Historical Particularism And Its Impact On Society Essay

1210 Words Dec 7th, 2015 null Page
One of the first schools of thought within the discipline was that of Evolutionism which looked at the sociocultural aspects of society through the lens of scientific method, “treating sociocultural phenomena as part of nature, subject to its laws” (Barrett, 2011, p49). Evolutionists believed that culture is purposeful and functional, and it will progress along a unilinear scheme, from savagery to civilization. Its gaze was entirely ethnocentric and anthropologists of this time relied on armchair speculation, doing none of their own fieldwork. Suited to the colonial time period it sprung out of Evolutionism was polluted with the racism that reinforced the ideologies of imperialism and colonialism (Barrett, 2011, p54). American anthropology’s Historical Particularism was a direct response to sweeping racialized assumptions of Evolutionism. It contested these assumptions by insisting one should not go into the field with pre-determined beliefs. It believed in diffusionism, that aspects (technologies, traditions…) of different groups become integrated in all by passing between cultures with in a given area (Barrett, 2011, p55). This flatly contradicts evolutionism’s theory of a Unilinear Scheme. Particularism biggest contribution to anthropology was its pioneering of fieldwork and the concept of Relativism, that a society must be understood from within its own context. In its fieldwork it took on emic approach to research that focused on the emotions of individuals rather then…

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