Thought Styles: Critical Essays on Good Taste

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9780803976566: Thought Styles: Critical Essays on Good Taste

We are often tyrannized by cooking styles and dress fashions but the idea of thought styles in control is less familiar and perhaps more disturbing. But how do thought styles work? In these fascinating essays Mary Douglas brings the topic down to the commonplace judgements of everyday life.

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About the Author:

Mary Douglas′s literary executor, Richard Fardon, is Professor of West African Anthropology at SOAS, University of London. A former student of Mary Douglas, his intellectual biography of her was published by Routledge in 1999, and updated by a Memoir in the Proceedings of the British Academy Memoir, 2010.

Review:

`Can anthropology explain what we buy when we go shopping? Or why one person chooses conventional medicine, another alternative medicine? In Thought Styles Mary Douglas deals with familiar things - shopping, furniture, our concerns for the environment - and takes anthropology to Good Housekeeping. The result is a thoughtful discussion of modern culture; Douglas is genial and humane and neither uncomfortable or silly′ - Times Literary Supplement

`Thought Styles′ collects together a number of Mary Douglas′ comparatively recent essays. The range of topics addressed is in some ways diverse, although the central theme that runs through many of the pieces, and the analytic approach and sensibility that are deployed throughout, give the collection coherence... [The book] constitutes a sustained advocacy of the value of and anthropological approach to topics which may be thought to fall within the province of other disciplines such as psychology, literary criticism and (certain forms of) sociology...Like much of Douglas′ best work, the book moves back and forth between different cultures and historical periods and uses the supposedly exotic to provide insights into `ordinary′ modern western culture. It espouses an explicit and well argued cultural relativism, but retains universalist explanatory resources, such as the typology of cultural types... Mary Douglas is one of those rare authors whose insight and imagination compel admiration even from readers who may be sceptical sbout her theoretical framework. In any case the theoretical framework could be used to account for such scepticism, - Sociological Research Online

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