The Logic of Writing and the Organization of Society

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Cambridge University Press, Dec 18, 1986 - Social Science - 213 pages
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This book assesses the impact of writing on human societies, both in the Ancient Near East and in twentieth-century Africa, and highlights some general features of social systems that have been influenced by this major change in the mode of communication. Such features are central to any attempt at the theoretical definition of human society and such constituent phenomena as religious and legal systems, and in this study Professor Goody explores the role of a specific mechanism, the introduction of writing and the development of a written tradition, in the explanation of some important social differences and similarities. Goody argues that a shift of emphasis from productive to certain communicative processes is essential to account adequately for major changes in human societies. Whilst there have been previous descussions of the effect of literacy upon social organisation, no study has hitherto presented the general synthesis developed here.
 

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Contents

The word of God
1
The concept of athe religion
4
Change
6
Obsolescence
8
Incorporation or conversion
10
Cognitive contradictions in the general and the specific
13
priests and intellectuals
16
Endowment and alienation
18
Writing and the mercantile economy
71
Writing and individual transactions
77
Writing and the economy in Africa
82
The state the bureau and the file
87
Bureaucracies
89
The administration of early states with writing
92
The administration of states without writing
99
Writing in the colonial and national administrations
113

The twin bureaucracies
19
Organizational and structural autonomy
20
spirit cults and world religions
22
Writing and religion in Ancient Egypt
26
Writing and religion in other early civilizations
35
Ritual and writing
42
The word of mammon
45
The origin of writing and the ancient economy
48
Writing and the temple economy
55
Writing and the palace economy
62
Writing and the political process
119
The letter of the law
127
The definition of law
129
The expansion of writing and law in medieval England
159
The letter and the spirit of the law
165
Ruptures and continuities
171
Notes
186
Bibliography
194
Index
206
Copyright

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About the author (1986)

Jack Goody est un anthropologue britannique ne en 1919.

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