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Volume 1

Margaret Mead: The Study of Contemporary Western Culture


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The Study of Culture At a Distance

Edited by Margaret Mead and Rhoda Métraux

560 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-215-5 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (July 2000)

ISBN  978-1-57181-216-2 $34.95/£24.00 Pb Published (July 2000)

eISBN 978-1-78238-855-5 eBook


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The United States on the eve of the Second World War was still a society largely isolated from the world. Facing enemies with unfamiliar cultural traditions, the U.S. government turned to anthropologists for insight. The result was a research effort that continued long after the war, aimed, in the words of Margaret Mead, at analyzing the cultural regularities in the characters of individuals who are members of societies that are inaccessible to direct observation. In 1953, Margaret Mead and Rhoda Métraux produced The Study of Culture at a Distance, a compilation of research from this period. This remarkable work, long unavailable, presents a rich and complex methodology for the study of cultures through literature, film, informant interviews, focus groups, and projective techniques. The book also provides fascinating insights into such diverse cultures as China, Thailand, Italy, Syria, France, Germany, Russia, Romania, and Great Britain, and includes some highly original analysis such as that of the Soviet style of chess, a study of Jean Cocteau's classic film La Belle et la Bête, and the cultural interpretations of Rorschach tests administered to Chinese subjects.

Margaret Mead served as Curator of Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History from 1925 to 1969. She began her career with a study of youth and adolescence in Samoan society, published as Coming of Age in Samoa (1928). She published prolifically, becoming a seminal figure in anthropology, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1979.

Subject: Theory & Methodology in Anthropology General Cultural Studies
Area:



Contents

Preface

Introduction

PART I: INTRODUCTION

The Study of Culture at a Distance
Margaret Mead

Chapter 1. The Purpose and Scope of This Manual
Chapter 2. The Needed Skills and Their Place in Cultural Analysis

Chapter 3. Theory and Practice

  • Theory and Methods Derived from Anthropology
  • Theory and Methods Derived from Other Disciplines

Chapter 4. Anthropological Models for the Study of Culture at a Distance

  • The Single Informant
  • The Study of Living Communities

PART II: NATIONAL CHARACTER

National Character: Theory and Practice
Geoffrey Gorer

PART III: GROUP RESEARCH

A: The Organization of Group Research
Margaret Mead

B: Five Illustrations of Groups at Work

Introduction
Rhoda Métraux

Chapter 1. Formulation of a Working Hypothesis: French Dyadic Relationships
Chapter 2. Formulation of a Working Hypothesis: The Swaddling Hypothesis

Chapter 3. Intragroup Interviewing: On thc Definition of Terms

  • The Chinese First Teacher
  • Sincerity

Chapter 4. Relations between Men and Women: Has the Woman a Soul?

  • The Position of the Woman
  • Woman’s Position Redefined

Chapter 5. Themes in Italian Culture: A First Discussion

PART IV: WORK WITH INFORMANTS

A: Informants in Group Research
Rhoda Métraux

B: Three Illustrations of Written Work by Informants

I. Polish Personality

  • Does Responsibility Mean Command?
  • Attitudes toward Various Parts of the Body
  • When Is a Pole Allowed to Be Soft?

II. My Inner Self

III. Russian Sensory Images

  • On the Sense of Touch 
  • On the Sense of Smell
  • On the Sense of Hearing

C: Ten Illustrations of Interviews with Informants

I: Interview with a Syrian Woman: Life History
II: Interview with a Syrian Man: Life History
III: Interview with a Polish Peasant Woman: Parents and Children
IV: Interview with a French Couple: Dyadic Relations in the Foyer
V: nterview with a Young Frenchman: Friendship
VI: Interview with a Chinese Scholar: Friendship
VII: Interview with Two Jewish Men: Sheyneh and Prosteh Yiden
VIII: Interview with Two Jewish Women: Sheyneh and Prosteh Yiden
IX: Interview with a Russian Actor: Interpretation of Roles
X: Interview with Four Russians: Images of Hate, Guilt, and Love


PART V: WRITTEN AND ORAL LITERATURE

Introduction
Rhoda Métraux

Chapter 1. Relations between Men and Women in Chinese Stories
Virginia Heyer

Chapter 2. The Image of the Leader in Soviet “Post-October Folklore
Nelly Schargo Hoyt

Chapter 3. A Russian Double Image Cluster: “Not-So: So”

  • The “Not-So: So” Images in Russian Folklore
    Nelly Schargo Hoyt
  • Rumor Cluster and Image Cluster: Detail from Group Discussion
  • Russian “Visual” Thinking
    Leopold H. Haimson

Chapter 4. Trends in Affectlessness
Nathan Leites

PART VI: FILM ANALYSIS

A: Movie Analysis in the Study of Culture
Martha Wolfenstein

B: Five Illustrations of Film Analysis

Introduction
Rhoda Métraux

I: Notes on an Italian Film, The Tragic Hunt
Martha Wolfenstein

II: Notes on Two French Films

  • The Father Figure in Panique
    Jane Belo
  • Notes on La Belle et La Bête
    Geoffrey Gorer

III: An Analysis of Seven Cantonese Films
John Hast Weakland

IV: An Analysis of the Soviet Film The Young Guard

  • Plot Summary
    Margaret Mead
  • Comparison of the Film and the Novel
    Vera Schwarz (Alexandrova)

V: An Analysis of the Nazi Film Hltlerjunge Quex
Gregory Bateson

PART VII: PROJECTIVE TESTS

A: The Use of Projective Tests in Group Research
Margaret Mead

B: Two Illustrations of the Use of Projective Tests with Chinese Subjects            

  • Visual Perception and Spatial Organization: A Study of Performance on the Horn-Hellersberg Test by Chinese Subjects
    Elisabeth F. Hellersberg
  • Some Aspects of Personality of Chinese as Revealed by the Rorschach Test
    Theodora M. Abel and Francis L. K. Hsu

PART VIII: IMAGERY

Resonance in Imagery
Rhode Métraux

PART IX: END LINKAGE: AN ANALYTICAL APPROACH

A: History of the Approach
Margaret Mead

B: Formulation of End Linkage
Gregory Bateson

C: Four Applications of End Linkage Analysis

  • Applications of End Linkage Formulations to Anglo-American
  • Relations in World War II
    Margaret Mead
  • Male Dominance in Thai Culture
    Ruth Benedict
  • Non-Reciprocity among East European Jews
    Natalie F. Joffe
  • A Note on the Spectator in French Culture
    Rhoda Métraux

PART X: APPLICATIONS OF STUDIES OF CULTURE AT A DISTANCE

A: Political Applications of Studies of Culture at a Distance
Margaret Mead

B: Seven Applications of Studies of Culture at a Distance

  • Japanese Character Structure and Propaganda
    Geoffrey Gorer
  • Some Problems of Cross-Cultural Communication between Britain and the United States: Based upon Lecturing in Britain and the United States during World War II
    Margaret Mead
  • History as It Appears to Rumanians
    Ruth Benedict
  • Courage: Cumulative Effects of Sacrifice
    Sula Benet
  • Chinese Family Images in International Affairs
    John Hast Weakland
  • The Soviet Style of Chess
    Leopold II. Haimson
  • The Soviet Image of Corruption
    Martha Wolfenstein

APPENDIXES
 

Appendix A: Recommendations for the Organization of Group Research
Margaret Mead

Appendix B: A List of Participants in Columbia University Research in Contemporary Cultures and Successor Projects

Bibliography
Index

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