Quotes by Mary Douglas

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1921–2007. British anthropologist, known for her writings on human culture and symbolism. Her area was social anthropology; she was considered a follower of Durkheim and a proponent of structuralist analysis, with a strong interest in comparative religion.

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[T]he incipient institution needs some stabilizing principle to stop its premature demise. That stabilizing principle is the naturalization of social classifications. There needs to be an analogy by which the formal structure of a crucial set of social relations is found in the physical world, or in the supernatural world, or in eternity, anywhere, so long as it is not seen as a socially contrived arrangement. When the analogy is applied back and forth from one set of social relations to another, and from these back to nature, its recurring formal structure becomes easily recognized and endowed with self-validating truth... [F]or discourse to be possible at all, the basic categories have to be agreed on. Nothing else but institutions can define sameness. Similarity is an institution.

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