultural inquiry beyond the bounds of the evolutionary conception of social history. fall back on conjecture and imagination. From the functionalist standpoint these earlier approaches privileged speculative theorizing over the discovery of facts. synchronic study of social "institutions" within bounded. To clarify this issue. and invent "pseudo-historical" or "pseudo-casual" explanations. The evolutionary approach viewed customs or cultural traits as residual artifacts of cultural history. We have had. However. was presented as a reaction against what was believed to be outdated ideologies.. functioning societies (Young 1991:445).. but "pseudo history" to which they objected (Harris 1968:524): In the primitive societies that are studied by social anthropology there are no historical records. the evolutionist school postulated that "an observed cultural fact was seen not in terms of what it was at the time of observation but in terms of what it must stand for in reference to what had formerly been the case" (Lesser 1935:55). That is. That is. it is equally important to point out the criticisms of this "pseudohistory" reasoning for synchronic analysis. it was not history. as any new paradigm. Anthropologists. it is important to note RadcliffeBrown's response that while functionalists believed that little useful historical information could be obtained with respect to primitive societies. for example. We have no knowledge of the development of social institutions among the Australian aborigines for example. Functionalists believed the reality of events was to be found in their manifestations in the present. this led some to interpret functionalism as being opposed to the study of history altogether. Hence. . functionalism was an attempt to move away from the evolutionism and diffusionism that dominated American and British anthropology at the turn of the century (Lesser 1935. thinking of their study as a kind of historical study.
His writing is heavy with theoretical assertions as he believed that empirical observation and analysis must be linked if social anthropology was to call itself a science (Barnes 1991). In opposition to Radcliffe-Brown. In his later career. his work neglects to treat women as a significant part of the social whole. Sir Edmund Leach (1910-1989) was very influential in social anthropology. Though he contributed greatly to the study of African societies. In addition. as a comparative history.) is a social and economic anthropologist.E. His publication of Witchcraft. EvansPritchard transformed himself into a humanist (Beidelman 1991). rather. . Watson-Gegeo 1991:198). Sarawak and North Borneo (Sabah). he is best remembered for his work with the Nuer. Although he began as a functionalist. organization and process in social and institutional behavior" (Watson-Gegeo 1991:198). His most influential ethnographic works were based on fieldwork in Burma. Equally influential was his work with the Nuer. and Sri Lanka. Meyer Fortes (1906-1983) was originally trained in psychology and was working in London as a clinical psychologist when he met Seligman and Malinowski at the London School of Economics in 1933. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the functionalist paradigm is his distinction between social structure and social organization (see Principal Concepts for a definition of the distinction between the two) (Silverman 1981. influenced by Levi-Strauss. decision. Oracles and Magic among the Azande (1937) was the first ethnography of an African people published by a professionally trained anthropologist. "Firth¶s most significant contribution to anthropology is his development of a theoretical framework emphasizing choice. He was considered one of the most notable British anthropologists after World-War II. Azande. Firth has conducted research in most areas of social anthropology. Although he began as a functionalist.Leading Figures E. Leach moved to processual analysis before becoming a structuralist. Evans-Pritchard (1902-1973) studied history at Oxford and anthropology at the University of London. Evans-Pritchard rejected the idea of social anthropology as a science and viewed it. in addition to intensive fieldwork in Tikopia. Anuak and Shilluk. They persuaded him to undertake psychological and anthropological fieldwork in West Africa. his kinship work aided in shaping political theory. Evans-Pritchard emphasized the need for the inclusion of history in the study of social anthropology. He demonstrated the complex interrelationship of ideal models and political action within a historical context. His 1962 publication of Rethinking Anthropology offered a challenge to structural-functionalism (Seymour-Smith 1986:165). who presented him with the opportunity to study the organization of a society without chiefs. He became interested in anthropology while doing his post-graduate work at the London School of Economics. Sir Raymond Firth (1901. While Evans-Pritchard¶s research includes numerous ethnic groups.
