Historical Particularism

Historical particularism is the last American anthropological method of research. This approach was founded and developed by Franz Boas. He ignored the thoughts of Parallel evolutionism, according to which all societies acquire the analogous level of development; they are on the similar pathway to the development. He had the courage to state that each society is the outcome of its historical circumstances and rejected the most dominated theory called as cultural evolutionary model.

Societies can gain the same level of development through various means according to his theory. Boas identified three traits for the purposes of clarifying cultural customs: psychological factors, environmental conditions, and historical connections. Marvin Haris devised the name, “historical” as Boas interpreted terms, “particular” and past, because he realized the unicity of every culture (Harris, 1979). This approach can be compatible with the research of cultural evolution. Foremost, in contradistinction to evolutionists, the historical particularists evaluated history and fieldwork as critical cultural analysis methods. They collected a large amount of first-hand research through ethnographic fieldworks, moreover they produced not only general founding to all societies but a depiction of particular cultures.

Secondly, unlike Kroeber who states that society experiences evolution according to its own internal laws, Boas believed, “the individual to be the solid entity of the society” and the data were received from them. These data are fairly valuable for the cultural analysis. Thus, his information sources were the individual informants. According to the unilinear models of cultural progress, growth in mental capacity leads to next level of development. Boas kept the idea that it is unobvious to regard cultural change without considering the awareness of the people belonging to this or that culture (Boas, 1940).

To sum up, historical particularism is a theoretical research that diverts orthogenetic development and emphasizes the uniqueness of societies and diversity, both present and past. The approach is beneficial owning to its individualized and compatibility focus, moreover it ultimately succeeded to deracinate racial discrimination from anthropology; it was based on the conclusions of the evolutionist that society does not react to the development pace.