The anthropology of power, agency, and morality

The enduring legacy of F. G. Bailey

Edited by Victor de Munck and Elisa J. Sobo

The anthropology of power, agency, and morality


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5825-3
  • Pages: 312
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £90.00
  • Published Date: June 2022
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Anthropology, Society & social sciences / Sociology & anthropology, Sociology, Anthropology, Sociology & anthropology, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Social Theory, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General, Society & social sciences / Political structure & processes


The works of F. G. Bailey (1924-2020) provide a seminal template for good ethnography. Central to this is Bailey's ability to conceptually connect the well-described micro-contexts of individual interactions to the macro-context of culture. Bailey's core concerns - the tension between individual and collective interests, the will to power, and the dialectics of social forces which foster both collective solidarity as well as divisiveness and discontent - are themes of universal interest; the beauty of his work lies in his analyses of how these play out in local arenas between real people. His models provide nuanced, yet explicit road maps to analysing the different leadership styles of everyday people and contemporary leaders.

This volume seeks to inspire new generations of anthropologists to revisit Bailey's seminal texts, to help them navigate their way through the ethnographic thicket of their own research.


Preface - Edward Simpson
Introduction, or: 'Yes that's it!' - Victor de Munck and Elisa J Sobo

Part I: Contributions to the discipline
1 F. G. Bailey's political anthropology and its malcontents - Felix Girke
2 Morality, truth and power in F. G. Bailey's ethnography of politics - Gitika De
3 Politics as theatrical performance and backstage pragmatism: work and legacy of F. G. Bailey - Stanley R. Barrett

Part II: Professional mentoring
4 Leadership influence: an aperture on 'character' - Christopher Griffin
5 A personal memory of F. G. Bailey - Gavin Smith
6 Mancunian realism and Melanesian anthropology - David Lipset

Part III: Individuals in situations
7 Negotiating the gap between the 'ought' and the 'is': older Americans' strategies - Yohko Tsuji
8 Disjunctive identities and the politics of history: the urban Nadars of southern India - Sara Dickey
9 The moral guises of injustice: from Bisipara to Aotearoa - Erica Prussing

Part IV: Rules and roles of conflict
10 The social construction of the Washington Consensus on international trade policy - Robert H. Wade
11 'Rules are Weapons': Can F. G. Bailey's toolbox aid our understanding of irrigation bureaucracies? - Namika Raby
12 Politics and administration in the narrow neck of the hourglass: an account of normative and pragmatic rules in Norwegian local politics - Christian Lo
13 'Tertius Gaudens aut Tertium Numen? Third-party Roles in Conflict and Conflict Resolution' - Kevin Avruch

Part V: Social change
14 Tribe and nation in the Balkans: Bailey's Concepts of agency, expediency, morality and change in the former Yugoslavia - Mary Kay Gilliland
15 Old boys or a new middle class?: Defining leadership through bridge-actions in a Fijian Pentecostal church - Karen J. Brison
16 'The Need for Enemies': modernity and malevolence in Tribal India - Andrew Willford


Victor de Munck is Professor, Institute of Asian and Transcultural Studies, Vilnius University

Elisa J Sobo is Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, San Diego State University

The anthropology of power, agency, and morality

Edited by Victor de Munck, Elisa J. Sobo

Hardcover £90.00 / $140.00

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