Chapter

Inventing Society

Eric R. Wolf

in Pathways of Power

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520223332
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924871 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520223332.003.0024
Inventing Society

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The concept of Society has a history, a historical function within a determinate context, in a particular part of the world. This chapter explores the implications of one of the basic concepts, that of Society, precisely because the term carries with it a freight of connotations of which one remains largely unconscious. The concept of Society, seen as a whole, a totality, a system, poses its own problems. The sense of Society—the one that interests social scientist—beyond the association of those infused with the Holy Spirit, is Civil Society. This study also examines reasons that make the concept of Society so difficult to apply in the very different morphologies of non-Western civilizational systems and cultural orders. The attempt to understand what humans do and conceive economically, politically, socially, cognitively, and emotionally all at once is always a hallmark of anthropology, and that goal remains a usable and productive program.

Keywords: Society; civilizational systems; Civil Society; anthropology; historical function

Chapter.  6028 words. 

Subjects: Theory and Practice of Anthropology

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