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The Application of Theory to Practice


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Title: The Application of Theory to Practice

The Application of Theory to Practice
  • Theory is the formulation of thought about a
    specific discipline or subject
  • Social theory is the formulation of thought in
    the social sciences
  • Theory is made up of hypotheses or theses about
    specific aspects of a discipline
  • Hypotheses (sing. hypothesis) or theses (sing.
    thesis) are the theoretical basis of research and

Five examples
  • Karl Marx
  • Max Weber
  • Emile Durkheim
  • Alexandrov Vasilevich Chayanov
  • de Haan et al. 2000

Sociology and Anthropology
  • Sociology is the study of society
  • (Latin societas (society) Greek logos (study
    or word)
  • Anthropology is the study of man
  • (Greek anthropos (man) Greek logos
  • In the social scienes we talk about these and
    other disciplines
  • Psychology the study of the mind
  • (Greek Psyche (mind) Greek logos
  • Demography the study of populations
  • (Greek Demos (people) and graphos (writing or

  • Sociology is mainly the study of post-industrial
  • Sociologists study both rural and urban society
  • They use both quantitative and qualitative
    research methods
  • They study
  • either systems and sub-systems of a particular
    society, or
  • systems, such as farm households, which are
    common in all societies

  • Anthropology is divided into
  • physical anthropology, including forensic
  • Social anthropology
  • Cultural anthropology.
  • In this course we are mainly concerned with
    social anthropology (the study of social man)

Social Anthropology
  • In the social sciences anthropology has as its
    subject matter either
  • simple or tribal societies in which the whole of
    society can be studied at the level of a village
  • a sub-system of such a society, such as kinship
    and marriage or the rural household
  • or a sub-systems of an industrial society which
    can similarly be studied as a whole, for example
    a hospital or a factory, urban households or
    social networks.
  • Anthropologists use mainly qualitative research
    but may also use quantitative methods such as
    socio-economic survey, household income and
    expenditure survey or labour use survey

Methods or Methodology
  • Methods are the tools or instruments, such as
    socio-economic survey, which a social scientist
    uses in research
  • A methodology is the combination of a hypothesis
    or thesis with a statement of the researchers
    methods and approach
  • In explaining a methodology the researcher may
    refer to his or her assumptions or underlying

Corporate bodies
  • Corporate bodies are social institutions which
  • have a membership with known rights and
  • have authority which can be inherited unchanged
    when their membership changes
  • maintain specific relationships with individuals
    or other corporate bodies
  • Examples of corporate bodies are households,
    clans or tribal groups, cities and bureaucracies.

  • households are a form of corporate body based on
    kinship and economics
  • the members of the household share a common set
    of resources including shelter (a house) and a
    source of livelihood such as a farm or a job or
  • they are under the authority of a household head
    who is usually the husband and father
  • About one third of households in Cambodia are
    female headed households

  • In ordinary speech we speak about my family as
    having the same meaning as my household
  • In sociology we say that a family is not a
    corporate group that it is a system or a network
    but that the family may provide the basis of a
  • Most often a household is a nuclear family,
    consisting of father mother and children
  • A compound family is one with more than two
    generations, including grandparents, or including
    the spouse and children of a sibling or of
    affines, people related by marriage

City and State
  • Maitland
  • Plato The Republic
  • Urbanism
  • Metropolitanism
  • Citizenship majorities and minorities

  • Status is a bundle of rights and obligations
    which society confers on and recognises in an
  • Examples of status are
  • father, mother, son, daughter
  • bank manager
  • student, teacher, professor

  • A role is the position occupied by a person or
    institution for specific purposes which may not
    be permanent.
  • For example, we can say that
  • when someone is buying a car he or she is
    performing the role of customer
  • when someone is suffering from opression or
    persecution he or she is in the role of victim.
  • However, role and status are often used
    interchangeably in sociology

Patron Client Relationships
  • A patron client role relationship is one in which
    the dominant role is played by a patron who has
    power and resources to provide benefits and
    security to groups and individuals who attach
    themselves to him
  • the client, such as a villager or a party member,
    is in a subordinate role, supports the patron and
    in turn receives protection and benefits from him.

