Dados vol. 26 n. 1 Rio de Janeiro 1983

Etnocentrismo Às Avessas: O Conceito de "Sociedade Complexa"

Peirano, Mariza G. S.


The paper seeks to understand the meaning and implicit connotations of the concept of a "complex society" in reference to the context where it was born. lt calls attention to the fact that anthropological or sociological concepts are also specific social and cultural phenomena, in addition to their "scientific" nature. The paper also deals with a dominant concern in Anthropology - how to get rid of an ethnocentric posture - and indicates that the use of modern and progressive concepts may be loaded with meanings which accept the "Western civilization" as the ultimate point of reference. ln the case of the concept of a "complex society" the author argues that we are faced with ethnocentrism "the wrong way around" since it is developed from the viewpoint of "simple" societies and tends to reduce the multiplicity of the West's historical societies to a single category. From the perception of a crisis of the 1960's regarding the proper object of Anthropology, the author reviews the solutions which were proposed in the following years and criticizes the tendency of using analytical dichotomies. Through the analysis of Marshall Sahlins' Culture and Practical Reason, the author suggests that the study of the so-called "complex societies" should take into account the fact that, in most cases, complex societies turn into nation-states.

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Etnocentrismo Às Avessas: O Conceito de "Sociedade Complexa"