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MAN-001: Social Anthropology

MAN-001: Social Anthropology

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

If you are looking for MAN-001 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Social Anthropology, you have come to the right place. MAN-001 solution on this page applies to 2022-23 session students studying in MAAN courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: MAN 001/AST/TMA/2022-23

Course Code: MAN-001

Assignment Name: Social Anthropology

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


There are two sections ‘A’ and ‘B.’ Attempt five questions and at least two questions from each section. 20x5



Q1) Discuss Franz Boas’ contribution to the understanding of cultural relativism. With suitable examples state whether this concept is still relevant.

Ans) The collective learnt, shared, and socially transmitted behaviours of a group of people, including their ideas, values, and customs, are referred to as their culture. A society is made up of a sizable population that resides in the same area. A common language among members of a community makes it easier for them to communicate with one another on a daily basis and engage in shared cultural activities. In his writings, Nadel argues that it is important to distinguish between the term "culture" and its companion term "society." He claims that culture is a people's way of life and that a society is an organised, socially cohesive group of people who share a common way of life.


Since the time of Boas, culture has been used to comprehend and characterise the strange civilization. Cultural comparisons can be made through anthropological research on cultural relativism without supposing evolutionary hierarchies. It implies that each culture has the freedom to be unique and does not support the goals of other cultures. In other words, every culture expresses validity in its worldview. Thus, even if we apply a universal definition of violence, it may not be suitable to judge cannibalism activity within society. What we can do is make an effort to comprehend and justify such action.


Anthropologists first popularised the concept of culture in an effort to comprehend monolithic societies. The interaction between culture and society in the modern world is nuanced. Inside society, culture is created and passed down, and society behaves in a particular way within a culture. However, how does culture function in advanced societies? Postmodernists use culture to denote the realm of signifying practises, whereas early anthropologists used it to identify a set of situational and practical significations.


Pertierra claims that society can be viewed as a group of people pursuing their own interests within the framework of formal laws that are regulated by experts and put into effect by the government. It was also a continuous self-constitution whose members were involved in personal life projects characterised by rationality of purpose and values. People in society are mostly strangers to one another, but they are nevertheless connected by fictitious categories like class, nation, or gender. In this situation, society was taken for granted as the actual setting or arena, a system in which people act out their parts and pursue their various goals. When we observe the relation between society and culture, society and culture are two factors that are complimenting each other. Culture serves as a medium for societal expression.


Furthermore, culture is ingrained in both the physical environment and the social institutions of society, manifesting itself in socio-economic systems as frames for the organisation of social relationships. Culture forms group relationships and organises material experiences. However, culture also serves as the lens through which the social world is perceived, analysed, and comprehended. Culture is therefore something more fundamental than ideological superstructure. In a particular society, culture is created within the confines of the socio-economic system. The cultural process is ongoing among the many classes and groups in a society, and it also has an impact on the social structure.


Q2) Discuss the thesis of functionalism.

Ans) The positivist school of thought contains the functionalism argument. The comparison of society as an organism is frequently used by Comte, a proponent of positivism. While sociologists provide what Durkheim refers to as "sociological interpretations" in the study of social facts. According to Durkheim, "any sociological explanation is composed of two parts: the efficient cause that creates it and the function it fulfils must be explored independently. The "causal-historical explanation" is the first part of the sociological explanation, and it aims to identify the cause(s) of a phenomenon by looking at historical sources rather than engaging in what Radcliffe-Brown terms "conjectural history." The second element is "functional," which refers to a part's contribution to society's "establishment of general harmony."


Later functionalists in social anthropology and sociology greatly benefited from Durkheim's definition of function in their writings. According to him, a part's "contribution" to the whole is what ensures its "maintenance and wellness." Function, then, is a "positive contribution" since it supports the continuity and continued good health of society (the whole). Each component contributes to the satisfaction of a need or requirements in society. Society will be able to persist and survive once requirements have been met. In all of his research, Durkheim uses this social function paradigm.


For instance, Durkheim disproves Darwin's theory that as human populations grow, there will be a battle for survival, and those who are fortunate enough to be fit will survive while the rest are wiped out in his doctoral dissertation on the division of labour. Durkheim demonstrates that as the human population grows, society gets more and more differentiated, with the division of labour shifting toward the specialisation of jobs rather than providing evidence in favour of the notion of competition, conflict, and elimination.