Merton attempted to clarify the concept of function by distinguishing latent and manifest functions. . Malinowski pushed for a paradigm shift in British anthropology. The general form in which he developed functionalism toward the end of his life.Lucy Mair (1901-1986) received her degree in Classics in 1923. and in economic anthropology (notably the concept of "reciprocity") (Young 1991:445).. Malinowski's interests turned to anthropology after reading Frazier¶s The Golden Bough. Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942) was one of the founding fathers of British social anthropology. Mair conducted fieldwork in Uganda. She was very concerned with public affairs. Young 1991). the concept of "sociological paternity"). between what people say they do and what they actually do. He emphasized the importance of studying social behavior and social relations in their concrete cultural contexts. that is. a theory of culture based on the satisfaction of primary and derived biological needs. Manifest functions are those objective consequences contributing to the adjustment or adaptation of the system which are intended and recognized by participants in the system (Kaplan and Manners 1972:58). this approach worked. except for situations of social or cultural change. Robert K. In 1927 she joined the London School of Economics in the Department of International Relations. did not survive intact. Her first studies were of social change. historical to the ahistorical study of social institutions. She was an advocate of applied anthropology and argued that it was not a separate branch of the anthropological discipline. Malinowski's functionalism was highly influential in the 1920s and 1930s. His detailed descriptions of Trobriand social life and thought are among the most comprehensive in world ethnography and his Argonauts of the Western Pacific is one of the most widely read works of anthropology. He received his doctorate with highest honors in mathematics.g. including the contemporary processes of colonization and land tenure (Davis 1991). However. This theoretical shift gave rise to functionalism and established fieldwork as the constitutive experience of social anthropology (Kuper 1973. As applied methodology. He considered it crucial to consider the observable differences between norms and action. In 1910 he enrolled in the London School of Economics to study anthropology. the idea of "myth as social charter"). physics and philosophy from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.g. Malinowski's enduring conceptual contributions lay in the areas of kinship and marriage (e. a change from the speculative. Malinowski made his greatest contribution as an ethnographer. Latent functions are those objective consequences of a cultural item which are neither intended nor recognized by the members of a society. ritual language and myth (e. though elements of it persist (Young 1991:445).. However. With Radcliffe-Brown. in magic.
a sociologist who contributed to the structuralfunctionalist school conceptualized the social universe in terms of four types and levels of "action systems. Radcliffe-Brown (1881-1955) was a founding father of functionalism associated with the branch known as structural-functionalism. Contains a critique of Radcliffe-Brown's functionalism from the perspective of historicism Firth. Elements of Social Organization. 1951. Her major theoretical interests included economic and political systems. It was during this time that he earned the nick-name "Anarchy Brown" because of his political interests and affiliations. London. Provides biographical information. An Evaluation of the Work of Bronislaw Malinowski. and anthropological participation. A. E. After completing his degree in 1904. London. integration. and latency). The Nuer. economy. Key Works Evans-Pritchard. personality. E. which incorporated philosophy. Raymond. Oxford. at least in tribal societies. One of the first ethnographic works written by a professional anthropologist. He attended Cambridge where he studied moral science. Describes the livelihood of a pastoral people and examines the organization of a society without government and legal institutions Evans-Pritchard. the study of colonial rule." (culture. Social Anthropology and Other Essays. E. and inter-group relations (Winthrop 1991:130). E. 1940. social change and the study of ritual (Seymour-Smith 1986:248). society. He analyzed the operation and interchanges of structures and processes within and between system levels taking into consideration these basic requisites (Turner and Maryanski 1991). politics. and interpretation of Malinowski's works . 1950. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. and organismic/behavioral) with each system having to meet four functional needs (adaptation. they determined the character of family organization. Raymond. Notable for the distinction between social structure and social organization Firth. he conducted fieldwork in the Andaman Islands and western Australia. He particularly focused on the institutions of kinship and descent and suggested that. Man and Culture. Radcliffe-Brown's emphasis on examining the contribution of phenomena to the maintenance of the social structure reflects the influence of French sociologist Emile Durkheim (Winthrop 1991:129).Talcott Parsons (1902-1979). economics and psychology. goal attainment.R. 1957. Audrey Richards (1899-1984) conducted her ethnographic research among the Bemba and in Northern Rhodesia. a chronological presentation.
