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Sir Edward Evans Pritchard

Sir Pritchard was leading British social anthropologist who undertook ethnographic studies of a number of African societies. He perceived study of social anthropology as a humanistic rather than scientific study of society. This distanced him from functionalists who propounded general laws or theories about societies in general. By introducing a historical element to his work Evans Pritchard showed how societies change and manage change over time which represented a major advance on the static analysis of functionalism.

Evans Pritchard played a major role in shifting focus of anthropology from study of the function of rituals in society to an examination of meaning ascribed to rituals and also translation of one culture into terms understandable to members of another culture. His major sociological contributions are the writings on rational action, religion and language.

Important Books:

  • Witchcraft
  • Magic and oracles among the Azande
  • The Nuer
  • Essays in social anthropology