By: Kylie LaBonne


The Manchester school was founded in 1947 by anthropologist Max Gluckman. One of the biggest features of the Manchester School were the “case studies” from Gluckman's early training in law involving examples of social interaction to infer rules and assumptions. Students of the Manchester School gathered data on the social actions of individuals and described these cases in excessive detail. Anthropologist, Richard Werbner, "identifies four different main strands that are associated with the Manchester school, (1) social problems, (2) processes of articulation, (3) interpersonal interaction, and (4) rhetoric and semantics.” (Werbner) The social problems are focused on the problems in Africa, based on the way you classify yourself in the systems of subsistence, either traditional or industrialized which is how you decide what norms and values to follow. Gluckman focused his studies on research in social problems such as, apartheid, industrialization, and labor migration. “In other words conflict maintains the repetitive destruction and recreation of ties ultimately resulting in a situation of social cohesion.” (Werbner) The Processes of articulation is a theoretical position on the social problems, it is how you rank in society. They describe these roles, the hierarchy role, which was often filled by the village headman, were subjected to the conflicting interests and pressures from both the higher political order and the villagers underneath the leadership of the headman.The interpersonal interaction are based on certain situations that people are put in, compelling them to do things that are more extreme and are larger than the bigger picture, forcing them to derail from the norms and values of society. Gluckman describes the judicial processes of semantics and rhetoric in three ways: (1) the relation between concepts of the person, (2) the language of rules, and (3) the logic of situations. He tries to figure out ways in which people are manipulated into following rules and accepting this hierarchy with the norms and values.


F. G. Bailey (b. 1924)  

John A. Barnes (b. 1918) (d. 2010)  

Elizabeth Spillius (b. 1924)  

J. Clyde Mitchell (b. 1918) (d. 1995)  


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Palatas, Marcel. Theory and Critics of Max Gluckman and Manchester School: Case of opening a new bridge in modern Zululand. Academia.


Gluckman, Max, Analysis of a Social Situation in Modern Zululand, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2nd ed. 1968  

Gluckman,Max. 2012. Politics, law and ritual in tribal society. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.  

Werbner, Richard P. 1984.The Manchester School in south-central Africa. Annual Review of Anthropology 13:157–185