The Value of Comparison (häftad)
Häftad (Paperback / softback)
Antal sidor
Duke University Press
Gibson, Thomas (foreword)
234 x 152 x 12 mm
290 g
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The Value of Comparison (häftad)

The Value of Comparison

Häftad Engelska, 2016-06-03
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In The Value of Comparison Peter van der Veer makes a compelling case for using comparative approaches in the study of society and for the need to resist the simplified civilization narratives popular in public discourse and some social theory. He takes the quantitative social sciences and the broad social theories they rely on to task for their inability to question Western cultural presuppositions, demonstrating that anthropology's comparative approach provides a better means to understand societies. This capacity stems from anthropology's engagement with diversity, its fragmentary approach to studying social life, and its ability to translate difference between cultures. Through essays on topics as varied as iconoclasm, urban poverty, Muslim immigration, and social exclusion van der Veer highlights the ways that studying the particular and the unique allows for gaining a deeper knowledge of the whole without resorting to simple generalizations that elide and marginalize difference.
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"I challenge any reader not to come away from it feeling both wiser and better informed about its empirical subject matter, and invigorated about the pragmatic power of anthropological comparison." -- Matei Candea * HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory * "[A] fresh and lucid text. . . . Putting comparison back on the agenda is timely and necessary not only for organizing our research projects but also for finding a way out of the partly imposed and partly self-chosen relative isolation in which anthropologists often find themselves in academia and public debate." -- Birgit Meyer * HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory * "Van der Veer's project is not to tell the origin stories of anthropology, but look to the future where the comparative anthropological lens will focus on crucial sociocultural 'fragments' to dismantle the logic of Western modernity and rationality. This informative and theoretically sophisticated work will serve as an important reckoner to that end." -- Debjani Chakravarty * International Sociology * "Self-consciously intent on fragmenting certainty, Peter van der Veer makes a very convincing case for the productive instability and provocative inconclusiveness of definitive conclusions. As all good books do, this one opens outward to suggest as many questions as it answers." -- Joseph S. Alter * Pacific Affairs * "The Value of Comparison gives a rather unflinching critique of Western cultural assumptions while firmly seated in the very field it scrutinizes. . . . [Van der Veer] does not merely critique traditional methods and pathways of analysis used in sociological research, but offers concrete examples and discussions where a more nuanced and complex comparative method can be applied and produce better results." -- Juli L. Gittinger * Reading Religion *

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Övrig information

Peter van der Veer is Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity at Goettingen, Germany and Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University. He is the author of several books, including The Modern Spirit of Asia: The Spiritual and the Secular in China and India.


Foreword / Thomas Gibson vii Acknowledgments xi Introduction 1 Part I. The Fragment and the Whole 1. The Comparative Advantage of Anthropology 25 2. Market and Money: A Critique of Rational Choice Theory 48 Part II. Civilization and Comparison 3. Keeping the Muslims Out: Concepts of Civilization, Civility, and Civil Society in India, China, and Western Europe 61 4. The Afterlife of Images 80 Part III. Comparing Exclusion 5. Lost in the Mountains: Notes on Diversity in the Southeast Asian Mainland Massif 107 6. Who Cares? Care Arrangements and Sanitation for the Poor in India and Elsewhere 130 A Short Conclusion 147 Notes 155 Bibliography 171 Index 183