chapter  2
Morality, Politics and the Melanesian Big Man: On The Melanesian Manager and the Transformation of Political Anthropology
ByJoel Robbins
Pages 14

This chapter particularizes that the Burridge's argument and shows how precisely it points to key features of the social life of a specific group, the Urapmin. The image of the big man has been one of the enduring contributions the anthropology of Melanesia has made to political anthropology at large and indeed to comparative social science more generally. The chapter argues that the big man shed comparative light: this time on the general problem of the relationship between politics and morality. Burridge uses the term "Melanesian manager" to refer to what others call "big men". At the root of the modern version of the ethics or politics divide is, Bobbio conjectures, the split between church and state which has developed in the Christian tradition. The chapter argues that a crucial part of the big man's importance in Urapmin is his status as a moral exemplar or symbol in Burridge's sense.