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Marcel Mauss

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 10 months ago

“The Gifter”




Marcel Mauss

(May 10, 1872 – February 1, 1950)



French Sociologist and Anthropologist



Strengths: Recognized the importance of ethnography; many influential anthropologists such as Claude Levi-Strauss claimed to follow in his steps


Weaknesses: Referred to non-Europeans as “uncivilized people”


Special Feature: Nephew of Emile Durkheim


Marcel Mauss was born to a Jewish family in Epinal, France and later moved to Paris. He was quite active in the Dreyfus Affair and exercised his leftist politics and voice in several national newpapers. As for his anthropological work, he wrote about the importance of gift exchange. He noted the reciprocal relationship that occurs between the giver and the receiver and that social bond that is created. Although he himself never engaged in ethnography, he was a strong believer in it, and for this reason, is considered one of the first “anthropologists” by today’s terms. He worked closely with his uncle, Emile Durkheim, to help publish L’Annee Sociologique, and eventually became the journal’s editor upon Durkheim’s death.


Selected Bibliography

• L’Annee Sociologique (Sociological Year)

• Essai sur le Don (The Gift; 1924)

• Essai sur la Nature et la Fonction du Sacrifice (Sacrifice: It’s Nature and Function; 1898)

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