SOCIAL EVOLUTION “COMPETITION IS THE LAW OF LIFE.”
A theory developed by Herbert Spencer when he applied new scientific discoveries to the study of societies.
His theory predates Darwin’s theory of biological, unilinear evolution, but after Darwin, social evolution also became referred to as social Darwinism.
Spencer coined the term “survival of the fittest” in applying his social evolutionism to laissez-faire capitalism.
He was responsible for promoting political policy in England that denied social services to the disadvantaged.
1820 to 1903
SPENCER ON SOCIETY
Society is an organism that functions in comparative and contrasting ways to biology.
Societies develop from primitive to superorganic through a long, unilinear, evolutionary process.
He equated civilization with a superorganic society and claimed it generated the greatest social equilibrium.
SPENCER ON THE INDIVIDUAL
Based on Lamarck’s theory of evolution: biological and psychological traits develop through use.
Men, from childhood, develop through stages of primitive to savagery, and superior men reach the civilized stage.
Spencer asserted it is these men who should be economic, intellectual, and social leaders.
Women can never reach the highest stage, but “non-Western” men can.
For most people emotions dominate intellect and Spencer corresponded different emotional types with social types: militaristic, independent, lazy, corrupt, etc.
ANTHROPOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY HAVE BEEN INTERACTIVE SINCE THEIR INCEPTION IN THE 19 th CENTURY. HOWEVER, PSYCHOLOGY WAS AHISTORICAL AND ACULTURAL; WHEREAS ANTHROPOLOGY FOCUSED ON HISTORY AND EVOLUTIONARY TRENDS. WITH THE RISE OF SOCIAL EVOLUTIONISM EARLY ANTHROPOLOGISTS ASSERTED GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS DEVELOPED THROUGH SPENCER’S THREE MAIN STAGES. PSYCHOLOGY ALSO APPLIED THIS SOCIAL EVOLUTIONARY MODEL TO INDIVIDUALS. BOTH EARLY ANTHROPOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY ASSUMED THAT ALL THE INDIVIDUALS OF A GROUP THAT WAS AT ANY POINT ON THE EVOLUTIONARY SCALE SHARED COMMON PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAITS: WAYS OF EXPERIENCING ANDTHINKING ABOUT THEIR WORLD, AND PARTICULAR NEEDS, DESIRES, GOALS, ETC.
A German medical doctor who is considered to be a founder of psychology, and a pioneer in folk psychology.
He studied the work of ethnologists to pose psychological models for the actions and systems of belief of primitive peoples.
Wundt developed human stages and associated them with particular ways of thinking, such as:
The totemic stage
The age of heroes and gods
The enlightened age of humanity.
However, he differed from social evolutionists in that he asserted that primitive and civilized peoples shared the same intellectual abilities – they just used them differently.
The founders of cultural relativism, anthropologists Bronislaw Malinowski and Franz Boas, both studied with Wundt.
1832 to 1920
Levy-Bruhl was an early French anthropologist who focused on the psychology of “primitives.”
In 1910 he published How Natives Think , a study grounded in social evolution.
He posed the world was made up of two different psychological models:
Western: logical, speculative, capable of abstract thought.
Primitive: not capable of logic, speculation, or abstract thought.
The primitive mind evolves through time to become “Western.”
Malinowski conducted years of work among the Trobriand Islanders and is best known for his analysis of their economic system of redistribution and reciprocity with the Kula Ring and yam cultivation.
He built upon Emile Durkheim’s theory of functionalism, but departed from Durkheim in his assertion that society serves the individual.
Although not a psychological anthropologist per se , Malinowski integrated psychological elements of the individual into his theory of functionalism.
1884 to 1942
Founder of American anthropology at Columbia University.
He criticized psychology for reducing complex historical and cultural factors to a few basics.
A cultural relativist, he dedicated his life’s work to prove that the mentality of primitive and civilized peoples were comparable, among other characteristics such as biology, history, culture, and language.
He castigated early psychological anthropology for being racist.
1858 to 1942
1910 – 1940s : PSYCHOANALYTIC ANTHROPOLOGY
Psychoanalytic psychology integrated individuals with historical elements, providing a link to anthropology of the era.
Although psychological in emphasis, Freud delved into anthropology with Totem and Taboo , and Civilization and its Discontents.
Freud’s contributions made anthropologists understand that much of what an individual does as they go through the practice of everyday life is instigated by unconscious desires.
1856 to 1939
THE CULTURE AND PERSONALITY SCHOOL
Founded by Edward Sapir, Ruth Benedict, and Margaret Mead
Influenced by Gestalt, configuralists asserted cultures are patterned through symbolism and implication, and understanding this requires a focus on individuals.
Individuals seek and create meaning, thus they are microcosms of their culture.
BASIC AND MODAL PERSONALITY (1935-1955):
BASIC: C ulture generates personality types that reproduce culture and keep it integrative.
MODAL: Cultures remain integrated by the personality types that occur most frequently. All cultures have divergent personality types.
NATIONAL CHARACTER (1940)
The study of “typical” individuals of a specific national culture.
