Methodological ideas of F. Boas, B. Malinovsky on...

Methodological ideas of F. Boas.

The classic American anthropology F. Boas (1858-1942) called for caution in the implementation of specific methods. Thus, he proposed to clearly see the boundaries of the method of comparison, because cultural phenomena, apparently similar to each other, can have completely different origins and different functions. In addition, each culture has its own unique path of development: "The method we are trying to justify is based on studying the dynamic changes in a society that is accessible to observation at a given time. Not knowing how to explain the processes taking place on our eyes, we are well resolved to embark on the common problems of the development of civilization (My italics - G. About.).

He paid principled attention to the methodology of anthropological research. The school of F. Boas was based on the need for a long-term comprehensive study of "primitive" societies. His result was a careful description of the physical appearance of people and their psychological characteristics, as well as the diverse aspects of a particular culture: language, material objects, beliefs, social organization, management and everyday life, etc. All the components of culture were studied and described in close relationship with the geographical environment and carefully mapped.

F. Boas defended his own method - historical - as the most important method of studying culture. It is based on the thesis that every culture has its own unique path of development: "Every culture," Boas wrote, "can only be understood as a historical phenomenon. We view each specific cultural form as a whole and try to trace its development path up to its present state .

According to Boas, the historical method seems to be much more fruitful than the generalizations of the comparative method: "The detailed study of customs in the context of the entire culture of a tribe practitioner and taking into account their geographical distribution among neighboring tribes will almost always allow us to determine with high accuracy the reasons for the emergence of these customs and the psychological processes that led to their development. The application of such a method will give a three-fold result: first, it will identify the external environment that has formed or modified the elements of culture; second, it will reveal the psychological factors that determined its appearance, and, thirdly, determine the influence of historical ties .

B. Malinovsky on the methodological role of functionalism.

The methodological ideas of the classic of English anthropology were formed on the basis of a critical analysis of the experience of his predecessors, primarily the methodology of evolutionism and diffusionism. The main drawback of these teachings was that B. Malinovsky considered an isolated study of certain cultural features not connected with culture as a whole: The evolutionist is interested in the fact mainly as a remnant of the past stage, whereas the diffusionist sees in him, first of all, borrowing, mechanically moved from another geographic region. One places the fact in the distant past, the other - in the distant space. But both pushed the fact away from the real environment in which he lives today. Thus, every element of culture, every idea, custom, form of organization, word - is forced to be snatched from their own context and inserted into some imaginary scheme .

The principle of universal functionalism, according to B. Malinovsky, is as follows: "... in any type of civilization, any custom, material object, idea and beliefs perform a certain vital function, solve some problem, represent necessary part inside the acting whole . That is why the functional method "stimulates interest in the study of the relationship between individual customs, institutions and aspects of culture". .

Malinovsky's methodological approach was not only theoretical, but also purely practical. He argued that the integrity of a particular cultural subsystem can not be violated, otherwise the whole higher order pyramid of integrity, based on this subsystem, could collapse. Even at first glance, the harmful, barbaric customs of local peoples can not be destroyed just like that. First of all, it is necessary to find out the functions that they perform. He emphasizes: "The moral derived from the functional analysis of culture should be the basic rule that a slow, gradual and carefully planned transformation can be successful where the transformation is random, erratic and hastily worked will only embarrass the .

Malinovsky not only reflected on the methods of social anthropology, but also carefully developed the research methodology. He developed a whole series of schemes that became tools for data collection and allowed the field researcher to correlate various aspects of the culture under investigation. Malinovsky's field research scheme, which he used since 1912, was a table whose columns included those spheres of culture whose names later became headings of standard monographs: religion, magic, fishing, hunting, etc.

Researchers in the history of anthropology emphasize that the orientation toward functionalism, which placed the first emphasis on the interrelationship of things, had one more important methodological effect: it was one of the main reasons for the emergence of professional zero-point studies of this type, which was completely unknown to the anthropologists of the 19th century. who were content to construct their theories with facts and materials collected by amateurs and random people " .

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