The earlier theories about cultural were
concerned with two main problems-
How do cultures come to be?
How do they come to have familiar culture traits
There are three main theories related to the
change, development and functions of culture.
Evolutionists believe that material and
non-material cultures are the result of social evolutions. Morgan, Tylor,
Levy-Bruhl, Comte, Marx, Spencer, Dukhiem, G. Childe are the main propounders
of this view.
Morgan’s View: According to Morgan,
Human societies evolved from lower into higher types.
He postulated three stages- (i) Savage (ii)
Barbarism and (iii) Civilization. To begin with man lived in savage society, which had an older
period, a middle period synchronizing with fishing and the use of fire and a
later period, when the bow and arrow were used. With the invention of pottery,
man entered the older period of barbarism.
Domestication of animals and cultivation of plants by irrigation ushered in the
middle period of barbarism. From the time the process of smelting iron are was
invented and iron tools made use of, till the next change, man lived in later
period of barbarism. The third and last phase according to him is civilization. In this stage invention
of a phonetic alphabet and writing.
Civilization, according to Morgan, was as well
the contemporary condition of western European society.
Taylor’s View: Taylor has talked
about the growth of religions. He considered animistic polytheism to have been the earliest and simplest from of
religion. Then must have come an intermediary stage of higher polytheistic ideology which ultimately gave way to
Haddon’s View: Haddon talked about
the evolution of art form. According to theory of evolution there are three
Levy Bruhl’s View: Bruhl talked about
the evolution of logic. He posited
the evolution of modern logic from primitive logic. He asserted that, in so far
as the primitives are not conscious of the implication of contradiction and
physical separateness—which he asserted they are not-their’s is a mentally
undeveloped as compared to ours. He, therefore chose to call it a pre-logical mentality.
Functionalist argue that in order to understand
culture, it is necessary to understand how the various agglomerates and
elements of culture function. Malinowski is considered to be the father of this
theory. Malinowski and R. Brown hold that the various elements of culture
contribute towards the whole society while fulfilling man’s need.
Malinowski’s View: Malinowski argued
that people everywhere share certain biological and psychological needs and
that the ultimate function of all cultural institutions is to fulfil those
needs. Everyone, for example, needs to feel secure in relation to physical
universe. Therefore, when science and tectnology are inadequate to explain
certain natural phenomena such as eclipses or earthquakes-people develop
religion and magic to account for those phenomena and to a restore a feeling of
security. The nature of the institution, according to Malinowski is determined
by its function.
three fundamental level of needs which he claimed had to be resolved by all
Biological Needs: A culture must
provide for biological needs, such as the need for food and production.
Instrumental Needs: A culture must
provide for instrumental needs, such as the need for law and education.
Integrative Needs: A culture must
provide for integrative needs, such as religion and art.
In this way malinowski’s
functional approach played an important role in emphasizing the
interrelationships within culture and the ways cultures functions to fill the
needs of those who lived by their rules.
R. Brown’s View: Brown was the
originator of the structural functionalist school of thought. He maintained
that each custom and belief of a society has a specific function that serves to
perpetuate the structure of that society its orderd arrangement of parts-so
that the society’s continued existence is possible. The work of the
anthropologist then was to study the ways in which customs and beliefs function
to solve the problem of maintaining the system. From such studies should emerge
universal laws of human behaviour.
Brown is more concerned with the survival of
society than that of the individual only. He therefore, points out that
integration within a culture being the only way to secure the survival of
society. Such integration is both an ideal as also the reality. If such
integration breaks down, there will be no society.
RUTH BENEDICT’S PATTERNS OF CULTURE
This concept is given by Ruth Bendict. Bendict said that the integration is culture is
brought about by its content being arranged into a permanent or semi-permanent
design or style. Such a design, she called pattern. Within a culture there
would be the style of each large segment, and these segmental styles would come
together into super-style which would be the design of the culture as a whole.
This is called configuration. This harmony, she further indicates that all
style are harmonious with each other and, blend into a harmonious
configuration. This harmony, she says, arises out of a main tendency or bends
which every culture exhibits in all its aspects. This main tendency or trend,
she calls the genius of a culture. It is this genius or spirit of a people
which brings about integration in their culture, the integration of form. She
believes that in human society this genius may be one of the two possible
Apollonian: The word Apollonian
is derived from Apollo the benign sun god of the ancient Greeks. The Apollonian
genius represents the principle of calm composure and the same would
characterize all aspects of the culture concerned and bring about its integration.
Dionysian: The word Dionysian
is derived from Dionysus, the turbulent Greek god of drink and carnivals. The
Dionysian genius represents the principle of storm and would bring about
integration and harmonious blending of a culture by pervading all its aspects.
