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Malinowski: the Creator of Fieldwork and the ethnography Society, Social Organization and the Individual Background of Malinowski Degrees in philosophy from Poland where he became interested in Durkheim’s work. Travelled to Australia to study societies of New Guinea Became stranded in Australia during WWI and used the time to carry out two-years of fieldwork in the Trobriand Islands Became convinced that learning the local language was necessary in order to present material ‘from an indigenous point of view.’ Organization and Method Collected three types of information during this fieldwork period: Customs associated with different activities, e.g. fishing, trade and sharing of food, childrearing, marriage. Creation of charts of activities and the normative customs associated with them. People’s actual behaviour in relation to the customs. People’s beliefs associated with the customs, e.g. fables, parables, religious beliefs. This led Malinowski to divide societies into three levels: The individual and his or her behaviour The realm of social organization defined by customs The realm of cultural beliefs, i.e. the subjective values that people held. » All three were interlinked through socialization, but they did not always correspond, Malinowski saw a lot of flexibility in Trobriand society; individuals could try to manipulate ‘customs’ in order to achieve their own goals. Malinowski stressed the integrative feature of social organization; all customs existed in order to link the various institutions into a harmonious whole. The Individual, Society and the Function of institutions The goal of social analysis was to find the PURPOSE of customs and institutions that might seem initially unfamiliar. All institutions fulfilled basic ‘functions’ Met basic needs of individuals: biological, but depend on the group. These include: nutrition, reproduction, bodily comforts, safety, movement, growth, health. To each of these needs there corresponds an institution. These institutions will vary from society to society, but all societies must fulfill these functions. To the need of nutrition was the commissariat, reproductive needs were fulfilled by kinship institutions, bodily comfort needs were met by forms of shelter, safety needs were met by political institutions, movement needs by cultural activities, growth needs by training and education considered in its broadest sense, and health needs by forms of healing. Secondary or derived needs were created by the fulfillment of basic needs and evolve from them: These included meaning, a sense of security, psychological belonging to a group. To these corresponded magic, religion, and kinship descent. General Axioms of Functionalism (a la Malinowski): 1. Culture is an instrumental apparatus by which man is put in a position the better to cope with specific problems that face him in his environment in the course of the satisfaction of his needs. 2. It is a system of objects, activities and attitudes in which every part exists as a means to an end. 3. All the component parts are interdependent. 4. Activities and attitudes are organized around important and vital tasks into institutions such as the family, the clan, the local community, the tribe, and organized groups of economic cooperation, political, legal and educational activity. Universality of Functions All societies possessed comparable institutions that met basic needs and provided for biological and psychological security. Hence, a person could apply a functional analysis of magic not only to fishing in the Trobriands, but also to contemporary professional baseball players; both sought to control the insecurity of their activities through ritualistic and magical activities. Even if societies ‘lacked’ an institution, e.g. courts and/or a formal legal system, the functional analysis directed them to look for correlative customs and institutions. Very often, anthropologists found these functions fulfilled by kinship institutions, e.g. a group of elders of a clan might judge cases of social conflict between individuals and groups and provide culturally appropriate punishment or restitution. These would be equivalent to a formal legal system. Functional analyses are therefore closely tied to the values of cultural relativism.