Abstract The paper explores the main paradigmatic failures of structural functionalism in anthropology. Structural functionalism explains institutions and social behavior by their contribution to the reproduction of social structure. Starting from Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski, who represent two main variants of functionalism in anthropology, its main paradigmatic problems are discussed: its inability to analyze social conflict and change, its reducing of society to norms and values as well as its mode of explaining social facts. These failures are illustrated by two functional theories of tribal wars, by Evans-Pritchard and by Rappaport. Various theoretical alternatives emerge from the decline of functionalism in anthropology. Conflict theory as well as game theory, new institutionalism, theories of collective action and evolutionary economics represent true alternatives. This again is illustrated by a theory of tribal war, explaining cooperation both within local groups and between allies against the background of the warlike social environment in which local groups are interacting.
Analyse & Kritik – de Gruyter
Published: May 1, 2002