"Robert Lowie belongs to that era of anthropology when the subject was beginning to identify itself as a 'scientific discipline'. The school of American cultural tradition, established by his mentor Franz Boas, who had introduced the concept of cultural relativism and the earlier school of evolutionism, was under severe criticism in as much as it graded human cultures. The term 'primitive' is borrowed from this earlier era although its philosophical meaning may not be the same."
First published in 1920, this is a text book written for
students of the modernist era and is still useful for providing many of the
definitions and descriptions of what was then recognized as basic human
institutions of religion, family and marriage.
As a classic it still serves the function of providing the student with a comparative framework of analysis and comprehension and would provide a yardstick to evaluate contemporary works of the next generations of scholars.
It is specially useful for understanding of a classical approach to the study of religion and kinship. For those institutions that emphasize the study of the growth of anthropology as a discipline and where the early phase of development of the subject is an essential part of the curriculum, this would be an invaluable addition to the library.
A fresh reading of Robert Lowie, a pioneer of anthropological studies of the post evolutionary era is highly recommended for all serious students of the subject.
About the Author:
Austrian-born American anthropologist whose extensive studies of North American Plains Indians include exemplary research on the Crow. He also influenced anthropological theory through such works as Culture and Ethnology (1917), Primitive Society (1920), and Social Organization (1948).
Born June 12, 1883, Vienna, Austria - died Sept. 21, 1957, Berkeley, Calif., U.S.