In addition, Durkheim is not in agreement with the explanations of the division of labour that have been proposed by economists and psychologists. According to him, the division of labour fulfils a sociological function by developing social solidarity, which is an important aspect of every society. Interconnectedness can be attributed to the interdependence that arises as a consequence of job specialisation in today's modern industrial society. In his study of Australian totemism, he explains how religion may serve to create social cohesiveness and "to bind people in a moral community called church." This is something he discovered via his analysis.


For Durkheim, it is of the utmost importance to provide evidence that social facts fulfil a religious or ethical function. The integration process ultimately aims to achieve a purpose that is produced by social institutions. Because of this perspective, he is able to provide an explanation for phenomena that, to other people, may appear to be "unhealthy" for society. For example, he believes that crime is a "natural" and "good" part of all communities because it helps to strengthen group sympathies and contributes to the advancement of morals and the law. He comes to this conclusion because he believes that crime is a "natural" and "good" part of all communities.


Q3) Write short notes:


a) Evolutionism

Ans) The term evolutionism is used to refer to the evolution theory. With the advancement of the study of evolution, its precise definition has evolved over time. It was a term used in the 19th century to describe the idea that creatures consciously changed themselves through hereditary change over time. The teleological viewpoint later expanded to incorporate social and cultural evolution. The concept that "human beings aspired to preserve a familiar way of life until change was imposed on them by causes that were beyond their control" was referred to as "Neo-Evolutionism" in the 1970s.


Most frequently, creationists use this phrase to compare acceptance of the scientific consensus on evolution to a secular religion. Since the vast majority of scientists agree with the scientific view on evolution, the term is relatively infrequently used within the scientific community. Since evolutionary biology is the accepted scientific view, unless otherwise stated, "scientists" or "biologists" are considered to be "evolutionists." Creationists frequently refer to both the theory itself and those who embrace the present evolutionary synthesis as "evolutionists" in the creation-evolution debate.


The term "evolution" was first used to describe any ordered sequence of events with the result somehow contained at the start before it was used to describe biological evolution. The word "evolved" was used in the first five editions of Darwin's Origin of Species, but the word "evolution" wasn't used until the sixth edition, published in 1872. Herbert Spencer had already created the notion in 1862, which states that organisms try to evolve because of an internal "driving force."


Although they gravitated toward the older pre-Spencerian conception, Edward B. Tylor and Lewis H. Morgan introduced the term "evolution" to anthropology and helped develop the idea of unilineal evolution employed in the final stages of what Trigger refers to as the Antiquarianism-Imperial Synthesis period. The now-discredited view that evolution involved an intentional component rather than the selection of advantageous features from random variation by differential survival eventually came to be known as evolutionism.


b) Sanskritisation and Westernisation

Ans) Prof. M.N. Srinivas coined the word "Sanskritization" and first used it in Indian sociology. The phrase describes a process whereby members of lower castes attempt to collectively adopt upper caste customs and beliefs as a first step toward achieving greater rank. This therefore suggests that there was a process of cultural mobility inside the Indian traditional social order.


Sanskritization describes the procedure of career advancement. Through this strategy, a caste attempts to gradually advance up the caste structure rather than all at once. Sometimes, it would require one or two generations. Sanskritization-related mobility does not always result in "structural change," but rather merely "positional alterations" for specific castes or subsets of castes. It implies that while certain castes may rise or fall, the structure as a whole does not change.


With the frenzied attempts of missionaries to convert as many Indians as possible to Christianity and the arrival of the East India Company in India, first for trade and later to expand its political dominance in India, the process of Westernizing the caste system in India began. By 1958, the East India Company had successfully imposed "British Imperial Rule" on India.


Indian society and culture underwent significant and long-lasting changes as a result of British control. New technology, institutions, information, attitudes, and values were all provided by the British. These are now the primary means by which both individuals and groups can move up the social ladder. In this context, M.N. Srinivas used the term "Westernization" to describe the changes that Western interaction through British rule has brought about in Indian society and culture.




Q1) What is liminality? Discuss Clifford Geertz and Victor Turner’s work.

Ans) Van Gennep proposed the idea of liminality in rituals, and Victor Turner and Edmund Leach developed it. A liminal phase is a time when normal life and time are either stopped or turned around. According to Van Gennep, who examined the significance of lifecycle rituals for both individuals and society, rituals like those associated with birth, puberty, marriage, and death signify points in a person's life where they go from one status to another.


