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Pathways of PowerBuilding an Anthropology of the Modern World$
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Eric Wolf

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520223332

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520223332.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 22 October 2021

Inventing Society

Inventing Society

(p.320) 23 Inventing Society
Pathways of Power

Eric R. Wolf

University of California Press

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

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