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?

More on Questions about Grid-Group Theory

So Y asked three interesting questions regarding Grid-Group Cultural Theory. This is a line of thought, a method of inquiry, developed by the British social anthropologist Mary Douglas, along with numerous collaboraters, and more recently numerous younger adopters who never actually worked with Douglas. Its early presentation was in the influential book Natural Symbols. DMK … Continue reading More on Questions about Grid-Group Theory

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

Moving beyond a failure in the marketplace of ideas

The following is a guest post from Prof Dan Kahan in response to a previous post here, on Margaret Heffernan’s book, Willful Blindness. 4culture’s insightful post put me in mind of something important that in fact he has said explicitly before: Understanding the contribution that cultural influences have on our perceptions of risk (and like facts) cannot only explain … Continue reading Moving beyond a failure in the marketplace of ideas

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

Acknowledging our own biases

Writing in Risk and Blame: Essays on Cultural Theory,  anthropologist and sociologist Mary Douglas expressed the importance of recognising one's own biases, the importance of reflexivity. 'My own preference has emerged as an idealized form of hierarchy. This has always given me to some degree the professional advantage of feeling out of kilter with the … Continue reading Acknowledging our own biases

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