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BANC-108: Theories of Culture and Society

BANC-108: Theories of Culture and Society

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

If you are looking for BANC-108 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Theories of Culture and Society, you have come to the right place. BANC-108 solution on this page applies to 2022-23 session students studying in BSCANH courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: BANC-108/ASST/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: BANC-108

Assignment Name: Theories of Culture and Society

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Total Marks: 100

There are three Sections in the Assignment. You have to answer all questions in all the Sections.


Assignment – I


Answer the following in about 500 words each. 20X2= 40


a. Describe the elements that leads to diffusion. Discuss the three schools of diffusionism highlighting their history and drawbacks.

Ans) Diffusion occurs through three processes, according to Linton:

  1. the presentation of new cultural elements or traits;

  2. the acceptance of these cultural traits by society; and

  3. the integration of accepted cultural traits into the accepting culture.


The following are significant diffusion characteristics.


Any cultural trait that wants to spread needs to come into contact with other populations. The likelihood of diffusion is higher between populations that are close to one another physically than it is between populations that are far apart.


The traits spread from their origin centres in irregular patterns and at varying rates. The type and degree of a cultural trait's diffusion depends on how easily it can be transferred. Transferability is based on how complex it is and how easily it can be understood. Compare the alphabet and a complex theory as two examples of cultural traits. You will acknowledge that the alphabet spreads more quickly than a complicated theory do because the former is simpler to communicate and comprehend.


Schools of Diffusionism

Diffusion's fundamental assumption is frequently contrasted with the evolutionary theories. Diffusion theory differs from evolutionary theory in that it assumes that human beings are largely conservative and uninventive and that innovations will be developed independently in different societies (hence, all societies are expected to develop innovations characterising the evolutionary stage they are in). Diffusion theory also assumes that people tend to adopt cultural traits that have originated at one or more but specific places (s).


British School of Diffusion

Graffon Elliot Smith was the architect of the British School of Diffusion. Smith and his student William James Perry both insisted that Egypt was the place where cultures first emerged. They contended that Egypt was the source of the global cultural diffusion. You might be curious as to why Smith chose Egypt as the hub of all cultures. Smith, a renowned anatomist, and surgeon, travelled to Egypt to research the mummy cadavers' anatomical structures.


He made the claims that I the stone monuments in Egypt were the forerunners of megalithic structures similar to Stonehenge in England and (ii) Egypt was the only place on earth where ancient culture originated and spread to other parts of the world because he was so impressed by the Egyptians' method of mummification, their pyramids, and their large stone monuments. He argued that the importance of stone monuments and sun worship in Egyptian culture. Other characteristics included agriculture, irrigation, mummification, megalithic structures like pyramids, ear piercing, and circumcision customs. He started searching for them in other societies as well.


German-Austrian School of Diffusion

Fredrick Ratzel established the German-Austrian School of Diffusion. Father Withelm Schmidt, Fritz Graebner, and Leo Frobenius were a few of the other proponents. German-Austrian diffusionists were distinct from British diffusionists primarily on the basis of the following points: in contrast to the latter, they maintained that:

  1. there were multiple cultural centres rather than one, and

  2. culture complexes spread as a whole rather than in fragments as through individual traits.


It's interesting that they believed that historical contact between cultures was the cause of similarities between them today. If there were similarities between two cultures, it was assumed that they had interacted at some point, even if they were very distant from one another. Diffusion was used to explain how different cultures are similar to one another. They found two different types of similarities. The first was based on functional reasons for example sharpness of spears. Since they would be useless otherwise, spears would now have sharp points everywhere. The other types of similarity, such as the presence of matrilineal descent in two cultures, were based on historical contact.


b. Discuss new ethnography and contemporary changes.

Ans) The word is derived from the Greek words grapho, which means "I write," and ethnos, which means "folk, people, nation.” As a result, the word "ethnography" literally means "to write about culture." Consequently, it is a systematic study of a group of people and their cultures by definition. Classic ethnographies include Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa (1928) and Bronislaw Malinowski's Argonauts of the Western Pacific.


Reflexive is derived from the Latin reflexes, which means "bent back," and reflect ere, which means "to reflect." Thus, reflexivity is the process of reflection that uses oneself as the subject; in its most basic form, it alludes to reflecting on oneself as the subject of challenging, persistent thought and contemplation.


The proverbial ethnographer's self, including self-examination, self-strategies, self-discovery, and Reflexivity in anthropology is a result of three crucial occurrences. The first is the admission that, due to the discipline's focus on Europe (or having a western gaze), anthropology unintentionally contributed to the spread of issues of inequality brought about by European colonialism.



Because "auto" in autoethnography refers to the "self," it means that the ethnographic gaze is turned inward toward the self while still maintaining an outward gaze toward the larger context in which self-experiences take place. Raymond Firth first used the term "autoethnography" in his structuralism seminar in 1966. Firth mentioned Jomo Kenyatta's research on his native Kikuyu people in his lecture. He described how Kenyatta and another Kikuyu speaker, a white African named L. S., got into a heated argument when Kenyatta first presented his field research in Malinowski's seminar.


