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Mary Douglas Collection

RRP $283.99

Cultures and Crises brings thirteen essays on culture, not previously collected, from the last decade and a half of Mary Douglas's life. Focussing on the collaborative development of 'cultural theory' from the 'grid and group' analysis of the 1970s through to is application and elaboration in her later thought, the material covers questions of culture and institutions, the challenges to culture posed by climate change and the nature of risk in culture. Written in the last two decades of her life, Cultures and Crises finds Douglas developing analyses of critical conditions facing contemporary societies, sometimes in the company of distinguished co-authors across the whole gamut of social sciences. What emerges is the most complete picture of Douglas's cultural theory that is currently available to us. A Very Personal Method brings together writings in different genres composed over her whole career to demonstrate a distinctive style of thought and expression, which ranged freely between consideration of family and friends, the demands of domestic routine and her membership of the Roman Catholic church, and global issues of environment and security. Richard Fardon has collated a fascinating collection of original material to provide a definitive account of Douglas's methodology, revealing a thinker who was continuously innovative and individual. Mary Douglas (1921-2007) remains one of the most widely read social anthropologists of her generation. She began her research career in Africa but soon developed her interests in religions and classification comparatively, which became the theoretical approach to different forms of society that she initially called 'grid and group theory', and later 'cultural theory'. Douglas began to work intensively and collaboratively on Western society. While continuing to write extensively on social theory, Douglas's later decades were devoted to close reading of the first five books of the Old Testament to radically re-envision the societies which gave rise to them. She continued to work collaboratively on contemporary questions of climate change, risk, terrorism, gun control, witchcraft movements, and the role of women in organized religious life. Her ability to find similar patterns in the familiar and unfamiliar allowed her to explain complex anthropological ideas to a wide readership. A week before her death, Mary Douglas was invested as a Dame of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace.



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