A social anthropologist regarded as structuralist he is known for his technical studies in the fields of kinship, marriage, ritual and myth, moving rapidly from one topic to another. In his book Political Systems of Highland Burma he elaborates the notion of verbal categories. A contextual structuralist by approach his form of structuralism is more empirically based than the intellectual versions of it offered in Europe. He examined the ways in which humans use categories to distinguish between self and other, we and say, culture and nature. He criticized Radcliffe Brown and his successors who claim to construct typologies and infer social laws directly from ethnographic data.