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From Unilineal Cultural Evolution to Functionalism Essay

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From Unilineal Cultural Evolution to Functionalism Several anthropological theories emerged during the early twentieth century. Arguably, the most important of these was Functionalism. Bronislaw Malinowski was a prominent anthropologist in Britain during that time and had great influence on the development of this theory. Malinowski suggested that individuals have certain physiological needs and that cultures develop to meet those needs. Malinowski saw those needs as being nutrition, reproduction, shelter, and protection from enemies. He also proposed that there were other basic, culturally derived needs and he saw these as being economics, social control, education, and political organization Malinowski proposed that the culture…show more content…
She described cultures as being of four types Apollonian, Dionysian, Paranoid and Meglomaniac. Benedict used these types to characterize various cultures that she studied.

The most famous exponent of the school of Culture and Personality is Margaret Mead. Margaret Mead was a student of Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. Though in the course of her career she would eclipse the fame of her tutors, particularly the latter. Mead’s first field study was on the Pacific Island of Samoa, where she studied the lives of the adolescent girls in that culture. From this field study, she produced her famous work Coming of Age in Samoa (1949). In this work, she investigated the relationship between culture and personality by comparing the lives of adolescents in Samoa to those of American youths. She concentrated particularly on the sexual experiences of the girls she studied in Samoan culture; drawing the conclusion that the sexually permissive atmosphere of Samoan culture produced healthier less “stormy” adolescents than that of her own more repressed American culture.

The theories of Culture and Personality and Functionalism addressed and rebutted many of the more quaint aspects of the Evolutionary and Diffusionist theories of the nineteenth century. The methodology developed by these pioneers is still in use by anthropologists today. That is, participant observation and a complete involvement in the culture and language of the people being
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