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Selfishness and Selflessness: New Approaches to Understanding Morality

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Volume 10

WYSE Series in Social Anthropology

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Selfishness and Selflessness

New Approaches to Understanding Morality

Edited by Linda L. Layne

244 pages, 25 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-549-7 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (April 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78920-550-3 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“This is a fascinating and timely collection that throws a much-needed light on the idea and practice of selfishness and selflessness. In so doing, it follows the moral turn in the humanities and the social sciences to its logical conclusion: the writing of a social history and an ethnography of moralities.” • Mark Roodhouse, University of York


We are said to be suffering a narcissism epidemic when the need for collective action seems more pressing than ever. The traits of Selfishness and selflessness address the ‘proper’ and ‘improper’ relationship between one’s self and others. The work they do during periods of social instability and cultural change is probed in this original, interdisciplinary collection. Contributions range from an examination of how these concepts animated the eighteenth-century anti-slavery campaigners to a dissection of the way middle-class mothers’ experiences illustrate gendered struggles over how much and to whom one is morally obliged to give.

Linda L. Layne is the author of Home and Homeland: The Dialogics of Tribal and National Identities in Jordan (1994, Princeton University Press) and Motherhood Lost: A Feminist Account of Pregnancy Loss in America (2003, Routledge) and co-producer of a television series on pregnancy loss. She has edited or co-edited numerous volumes on motherhood, parenting and consumer culture. She now studies heterosexual single mothers by choice, lesbian moms and gay dads.

Subject: Anthropology (General) Gender Studies and Sexuality Sociology