The history of social theory 1. Comte
  • Auguste Comte (1789-1857), who we think of as the
    founder of sociology, was concerned in his
    writing with statics (order) and dynamics in
    society. He studied the foundations of social
    stability. He thought of society as being like
    an organism in biology such as the human body.
  • Comte stated that the statical study of
    sociology consists in the investigation of the
    laws of action and reaction of different parts of
    the social system. A lack of harmony between
    the whole and the parts of the social system was

Herbert Spencer
  • Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) wrote that the social
    system had evolved by differentiation. By
    differentiation Spencer meant the mutual
    dependence of unlike parts of the system, which
    he thought was brought about inevitably by an
    increase in the size of society. He taught that
    this evolution in the structure of society was
    brought about by psychological forces through the
    individuals search for happiness.

Emile Durkheim
  • Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) is the most important
    forerunner of modern sociology and of
    functionalism. This is because of his major
    contribution not only to social theory but also
    to sociological research method. He taught that
    society should be studied comme une chose as
    social facts. He was concerned with the
    integration of people in society in what he
    called social solidarity, as the way in which
    social equilibrium is maintained.
  • Durkheim said that social facts include laws,
    morals, customs, fashions, religious beliefs and
    practices and trends. Certain of these social
    facts are institutons, by which he meant
    beliefs and modes of behaviour instituted by the

Emile Durkheim (continued)
  • Durkheim defined sociology as the science of
    institutions, their genesis and their
  • In The Rules of the Sociological Method
    Durkheim describes functions as general needs of
    the social organism. He says that social facts
    have to be explained by social rather than
    non-social causes.
  • He used this approach in his great work
    Suicide, in which he made use of social
    statistics, on the suicide rates of catholics and
    non-catholics in Switzerland, to explain the
    causes of suicide that is basing his
    conclusions on social facts rather than on
    individual causes of suicide

Emile Durkheim (continued)
  • Durkheims The Elementary Forms of the Religious
    Life analyses religion in tribal societies as
    acting to integrate people into society through
    its institution of common values and
    identification of membership of society and
    social groups with a god or gods or religious
  • Durkheim relates religious beliefs and practice
    with an explanation of widely shared conceptions
    of the good or beliefs that legitimize the
    existence and importance of specific social
    structures and the kinds of behaviour that
    transpire in social structure. This is now
    thought of as a functionalist explanation,
    followed in the work of social anthropologists
    such as Malinowksi and Radcliffe-Brown and to
    sociologists such as Talcott Parsons and Merton.

Karl Marx
  • Karl Marx is regarded as the founder of a
    theoretical approach to social organisation
    referred to a conflict theory and which assumes a
    conflict between an upper ruling capitalist class
    or elite and a lower class of workers and
    peasants. He is also the author of a theory of
    dialectical process (an unavoidable conflict
    between opposed social forces) which will be
    enacted in the course of the industrialisation of
    nations, in which this struggle will inevitably
    lead to the victory of the workers and the fading
    away of the State. He and other conflict
    theorists are also noted for their ideological
    commitment to the class struggle, the struggle
    of the masses against capitalism, and for their
    belief that their sociology is a weapon which
    should be used in this struggle. Marx was, in
    keeping with this belief, also the author with
    Engels of the Communist Manifesto, which was the
    basis of the failed German revolution of 1848 and
    more lastingly of the Soviet Communist Revolution
    of 1917. Both his theoretical and his poltical
    influence continue to be importance throughout
    the world.

Max Weber (1861 to 1920)
  • Max Weber shared with Marx a theoretical position
    founded on the belief that there is an economic
    or material foundation for social differentiation
    and social structure. However, he argued,
    especially in The Spirit of Capitalism and the
    Protestant Ethic that religious and other social
    and historical influences are equally if not more
    powerful in shaping social systems. He also
    conducted wide ranging and continuous research
    into social structures, including far-reaching
    research on bureaucracies and on authority
    systems, which still influence sociology into the
    21st Century. His analysis of the function of
    legitimacy in the structure and conduct of
    bureaucracies, and on charismatic, traditional
    and routinised sources of authority continues to
    be relevant to the work of sociologist in every
    society, including current research in Cambodia.

Alexander Vasilevich Chayanov (1888-1939)
  • Chayanov is known not as a sociologist or
    anthropologist but as an agricultural scientist,
    but his Peasant Farm Organisation (1925, in
    Thorner ed. 1962) is a work of great importance
    in linking macro-economic theories of
    agricultural production with peasant farm
    economics and with the social determinants of
    Russian peasant farm production and household
    organisation. In it he demonstrated on the
    basis of socio-economic surveys conducted in a
    number of provinces of the Soviet Union that
    sustainability of livelihoods in the
    non-capitalised peasant farm household and the
    sustainability of the household itself were vital
    factors in their production systems. His work
    showed that in village surveys households could
    be seen to be at every stage of a developmental
    cycle in which the household was continuously
    renewed through social and economic systems in
    the community, regardless of profitability. He
    also showed that the productivity of the peasant
    household was based on its understanding and
    management of widely differing environmental,
    social and market conditions. His analysis of
    the developmental cycle in domestic groups
    predates that of UK anthropologists by thirty

