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Cultures and Crises

Cultures and Crises
Understanding Risk and Resolution

First Edition

January 2013 | 344 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Written in the last two decades of her life, Cultures and Crises finds Mary Douglas developing analyses of critical conditions facing contemporary societies, sometimes in the company of distinguished co-authors across the whole gamut of social sciences.

The essays focus on the collaborative development of 'cultural theory' from the 'grid and group' analysis of the 1970s through to its application and elaboration in her later thought. The material covers questions of culture and institutions, the challenges to culture posed by climate change and the nature of risk in culture.

What emerges is the most complete picture of Mary Douglas's cultural theory that is currently available to us.

The book will add to the legions of Douglas's readers across the disciplinary divisions of the social sciences.

Mary Douglas was one of the most widely read social anthropologists of the 20th Century. She is celebrated both as a literary stylist and an anthropological thinker who challenged common presuppositions and understandings of religion, economy and society. As a cornerstone of modernism in social anthropology, and a precursor of 21st Century interdisciplinarity, her work remains highly influential both within and outside the social sciences.

Richard Fardon is Mary Douglas's Literary Executor and Head of the Doctoral School and Professor of West African Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, UK.

Richard Fardon
Introduction: How Cultures Precipitate Risk and Resolution
The Language of Emotions in the Social Sciences
Emotion and Culture in Theories of Justice
Institutions: Problems of Theory
Four Cultures: The Evolution of a Parsimonious Model
with Des Gasper, Steven Ney and Michael Thompson
Human Needs and Wants
with Michael Thompson and Marco Verweij
Is Time Running out? The Case of Global Warming
with Marco Verweij et al
Clumsy Solutions for a Complex World: The Case of Climate Change
An Aesthetic View of the Relation between Culture and Nature
Christoph Engel, Michael Thompson and Marco Verweij
Postscript: The Future of Clumsiness
The Risks of the Risk Officer
with Michalis Lianos
Dangerization and the End of Deviance: The Institutional Environment
Michalis Lianos
with Gerald Mars
Terrorism: A Positive Feedback Game
Gerald Mars
Being Fair to Hierarchists
Traditional Culture: Let's Hear no More about It
Oscar Wilde
Endpiece: The Selfish Giant

Mary Douglas was a towering figure in twentieth century social thought and theory. No one can afford to overlook this collection who is interested in what cultures are, what institutions do, how the social change occurs, how people respond to risks and dangers, and how people can live together peaceably under several kinds of rival institutions. Read together, these essays form a sinuous and profound argument about how human conflicts can get out of control, and also how - if we are careful - people can contain them.

Some of these articles were written with bracing directness; others work with feline subtlety. Although they contain some of Douglas' best writing and most sophisticated arguments, most of them have long been very hard to find. This volume will show a new generation just why her arguments were so important and influential. Many who think they know Douglas' work will find insights and arguments in these studies which will surprise them, and lead them reappraise their understanding of her achievement.
Perri 6, Professor in Public Management in the School of Business and Management
Queen Mary, University of London

Mary Douglas's insights into the use of nature to justify moral and political preferences are as irresistible as they are enduring for both the theory and practice of contemporary life.
Steve Rayner, James Martin Professor of Science and Civilization at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography
Oxford University

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ISBN: 9781446254677
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