Stefan Groth

Comparisons as anticipatory and relational practice


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Comparisons play a central role in socio-spatial and cultural localizations. They are a necessary requirement for establishing difference, which actors require in order to position themselves in society. In this article, I discuss comparisons from the perspective of European Ethnology and, in particular, shed light on the role of anticipation and relationality in comparisons. The first step is a discussion of the criteria for quantitative and qualitative comparison. Next, the relationship between comparisons and expectations is questioned to address concepts of rationality and the contingent content of comparisons. On this basis, the significance of anticipatory and relational dimensions for comparisons is outlined. The article concludes by calling for an ethnological approach to comparisons as an anticipatory and relational practice.

comparison, anticipation, relational practices, comparisons as orientation