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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

Ideas and Power

Ideas and Power

(p.370) 26 Ideas and Power
Pathways of Power

Eric R. Wolf

University of California Press

This chapter addresses an unresolved issue: the relation between economics and political ordering, on one hand, and ideology, on the other. American anthropology—and the anthropological traditions influenced by it and influencing it—has divided into two moieties: “materialists” and “symbolists.” The chapter argues that ritual and ritual elaboration may have significant effects in mobilizing and channeling social energy in particular directions, without conveying specific informational meaning. The materialists have correctly stressed the distinction between what people think and say, and what they do; between human action in the material environment and human action in the cognized environment; between human intentions as exemplified in calculated strategies and the unintentional effects of those strategies. It hopes to find a key to signification and symbolic production in the social relations that govern a mode of production, a system of mobilizing and deploying social labor; the social power implicated in such relations becomes imprinted in symbols.

Keywords:   political ordering, ideology, materialists, symbolists, social power

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