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Malinowski, Bronislaw (1884–1942)

Bronislaw K. Malinowski dominated British social anthropology, the comparative sociology of “primitive” societies, between the two world wars. Promoted under the banner of functionalism, his pioneering methods of field research, seminal writings, and inspirational teaching revolutionized the discipline. Among the many theoretical contributions Malinowski made to anthropology (most of them today taken for granted) was his innovative approach to the study of “primitive law”; indeed, he was a founding father of legal realism.

Born into a class of impoverished gentry in Cracow, Austrian Poland, Malinowski studied philosophy, mathematics, and physics at the Jagiellonian University. As a sickly child and youth, his highly cultivated mother introduced him to extensive travel and he soon developed a taste for the exotic, a facility for learning foreign languages, and a ...

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