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The Manchester School

The Manchester School: Practice and Ethnographic Praxis in Anthropology

T. M. S. Evens
Don Handelman
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 348
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  • Book Info
    The Manchester School
    Book Description:

    Pioneered by Max Gluckman to demonstrate the way in which social practice and structure together constitute and are themselves constituted by the situational flow of social life, the extended case method became diagnostic of the Manchester School of Social Anthropology. Anticipating practice theory, and implicitly politically charged, it was developed as a tool to bring into account what orthodox structural functionalism was ill-equipped to address, namely, problems such as change, conflict, deviance, and individual choice.

    Edited by two students of Gluckman, the volume comprises reprinted pieces by Gluckman and his colleague Clyde Mitchell, a Coda by Mitchell's student, Bruce Kapferer, contributions by Gluckman's students and/or friends and colleagues, including Ronnie Frankenberg, Kapferer, Evens, Handelman, and Sally Falk Moore, as well as a number of contributions from other practitioners of the extended case. Apart from the reprinted pieces by Gluckman and Mitchell, all the contributions have been written for this volume. These essays, historical, theoretical, and ethnographical, serve to highlight and critically examine the fundamental features of the extended-case method, in order to advance its substantial, continuing merits.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-858-2
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. ix-x)
    T.E. and D.H.

    One way of thinking about the effects of the Malinowskian revolution in anthropological fieldwork during the first half of the twentieth century is to understand that it resulted in an enormous accumulation of fieldwork materials as anthropologists moved their easily portable method into all orbits of the globe for extended periods. Intensive fieldwork generated awareness and knowledge of social and cultural complexities hitherto unknown. This amassing of field data spawned problems of information processing in the production of knowledge, problems to which two major responses, both functionalist, arose in emerging British social anthropology. One tended to maximize this richly detailed...

  4. Introduction: The Ethnographic Praxis of the Theory of Practice
    (pp. 1-12)
    T. M. S. Evens and Don Handelman

    The ethnographic extended-case method, also known as situational analysis, was a diagnostic of the Manchester School of Social Anthropology—and today it remains an ethnographic practice of remarkable relevance and promise. Originated by Max Gluckman, the method was intended to use case material in a highly original way. Instead of citing examples from ethnography in apt illustration of general ethnographic and analytical statements, as was common in the discipline, Gluckman proposed to turn this relationship between case and statement on its head: the idea was to arrive at the general through the dynamic particularity of the case. Rather than a...

  5. Ethnographic Data in British Social Anthropology
    (pp. 13-22)
    Max Gluckman

    In this paper I discuss changes in the use of ethnographic field data in social anthropological analyses in Britain. I begin with two caveats. First, I do not in any way imply that the developments I discuss represent the only fruitful new methods of analysis in the subject: social anthropology, like all sciences, has to proceed by exploiting many theories and lines of analysis. Secondly, because of limitation of space, I cannot touch on many of the influences which have produced this particular development, or on the stimulating work of scholars in countries of Europe other than Britain, in America,...

  6. Case and Situation Analysis
    (pp. 23-42)
    J. Clyde Mitchell

    The current division between those sociologists who prefer to rely on survey techniques and quantitative analysis in the prosecution of their art as against those who prefer to rely on observation and verbal types of analysis has had a long history. Just over fifty years ago—in the late 1930s in fact—the division manifested itself in a lively debate in some of the journals about the validity of statistical methods of enquiry on the one hand as against what were called ‘case studies’.²

    Textbooks on sociological methods of research published before say 1955 such as Young 1939 (226–54)...


    • Preface: Theorizing the Extended-Case Study Method
      (pp. 45-48)
      T. M. S. Evens and Don Handelman

      The essays composing this section vary in their purport and approach, but nonetheless address in common a number of questions that cut across at least any two of the essays, thus exhibiting what Wittgenstein spoke of as family resemblance for the lot. These include the question of dualism, of the relation between the micro and macro realms of social life, of the differences among the variants of the Manchester case method, of the determination of the boundaries of a case, of the part played by conflict theory in the development of the extended-case method, of the importance of the creative...

