By Fredrik Barth
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Extra resources for Process and Form in Social Life: Selected Essays of Fredrik Barth. Volume 1 (International Library of Anthropology)
We have to translat to give the act its appropriate meaning in the culture, and thisseems to require previous knowledge both of the 'code' and of the social relations. 3 Still one open question remains: were A and B acting in their capacities as commoner and village headman? These are small and intimate local groups where we observe the same people in what we must distinguish as different capacities: we see the village headman at home being a father and a mother's brother to various people, we meet him in the fields being a cultivator on his own land.
Finally, the third type of model seems to me to give the greatest scope for empirical investigation of the nature and degrec of order, through attention to relative frequencies of behaviour, the determinants of this order and the social processes whereby they act. Having always been faced with the enOnTIOUS task of simultaneously lranslating from strange and exotic cultures to give observed behaviour any meaning at aU, it is only recently that social anthropologists seriously have begun exploring such more complex and sophisticated models.
A is higher than B? e. A is lower than B? Many cultures, like our own, impute any and all of these three meaningsLo such a concrete trans er es sale, gift, or loan, each wilh other social implications or 'meanings'. In an unknown culture, how-( ever, there is no way of predicting which one or several of these obtain,; or which other meanings may also be implied in lhe act. As a participant inside a culture and a society, one knows the code and lhe alternative meanings the act may have. One also knows the contems of the relationship between a headman and a villager, and one 26 Anthropological models and social reality probably even knows that A is a common villager and B a headman.