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Gellner's Structural-Functional-Culturalism

[journal article]

Hann, Chris

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Abstract Enlightenment traditions celebrating the individual & knowledge that is universally valid are only one stream in the social philosophy of Ernest Gellner. As a philosopher, he vehemently rejected Wittgensteinian relativism. As a social anthropologist, he prioritized the study of 'structure' & 'function,' rather than cultural 'costume.' Yet his theory of nationalism relies on a concept of culture that I suggest derives ultimately from the Herderian countercurrent to enlightenment universalism. This notion of culture has a surprising affinity with the world view of Clifford Geertz. The paper argues that such holistic notions of 'a culture' are unconvincing anthropologically, increasingly unrealistic sociologically, & antiliberal politically.
Classification Ethnology, Cultural Anthropology, Ethnosociology; Philosophy, Ethics, Religion
Free Keywords Gellner, Ernest; Geertz, Clifford; Social Anthropology; Culture; Nationalism; Structural Functional Analysis; Universalism; Theoretical Problems; Wittgenstein, Ludwig Joseph Johann
Document language English
Publication Year 2001
Page/Pages p. 173-181
Journal Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review, 9 (2001) 2
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications