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Australian authorities gave him the opportunity of conducting research in Melanesia, an opportunity he happily embraced.It was during this period that he conducted his fieldwork on the Kula ring and advanced the practice of participant observation, which remains the hallmark of ethnographic research today.From 1910, Malinowski studied exchange and economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) under Seligman and Westermarck, analysing patterns of exchange in Aboriginal Australia through ethnographic documents.In 1914, he was given a chance to travel to New Guinea accompanying anthropologist R. Marett, but as World War I broke out and Malinowski was an Austrian subject, and thereby an enemy of the British commonwealth, he was unable to travel back to England.His approach to social theory was a brand of psychological functionalism emphasising how social and cultural institutions serve basic human needs, a perspective opposed to Radcliffe-Brown's structural functionalism that emphasised the ways in which social institutions function in relation to society as a whole.Malinowski was born on 7 April 1884, in Kraków, then part of the Austro-Hungarian province known as the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, to an upper-middle-class Polish family.His father was a professor, and his mother was the daughter of a landowning family.As a child he was frail, often suffering from ill health, yet he excelled academically.
They know their own motives, know the purpose of individual actions and the rules which apply to them, but how, out of these, the whole collective institution shapes, this is beyond their mental range.
He is often referred to as the first researcher to bring anthropology "off the verandah" (a phrase that is also the name of a documentary about his work), Malinowski emphasised the importance of detailed participant observation and argued that anthropologists must have daily contact with their informants if they are to adequately record the "imponderabilia of everyday life" that are so important to understanding a different culture.
He stated that the goal of the anthropologist, or ethnographer, is "to grasp the native's point of view, his relation to life, to realize his vision of his world" (Argonauts of the Western Pacific, Dutton 1961 edition, p.
When World War II broke out during one of his American visits, he stayed there.
He took up a position at Yale University, where he remained until his death.