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Radcliffe-Brown, A. R. (1881–1955)

Alfred Reginald Radcliffe-Brown, an English anthropologist, was the founder of the school of anthropology known as structural functionalism. The term derived from the importance that the concept of social structure acquired in the 1930s, when Radcliffe-Brown was a lecturer on social anthropology in Oxford.

Radcliffe-Brown maintained that anthropology was a special strain of the sociology put forward by Émile Durkheim (1858–1917). Its purpose was to establish the social laws of tribal societies by studying their social structure and the functions of their institutions. The majority of his work dealt with institutions, such as those formed by groups of relatives with the use of magic.

To discover social structure, he used interviews and participant observation to study the norms, duties, and rights that regulate social behavior. He distinguished ...

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