SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY AS A SCIENCE During the last quarter of the preceding century and at the beginning of this, Social Anthropology gradually crystallised into a scientific study. The specific nature of cultural process was recognised, as well as the complexity of social organisation and of primitive custom and belief. The vastness of the problem, the human interest and the dramatic beauty of anthropological facts were brought home to scholars and laymen alike by the works of W. Robertson Smith, Sir J. Frazer, E. A. Westermarck, E. Crawley and E. Sidney Hartland, to mention a few outstanding names. At the same time, scientific movements of great conse quence were developing on the Continent (Durkheim and Wundt). Most important of all, the man of science began to go out into the field himself and to study native races personally by direct observation. The lead to this was given in Great Britain by the Cambridge Expedition organised by A. C. Haddon and in which such eminent anthropologists as W. H. R. Rivers and C. G. Selig man received their training in field-work. Equally fruitful were the pioneering researches of Spencer and Gillen in Australia and the activities of the Polynesian Society in New Zealand and the Pacific.
In America, where the interest in anthropology had a historical basis in both friendly and hostile contacts between settlers and redskins, modern scientific research received perhaps the first official recognition in the foundation of the Bureau of American Ethnology. Early pioneers of anthropology, J. W. Powell, J. Mooney, but above all L. H. Morgan, laid the foundations of scientific field-work and theoretical interest in the North American Indians. Later the work of Franz Boas and his school continued the scientific tradition of American social anthropology. The value of the scientific study of native races was recognised in the official patronage given to colonial research by the Dutch Govern ment and by the German Colonial Office.
The last 20 years have been characterised by a great extension of scientific field work among primitive peoples, by further devel opment of the theoretical work of the opening years of the century and by important discussions of the methods and aims of anthro pology.
In spite of much fuller knowledge of primitive cultures, modern theory presents great diversity.
Two dominant tendencies are recognised in modern anthro pology. The one, usually described as the "evolutionary" or "comparative" or "independent origins" school, is based on the assumption that a preponderant part in the formation of human culture has been played by independent evolution taking place on the same lines in various parts of the world. Similarities in custom, institution and belief are in this school explained on the principle that human nature produces at the same level of development identical or similar forms.
The "diffusionist" school on the other hand place all the emphasis on cultural borrowing by one people from another. Similarities in implements and weapons, in beliefs and legends, in social organisation and decorative art are explained by spread from one or several original centres (see below).
Only a few extremists, however, belong to either school ex clusively or maintain that one factor only accounts for all similarities of culture, either independent evolution or diffusion. The majority of anthropologists recognise—and are unquestion ably correct in doing so—that cultural change is always a mixture of both independent development and partial borrowing from other people. In reality the main tendencies of modern Social Anthropology can be stated thus.
Psychological Interpretation of Culture.—Continuing the direct tradition of the German folk-psychologists, as well as of the British classical school, Wundt, Vierkandt, Krueger and their collaborators attempt to explain systematically the phenomena of language, custom, belief and social organisation by references to psychological processes. Quite as exclusively psychological are the contributions of the psycho-analysts, who account for totem ism, taboo, initiation ceremonies, in fact for the whole field of primitive cultures, by unconscious mental mechanisms. Psycho logical interest is also predominant in the works of Frazer, Van Gennep, Sumner, Crawley and Westermarck. All these writers belong on the whole to the evolutionist school.