Starting at birth, when a person joins society as an individual and already has relationships with their parents, aunts, and cousins, among other pre-existing relationships. Numerous other people also experience status changes as a result of childbirth. Instead of being husband and wife, a couple becomes parents, and some people may also become grandparents, aunts, and uncles, etc. The same is true for how marriage and even death affect social rank. Rituals associated with puberty turn a child into an adult. Every one of these rituals, according to Van Gennep, goes through three stages: separation, liminality, and inclusion.


These three stages are present in almost all life cycle ceremonies, which signify changes in life stages. The idea of liminality has been employed by Edmund Leach to define what he refers to as the marking of structural time, or the moments when significant social events signify the passage of time from one era to another. Rituals associated with harvest, for instance, indicate the transition between agricultural cycles. Time thus starts with one sowing and concludes with the harvest before starting over with a new season of sowing. Every stage of this cycle of sowing, reaping, and sowing is marked with a ceremony. In contrast to the ideas of lineal time and even cyclical time, Leach refers to this as oscillating time.


Ritual, according to Clifford Geertz, also serves as a point of entry for those who see it because, while participants are performing, observers are thinking. Here, the theorist's function also becomes evident because it is the scholar and not necessarily the performer who constructs a meaning system that is unique to him or her. Roy Rappaport, for instance, analysed Tsembaga ancestor worship rituals as a negative feedback loop, where the rituals function as a thermostat to control human-environment interactions. Of course, this is how the ritualists view their own practises. As a result, the communicative aspect of the rituals differs for the participating group and the outsider.


Since this type of liminality is likened to a pendulum swinging, there is a sense of reversal, when daily life is reversed or paused; an example of this would be a carnival held during harvest festivals and such annual cycles as the arrival of spring. For instance, during the Holi celebration in India, we observe that all social conventions are inverted, and that revelry takes place where customary social distances are abandoned. The old watch indulgently while the youth take over. According to Okos Astor, the stringent observances of caste norms of purity and contamination are abandoned during the Gajan celebration. These rituals have also been examined as having a cathartic impact, where conflicts and injustices are forsaken, and the injustices experienced in daily life are played out in reverse.


Q2). Define kinship and discuss its relevance in family and marriage with suitable examples from patriarchal and matrilineal society.

Ans) The term kinship includes all of a society's institutions under it. Kinship has an impact on everything from property rights and inheritance to political office and the makeup of local communities. Even religion was founded on kinship in communities where ancestor worship was practised.



Due to the vast anthropological differences in what constitutes marriage in different countries, there has been much discussion regarding what constitutes marriage. Marriage is defined as "a relationship between a man and a woman such that the children born to the woman are recognised as legitimate offspring of both parents" in the Notes and Queries.


According to Kathleen Gough, having children of legal age continues to be the marriage's primary goal. She was responding to academics like Edmund Leach who believed that the Nayars of Kerala did not have a true marriage because the mother's name and identity were passed down to the children through a matrilineal system of inheritance, which gave no consideration to the father's role in the identity of the children. Due to the fact that children were conceived by visiting husbands who had no legal custody of their offspring and were merely the mother's sexual partners, society did not recognise the social function of the father. In houses with brothers, sisters, and the sister's kids, the mother's brother held sway.


Gough's definition covers polygamy, which includes polyandry, in which a woman may have multiple husbands, as well as polygyny, in which a man may have more than one wife. Polyandry is only seen in South Asia, but polygyny was once practised over much of the world and is frequently connected to horticulture and the custom of bride-wealth. Polygyny is linked to societies where women are economically significant, as n hoe cultivation, and where having several spouses indicates a high social position, such as among the East's nobility.



Both synchronic and diachronic factors define the type of family. The Mitakshara school of Hindu law, which defines a Hindu joint family as one in which all male agnatic relatives have a share from birth and may claim a stake in the property as soon as they reach the legal age of maturity, is typically practised among upper caste Hindus. The male members are coparcenary and may live under the same roof and in the same home with their wives and kids. A joint household may also include dependents, such as orphans and widows, who are typically related women who were born into the family. A joint family is symbolically joined together in the common adoration of a deity seen as the protector of the specific bloodline or kul.


The Karta, who holds a lot of influence, is typically the oldest male family member and serves as the family's head. The three-generation joint family is simply an ideal type, according to renowned sociologist Arvind Shah, and is rarely observed in actual life. Caste, employment, and economic standing account for the major variations in family structure. The wealthier upper castes, who felt it advantageous to stay together in a large home with supportive resources like a huge house and many staff, were most likely to have large undivided joint households. For the administration of huge estates and enterprises, it worked well.

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