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Socioanthropological approach




Socioanthropology emerged in the 1980s , as a trend aimed at bridging human and social sciences. More than a discpline (including constraints as well as protection), it can be defined as a specific approach shared by a netwtork of scholars with diverse backgrounds. This approach combines the closeness of sociology with the distance of anthropology, local perspectives with gobal ones, empiricism with universalism.


Revisiting disciplinary borders

Socioanthropoogy can be viewed as a response to Marcel Mauss’s injonction to move beyound discplinary borders. « C’est au confins des sciences, à leurs bords extérieurs, aussi souvent qu’à leurs principes, qu’à leur noyau et à leur centre, que se font leurs progrès », écrivait Marcel Mauss en 1924.

Georges Balandier’s notion of « detour » proved a powerful tool for acquiring « a knowldege of social forms in their diversity » that « initiates an alternative perspective on them ». (Balandier, 1981, p.203).

Despite the difficult dialogue between disciplines, this crossdiscplinary approach is worthwhile because new unexpected meanings and alternative perspectives on familiar objects. emerged.



Socioanthropologists work on multiple sorts of objects such as secular rituals (Rivière), short-lived or marginal ways of being together (P. Bouvier’s endoreism), ordinary behaviours in daily life.

More generally socioanthropologists focus on non-institutionalized forms of aggregation, hybrids of individual and collective practices, hesitating and marginal behaviours, and the imaginaries underlying social practices.




- The emphasis on field work, with long-term empirical enquiry and intercourse with the actors is a major feature of socioanthropological methods.

- understanding the forms of aggregation in contemporary societies as P ? Bouvier pointed out « La socio-anthropologie cherche à comprendre plus qu’à porter un jugement sur les formes d’agrégation des sociétés contemporaines. (Bouvier, 2000, p.116). » The aim is to characterize their underlying worldviews , what makes sense of their actions.

- This method requires open mind, curiosity and a good deal of reflexivity from the enquirer.


Bibliographical References

BALANDIER Georges (1981), « La sociologie aujourd’hui », in Les cahiers internationaux de sociologie, Volume LXXI, Paris, PUF.

BOUVIER Pierre (2000), La socio-anthropologie, Paris, Armand Colin.

MAUSS Marcel (1980), Sociologie et anthropologie, Paris, PUF, (1ère édition 1950).

RIVIERE Claude (1995), Les rites profanes, Paris, PUF<xml> Normal 0 21 false false false FR X-NONE X-NONE </xml>