Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo

Front Cover
Psychology Press, 2003 - Social Science - 193 pages
3 Reviews
Purity and Danger is acknowledged as a modern masterpiece of anthropology. It is widely cited in non-anthropological works and gave rise to a body of application, rebuttal and development within anthropology. In 1995 the book was included among the Times Literary Supplement's hundred most influential non-fiction works since WWII. Incorporating the philosophy of religion and science and a generally holistic approach to classification, Douglas demonstrates the relevance of anthropological enquiries to an audience outside her immediate academic circle. She offers an approach to understanding rules of purity by examining what is considered unclean in various cultures. She sheds light on the symbolism of what is considered clean and dirty in relation to order in secular and religious, modern and primitive life.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Hebephrene - LibraryThing

This book consists of a lot of squabbling with other anthropologists and one needs to be familiar with the work of those whom Douglas disagrees with to follow much of the early part. Suffice it to say ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thcson - LibraryThing

This may be an entertaining book if you want to read stories of foreign cultures and habits, but I don't think it meets the scientific standards of anthropology. The subtitle of the book is "an ... Read full review

Contents

Ritual Uncleanness
7
Secular Defilement
30
The Abominations of Leviticus
42
Magic and Miracle
59
Primitive Worlds
74
Powers and Dangers
95
External Boundaries
115
Internal Lines
130
The System at War with Itself
141
The System Shattered and Renewed
160
Bibliography
181
Index
187
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 2 - There is no such thing as absolute dirt: it exists in the eye of the beholder.

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2003)

Born in Italy, Mary Douglas was educated at Oxford University and began her career as a civil servant in 1943. Her first field research was carried out in what was then the Belgian Congo and she taught at Oxford and the University of London before moving to the United States in 1977. Purity and Danger (1966) is an essay about the logic of pollution beliefs, suggesting that ideas about dirt and disorder outline and reinforce particular social orders. Her other essays exploring the implicit meanings of cultural symbols follow a similar Durkheimian format. Her recent interests have turned to analysis of risk behavior and cross-cultural attitudes about food and alcohol.