For a century, European social anthropology has been one of the most stimulating and creative influences within the social sciences. Social theory has had to grapple with the varieties of human experience reported by ethnographers; and out of their ethnographic experience, social anthropologists have constructed unique theoretical insights. The contributors to this volume, leading figures in European social anthropology today, reanimate this great tradition. They confront the models current in the social sciences with the diverse, often exotic, experiences and models of their subjects.
But if the broad project is accepted, theoretical strategies are the subject of urgent debate. The authors in this volume advocate diverse approaches to social theory, ranging from the action-based models of network theorists through the subtleties of the neo-structuralists to the daring experiments of the new cognitivists. Their lively debates refer to fascinating case studies, drawn from wide ethnographic experience.
Conceptualizing Society represents a significant contribution to social theory. It will be required reading for all social anthropologists, and for all those whose concern with social theory transcends the most parochial span.
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