By Stephen D. Krasner
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Extra info for Structural Conflict: The Third World Against Global Liberalism
Only such a Platonic assumption could justify writing the stereotype in as the field datum while writing the observation of variation out. ) observations of events? If so, then sister’s son privilege and mother-inlaw avoidance are ideas only—ideas about concepts and rules that are named, identified, and embraced by Australian Aborigines but not necessarily embodied in their physical acts. In that case, observation Description and Analysis of Cultural Phenomena 29 should not be seen as the source of our data at all.
By all means, let us be prepared—indeed, let us expect—to discover some functional imperatives, some normative pressures, some deep structural patterns, some effects of the relations of production on life chances, and some shared cultural themes in ranges of local institutions. But let us demand that their presence be demonstrated through a record of extant variation, not asserted by fiat. And let us identify their effects in the sectors of cultural manifestation in which they appear, not use 32 Leaving Culture Worry Behind them as magical keys to understanding principles of construction valid for all of culture.
As a result, culture not only may mean different things to different authors but may unheedingly refer to different things in the different paragraphs of any one author. Unless these various constructions of culture are clearly distinguished and consistently embraced or avoided during a conversation or in a chain of reasoning, bizarre confusions and conclusions will be produced. More generally stated, complex categories invite the logical error of inappropriate reasoning from particular examples, parts, or features to the category as a whole.