David Aberle

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David F. Aberle (November 23, 1918 – September 23, 2004) was an American anthropologist and Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, renowned for his work with the American Southwestern culture of the Navaho.


  • A comparative social science requires a generalized system of concepts which will enable the scientific observer to compare and contrast large bodies of concretely different social phenomena in consistent terms.
  • Socialization consists of those patterns of action or aspects of action which inculcate in individuals the skills (including knowledge), motives, and attitudes necessary for the performance of present and anticipated roles.
    • David Aberle (1961: 387), quoted in: William E. Willmott (1972) Economic Organization in Chinese Society,
  • Anthropologists are interested in reconstructing the kinship system as it might have existed at the time of a proto-language. A kinship system can be regarded as composed of two correlated systems: a system of kinship terminology and a set of behaviors that are patterned in relation to the terminological system. We know of no way in which we can rigorously infer the kinds of behavior directly, but it is generally regarded as possible to reconstruct the terminology at least in part. If rigor can be introduced in the procedure of reconstructing kinship terminology, then a generalization of that rigorous procedure is lexical reconstruction.
    • Isidore Dyen, ‎David F. Aberle (1974), Lexical Reconstruction: The Case of the Proto-Athapaskan Kinship System. p. 7
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