12047 - Return on the elementary sociemes theory

In a book Quadratura americana, essai d'anthropologie lévi-straussienne , that we published in 2001, we introduced the concept of "elementary sociemes", which declines as following : the birth unit (so-called clan), the marriage reference unit (defining the line between endogamy and true exogamy), the daily-life unit (scene of the material production), and the death producing unit (religious or war societies). Although this theory was a total faillure in regard of its intellectual reception, we intend to advocate it one more time. The purpose was to explain the main paradoxe of amerindian sociology — a strong social asset of the individual in an overall (tribal, band) order with apparent loose bondings — in semantico-phenomelogical terms which refer directly to the person as an ontological entity passing through the world. The social organization features, as long as these had to be understood in a Durkheimian sense, are nothing more than an illusion because they are not founded either in reciprocity, nor insolidarity. However, the validity of this theory is confined to America, but for all of it.

Author: Désveaux, Emmanuel (Ecole des hautes d'études en sciences sociales (EHESS), France / Frankreich)


University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575