Function and Change in China: Reviving Mauss’“total social fact” to gain knowledge of changing markets
Article first published online: 3 MAR 2013
© 2012 by The American Anthropological Association. Some rights reserved.
Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings
Volume 2012, Issue 1, pages 39–47, October 2012
How to Cite
LIESKOVSKY, M., RAMSEY-ELLIOT, M. and HILL, C. (2012), Function and Change in China: Reviving Mauss’“total social fact” to gain knowledge of changing markets. Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, 2012: 39–47. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-8918.2012.00006.x
- Issue published online: 3 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 3 MAR 2013
This paper attempts to revive Mauss's concept of the total social fact as a method to establish understanding of new markets. Our case study of alcohol in China illuminates the spirit baijiu's connections to the total social facts of guanxi (social capital) and hierarchy. We outline the distinction between symbols that communicate meaning and total social facts that communicate function. We propose a methodology based on using total social facts as a heuristic device, removed from some of the problematic assumptions of classical functionalism.