(No Transcript)
Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942)
  • Malinowskis great contribution to the social
    sciences, and particularly to social
    anthropology, was his dedication to ethnography
    as an anthropological method. The depth and
    quality of his ethnographic material is such that
    anyone can read it and reach differing conclusion
    as to analyses of the social system and
    institutions which he describes. Malinowski
    first used the term functional for this kind of
    analysis of social institutions, which he
    borrowed from Durkheim.

Bronislaw Malinowski (continued)
  • Malinowski described ritual exchanges of rare sea
    shells and other rare objects of the Trobriand
    Islanders which they undertook through long sea
    voyages to each others islands, visiting each
    neighbouring society over hundreds of miles.
    During these vists they exchanged these objects
    in what he described as the Kula Ring. He
    distinguished between ritual exchange, kula,
    and economic exchange, gimwali. The boats
    which they used were war canoes.
    Anthropologists describe this kind of ritual
    exchange as prestations, and see them as having a
    social function. The Kula Ring has been
    interpreted as a surrogate for war, as a way of
    social communication and exchange between
    otherwise distant peoples, and thus as a way of
    keeping the peace and avoiding war raids.

Marcel Mauss
  • Marcel Mauss made an important contribution to
    social theory mainly through his book The Gift
    (Essai sur le Don 1950), which describes ritual
    exchanges, or prestation, in a number of
    societies, establishing the wide occurence of
    such exchanges as social institutions in
    societies all over the world. He analysed
    Malinowskis descripton of the Kula Ring among
    the Trobriand Islanders, but also the Potlach
    among American Indians, in which canoes, blankets
    and other valuable objects are given to or burnt
    in front of neighbouring chiefs, or as part of
    marriage or initiation ceremonies. Modern
    sociologists have similarly described birthday
    and Christmas, flower giving on St. Valentines
    Day, or other gift exchange events and ceremonies
    in modern industrial society as having a similar

Van Gennep
  • Van Gennep is similarly mainly known for one
    major work, The Rites of Passage, in which he
    described and analysed ritual and ceremonial
    processes which universally mark changes of
    status in different societies. He describes how
    by means of ceremony and gifts baptism or other
    birth ceremonies change a newly born infant into
    becoming a socially acknowledged human being and
    member of the family how initiation changes a
    pubescent child into an adult how marriage
    changes a single man and woman into a married
    couple and unites their families and how a
    funeral changes a corpse into an ancestor. Van
    Genneps and Mausss work use ethnographic
    material from different societies to illustrate
    Durkheims functional analysis of religion as a
    universal process by which societies achieve
    cohesion and integration.

Meyer Fortes and Jack Goody
  • Meyer Fortes and Jack Goody are Cambridge based
    social anthropologists whose contribution to
    social theory rests mainly on their analysis (in
    The Developmental Cycle in Domestic Groups
    1957), independently of Chayanovs work thirty
    years earlier, of the cyclical dimension in
    peasant or tribal agricultural households. This
    work was founded on Meyer Fortes analysis of
    Ashanti family systems in an article called Time
    and Social Structure, in which he showed that
    social time, the cyclical recreating of the
    kin-based social group through marriages,
    initiation ceremonies and funerals (establishing
    the dead as ancestral members of the group)
    should be understood as a basic principle on
    which the society maintains its continuity. In
    related work other anthropologists have shown how
    such a cycle is important in relating the
    economic and social continuity of the social
    group to the ways in which it maintains and
    protects its environment.

Example 1 of a methodology
  • World Bank 2006 Justice for Peace study of
    Collective Grievances over Land and Local
    Governance in Cambodia, Annex F, section 1.2
  • Diverse disciplines address the J4P teams
    underlying assumptions....this paper will draw on
    multiple bodies of literature. Anthropological
    texts, particularly field-based ethnographic
    research, have been used to achieve a level of
    depth and an understanding of village dynamics
    over time.....

Example 1 continued
  • Sociological research has been used to examine
    disparities across geography and within various
    Cambodian regions. Political analyses, which
    themselves draw heavily from journalistic sources
    and key informant interviews, have been used to
    gauge the distribution of power over time and to
    better understand the post-Khmer Rouge era
    patronage system.