Benedict gave three examples from the Dionysian sorcerers of Dobu and the
Kwakiutl of the north-western coast of America and the Apollonian Peublos of
MORRIS OPLER’S CULTURAL THEMES
Morris Opler has put forward the
concept of cultural themes to explain integration.
A major pattern of values within a culture that
provides important underlying assumptions upon which systems of belief and
standards of behaviour are based. Morris. E. Opler, who introduced the term,
defined it as “a postulate or position, declared or implied, and usually
controlling behaviour or stimulating activity, which is tacitly approved or
openly promoted in a society.
SCHOOL OF DIFFUSION
Transmission of culture, leading to culture
growth and culture parallels, was called diffusion”
The division of school of diffusion and their
followers can be understood better by presenting in chart as below:
School of diffusion
A.British School of Diffusion
1.G. E Smith
2.W. J Pery
3.W. H. R Rivers
B.German School of Diffusion
3.F. W. Schmidt
C.American School of Diffusion
3.A. L. Kroeber
A. British School of
Diffusion: It is also known as pan-Eygptian school. Eliot Smith was the founder of this
school and W. J Perry was his
Follower. They are designated as extreme diffusionists and Eygptogist, because
for them, Egypt was the only centre of
culture, from where culture traits diffused to rest part of the world.
1. 1.G.E. Smith:
famous book entitled The Origin of
Civilization was published in 1928. In this book he emphasized upon Eygpt as the origin of civilization. It
was the place where agriculture through irrigation channel came into existence.
Thus, ancient Egypt began to plant more and more seeds by controlling rivers
inundations, and inventing a full-fledged system of hydraulic agriculture.
Stimulated by their successes, they invented such necessary items as pottery,
weaving, the wheel plough and writing. They began to build cities, and established
the institutions of law, government, religion, worshipping sun-god as their
major deity. Smith attempted his best to indicate origin of civilization for
the first time, in Egypt.
Smith was well aware
that man was more older than
civilization. He explained diffusion of cultural traits from Egypt to rest
spheres of world also in his book entitled Diffusion
2. W.J Perry: Perry was a supporter of smith scheme of
diffusion of culture’s. He blindly supported smith’s theory that Egypt was the
only cultural cradle in the world. He was of the opinion that similarities were
caused due to diffusion of culture traits, and Egypt was the ancient centre of civilization.
3. W.H.R Rivers: W.H.R Rivers studied the
polyandrous Toda of Nilgiri Hill. Rivers brought into light the
interrelatedness of Toda culture with the Buffalo complex. He opined the
similarities in cultures could be explained in better way by taking into
consideration the imitation and migration. In this way he strongly supported
the theory of uninventiveness put forward by his contemporaries Smith and
Perry. He believed in migration as well diffusion of culture traits.
B. German School of
Diffusion: German School of Diffusion is also known as Kultur Kreise School. Believing in
theory of culture diffusion, German diffusionists also touched the evolutionary
schemes. According to them; development of culture takes place not only as a
particular place like Egypt, but it occurs at several different places at
several times. This means that different cultural traits and cultural complexes
originated independently or freely, at several parts of earth, from where they
are initiated or migrated to other places. They were of the view that
discoveries of all things were not possible at the same time and at the same place,
rather they were discovered at several places by several generations i.e. not a
particular place by same generation. They held opinion that cultural traits or
complexes developed at different places and reached into places of other parts
by migration. Thus they accepted the theory of diffusion as well as evolution
both for the cultural development and growth.
Ratzel: According to Ratzel, the most
important consideration was to discover from where cultural traits came and
where they went. He was of opinion that there were no spatial limits to the
pathways they might take. Single cultural items usually diffused, but whole
cultural complexes were transplanted by migration. Yet, in every case,
adaptation to environment would cause variations in cultural traits to take on
somewhat different outword shapes. Ratzel warned that not every similarities
could be taken as a proof of historical connection because objects of material
culture, in order to have any utility at all, must possess certain features.
Ratzel felt that
culture traits may become simplified or elaborated in their course of diffusion
or migration, depending upon the local conditions and relative sophistication
of local technology.
2. F. Graebner: Graebner, the main leader of Kultur
Kreise School, applied the culture circle and culture strata idea on a
world basis. According to him early man invented the basic of culture, such as
language and tool making but soon formed a number of small bands that become
isolated. Each of those developed their own distinctive cultures and they were
the Urkulturen or ‘premeval
Culture’, whose members, in course of time spread out in different directions,
eventually populating all continents. It was the task and aim of culture
historians to reconstruct the various Kreise or circle.