    • Chapter 1 Some Ontological Implications of Situational Analysis
      (pp. 49-63)
      T. M. S. Evens

      Ever since I began teaching, over 30 years ago, I have been in the habit of advising students who either are going into the field or are writing up their field research to take recourse to the Manchester School case-study method. When doing so, I was not merely indulging an old school tie. Most immediately, I had in mind the very substantial practical advantages of an aid to finding observational foci in the field and to organizing the glut of data with which one is confronted upon return from field research. In addition, though, to introduce my theme, I always...

    • Chapter 2 An Ontology for the Ethnographic Analysis of Social Processes: Extending the Extended-Case Method
      (pp. 64-93)
      Andreas Glaeser

      Imagine that we wanted to study a particular social process in contemporary social settings. How could we translate such an interest into an ethnographic project among a concrete set of people located in a particular space and time? What kind of a theoretical imagination of process would be useful in guiding this research? How could we use such engagements to systematically develop theory? How could we go about identifying field sites that are equally responsive to both our substantive and theoretical interests? Wherein lie the specific advantages and problems of ethnography for the study of process in contemporary societies? In...

    • Chapter 3 The Extended Case: Interactional Foundations and Prospective Dimensions
      (pp. 94-117)
      Don Handelman

      I have used these epigraphs before, in writing of the Manchester extended-case method. Together, like no others, they shape Max Gluckman’s sense that anthropological intuition is integral to good research, that a researcher can anticipate but never predict what may occur, and so that (in Gaddis’s aphorism) the prospective (where we live most of our lives) is replete with indeterminacy and uncertainty. Gluckman did not put it this way. His primary concern was to uncover how social relationships were linked together through great social institutions, their reproduction and change. Nonetheless, he told me on more than one occasion, “Follow your...

    • Chapter 4 Situations, Crisis, and the Anthropology of the Concrete: The Contribution of Max Gluckman
      (pp. 118-156)
      Bruce Kapferer

      The contemporary ethnographically focused, fieldworking, university discipline of anthropology was established during a time of crisis, at a major turning point in world history. Anthropology’s founders—those who identified many of its initial defining methodologies, its vital questions, its conceptual and theoretical foci—made their innovations at intense periods of change in the years between and following the world wars of the twentieth century. The diverse and often hot and turbulent forces that were present in those times were especially powerful in anthropology. Many anthropologists refused to acknowledge these forces openly but rather presented themselves as voyagers into the cold...


    • Preface: Historicizing the Extended-Case Method
      (pp. 159-164)
      T. M. S. Evens and Don Handelman

      In 1949, Gluckman was appointed to the new Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, with the intention of founding a new department. At the time, he was teaching at Oxford, in Evans-Pritchard’s department. During the visit there of a Dutch colleague, Gluckman was introduced to him as leaving shortly for Manchester. He responded: “Ah, in the same way as X has left the department at ______ to go to ______.” Evans-Pritchard remarked: “No, not in the same way. X is a refugee; Gluckman is a colonist” (Gluckman 1972: x). Gluckman, the colonial and colonist, remained devoted to...

    • Chapter 5 Made in Manchester? Methods and Myths in Disciplinary History
      (pp. 165-179)
      David Mills

      Unlike several contributors to this volume, I never knew or was taught by Max Gluckman. My fascination with his charismatic influence on post-war social anthropology in Britain has been piqued by my research on the discipline’s political history. Of the Oxford-based troika behind the foundation of the Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA) in 1946, an initiative led by Evans-Pritchard and abetted by Meyer Fortes, Gluckman was the most expansive and innovative in his vision of anthropology’s contribution to the social sciences. This energy is reflected in the reputation he created for the Manchester Department of Anthropology and Sociology. The later...

    • Chapter 6 History of the Manchester ‘School’ and the Extended-Case Method
      (pp. 180-201)
      Marian Kempny

      Despite the fact that the Manchester School in many respects belongs now to the history of anthropology, its legacy still attracts a lot of attention. However, in order to get a fresh insight into the nature and foundations of this approach that once evolved around the Department of Social Anthropology and Sociology of the Victoria University of Manchester, some further historical and theoretical inquiries are necessary. There have been several vast areas of dispute about this tradition, out of which I take up one that I believe to be both important and often misinterpreted. To my mind, there is a...

