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Mary Douglas

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 5 months ago


    British Social Anthropologist

        1921 - 2007


Strengths: Intellectual self-confidence and driving purpose.

Weaknesses: Devisive

Special skill: Stirring things up in the House of Commons.



Sign: Aries




Internationally renowned, Dame Mary Douglas has been called an intellectual path-breaker. Her work addressed an array of topics and has been influential not only in the field of anthropology, but also in the fields of economics, psychology, politics, religious studies and folklore. Douglas made significant contributions to the anthropological analysis of cosmology, consumption and risk perception. She was interested in uncovering the principles behind the way we classify the world around us. Douglas believed that symbolic meaning is created to maintain social and personal boundaries. Her most popular works, Purity and Danger (1966) and Natural Symbols (1970) established her wider intellectual reputation. Douglas continued to write well into her eighties. She died at the age of 86 on May 16, 2007.



Selected Works:

  • The Lele of the Kasai (1963)
  • Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (1966)
  • Pollution (1968)
  • Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology (1970)
  • Implicit Meanings (1975), essays
  • The World of Goods (1979) with Baron Isherwood
  • Risk and Culture (1980) with Aaron Wildavsky
  • In the Active Voice (1982)
  • How Institutions Think (1986)
  • Missing persons: a critique of the social sciences (1988) with Steven Ney
  • Risk and Blame: Essays in Cultural Theory (1992)
  • Thought styles: Critical essays on good taste (1996)
  • Leviticus as Literature (1999)
  • In the Wilderness: The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers (2001)
  • Constructive Drinking: Perspectives on Drink from Anthropology (2002)
  • Jacob's Tears: The Priestly Work of Reconciliation (2004)
  • Thinking in Circles (2007)






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