2 vols. A Natural Science of Society. A classic ethnographic written during the beginning of the development of functionalist theory Radcliffe-Brown. 1924. The Andaman Islanders. Walter. Glencoe. Comparative Functionalism. "The Mother's Brother in South Africa. London. An excellent evaluation of the functionalism paradigm after it had fallen out of favor Kuper. Adam. 1926. IL: Free Press. A landmark ethnographic study during the beginning of the development of functionalist theory Malinowski. 1922. R. Science and Religion and Other Essays. Bronislaw. 1957. Malinowski. and interpretation of Radcliffe-Brown's works Malinowski. 1952. 21:542-55. Bronislaw. Bronislaw. London: Allen. Bronislaw. An Essay in Anthropological Theory. Argonauts of the Western Pacific. R. Glencoe. Malinowski. 1948. CT: Yale University Press. a chronological presentation." South African Journal of Science. Malinowski. A. R. A. New Haven. Crime and Custom in Savage Society. Bronislaw. an Account of Native Enterprise and Adventure in the Archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea. Ill. A. Radcliffe-Brown. London: Oxford University Press. 1922. London: Cohen and West. A Study of the Coral Gardens and their Magic. 1945. Malinowski. R. A Scientific Theory of Culture. Provides biographical information. African Systems of Kinship and Marriage. A. Glencoe. 1977. Provides his conception of religion and magic as means for making the world acceptable. manageable and right Radcliffe-Brown. 1950. 1944. The Social Anthropology of Radcliffe-Brown. The exemplary work of structural-functionalist theory Radcliffe-Brown. Bronislaw. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. . Berkeley: University of California Press. The Dynamics of Culture Change. London: Routledge. R. Structure and Function in Primitive Society. 1966. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Examines the contribution of the asymmetrical joking relationship between the mother's brother and sister's son among the Bathonga of Mozambique to the maintenance of patrilineages Radcliffe-Brown. Magic. A. 1935.Goldschmidt. IL: Free Press.
From the dynamic point of view. It is an integral in which the various elements are interdependent. Whether we consider a very simple or primitive culture or an extremely complex and developed one. and educational activity. magical. and attitudes in which every part exists as a means to an end. partly material. D. including both rational. Culture is essentially an instrumental apparatus by which man is put in a position to better cope with the concrete. ritual. or religious behavior. Such activities. 'scientifically' validated behavior and 'irrational'. of constitutional charters for the various social groupings. Culture is that aspect of behavior that is learned by the individual and which may be shared by pluralities of individuals. activities. and 3) understanding a particular item by identifying its function in the current contemporary operation of that culture (Firth 1957:55). and transmitted to other individuals. Essentially. the local community. . as regards the type of activity. that is. The Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays.Principal Concepts The primary starting points of Malinowski's theorizing included 1) understanding behavior in terms of the motivation of individuals. political. the tribe. we are confronted by a vast apparatus. 2) recognizing the interconnectedness of the different items which constituted a 'culture' to form some kind of system. and the organized teams of economic cooperation. It is a system of objects. culture can be analyzed into a number of aspects such as education. E. of human ideas and crafts. social control. specific problems that face him in his environment in the course of the satisfaction of his needs. as a direct manifestation of biologically inherited patterns of behavior. A. the clan. that is. he treated culture as everything pertaining to human life and action which cannot be regarded as a property of the human organism as a physiological system. B. partly human and partly spiritual by which man is able to cope with the concrete specific problems that face him" (Malinowski 1944:36). C. The inclusiveness of Malinowski's concept of culture is apparent in his statement: "It obviously is the integral whole consisting of implements and consumers' goods. along with the physical objects associated with such learned patterns and activities (Firth 1957:58). legal. attitudes and objects are organized around important and vital tasks into institutions such as family. beliefs and customs. As stated in his text.
