Why, when and where are some moral systems supported and followed whilst others are condemned? Are moral values culturally relative or universal? Can immoral actions be tolerated in times of crisis? Is the dream of becoming better sufficient for prompting virtuous behavior, or should we dream about what is best? Do moral values last? The divergence in practices and codes of moral belief and action present significant challenges but also offer opportunities to anthropologists for understanding social life.
In this book, Monica Heintz explores these questions, drawing on case studies from Eastern Europe that encompass migration, religion, economic and social policies and paying particular attention to the way morality works in communities undergoing rapid social change. She uses these examples to reflect on the wider question of societal conflict and change, showing how they are driven by moral values. By highlighting the centrality of such values as engines for action and questioning the limits of universal moral values, she argues that anthropology has the capacity to shed light on the study of human morality more generally.
The Anthropology of Morality: A Dynamic and Interactionist Approach will be of interest to students and researchers in anthropology, as well as those in politics and sociology with an interest in European politics.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. The anthropology of morality: a lens for observing moralities as social facts
Chapter 2. Words and actions: from ethno-ethics to the anthropology of morality
Chapter 3. The choice of methods: from methodological individualism to interactionism
Chapter 4. No holism, no generalizations? On idiosyncrasies and regularities
Chapter 5. Life experiences, moral justifications and moral anaesthesia
Chapter 6. Hierarchy of values and dynamics of value changes
Chapter 7. Tolerance, conformity and moral relativism
Chapter 8. Moral education
Chapter 9. Ordinary and ‘extra-ordinary’ ethics
Chapter 10. Moral imagination or the need for transcendence
Monica Heintz is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Paris Nanterre, France and Co-director of the Laboratoire d’Ethnologie et de Sociologie Comparative (CNRS/University Paris Nanterre).