Mary Douglas Summary

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urity can be inherent in all societies and their system shows how we must view the dirt within the society as means of order or hierarchy in the community.When this book was published by Douglas in 1966 she was one of the very few to introduce this ritual theory among other anthropologists. Mary Douglas uses the contrast of “primitive” and “advanced” cultures to exemplify the struggles between cleanliness and uncleanliness of varying cultures. There are two main characteristics of primitive religions during the nineteenth century. Firstly, fear and also hygiene is another characteristic and can be seen as dirt which in turn translates to disorder. By removing this dirt you’re doing a positive and creating a more organized environment. At one point Mary says “There is no such thing as absolute dirt: it exists in the eye of the beholder. Nor do our ideas about disease account for the range of our behaviour in cleaning or avoiding dirt. Dirt offends against order.”(1966 Pg.2) Throughout her impressive theoretical work she shows how the ritual pollution in…show more content…
While using some of these texts many argue that she doesn’t examine the actual ideological intention behind them. The example that often get the most scrutiny against her is when she believes that the structure of ancient Israelite society and the conceptions of defilement are understood by the biblical text Leviticus and Deuteronomy. From there she persuades the importance of these texts to the purity system in culture. After she makes these notions we as onlookers must ask if it is appropriate to use these two texts in order to represent the ideas about rituals and purity of a culture. After reading through opinions of other theorists the apparent answer to this question is no. The text don’t provide the meaning of ritual but instead provide rhetorical interpretations of

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