In our country, we study social structure with a bias of social structure and social system. Analysis of culture is secondary for us. It is interesting to find that we have in our country a national debate on the form of Indian culture. One group argues for the formulation of a composite culture which could accommodate multiplicity of languages, castes, regions and ethnicities.
The other group which consists of right-wing politicians, advocate for one people, one culture, one language theory. When such a debate is heatedly going on in the country, the textbooks of social anthropology do not even mention anything about this controversy.
This clearly shows that India’s social anthropology has no emphasis to place on culture analysis. We are only involved in the analysis of social structure, that is, caste, primitive tribes and rural life.
The Americans stand for cultural anthropology. G.P. Murdock, in his Social Structure (1949), has classified a number of tribal groups on the basis of cultural attributes. In one of his observations Murdock argues that anthropology needs to study the cultural aspects of a primitive group.
He concludes that culture can be seen at two levels- generational and spatial. Thus, for Americans, social structure is basically culture structure. We have noticed that Herskovits very often talks about structure of culture.
British anthropologists have a strong bias for the study of various components of social structure, namely, caste, class, kinship, marriage and community. They study culture which is the result of social structure. For them, the study of social structure is primary.
The theory of “social structure developed by British anthropologists is different from that of the Americans. We have discussed Radcliffe-Brown, Nadel and others in this respect.
M.N. Srinivas, S.C. Dube and Andre Beteille who have worked in the field of social anthropology have actually dealt with caste, class, village and traditions. The earlier social anthropologists such as Hutton, Risely and O’Malley have also studied social structure within the domain of social anthropology.
The concept of social structure as developed in France is altogether different. Among the advocates of social structure in France may be included Sartre, Edmund Husserl, Ferdinand Saussure, and Claude Levi-
Strauss and Louis Althusser. Their interpretations draw heavily from linguists who are influenced by the wave of post-modernization. Social structure in France has been developed as a theory of structuralism.