Nature and Nurture in French Social Sciences, 1859–1914 and Beyond

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McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP, Oct 7, 2011 - History - 280 pages
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The prevailing assumption has been that French ethnographers highlighted the cultural and social environment while anthropologists emphasized the scientific study of head and body shapes. Martin Staum shows that the temptation to gravitate towards one pole of the nature-nurture continuum often resulted in reluctant concessions to the other side. Psychologists Théodule Ribot and Alfred Binet, for example, were forced to recognize the importance of social factors. Non-Durkheimian sociologists were divided on the issue of race and gender as progressive and tolerant attitudes on race did not necessarily correlate with flexible attitudes on gender. Recognizing this allows Staum to raise questions about the theory of the equivalence of all marginalized groups. Anthropological institutions re-organized before the First World War sometimes showed decreasing confidence in racial theory but failed to abandon it completely. Staum's chilling epilogue discusses how the persistent legacy of such theories was used by extremist anthropologists outside the mainstream to deploy racial ideology as a basis of persecution in the Vichy era.
 

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Contents

1 Introduction to the NatureNurture Debate
3
2 The Ethnographers
17
3 The Anthropologists
46
4 Ribot and Psychological Heredity
84
5 Heredity and Milieu in the Revue philosophique
108
From Measuring Heads to Testing Intelligence
126
7 The NonDurkheimian Sociologists
142
8 Reorientation of Institutions
169
9 Echoes in the Vichy Era
194
10 Conclusion
205
Bibliography
213
Index
253
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University of Calgary

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