The Study of Social Structure is a 246-page book written by the brilliant Jamaican anthropologist Michael Garfield Smith and published by the Research Institute for the Study of Man. Before we dive into the book details, let us first talk about the man behind this incredible masterpiece of knowledge.
Michael Garfield Smith is a renowned Jamaican social anthropologist born on August 18, 1921. Smith is also known for the poetry of international repute. He was a brilliant scholar at the one of the island’s leading schools, the Jamaica College. His colleagues during his education recall him as their “intellectual hero.” At an early age of seventeen, Smith was able to achieve the highest point grade among all the Higher Schools Certificate candidates in the entire British Empire. At Smith’s later years in school, he showed excellent skills in poetry showing a bright potential future and soon was able to publish the promising poem. His fellow scholars acknowledged him the prestigious Jamaica Scholarship, although it did not bring him to Bombay as Smith planned, it brought him to Canada’s McGill University instead of to major in English Literature. He shortly served the Canadian army during war placing at the frontline in Europe, France, Holland, and Germany. In 1945, he was dismissed in the military and pursued his short career in law before he finally settled to studying anthropology. According to his wife, Mary, Smith was dismayed with the law as soon as he gets into it and realized that it was not justice as he hoped it was. As soon as he switched his career as an anthropologist, he became a prize student in Daryll Forde’s department at the University College in London. After his successful field research in Nigeria, he completed he was awarded hi Ph.D. in 1951.
The Study of Social Structure is one Smith’s notable works. The book was one of the two studies he virtually completed during the time of his health struggle in 1993. The book, as it may sound, was almost like a journal and in testamentary tone; it tackles the key elements of Smith’s epistemology while discussing the subject of social structure in a systematic inquiry. Throughout his anthropologist career, he is convinced that there is a period of scholarly disinterest when it comes to the study of social structure and even it was central to the anthropological enterprise; it was still critically reexamined. In his final call, he suggested that there should be a development of new conceptual frameworks to assist the study of social structural phenomena. He insisted that the structure currently used must have development and progress and the subject of the study also changes. The Study of Social Structure, which rests on Smith’s compelling logic, deals with those perspectives and approaches that objectify and thereby unravel social structures and their parts.
The Study of Social Structure primarily deals with Smith’s powerful and compelling logic in regards to the perspective and approaches that gives meaning and unravel social structures and their integral components.