Eating less meat?

“Our thinking has created problems which cannot be solved by that same level of thinking," (Attributed to Albert Einstein in Leonard D. Goodstein and J. William Pfeiffer, eds, The 1985 Annual: Developing Human Resources, Issue 14 New York: John Wiley & Sons, p. 185) What you think about why I don’t eat meat is culturally … Continue reading Eating less meat?

Dirt – is it ‘matter out of place’?

“The Wellcome exhibition starts with a quote from Mary Douglas, the great social anthropologist who wrote Purity and Danger. Dirt she defined as "matter out of place". She remains a key thinker, prefiguring many of the bigger, better known French structuralists. In analysing taboos about the pure and the impure, the sacred and the profane, … Continue reading Dirt – is it ‘matter out of place’?

Equality and Hierarchy in Denmark

Hedeby, probable site of the first school in Denmark Further reflections on the concept of horizontal and vertical teaching methods. A recent edition of the journal Social Analysis (55.2, 2011) is entirely devoted to the contrast between hierarchical and egalitarian pressures on Danish Society. The introduction begins with a discussion of the work of the … Continue reading Equality and Hierarchy in Denmark

Explaining Political Judgement

Fourcultures has previously reviewed the work of Perri 6 , Professor of social policy at Nottingham Trent University.  The Institutional Dynamics of Culture (which he edited with Gerald Mars) remains the most important compendium of sources on Mary Douglas's cultural theory. His latest book is Explaining Political Judgement, which looks to be a very thorough … Continue reading Explaining Political Judgement

BP Oil Spill – why we care

Behavioural psychologist Dan Ariely’s interesting website has a question about why we seem to care so much about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, when we don’t seem to care as much about other big environmental disasters such as the ongoing destruction of the Amazonian rainforest. Some good points are raised, including some fairly obvious … Continue reading BP Oil Spill – why we care

L’analyse culturelle de Mary Douglas

- une contribution à la sociologie des institutions. Here's a good summary of Mary Douglas's Cultural Theory written in French (with an English abstract). It was published in SociologieS in 2006. Marcel Calvez, « L’analyse culturelle de Mary Douglas : une contribution à la sociologie des institutions », SociologieS [En ligne], Théories et recherches, mis … Continue reading L’analyse culturelle de Mary Douglas

Don’t stop believing – purity, danger and Glee

Germ-Free Adolescents by Daniel Trilling in the New Statesman, looks at our ideas of purity and ritual in relation to the way the TV series Glee depicts teenagers. He makes use of the anthropologist Mary Douglas's views on dirt. Adolescents can be seen as 'matter out of place', a mixing of kinds (child/adult monster). Moving … Continue reading Don’t stop believing – purity, danger and Glee

New uses for classic theories – Mary Douglas in 2010

There have been some fascinating and diverse applications of the social theories of Mary Douglas in the media lately. Douglas was an anthropologist, best known for her work on risk, on purity and on the grid-group typology which this website explores. This month alone Mary Douglas has been quoted in relation to the following: food … Continue reading New uses for classic theories – Mary Douglas in 2010

Why can’t environmentalists just all get along?

Dr Clare Saunders, from Southampton University, was awarded the first British Journal of Sociology prize for her 2008 ethnographic work on environmental organisations in London. You can hear a podcast of her describing her research, and read the original article (as long as someone you love your institution subscribes to Wiley Interscience). She argues that: … Continue reading Why can’t environmentalists just all get along?