Françoise Héritier

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Françoise Héritier
Françoise Héritier(2).jpg
Born (1933-11-15)15 November 1933
Veauche, Loire, France
Died 15 November 2017(2017-11-15) (aged 84)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Notable ideas
The differential valence of the sexes

Françoise Héritier (15 November 1933 – 15 November 2017) was a French anthropologist,[1][2] ethnologist, and feminist.[3] She was the successor of Claude Lévi-Strauss at the Collège de France (Chair of Comparative Studies of African Societies from 1982 to 1998, now emeritus professor). Her work dealt mainly with the theory of alliances and on the prohibition of incest (both theories based on the notion of exchange of women). In addition to Lévi-Strauss, she was also influenced by Alfred Radcliffe-Brown. She was replaced by Philippe Descola, who is the current holder of the chair of anthropology at the Collège.


Françoise Héritier was part of the structuralism movement. She is well known for her works in the theory of alliances and the prohibition of incest based on the notion of the circulation of women in the society. In her book Masculin/Féminin,[4] she noted that the distinction between the feminine and the masculine is universal and that exists everywhere; and that the male is always considered superior to the women. However, she showed in her book, Masculin/Féminin I et II, De la Violence, through numerous examples, the hierarchical thinking regarding men and women is a cultural construct -- and therefore to be revisited. She called this concept "the differential valence of the sexes" (la valence différentielle des sexes) that she preferred to the concept of the masculine domination[5] used by Pierre Bourdieu or Maurice Godelier.


  • Françoise Héritier, The Sweetness of Life, Penguin, 2014.
  • Françoise Héritier, Two Sisters and Their Mother: The Anthropology of Incest, MIT press, 2000
  • François Héritier, Masculin Féminin II: Dissoudre la hiérarchie, Odile Jacob, 2002 - paper edition
  • François Héritier, Masculin/Féminin: La pensée de la différence, Odile Jacob, 1996 - paper edition
  • François Héritier, Au gré des jours, Odile Jacob, 2017 - paper edition; Prix Femina 2017[6]


  1. ^ "Paris conference highlights women's rights abuses in Iran". Iran Focus. 26 February 2005. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Françoise Héritier". August 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Il est plus dur d'etre une femme que d'etre un homme". lejdd. 16 June 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  4. ^ Héritier, Françoise (2012). Masculin/féminin I: La pensée de la différence. Odile Jacob.
  5. ^ Fine, Agnes (February 2003). "Valence differencielle des sexes et/ou domination masculine". Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Au gré des jours - Éditions Odile Jacob". Retrieved 18 November 2017.