Team Ethnography

Do you participate in team sports? We can comprehend the significance of each player when we consider a sport like football or cricket. Each player has a specific role to play. For example, in the former, the wicket keeper tries to keep the wicket while the bowler attempts to keep it, the fielder fields, the batsman bats, and the bowler bowls. Even though one or two players may have stood out, it is considered a team effort when a team wins.


The team succeeds if everyone plays in unison and according to the game plan. This is also how group ethnography functions. Although most people think of ethnography as a solitary endeavour, most fieldwork and finished ethnographies are team oriented. Teams are made up of players, and players have roles to play and jobs to do, according to Ken Erickson and Donald Stull. Roles must be established, accepted, and followed by players both on and off the field.



Assignment – II


Answer the following in about 250 words each. (Write Short Notes) 10X2=20


a. Write a note on cultural ecology and Julian Steward’s contribution.

Ans) The theory of cultural ecology was created by Julian Steward and "stresses the inter-relationship between the natural resources in the environment—rainfall, temperature, soils—and technology, social organisation, and attitudes within a particular sociocultural system". It makes an effort to highlight how particular sociocultural groupings have adapted to their surroundings. He separates the two components of his cultural ecology structure into the culture core and secondary features.


The three main components of subsistence—environment, technology, and economic systems—are regarded as the foundation of culture. The remaining characteristics, such as politics, religion, social structure, and the like, are considered secondary features. Due to the lack of game in the Basin Plateau of the southwest United States, Steward contended that the Shoshoni did not have organised social groups larger than the family. He claimed that during the pre-colonial period, their reliance on gathering sparsely dispersed wild seeds caused each family to wander alone across the ranges.


During the winter, many families camped out in Pinyon pine groves, but because the groves produced fruit infrequently, different family groups gathered at various groves over the course of several years. Therefore, it is clear that the resources and environment have a big impact on how these people organise themselves socially throughout the year. Steward illustrated through examples like these how environmental factors (a component of the culture core) affect the development of culture within a sociocultural system. Even the agricultural civilizations of South America, Mesoamerica, the Near East, and the Far East were studied, and he explained the similarities between them by pointing to similar environmental circumstances.


b. Discuss Malinowski’s and his contribution to functionalism.

Ans) The key distinction between Malinowski's approach and Radcliffe-is Brown's that, despite the fact that his individual is deeply ingrained in society, Malinowski bases his functionalism on the individual rather than the abstracted category of society. When he refers to something as functional, he means that it serves the individual's needs as a member of society, not just those of society as a whole. Functionalism, according to Malinowski (1939), is distinguished from other theories by emphasising the individual.


He was probably referring to grand theories that dealt with universal processes, such as evolutionism and diffusionism, which predate functionalism. He prefers to emphasise how the individual interacts with his or her environment as a member of a culture in functionalism. He places the person in their culture. He sees relationships as outward expressions of emotions, including feelings of cooperation, duty, and even repulsion. The mutuality of emotions that makes up the group is what creates the web of relationships that results. In contrast to Radcliffe-Brown, he starts his analysis from culture and treats the social interactions as a supporting element.


According to his own definition of methodology, "the fieldworker must empirically collect texts, statements, and opinions alongside the observation of behaviour and the study of material culture" (2014:91). He emphasised the value of language, saying that it is the best tool for understanding a culture. He thought that symbolism was the foundation of human life because it gave people a way to communicate with one another, which in turn sparked the development of culture.


Answer the following questions in about 75 words each. 2X5=10


a. Durkheim

Ans) Functionalist Durkheim was interested in how society maintains social order. In order to discuss social order, he refers to "social solidarity." According to him, social institutions serve to preserve social cohesion. He advanced the idea that the division of labour’s purpose is to uphold social order or social solidarity while writing about the division of labour in society. Prioritizing social facts, Durkheim sought out sociological explanations for social phenomena.


b. Symbolic approach

Ans) The most fundamental prerequisite for a symbol is that it has a physical existence, or that it can be perceived by the senses. It is also caught up in a complex web of meanings that makes up culture. A symbol is not a standalone thing; it interacts with other symbols and might mean different things depending on the situation. It denotes and represents connections that have significance within their social and cultural context. Symbols can also be interpreted metaphorically.


c. The Manchester School

Ans) The Rhodes Livingstone Institute, which provided funding for studies on African communities, was connected to the Manchester school. The Institute was the first locally based anthropological research institution established in an African colony and was founded in Northern Rhodesia in the late 1930s. Britain ruled over Rhodesia at the time, and Northern Rhodesia wasn't freed from British rule and transformed into "Zambia" until 1964.