Collective) Commissariat Renewal of cultural Transmission of Knowledge experience by . from a theory of the causally precultural needs of the organism. or an aggregate of organisms as a species (Firth 1957:60). institutions differ in that they are organized about different functions. an institution is a segmentary cross-section of culture that involves all the components included in Malinowski's definition of culture (Firth 1957:59). and morality. for Malinowski. but perhaps fully imperative needs of the type which we call spiritual or economic or social. and if it succeeds in relating (to them) the more complex. which he inserted between his basic needs and the institutional integrates of collective behavior (Firth 1957:63). Malinowski's basic theoretical attempt was to derive the main characteristics of the culture. and also modes of creative and artistic expression" (1944:150). he developed a second category of needs. belief.economics. Though functionally differentiated from other institutions. Malinowski believed it is the primary basis of differentiation of institutions within the same culture. In other words. He believed institutions function for continuing life and "normality" of an organism. that any theory of culture has to start from the organic needs of man. or enter organizations already existing (Malinowski 1944:52). Therefore. Next. the primary reference of the concept of function was to a theory of the biological needs of the individual organism: "It is clear.e. His first major step was to set up the classification of basic needs which could be directly related to a classification of cultural responses which could then in turn be brought into relation to institutions. He believed that culture is always instrumental to the satisfaction of organic needs. Malinowski believed that the central feature of the charter of an institution is " the system of values for the pursuit of which human beings organize. an institution in this sense is therefore a social system. i.. systems of knowledge. SYNOPTIC SURVEY OF BIOLOGICAL AND DERIVED NEEDS AND THEIR SATISFACTION IN CULTURE A Basic Needs (Individual) B C D Responses to Instrumental Needs Economics E Symbolic and Integrative Needs F Systems of Thought and Faith Nutrition (metabolism) Direct Instrumental Responses Needs (Organized. Malinowski considered institutions to be "the concrete isolates of organized behavior. referred to as derived needs. Indeed." Since such behavior always involves a plurality of persons. he had to bridge the gap between the concept of biologically basic needs of the organism and the facts of culturally organized behavior. I think. it will supply us with a set of general laws such as we need in sound scientific theory" (Malinowski 1944:72-73). indirect. and hence of social systems. which is a subsystem of society. As for the concept of function.
must be explained in terms of other social phenomena. consistent principles Reproduction Marriage and family Bodily comforts Domicile and dress Safety Protection and defense Characters of Social control behavior and their sanctions Means of Magic intellectual. Social phenomena. Radcliffe-Brown shared this emphasis of studying the conditions under which social structures are maintained. impulses. He also believed that the functioning of societies. and not by reference to psychobiological needs. In addition. of reality that is independent of psychological and biological facts. or order.apparatus means of precise. This school developed in the 1890s around the work of Emile Durkheim who argued that "social phenomena constitute a domain. . and pragmatic control of destiny and chance Renewal of personnel Education Relaxation Movement Growth Systems of play and repose Set activities and systems of communication Training and Apprenticeship Organization of Political force and organization compulsion Communal rhythm of recreation. Social organization refers to the directional activity. It is important to note here that Firth postulated the necessity of distinguishing between social structure and social organization. like that of other natural systems. therefore. exercise and rest Art Sports Games Ceremonial (SOURCE: Malinowski¶s Basic Human Needs as presented in Langness 1987:80) Radcliffe-Brown's emphasis on social function is derived from the influence of the French sociological school. and so forth" (Broce 1973:39-40). Religion emotional. drives. Durkheim stressed the importance of studying social phenomena as they function to maintain the solidarity of social structures" (Broce 1973:39-40). Social structure "is the principle(s) on which the forms of social relations depend. to the working out of social relations in everyday life" (Watson-Gegeo 1991:198). is governed by laws that can be discovered though systematic comparison (Broce 1873:40).
