Scale and Social Organization

Barth, Fredrik (ed.): Scale and Social Organization

How can anthropologists study and describe large-scale social systems without losing sight of real people and their life situations? How can they represent the complexity of complex societies, yet cast their description in an analytical mould which may also serve for simpler societies, thus securing comparability between such diverse forms? How can they delimit a ‘convenient area’ as an object of study without isolating it from all those events and circumstances outside the area which are major determinants of life within it? How can they relate the actions of a person and his conception of a finite, ego-centred world to the global realities that actually impinge on him?

These questions touch on recurrent and troubling themes in much contemporary anthropology, and some other social sciences as well. The purpose of "Scale and Social Organization" is to treat such issues by investigating them: concretely by drawing on a wide range of ethnographies and comparing forms of local and regional organisation, depicting the ethnographically different ways in which persons and social systems are constituted, and giving special attention to the possible effects of size, or the phenomenon of numbers and their consequences.

First published: 1978, Universitetsforlaget

Language: English

Fredrik Barth: Biography and bibliography

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