d. Feminist approach in anthropology

Ans) Using insights from feminist theory, feminist anthropology is a four-field approach to anthropology (archaeological, biological, cultural, and linguistic) that aims to change research findings, anthropological hiring practises, and the academic production of knowledge. [1] The essentialist feminist theories that were created in Europe and America are also challenged by feminist anthropology. Although feminists have been engaged in cultural anthropology since its inception (see Margaret Mead and Hortense Powdermaker), feminist anthropology was not formally acknowledged as a subdiscipline of anthropology until the 1970s.


e. Ruth Fulton Benedict

Ans) Franz Boas' student Ruth Fulton Benedict wrote her dissertation on "The Concept of the Guardian Spirit in North America." She conducted her fieldwork among the Kwakiutl, Cochiti, Zunis, and Pima tribes. Because of her work with the Pima people, she was able to develop the concept of "culture pattern" in her 1928 paper "Psychological Types in the Culture of the Southwest," which she later developed in her book "Patterns of Culture". She asserts that cultural traits and complexes relate to one another in functional roles to form a culture pattern.

Assignment – III


NOTE: For question a. please DO NOT use Migration as a topic


a. Explain what is a theory? Examine the need for a theory in an ethnographic study. 10

Ans) A theory provides us with the fundamental assumptions or paradigms that we use before we even start gathering data. Without knowing which fundamental assumptions, we are taking for granted and which ones we are going to investigate and treat as variables, we cannot determine what data we actually need to gather.


A basic premise is an assumption about something that is given and that we do not contest, for instance, if we are going to study society. What fundamental precepts can we take into account before defining a society. Do we consider it to be a finite entity? Are we going to define it in terms of a population or a region? Do we perceive it to be static or dynamic? Regarding fundamental presumptions, the concept of normal is a crucial question. Typically, we discover that this refers to our logical assumption of how things ought to be in a normal situation.


The various theories that exist in social and cultural anthropology are now well known to the learners, as you may have read in the theory section of this course material. The evolution of anthropological theory tells the storey of the discipline's historical development, changes in its power dynamics, and a global shift in history and power.


Theoretical frameworks have evolved along with the times and related paradigms. If we look back at the Enlightenment Era, we can see that the thinkers were departing from the presumption that a Supreme Being created everything. As a result, the emphasis shifted to finding other explanations for how things evolved, including humans. When the paradigm of divine creation was replaced by one of natural creation and evolution, questions arose about how to explain the diversity and evolution of humans, both biologically and culturally.


The ethnographic method was created as anthropology advanced because the emphasis shifted to comprehending how each institution functions within its context and in relation to other institutions. Anthropologists began to live among the population as a member of the society under study in order to conduct such studies, which are referred to as fieldwork or ethnographic studies. When the "natives" began researching themselves, later anthropological theories changed their emphasis. When the field was no longer the "heaven" of the white Europeans, the "natives" began to graze on those of their own species. Reflective and interpretive elements started to become common.

b. Prepare a synopsis on the study of religious aspects in a society. Write a note on which theory you would apply to study the topic with relevant justifications. 20

Ans) There are questions regarding how neutral and objective a study of religion can be. Can one comprehend a religion without adhering to it? Cross-religious comparisons would largely fail if it were impossible because it is typically impossible to practise more than one religion. However, it is important to understand what objectivity and subjectivity in religion entail. There are at least two ways in which one can define religion as subjective. First, religion involves internal feelings and experiences, such as the sense that God is directing the devotee's life. Here, subjectivity in the sense of personal experience is involved with religion.


Religion may also be considered subjective because there is no clear-cut "objective" test, as there is for a wide variety of empirical claims in the physical world, and the standards by which its veracity is determined are elusive and difficult to find. Regarding the first sense, one of the difficulties facing a religious scholar is how to invoke this aspect of religion that is internal and personal, but which cannot be easily observed.


However, the scholar is interested in both communal and individual responses when studying a religion. The inner feelings that these both evoke and express must be inferred because the scholar is frequently only presented with texts that describe beliefs and stories. A person who practises a religion is undoubtedly an authority on his or her own life, but what about the communal significance of the rituals and institutions in which they take part? As a result, learning about a religion's inner workings requires a dialectic between participant observation and dialogical (interpersonal) relationships with followers of the opposing faith.


The attempt to describe religious phenomena in a way that highlights the beliefs and attitudes of the followers of the religion under study without endorsing or rejecting those beliefs and attitudes is referred to as phenomenology in the first place. Therefore, "bracketing" refers to setting aside personal beliefs that may support or contradict the subject of the investigation. The attempt to create a typology, or classification, of religious phenomena—religious practises, beliefs, and institutions—is also referred to as phenomenology. The emphasis on neutral description is, in part, a response to "committed" accounts of religion that have long been the norm and still exist among those who approach religion from a theological perspective. For instance, a Christian theologian might consider a certain historical process to be providential.

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