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Categories and Classifications: Maussian Reflections on the Social

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Volume 8

Methodology & History in Anthropology

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Categories and Classifications

Maussian Reflections on the Social

N. J. Allen†

172 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-808-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (January 2001)

ISBN  978-1-57181-824-9 $27.95/£22.95 Pb Published (December 2000)

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


"The excavation and reconstruction of Maussian meanings proves richly gratifying to the intellectual archaeologist."  · American Anthropologist

"Many of the items in this book are thought-provoking ... One of its strengths is the insights it frequently gives into the divergences between Mauss's and Durkheim's thought."  · Anthropological Theory

"This is an important book ... by paying attention to the cultural construction of violence across time we can hope to be better able to explain the complex social dynamics that give rise to the actual use of violence."   · Anthropological Theory


Marcel Mauss (1872-1950), Durkheim's nephew, was a key figure among Durkheimians and helped to found the distinctive French tradition in the social sciences at the start of the 20th century. He dominated the teaching of social anthropology in Paris between the Wars, and his Essay on the Gift (1925) is a well established classic. However, it is only recently that the breadth and freshness of his oeuvre as a whole is being reassessed and is gaining wider appreciation.

Having found inspiration in Mauss's texts for over twenty years, the author here explores not only what he thought but also how his ideas can be developed and applied in new ways. Thus Durkheim and Mauss's notion of "primitive classification," often misunderstood, is well exemplified by Indo-European ideology as analysed by Georges Dumezil and current comparativists, and it is argued that this ancient ideology influenced the Durkheimian classification of "social facts." Mauss's reflections on kinship and social aggregation point us towards aspects of proto-human societies that are underemphasized by contemporary palaeoanthropology, and his vision of world history in terms of emic categories - fundamental ideas such as person, space, totality, substance - casts new light on much we take for granted, as well as on The Gift. Mauss specialized in religion, and his treatment of the rubric goes beyond his uncle's unitary definition in terms of the sacred.

In assembling and presenting his essays on this intellectual giant, the author tries both to convey the range and quality of Mauss's mind and to take further his scattered and partial insights.

N. J. Allen† was a Social Anthropologist who worked mostly in the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISCA), the University of Oxford, and at Wolfson College.

Subject: Theory and Methodology Sociology
Area: France


Preface and Acknowledgements
Abbreviations and Conventions Used in Notes

N.J. Allen

Chapter 1. Preliminary Remarks
Difficulties of Ethnographic Investigation
Principles of Observation 

Chapter 2. Methods of Observation  
Methods of Observation
Morphological and Cartographic Method
Photographic Method
Phonographic Method
Philological Method
Sociological Method

Chapter 3. Social Morphology

Chapter 4. Technology
Techniques of the Body
General Techniques with General Uses
Mechanical Techniques: Tools; Instruments; Machines; Fire
Special Techniques with General Uses or General Industries with Special Uses
Basketry; Pottery; Esparto Goods and Rope Making; Glues and Resins; Weaponry: Weight Weapons and Offensive Weapons; Offensive Weapons; Projectiles; Protective Armour; Parade Armoury
Specialised Industries with Special Uses
Industries of Consumption: Meals; Cooking; Ideology of Food; Condiments; Drinks; Industries of Acquisition: Gathering; Hunting; Fishing; Industries of Production: Stockbreeding; Agriculture; Industries of Protection and Comfort: Clothing (Decoration of Clothes, Fabrics); Building (Types and Materials, Functional and Morphological Study, Purpose of Buildings, Agglomeration); Industries of Transportation: Communication Routes; Porterage; Water Transport

Chapter 5. Aesthetics
Physical Games; Verbal Games The Arts Plastic Arts: Cosmetics; Finery
Ornamentation of Everyday Objects, Movable and Immovable
Ideal Arts
Musical Arts: Dance; Music and Singing; Drama; Poetry; Prose

Chapter 6. Economic Phenomena
Production Distribution and Consumption Currency

Chapter 7. Jural Phenomena
Methods of Observation
Social and Political Organisation
Primary forms of Social Organisation: Monarchy; Chiefdoms; Democracy; Secondary Forms of Social Organisation
Society of Men; Secret Societies; Castes and Classes
Domestic Organisation
Phratries; The Clan; The Family; Marriage: Marriage Ceremonies; Married Life; Divorce; Bereavement
Moral Phenomena in Marriage
Immovables; Movables
Contract Law
Criminal Law
Judicial Organisation and Procedure

Chapter 8. Moral Phenomena

Chapter 9. Religious Phenomena
Religious Phenomena in the Strict Sense
Public Cults: Totemism; Major Tribal Cults; Private Cults: Domestic Cults; Individual Private Cults; Rites: Manual Rites; Oral Rites; Negative Rites; Religious Representations: Representations of Natural Beings and Phenomena; Representations of Spiritual Beings; Myths, Legends and Tales; Religious Organisation Religious Phenomena in the Broad Sense Magic; Divination; Popular Superstitions

Individuals and Writers

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