The methodology of “study at a distance” was developed to investigate cultures that were not accessible at the time, such as Japan. This involved studying the culture’s literature, cinema, newspapers, available official documents, propaganda, and interviews with recent immigrants.
An interdisciplinary project among anthropologists and psychologists at Yale University.
Using the scientific method, they focused on correlational testing and consistency of outcome to confirm or negate a hypothesis about a cultural element or condition.
This approach was criticized because many were skeptical that the social scientists involved could be objective in judging hypotheses about cultural traits and customs.
While Mead was a graduate student at Barnard, she caught the attention of Boas and Benedict and transferred to work with them at Columbia where she received here Ph.D.
She was married to Gregory Bateson, a psychological anthropologist whose work intersects with many other social sciences, and they conducted ethnographic fieldwork together in Bali and other fieldsites.
Bateson developed the “double bind” theory of schizophrenia from which the term “schizophreniagenic mother” is derived. His theory has been outmoded since the discovery that schizophrenia is an inheritable brain disease.
One of Mead’s important works is Coming of Age in Samoa in which she concluded that Samoan teenagers do not experience the psychological distress that many American teens do.
This work was challenged in the 1980s by Australian anthropologist Derek Freeman when he interviewed Mead’s informants and – pointing out that culturally, Samoans are compliant -- claimed she had coaxed them to get the answers she wanted.
Other anthropologists disagreed with Freeman, and the controversy remains ongoing.
Mead was a force during the sexual revolution of the 1960s critiquing American culture for being too Puritanical about sexuality.
GREGORY BATESON 1904 to 1980 MARGARET MEAD 1901 to 1978 WORKING TOGETHER IN BALI
Anthropologist Cora Dubois studied with Ruth Benedict, Franz Boas, and Alfred Kroeber.
She developed the Modal Personality Model, and was one of the first ethnographers to be trained in psychological methods.
Her ethnography, The People of Alor (1944) is a classic of psychological anthropology.
1903 to 1991
PSYCHOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGISTS OF THE MODAL PERSONALITY SCHOOL USED THE RORSCHACH AND THEMATIC APPERCEPTION TESTS IN THEIR ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDIES OF THE INDIVIDUALS OF “NON-WESTERN” CULTURES. THEIR METHODS WERE CRITICIZED FOR THE SUBJECTIVITY OF THEIR TEST SCORES, AND THEIR “WESTERN” INTERPRETATIONS.
Ruth Benedict was a student, and then professional colleague of Franz Boas at Columbia University.
Benedict was initially a configuralist of the Culture and Personality School, and published the classic configuralist study, Patterns of Culture (1934).
During World War II she conducted anthropological research on Japanese culture for the U.S. war effort.
Accordingly, Benedict was key to the development of the national character model, and the “study at a distance” methodology.
Her ethnography, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword (1946) about Japanese culture is a classic in national character studies.
1887 to 1948
PSYCHOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY GETS A NAME
Psychological anthropologist Francis L. K. Hsu (1909-1999) contributed to the Culture and Personality School, and focused on comparative studies of China and the US.
In 1972 he proposed that anthropological work that integrated psychological models be officially referred to as “psychological anthropology.”
1960s and 70s: THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND PERSONALITY SCHOOL
All three major approaches of this school disagreed that there was any direct link between culture and an individual.
Based in Marxist theory, in part, as a reaction to structural functionalisms inability to theorize the dramatic social and cultural conflicts and changes that took place in the 1960s.
They focus on class issues across ethnic and nationalist boundaries.
The primary driving force for individuals is their understanding of, and positionality in their culture’s shared material interests.
Childhood and later in life socialization is at the root of behavioral and psychological differences among members of a group.
Class, ethnicity, age, etc., all have a bearing on a person’s psychological make-up and behavior.
Selfhood is a product of social interaction, and an individual’s behavior, throughout their lives, articulates immediate social situations and interactions.
Through dramaturgy , in specific social situations, individuals project different identities that they feel will best procure the outcome they desire from the social interaction.
In lieu of focusing on the behavioral norms of a culture, the behavioral approach in psychological anthropology focuses on how individuals ACTUALLY behave.
In an attempt to rid anthropological studies of their “Western” biases, ethologists investigate human behavior in natural settings using methods that were developed to study animal behaviors.
Sociobiologists focus on human behaviors that contribute to reproductive success using evolutionary biology and patterns of adaptation.
A specific approach to psychological anthropology that focuses on self, perception, memory, thought, emotion, and alternative states of consciousness.
Attendance to language is an integral component of cognitive anthropology.
Language is the means through which people think, interact, and construct shared “cognitive maps” that they manipulate to make sense and meaning out of the perceptions of their inner and outer worlds.
COGNITIVE ANTHROPOLOGIST, ROY D’ANDRADE OF UCSD (LEFT) WITH MIKE BURTON AND FRANK CANCIAN OF UCI. (D’ANDRADE NOW TEACHES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT.)
PYCHOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY NOW
There are currently about 30 psychological anthropologists in the U.S. teaching and conducting research.
These scholars integrate a range of approaches, including: biology, developmental psychology, linguistics, practice theory, and cognitive science.
Current work focuses on cognition, self, emotion, and alternative states of consciousness.