Death of Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski

Death of Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski

Bronislaw Malinowski
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Anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski dies in New Haven, Connecticut.

Best known for having developed the school of thought known as Functionalism, Malinowski argued that all parts of society and culture work in concert to produce a coherent whole. Each aspect of a culture has some relevant function within that whole, even if outside observers are not able to detect it or understand what it is.

Malinowski also developed influential theories about the nature of religion while studying the Trobriand Islanders of New Guinea. He discovered that the Islanders' superstitions grew more complex when the fishermen travelled farther out to sea. Malinowski concluded that superstition is not the product of stupidity but is instead a product of uncertainty. Rituals and religions develop first as a way to cope with uncertainty, and secondarily to cope with the anxiety produced by those situations:

"We find magic wherever the elements of chance and accident, and the emotional play between hope and fear have a wide and extensive range.

We do not find magic wherever the pursuit is certain, reliable, and well under the control of rational methods and technological processes. Further, we find magic where the element of danger is conspicuous."

Video

Tales From The Jungle: Malinowski

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