    • Chapter 7 A Bridge over Troubled Waters, or What a Difference a Day Makes: From the Drama of Production to the Production of Drama
      (pp. 202-220)
      Ronald Frankenberg

      Like many before me, I call Gluckman’s paper, “Analysis of a Social Situation in Modern Zululand,” by its accepted nickname, “The Bridge.” “Analysis” is too bland, as perhaps its more cautiously self-conscious users intended it to be. I could have called it by a new name: “The Journey.” It is, after all, also about metaphorical and real journeys, one in particular, to and from a real bridge built in 1937–1938 by engineers for the Natal Provincial Government in South Africa. Anne Salmond (1982) has pointed out how, in contrast to the Maori, European and especially anglophone poets and anthropologists,...


    • Preface: Extended-Case Studies—Place, Time, Reflection
      (pp. 223-226)
      T. M. S. Evens and Don Handelman

      Extended-case studies originated and flourished in multiple sites in Central Africa as British colonialism waned. The extended-case study method was created and shaped in response to complex social situations that emerged from and through ongoing and at times profound changes in the ways in which social and moral orders were put together. The extended case and situational analysis have from their very beginnings been cognate with complexity in social ordering, with the non-linearity of open-ended social fields, and with recursivity among levels of social ordering. Manchester methods originated as a result of profound shifts in the practice of anthropology and...

    • Chapter 8 The Workings of Uncertainty: Interrogating Cases on Refugees in Sweden
      (pp. 227-252)
      Karin Norman

      How do specific social realities move the analysis in different directions, shaping the construction of a case? And how do experiences during fieldwork emerge in forming subsequent cases?

      The ethnographic description of this essay concerns two different social realities of Kosovo Albanian refugees in Sweden and the social dynamics and bureaucratization of their refugeeness. While attempting to construct cases from this material, the endeavor has simultaneously raised the question of what constitutes a case and what may instead turn out to be ‘apt illustrations’. The general ethnographic problem presented refers to processes of becoming and being a refugee and the...

    • Chapter 9 The Vindication of Chaka Zulu: Retreat into the Enchantment of the Past
      (pp. 253-271)
      C. Bawa Yamba

      The title of this chapter might invoke an unintended association with the famous warrior king Chaka Zulu, about whom Gluckman has written in his numerous analyses on Zululand (e.g., Gluckman 1940, 1960, 1974). But the similarity in names is merely coincidental. Of course, the Chaka Zulu of this story, in choosing to call himself by that name, had not only presumed that people would make such an association, but thought he was modeling himself after the more famous historical figure. The name ‘Zulu’ is now found as a common surname in places as far removed from Zululand as Zambia and...

    • Chapter 10 The Politics of Ethnicity as an Extended Case: Thoughts on a Chiefly Succession Crisis
      (pp. 272-291)
      Björn Lindgren

      There seems to have been a renewed interest in the works of the so-called Manchester School during the last decade, not least among anthropologists working in southern Africa (see, e.g., Crehan 1997; Englund 2001; Ferguson 1999). There are good reasons for this. At a time when the traditional ethnographic subject in the form of a pre-defined ‘people’ situated in a certain place at a certain time has been questioned, the focus on a ‘social situation’, a ‘social field’, or, especially, an ‘extended case’ has become appealing. By focusing on a series of social situations in an extended case, both spatial...

    • Chapter 11 From Tribes and Traditions to Composites and Conjunctures
      (pp. 292-310)
      Sally Falk Moore

      To revisit Max Gluckman’s ideas about extended-case studies is to risk heaping commentary on commentary. Gluckman (1967) wrote about where he placed himself in the great parade of theoretical regimens, and Jaap van Velsen (1967) added a detailed methodological analysis, referring to the very same method as ‘situational analysis’.

      Gluckman opened by reviewing a short history of ethnography and by dismissing some of its ancestors. First, he says, there were the “superficial observations” of the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century anthropologists, W. H. Rivers, C. G. Seligman, and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown (Gluckman 1967: xii). Gluckman could afford to dismiss them, for by...

  10. Coda: Recollections and Refutations
    (pp. 311-321)
    Bruce Kapferer

    I find this collection a Proustian experience. It excites memories regarding events and significant others who for some of us writing here continue to be poignantly influential in the different courses that we have taken in the constantly forming subject of anthropology. Most of us who were involved with Gluckman’s Manchester circle have different recollections of what it was and the scope of its influence, such recollections (or imaginings of the past) gathering their import through our different standpoints and projections in a moving present. In this regard, I find the two historical essays (Mills, Kempny) useful for the general...

  11. Index
    (pp. 322-334)