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Apply Functionalism and Structuralism to the Trobriander Islanders Economy

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Introduction

Apply Functionalism and Structuralism to the Trobriander Islanders' Economy Jonathan Quaade Ethnographer: Bronislaw Malinowski 1914-1918, Ethnographer: Anette B. Weiner 1980's Location: Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea The Trobriand Island inhabitants live in a society composed of four clans further divided into subclans or dala, in the local language. These dala follow a matrilineal descent system that define territory, kinship and marriage, and are the corporations of society via the yam exchanges of kin, but the higher structure, clan, have no corporate interest and have no chiefs, but only chiefly dala's have chiefs, commoner dalas have managers as leaders and they cannot marry polygamous. Although, the Trobrianders have a matrilineal descent system they have patrilocal residence structure. Looking at the Trobrianders from a functionalist perspective that all aspects of that all aspects of society (ex institutions) have specific functions Malinowski said that functionalism is the theory that a society is a set of interconnected parts where the social institutions support the needs of the individual's society by contributing to the social structure. These needs are either social, biological or economical, e.g. biological needs involve aspects such as food and water necessary for survival. Malinowski argued against evolution saying that there is a certain order and organization to every cultural system. ...read more.

Middle

However, chiefs will always be the wealthiest due to their right to polygamy, and have more in-laws and affines as a result. This means that they will receive more yams at the Harvest Presentation and are richer because of their large amount of yams; however, it doesn't necessarily mean that they have the highest authority in the society. Even marriage supports the social structure. In the Trobriand society marriage is a political act. It establishes the formal bonds between contractual relationships and corporate relationships. The presentation of productivity from the brother to his sister boosts the dala's reputation and marriages into these dala's can mean more wealth and respect from the clans and subclans as well as the acquisition of yams (currency). Through the application of an idealist perspective, structuralism, the Trobrianders economy brings about a great deal of other interesting revelations. Structuralism is a Universalist perspective, arguing that there is a mental structure behind gestures/acts, meaning that there is a cognitive meaning behind human actions; however, to say that there is cognitive meaning behind every action would be an overstatement. The theory, developed by Claude Levi-Strauss who had analysed the social activity with the use of language and drew his methodological model form structural linguistic, says that like we are unaware of our grammar when we speak we are unaware of the components that make up the social structure; even if we subconsciously unaware of it, there is cognitive meaning behind human actions. ...read more.

Conclusion

The object is then thrown on the ground at the receiver's feet where the receiver then accepts the gift, but he must not seem eager. The whole exchange is very ceremonious. In the other exchanges, you can also see binary oppositions. The entire exchange systems are ceremonious acts (wasi, sagali, pokala) apart from gimwali, which is the only Trobriander exchange that is not ceremonial. It occurs during the Kula Ring Exchange, where both partners bargain separate from the Kula Exchange for far less valuable goods. Fish is exchanged for vegetables or newly manufactured items of various sorts. On the Kula Ring expeditions, one brings items to gimwali, but is kept separate from the Kula/vaguy'a exchange (binary oppositions.) Another example of an exchange in Trobriand society is wasi. It occurs between a partner in a coastal village and a partner in an inland village, where fish is exchanged for yam, in an annual affirmation of partner villages. This is ceremonious, as it happens once a year and the inland villager must seek out the coastal villager before he can go to give his fish to receive yams. By looking at the Trobrianders through the glasses of the particularist functionalists and universal structuralist it is clear that every part of their society functions to support the social structure, but at the same time has cognitive meaning to its inhabitants. ******Remember to discuss the Kula Ring"********* Kabuto Labour ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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