By Jane Fishburne Collier, Sylvia Junko Yanagisako
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Extra resources for Gender and Kinship: Essays Toward a Unified Analysis
Nevertheless, despite its appeal, the transactional approach has been censured on several grounds: for its unremittingly utilitarian conception of homo economicus as a rational actor, free to enter into self-interested transactions without the constraints of class, gen der, or anything else; for its arbitrary selection of exchange as the generative source of culture and society; for its circularity in treat ing value as both the motivation for, and a product of, interactional processes. Although it is indefensible to treat the domains as invariant, the converse is no more acceptable.
If such systems are only capable of their own reproduction, it follows that social prac tice can do nothing but realize existing structures. But it is not only in prestate contexts that practice is thus ordained. The account given of the rise of states and classes implies that social action and sociocultural transformation are determined in a similarly mecha nistic vein. Insofar as people make their own history, they do so as marionettes acting out a structurally scripted tableau. This, immediately, evokes a number of great debates-between normative and interactionist sociology; between what Worsley (1980) dubs "systems" and "Promethean" Marxism; and between structuralist and phenomenological culture theories.
Rosaldo 1980). For, given that change is inherent in social action, the reproduction of social sys tems requires no less explanation than does their transformation. The kind of historical approach we are proposing will enrich our cultural analysis of meaning by broadening the range of symbols, meanings, and practices to which we relate concepts of value and difference. Our proposal to link historical analysis with symbolic analysis rests on the premise that we cannot comprehend present discourse and action without understanding their relation to past discourse and action (Yanagisako 1985).
Gender and Kinship: Essays Toward a Unified Analysis by Jane Fishburne Collier, Sylvia Junko Yanagisako