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Mary Douglas: Understanding Social Thought and Conflict

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Mary Douglas

Understanding Social Thought and Conflict

Perri 6 and Paul Richards

256 pages, 2 figures, bilbiog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-422-1 $149.00/£110.00 / Hb / Published (June 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78533-561-7 $29.95/£23.95 / Pb / Published (June 2017)

eISBN 978-1-78533-423-8 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“The authors are able to skillfully synthesise Douglas’ wide range of material, making clear her most important theories. In sum, this volume provides a roadmap to Douglas’ work, and is highly relevant for anyone interested in social organisation, institutional theory, multidisciplinary approaches to conflict, and Durkheimian theory.” • Anthropology Matters

“Divided into four beautifully written thematic chapters and a concluding section dedicated to a final assessment of her contribution to understanding social thought and conflict, the book is a sort of critical (but affectionate) hermeneutic of Douglas’ work.” • Anthropological Journal of European Cultures

“…a very substantial undertaking and a highly comprehensive appreciation of Douglas’s corpus. Clearly written and very much a labour of love, it will be indispensable to anyone wishing to get to grips with that corpus.” • Anthropological Forum

“Both authors enjoyed a long acquaintance with Douglas and bring a fresh perspective to her collected work. They demonstrate that, more than most, she had a definite project that defined and shaped her output, even if not every step in that path was necessarily successful or even in a straight line… it is remarkable to trace the unfolding of an intellect and the implications of a theory, and we can hope that more anthropologists will attempt similar exegeses of other greats in the field.” • Anthropology Review


Mary Douglas’s innovative explanations for styles of human thought and for the dynamics of institutional change have furnished a distinctive and powerful theory of how conflicts are managed, yet her work remains astonishingly poorly appreciated in social science disciplines. This volume introduces Douglas’s theories, and outlines the ways in which her work is of continuing importance for the future of the social sciences. Mary Douglas: Understanding Human Thought and Conflict shows how Douglas laid out the agenda for revitalizing social science by reworking Durkheim’s legacy for today, and reviews the growing body of research across the social sciences which has used, tested or developed her approach.

Perri 6 is Professor in Public Management in the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary University of London. Since the 1990s, he has developed the neo-Durkheimian institutional approach from Mary Douglas’s work, showing how it explains styles of political judgement and decision-making in government and in organisations generally.

Paul Richards was formerly Professor of Anthropology at University College London, and now advises the Directorate of Research at Njala University in Sierra Leone. His numerous publications on the civil wars of the 1990s in West Africa have applied Douglas’s theoretical insights to understanding rebellion and violent factional conflict.

Subject: Theory and MethodologySociology


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