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

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

Part of the Routledge Classics series

3 out of 5 (1 rating)


In Purity and Danger Mary Douglas identifies the concern for purity as a key theme at the heart of every society.

In lively and lucid prose she explains its relevance for every reader by revealing its wide-ranging impact on our attitudes to society, values, cosmology and knowledge.

The book has been hugely influential in many areas of debate - from religion to social theory.

But perhaps its most important role is to offer each reader a new explanation of why people behave in the way they do.

With a specially commissioned introduction by the author which assesses the continuing significance of the work thirty-five years on, this Routledge Classics edition will ensure that Purity and Danger continues to challenge and question well into the new millennium.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272 pages, black & white illustrations
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Ethical issues & debates
  • ISBN: 9780415289955



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Written by a social anthropologist, this work studies the way in which religions structure 'pollution' and sacred influences. She analyzes how religions not only create laws, but how those laws have an inner consistency related to social/economic/environmental influences.I think of this book as a sort of addendum to Eliade's "Sacred and Profane". It works with many of the same concepts, and often works off of Eliade's conclusions. Again, it's rather important if you're curious about the study of religion. My only problem with it is that Douglas hasn't gotten past that superior mentality the British suffer from. Well, it's more of a shared malady among white christians living in capitalist societies, really...but periodically having a supposedly balanced book devote pages and paragraphs to exactly why the Christian capitalist system is oh so much better than these poor 'primitives' is distracting and distasteful. Most of the ideas were good, but the fact that she's approaching the cross cultural studies with the assumption that her culture is the shiznit makes me distrust her. 6/10

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