Natural Symbols

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Natural Symbols
Author Mary Douglas
Original title Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology
Subject Cultural anthropology, Anthropology of religion
Publisher Barrie & Rockliff, Cresset Press
Publication date
1970
Pages 177
ISBN 0-214-65075-8
Preceded by Purity and Danger
Followed by Rules and Meanings

Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology (first published 1970) is an influential book by the British cultural anthropologist Mary Douglas. Further editions were published in 1973, 1982, 1996, 2003. It was also published in 2003 as volume 3 in Mary Douglas: Collected Works (isbn 0415291062).

Theoretical innovation[edit]

It was in Natural Symbols that Douglas introduced the "group-grid" theory, with "group" indicating how clearly defined an individual's social position is as inside or outside a bounded social group, and "grid" indicating how clearly defined an individual's social role is within networks of social privileges, claims, and obligations. The group–grid pattern was later to be refined and redeployed in laying the foundations of the cultural theory of risk.

Reviews[edit]

Natural Symbols was reviewed by:

Sources[edit]

  • Albert James Bergesen, "Rituals, Symbols, and Society: Explicating the Mechanisms of the Moral Order", a review essay in American Journal of Sociology, 83:4 (1978), pp. 1012–1021 (also dealing with Mary Douglas's earlier work, Purity and Danger).
  • Richard Fardon, Mary Douglas: An Intellectual Biography (London: Routledge, 1999), ch. 5.

External links[edit]