Bateson Gregory

Bateson Gregory

(1904-80) widely influential US cultural anthropologist with academic interests ranging from zoology social anthropology, philosophy, psychology and communication studies to mysticism. He was part of the first generation to follow in the ethnographic footsteps of MALINOWSKI. Bateson's first, and now classical, ethnographic contribution, was his study Naven (1936), a fascinating addition to the developing anthropological mosaic with its analytical framework for the study of symbolism. He introduced the concept of schizmogenesis (to describe the process of social fission and conflict), and he employed the more familiar concepts ethos and EIDOS to capture the inherent principles of belief systems. He also argued that explanatory and descriptive categories employed in data analysis could be reshuffled and changed, that data were not beholden to a single framework. Bateson's second anthropological classic, Balinese Character (1942), of which Margaret MEAD was co-author, contributed to the vogue in the study of culture and personality in US cultural anthropology especially in the 1940s. A further aspect of his work is that he made pioneering use of still photographs and moving film as constituents of both ethnographic fieldwork and report writing. In his later work he ranged from ‘humanistic psychology’ and cybernetics to communication studies, investigating aquatic mammals and dolphins. His work influenced GOFFMAN and many others in sociology.
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