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The World Ahead: An Anthropologist Anticipates the Future
Volume 6

Margaret Mead: The Study of Contemporary Western Culture

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The World Ahead

An Anthropologist Anticipates the Future

Margaret Mead
Edited and with an Introduction and Commentaries by Robert B. Textor, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University

376 pages, 20 photos

ISBN  978-1-57181-817-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2005)

ISBN  978-1-57181-818-8 $24.95/£19.95 Pb Published (July 2005)

eISBN 978-1-78920-600-5 eBook

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


“…a gem of a book… [that] should prove to be an instant classic… This is a captivating and provocative collection and now my favorite futures book of the new century. It is a fun volume that looks at the past, present, and future, all at once… This book is highly recommended to both students and professionals in foresight work and futures studies, and for general audiences.” • Christopher B. Jones in Futures

“Occasionally, a book comes along that towers above others. The World Ahead is such a book… Textor shows how Mead was a generation ahead of almost all her contemporaries in understanding the importance of studying the sociocultural future of learning what is possible, probable, and preferable in order to know how life could and should be made better…” • Wendell Bell, Yale University

“As protégé and friend of Margaret Mead for the last thirty years of her illustrious life, I welcome Textor's showcase of her various views of the future. Mead was at her best in planning for future generations.” • Wilton S. Dillon, Senior Scholar Emeritus, Smithsonian Institute

“[Mead] sought to clarify images of the future as they were current and to articulate images that would be preferable… Textor's commentaries connect these papers and articles in a way that establishes 'the future' as a proper central focus in anthropology…” • Reed D. Riner, Northern Arizona University

“A valuable contribution that shows Mead's broad range of future-oriented interests.” • Future Survey


Born in the first year of the 20th century, it is fitting that Margaret Mead should have been one of the first anthropologists to use anthropological analysis to study the future course of human civilization. This volume collects, for the first time, her writings on the future of humanity and how humans can shape that future through purposeful action. For Mead, the study of the future was born out of her lifelong interest in processes of change. Many of these papers were originally published as conference proceedings or in limited-circulation journals, testimony before government bodies and chapters in works edited by others. They show Mead's wisdom, prescience and concern for the future of humanity.

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 and Methodology Cultural Studies (General)


Series Preface
William O. Beeman

Robert B. Textor

  • Margaret Mead’s Historic Contribution
  • Mead and Futures Studies
  • Mead’s Intellectual Approach and Expressive Style
  • Editor’s Personal Contacts with Dr. Mead
  • Appendix: The Rationale and Future of Anticipatory Anthropology
  • Acknowledgements

1943: The Family in the Future
1945: Human Differences and World Order
1950: Unique Possibilities of the Melting Pot
1962: The Psychology of Warless Man
1963a: Beyond the Nuclear Family
1963b: Patterns of Worldwide Cultural Change in the 1960s
1966a: One World—But Which Language?
1966b: The University and Institutional Change
1967: Changing Cultural Patterns of Work and Leisure
1968a: New Year’s—A Universal Birthday
1968b: Alternatives to War
1968c: The Crucial Role of the Small City in Meeting the Urban Crisis
1968d: Statement [on Aging And Retirement]
1968e: Some Social Consequences of a Guaranteed Income
1969: Man On the Moon
1970a: Education for Humanity
1970b: Kalinga Prize Acceptance Speech
1971: A Note on Contributions of Anthropology to the Science of the Future
1973a: The Kind of City We Want
1973b: Prospects for World Harmony
1974a: Opening Address [to The Society for General Systems Research]
1974b: Changing Perspectives on Modernization
1974c: Ways to Deal with the Current Social Transformation
1975: Discussion [about How Anthropologists Can Perform Better in Applied Roles]
1977: Our Open-Ended Future


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