Reconstructed Six Successive Layers Of Culture Development:
Totemic Hunter culture
Melanesion bow culture
Australian Boomerang culture
Two-class horticulturist culture
Polynesian patrilineal culture
Diffusion in two Categories:
Tasmanian culture being oldest one was example
of primary diffusion. Elements of complex culture developed all over Australia
deu to secondary diffusion.
3. F.W. Schmidt: Schmidt distinguished
four major grades of culture circle which are as follows.
Primitive culture circle
Secondary culture circle
Primary culture circle
Tertiary culture circle
The most striking feature of this scheme is it
evolutionism. The succession of grades is nothing less than familiar sequence
of grades leading from hunting and gathering types of socio cultural systems
through horticultural and pastoral types and to complex stratified civilizations.
C. American School of
Diffusion: Franz Boas was the founder of this school Clark
Wisslter and A. L Kroebar were his followers. German diffusionists of culture
circle school talked about complex form of diffusion of culture, but they
failed to explain as to why diffusion took place. American diffusionists
attempted to solve this question and to remove this shortcoming of culture
In order to show the diffusion of cultural
traits and complexes American diffusionists devised a methodology which is
known as Culture Area Approach. They
did not analysis cultural diffusion in the world at the same time. Instead,
they divided world into different cultural areas on the basis of geographical
regions. They were of opinion that geographical aspects of culture can not be
ignored in the study of culture area. They held the view that dimensions of
each culture can be studied on the basis of culture area study.
The concept of culture area was emphasized by Wissler and supported by A. L. Kroeber Herskowitze and Sapir. That’s why American school of
diffusion is also known as ‘Culture Area
1. Franz Boas: Boas attempted to study why the process of
diffusion took place at all. The facts that many fundamental features of
culture are universal, or at least occurred in many isolated places,
interpreted by the assumption that the same feature must always have developed
from the same causes, leads to the conclusion that there is one grand system
according to which mankind has developed everywhere. All the occurring
variations are on more than minor details in this grand uniform evolution. It
is clear that this theory has for its logical basis the assumption that the
samw phenomena are always due to similar cases.
2. Clark Wissler: Clark Wissler was a student of F. Boas, the
defined the restricted area of culture as culture area. He demonstrated that in
a cultural area-comprising a set of culture complexes- a central point of
dispersal could be identified. People living on the borders of two culture
areas would share the features of both. Such areas were called marginal area.
According to WISSLER “The natives of new world could be grouped according to
culture traits, this would give us food areas, textile areas, ceramic areas
etc. If, however, we take all traits into simultaneous consideration and shift
our point of view to social or tribal units, we are able to form a fairly
definite group. This will give us cultural areas, or a classification of social
groups according to their cultural traits."
Clark Wissler’s map listed ten culture area for
North America, four for South America and a separate one for Caribbean.
Wissler found it necessary to posit a culture-centre for each of his culture
area. This centre was the place of early settlement from which the various
traits had diffused. The origin of culture centre seems due to ethnic factors
more than to geographical ones. The location of these centers is largely a
matter of historic accident, but once located and adjustment made, the
stability of the environment doubtless tend to hold each particular type of
culture to its initial locality, even in the face of many change in blood and
Wissler observed two types of cultural diffusion.
The natural diffusion
The organized diffusion
In natural diffusion, cultural traits of one
group diffused in different parts of the same group or in different cultural
groups by trail or error method and indigenous process, which is time taking.
It is transmitted through natural agencies.
On the other hand organized diffusion is very
quick and transmitted through organized agencies like missionaries invaders,
contacts with inhabitants of alien culture etc.
A. L. Kroeber: Kroebar emphasized upon the trait list approach
in conviction that facts must proceed theory. He observed that inspite of their
differences; culture areas often resembled each other in many ways. He
proposed, therefore, that statistical correlations should be made in order to
find the coincidence of typical traits, so that culture areas would become
Kroebar added the concepts of ‘cultural
intensity’ and ‘cultural climax’ to that of area. He felt that culture could
not be wholly understood even by most complete summation of observable
elements, because every culture contained other elements that could not be
caught by trait lists. Kroebar called these the “sensitive indicators” of
culture. According to Kroebar, sensitive indicators of culture included art,
music, religion, ethos, philosophy, and similar aspects of intellectual life;
that do not easily lend themselves to statistical treatment.
‘Cultural climax’ is to be thought of as the
dynamic equivalent of the descriptive term “culture- centre’. It is the part of
the area where the tribes have ‘a larger contact of culture’. In other words,
more numerous elements and more sharply expressed and interrelated patterns.