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Historical Particularism

Franz Boas did his fieldwork among Eskimos of the Baffin Island. He criticized the comparative method employed by evolutionists. He refuted that classified some people as savages and some other as civilized. He postulated the concept of Cultural Relativity according to which each culture is to be judged by its own standards and values.

He criticized the evolutionary theorization based on scanty data. He believed that there should be collection of data before any theories are formulated. He gave impetus to the rise of Empiricism in the Anthropology. According to him, cultural similarities were only due to Diffusion of traits and any primary cause must be empirically established. Boas came up with Historical Particularism according to which the intensive field study of both the present and the past of each culture must be done.

Clark Wissler came up with the culture area scheme of the Americans. According to him people living in the same region possess to a greater or a lesser degree similar cultural characteristics. Such a region comprising a common cultural denominator is called a culture area. Those people who live in or around the geographic centre of a given culture area have all the characteristic traits. Those people who live at the borders of the area have mixed or Marginal Cultures.

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