Example 1 continued
  • Because this paper takes as its starting point
    the J4P teams initial analysis, it is restricted
    to an examination of primarily social phenomena
    macroeconomic issues and geopolitics, although
    they have undoubtedly played a role in Cambodias
    development process, are outside the scope of the

Example 1 continued
  • Economic analysis, including the Banks own
    policy reports, have been used to contextualise
    findings evaluative reports by various
    development actors, including the Banks own
    monitoring and evaluation work, have been used to
    determine the effect of development assistance on
    social dynamics within the country. Finally
    historical sources have been used to illuminate
    changes in Cambodian society over time, with
    particular reference to power structures.

Social Theory Section 2 Major Theories
Structural Functional Theory
  • Social Structure
  • Societies are structured through
  • Institutions and institutional relationships
  • Personal statuses and inter-personal role
  • Corporate structures and corporate relationships

Social Institutions
  • Social institutions include
  • Political institutions
  • Legal institutions
  • Ritual or religious institutions
  • Economic institutions
  • Kinship and marriage institutions
  • Educational institutions

  • Structural Functional theory states that
    institutions, corporate structures and statuses
    have functions in social systems
  • the State is a corporate structure which
    functions to maintain government and citizenship
  • marriage is an institution which functions to
    provide legitimacy to conjugal unions, children
    and nuclear families
  • the status of father functions to confer
    authority over children.

  • Social relationships are said to be reciprocal,
    that is to have a two-way function.
  • For example
  • the role of father is reciprocated by the
    behaviour, rights and obligations of a son or
  • the role of husband is reciprocated by the
    behaviour, rights and obligations of a wife
  • the role of salesman is reciprocated by the
    behaviour, rights and obligations of a customer

Social Theory of Religion
  • Durkheim Suicide
  • Max Weber The Protestant Ethic
  • Marcel Mauss The Gift
  • Van Gennep Rites of Passage
  • Durkheim Elementary forms of the religious
  • Levi-Strausse Myth
  • Tambiah

Prestation and economic exchange
  • Bronislaw Malinowski The Kula Ring
  • Potlatch
  • Souy
  • Fredrik Barth Spheres of Economic Exchange in
    Southern Dafur
  • Raymond Firth Economic Anthropology

Time and Social Structure
  • Max Weber
  • A.V. Chayanov
  • Meyer Fortes
  • J.R. Goody (ed)

Conflict and Dialectical Theory
  • Fredrik Barth
  • Karl Marx

Social Theory 3 Contemporary Issues Applying
Social Theory
  • Applied Sociology and Applied Anthropology
  • Applied sociology and anthropology deal with
    problems rather than theoretical issues
  • Because problems, e.g. in rural development or
    health care, are often outside the box and
    inter-disciplinary, they may challenge existing
    method and theory
  • In doing so they may advance the science

Poverty and Social Exclusion
  • Defining poverty internationally and in
  • Defining social exclusion
  • Poverty reduction
  • Means of escape from poverty

  • One form of corporate body which has an important
    function in modern industrial society is a
  • Bureaucracies as described by Max Weber are
  • directed by explicit rules impersonally
    applied, staffed by full-time, life-time,
    professionals, who do not own the means of
    administration, or their jobs, or the sources of
    their funds, and live off a salary, not from
    income derived directly from the performance of
    their job (Kilcullen 1996)

Why bureaucracies matter
  • Bureaucracies, such as banks and civil service
    departments or the police force, matter because
    they function, fairly and impartially, to
    administer legally created systems on which a
    modern social system and a modern economy depend

Why they matter in Cambodia
  • A recent study of disputes over land acquisition
    in Cambodia has argued that the senior government
    officials concerned and thus the departments they
    represented do not conform to the model of a
    modern bureaucracy as defined by Max Weber
  • they are part-time officials on very small
    salaries, dependent for their income on other
    sources, which affects the way they conduct their
    jobs, they operate as if owning the means of
    administration, and do so in a way which is not
    explicit or impersonally applied
  • as a result they do not administer land disputes
    in accordance with the land law
  • (World Bank and Centre for Advanced Study
    October 2006)

  • Policies should be sensitive to informal
    institutions that structure migration processes,
    because they may provide an opportunity for
    policies that aim to support livelihoods. For
    example, by providing information about migration
    opportunities, facilitating remittances, and
    enhancing their productive impact.
  • Often-large spatial dimensions underly many
    livelihoods, though usually less so for poorer
  • 1 summarised in Arjan de Haan et al. 2000