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Manchester school (anthropology)

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The Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, founded by Max Gluckman in 1947 became known among anthropologists and other social scientists as the Manchester School. Notable features of the Manchester School included an emphasis on "case studies", deriving from Gluckman's early training in law and similar to methods used in law schools. The case method involved detailed analysis of particular instances of social interaction to infer rules and assumptions. The Manchester School also read the works of Marx and other economists and sociologists and looked at issues of social justice such as apartheid and class conflict. Recurring themes included issues of conflict and reconciliation in small-scale societies and organizations, and the tension between individual agency and social structure.

Manchester school members and interlocutors also played major roles in the development of the field of Social Networks in anthropology and the social sciences. John Barnes, Elizabeth Bott, and J. Clyde Mitchell were all associated with Gluckman's department.[1]

Several anthropologists who were not directly associated with the Manchester University anthropology department are sometimes considered members of the Manchester School, particularly those who were associated with Gluckman or his students through the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute. Some others, such as Edmund Leach, at one period or another were significant interlocutors of the Manchester School.

An alternative adjectival form for the Manchester School is "Mancunian" (like Cantabrigian for Cambridge University).

Notable Manchester School anthropologists


Social scientists sometimes associated with the Manchester School



  1. ^ a b John Scott (2004) Networks, Social. Pp. 687-688. Social Science Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition, edited by Adam Kuper and Jessica Kupe. Abingdon: Routledge.
  2. ^ Africanizing Anthropology: Fieldwork, networks, and the making of cultural knowledge in Central Africa, by Lyn Schumaker. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. 2001. Book review by Adam Kuper. Kuper African Affairs (London 102: 163-164). 2003
  3. ^ What Manchester Does Today…?: Max Gluckman and the Social Anthropology of the Practical World. Ronald Frankenberg RAIN, No. 45 (Aug., 1981), pp. 6-8
  4. ^ Background, Douglas R. White, 2007.


  • "Manchester School". Retrieved 18 June 2007.