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COMMUNITY STUDIES: THE SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL HERITAGE AND ITS POPULARITY IN IRELAND

Desmond Bell (The New University of Ulster)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 1 February 1981

Abstract

A Community Studies tradition based on the theory and methods of a functionalist social anthropology has since the 1930's been the dominant one in both characterising the social structure of rural Ireland and in theorising social change in Ireland in general. This social anthropological method, while of possible utility in the study of primitive cultures and peoples, confronts certain difficulties when attempts are made to employ pure ethnographic analysis as a method for studying social change in either urban or rural settings in industrialising societies like Ireland. Despite attempts to do so, the Community Studies tradition has been unable to establish a coherent method for the study of local social systems and their structural relations of dependency on wider social, economic and political forces at play in capitalist social formations. Instead, it has fallen on an isolationist approach to studying local areas. In Irish sociology this abstractionism is inevitably undergirded by some variant of the modernisation thesis in which ‘traditional life and culture’ is progressively ‘threatened’ by the onslaught of urban‐industrial modernity.

Citation

Bell, D. (1981), "COMMUNITY STUDIES: THE SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL HERITAGE AND ITS POPULARITY IN IRELAND", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 22-36. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb012927

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1981, MCB UP Limited