the structural arrangement of the constituent units remains similar. are connected by a set of social relations into an integrated whole. then. Methodologies Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski formulated distinct versions of functionalism. and his disregard for individual needs. they did believe that societies strongly tend to maintain their stability and internal cohesion as if societies had homeostatic qualities (Broce 1973:38-39). the functionalists attempted to interpret societies as they operated at a single point in time. although it does not preserve the unity of its constituent parts. other individuals may enter it. the function of a custom or institution is the contribution it makes to the maintenance of the entire system of which it is a part. the contribution it makes to structural continuity (Radcliffe-Brown 1952:178). the continuity is maintained by the process of social life. Like the biological organism. In large part. That is. which consists of the activities and interactions of individual human beings and of organized groups into which they are united. involving participant observation. Thus. Therefore. The functionalists also shared an emphasis on intensive fieldwork. the study of history. However. it was a consequence of their belief that very little reliable information could be secured about the long-term histories of primitive peoples. the continuity of the social structure is not destroyed by changes in the units. This is not to say that functionalists failed to recognize internal social conflict or other forms of disequilibrium. in principle. over a period of time. while the constituent cells do not remain the same. On the whole. This was not because the functionalists opposed. or as they operate over a relatively short period of time. The function of any recurrent activity is the part it plays in the social life as a whole and thereby. . it preserves the continuity of structure. He suggested that human beings. yet the emphasis on the differences between them obscures their fundamental similarities and complementarity. since the investigation of functional interrelationships of customs and institutions provides an especially fruitful perspective for the collection of information. The social life of a community. Both viewed society as structured into a working unity in which the parts accommodate one another in a way that maintains the whole. He argued that as long as a biological organism lives. Although individuals may leave the society by death or other means. the quality of these monographs may be attributed to their theoretical framework. Instead.Radcliffe-Brown established an analogy between social life and organic life to explain the concept of function. is apparent in this analogy. is the functioning of the social structure. This methodological emphasis has resulted in a series of excellent monographs on native societies. sociocultural systems function to provide their members with adaptations to environmental circumstances and to connect them in a network of stable social relationships. His emphasis on examining the contribution of phenomena to maintaining social order. In their analysis. as essential units.
functionalism can yet be fruitful. With its emphasis on intensive fieldwork. such fieldwork can be thought of as empirical attempts to refute such ideas that savages are simple-minded. Therefore. in essence. these statements can be refuted if they suggest that societies do not change or disintegrate. Marxist theory argued against functionalism's conservativism and the static nature of analysis that emphasized the contribution of social phenomena to the maintenance of the status-quo. Functional analysis gave value to social institutions by considering them not as mere custom (as proposed by American ethnologists). Interactionist theorists criticized functionalism for failing to conceptualize adequately the complex nature of actors and the process of interaction. Advocates of theory construction questioned the . criticism of this approach escalated. Such statements as. and that savage societies are chaotic. functionalism has provided in-depth studies of societies. Despite its theoretical limitations. have been shaped by the requirement that human beings must live together in harmony. that savage customs are superstitious. from a concern with isolated traits to the interpretation of social life" (Winthrop 1991:130). whatever their origin. it could be said that functionalism is the integration of false theory and trivially true tautology into a blueprint for fieldwork.Their rejection of the conjectural reconstructions of the evolutionists and the diffusionists was based largely on this conviction (Broce 1973:39)." Criticisms Functionalism became dominant in American theory in the 1950s and 1960s. Accordingly. resulting in its decline in the early 1970s. Its theoretical difficulties notwithstanding. Though Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown differed in their approaches to functional interpretation. Additionally. This school of thought has contributed to the concept of culture the notion that traditional usages. but it's contributions continue to inspire anthropologists today. However." are too vague to be refuted easily. Following this reasoning. "all societies are functionally cohesive. the investigation of functional interrelationships of customs and institutions provides a ready-made framework for the collection of information. In time. functionalism has made important methodological contributions. that savage societies are "savage. they both contributed to the push for a "shift in the assumptions of ethnology. and the demands of interpersonal relationships are therefore a causative force in culture (Goldschmidt 1967:17-18). but as active and integrated parts of a social system (Langness 1987). Accomplishments By the 1970's functionalism was declining. such theories can be considered uncontroversial tautologies.
