Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Diane E. King
Social structure has been used in anthropology as the descriptor for a variety of conceptualizations of human organization. The term, wrote Claude Lévi-Strauss, “has nothing to do with empirical reality but with models which are built up after it.” The building up of such models was a central preoccupation in anthropology in the mid-20th century. These theorists built on an ancient conversation dating from Plato, Ibn KhaldÛn, and Vico and stretching to the figures who laid the foundations for 20th-century social theorizing: Freud, Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. The models addressed social phenomena ranging from marriage rules to political forms. Several features of this conversation in anthropology distinguished it from a similar one in sociology taking place during the same period in which such themes as class, norms, and inequality were emphasized. These included a concern with non-Western political organization and kinship structures and terminologies, which were shown to be overlapping ...