The Evolutionary Social Theories ( Teggart ) Essay
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*****In early anthropology, the mode of operation was to study the beliefs and practices of different cultures then observe the relations they had with each other. While studying culture, anthropologists observed many similarities in the traits and the material culture among different societies. As said by the founder of the ASW (Anthropological Society of Washington) in 1895: “Even among peoples geographically far apart, often being different forms of mankind, we find phrases, arts, industry, social styles and customs, folk-tales, beliefs and Gods, and even literatures very much alike” (O. T. Mason, 1895a: 14). Societies or cultures were consequently classed according to their ‘advancement’ these classes came to be interpreted as stages in the evolution civilization. Societies would have evolved from a simple primitive lifestyle to a barbaric one and finally to modern society. This is now known as the evolutionary social theories (Teggart, 1949; Watson, 1953; Burrow, 1968; Harris, 1968; Meek, 1976; Bowler, 1983).
*****Civilisation has been described as going through stages by philosophers as far back as millennia ago. A. Comte, H. Spencer, K. Marx, L. H. Morgan, and E. B. Tylor, took to describing civilisation as evolving. They were joined in this by many scholars of history. For these theories to works some assumptions were made. The first was that basic human nature is the same throughout. That regardless of which path societies take they were heading in the same