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Chapter Summary

Detailed ethnographic descriptions and holistic interpretations of culture derived from long-term fieldwork with particular populations were presented as the gold standard of the discipline and discussed and contested as its raison d'etre. First, McCauley and Lawson observed that the majority of religious studies scholars had too readily conceded the domain of culture to anthropologists and were reluctant to conduct research on culture. Second, McCauley and Lawson sought to introduce readers to those disciplines that were best positioned to contribute to explanations of culture generally, and religion specifically. Anthropology is still described as "the study of culture and society", but it is increasingly equipped to compare, measure, and explain culture. Having critiqued the exclusively holistic approach of interpretivist anthropology, they highlighted the importance of social scientific work concerned with the systems and elements that make up culture.

Keywords: anthropology; culture; Lawson; McCauley



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