in turn. rejection of psychology made it impossible to understand attitudes and sentiments. It has been argued that the presence of an institution can not precede the institution's existence. however. Functional theory also has been criticized for its disregard of the historical process and for its presupposition that societies are in a state of equilibrium (Goldschmidt 1996:511). Recognizing this "Malinowskian dilemma. thereby bringing in historical and ecological factors (Goldschmidt 1996:511). functionalism's antihistoric approach made it impossible to examine social processes. functionalism specifically rejected such ideas. He demonstrated that more overt means of managing hostility had not been available due to governmental controls. In light of such criticisms. Furthermore. This criticism can be countered by establishing a set of universal requisite needs.utility of excessively classificatory or typological theories that pigeonholed phenomena in terms of their functions (Turner and Maryanski 1991). He suggested starting with what is problematical in order to discover how institutional devices . namely that they are teleological and tautological. that is. Functional analysis has also been criticized for being circular: needs are postulated on the basis of existing institutions. Otherwise. and the rejection of culture led to a lack of recognition of the ecological context (Goldschmidt 1996:511). Goldschmidt suggested that problems are consistent from culture to culture. a cross-cultural comparison of institutions is a false enterprise in that it would be comparing incomparables. used to explain their existence. however. This is problematic since the internal mode of analysis cannot provide a basis for true generalization nor a means of extrapolation beyond the local time and place (Goldschmidt 1966:8). Following this. In Clyde Kluckhohn's functional explanation of Navaho witchcraft. every institution be seen as a product of the culture within which it developed. It has been argued. That is. he avoided tautology by positing a social need (to manage hostility). such a teleological argument would suggest that the institution's development anticipated its function. that are. or functional prerequisites. but institutional solutions vary. some anthropologists attempted functional explanations that were not constrained by such narrow approaches. Logical problems of functional explanations also have been pointed out. thereby bringing a psychological assumption into the analysis. that to account for phenomena by showing what social needs they satisfy does not explain how it originated or why it is what it is (Kucklick 1996:250). This criticism can be countered by recognizing an evolutionary or a historical process at work." This approach recognizes the universality of functions to which institutions are a response." Walter Goldschmidt argued for a "comparative functionalism. Comparative functionalism attends to the difficulties posed by Malinowski's argument that every culture be understood in its own terms.
beneficial behaviors require no special explanation. Some neo-functionalists. neofunctionalist explanation seemed to provide a bridge between human . Since obviously rational. there is little emphasis on how phenomena meet or fail to meet system needs (Turner and Maryanski 1991). Others. Rather than separating humans from other animals. ideology. on the other hand. particularly ritual. and social evolution. and values) integrate social structures. particularly negative feedback. neofunctionalists focus on groups as biologically constituted populations aggregated in cooperative social alliances. especially environment. by which self-interested individuals obtain fitness benefits as a consequence of group membership (Bettinger 1996:852). thereby reducing culture to adaptation (Bettinger 1996:851). Neofunctionalism differs from structural-functionalism by focusing on the modeling of systems-level interactions. also share similarities with functionalism by focusing on issues of social differentiation. ecology. by group-reinforcing cultural behaviors. These emphases correspond to the kinds of groups that preoccupy structuralfunctional and neofunctional explanation. Neofunctionalism. as cultures. with economic rationality as its basic frame of reference. believes that what is irrational for the individual in the short run may be rational for the group in the long run. In this way. these systems being cultures in the case of structural-functionalism and ecosystems in the case of neo-functionalism (Bettinger 1996:851). Generally. Neofunctionalism is a 1960s revision of British structural-functionalism that experienced renewed activity during the 1980s. and population. some neo-functionalists examine how cultural processes (including ritual. he too sought to situate his explanations in a broader theoretical framework (Goldschmidt 1996:511-512). Both neofunctionalism and structural-functionalism explain phenomena with reference to the needs they fulfill. Finally. analyze phenomena in terms of specific functional requisites. Structural-functional groups are culturally constituted. although they place less emphasis on functional requisites and examine a variety of phenomena. Therefore.provide solutions. and by emphasizing techno-environmental forces. They consider problematic cultural behaviors to result largely from benefits they generate that are essential to sustaining or improving the well-being of larger systems in which they are embedded. Neofunctionalists. are concerned with issues that relate directly to fitness similar to that in evolutionary biology (Bettinger 1996:852). Structural-functionalists believe these benefits are generated by behaviors that reinforce group cohesion. integration. structural-functionalism and neofunctionalism focus on finding rationality in seemingly irrational behaviors. influenced by Parsons. or that provide the individual with effective mechanisms for coping with psychological threatening situations by means such as religion or magic.
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