1st Edition

Origins of the Taboo

ISBN 9781594511172
Published July 12, 2005 by Routledge
270 Pages

USD $67.95

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Book Description

Throughout history humans have been fascinated with incest. Stories, fables, literature, philosophers, church officials, and scientists have explored this mysterious topic. The taboo is critical to human survival, as incest threatens the species and patterns of human social organization. Drawing upon the rich legacy of theory, empirical data, and speculation about the origins of the incest taboo, this book develops a new explanation for, not only the emergence of the taboo in hominid and human evolutionary history, but also for the varying strength of the taboo for the incestuous dyads of the nuclear family, the different rates of incest of these dyads, and the dramatic differences the psychological pathology incest has on its younger victims. Synthesizing findings from biology, sociobiology, neurology, primatology, clinical psychology, anthropology, and sociology, the authors weave together a scenario of how natural selection initially generated mechanisms of sexual avoidance; and then, as the nuclear family emerged in hominid and human evolution, how sociocultural selection led to the development of the incest taboo.

Table of Contents

The Golden Age of Promiscuity; Avoiding Incest; Forbidden Acts; A Distant Mirror; The Horde; Family and Taboo; Unraveling the Mystery of the Incest Taboo.

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"A stimulating and provocative reexamination of one of the social sciences'
classic issues. By drawing attention to the differing forms of incest, Turner and Maryanski develop important new insights into the origins and subsequent evolution of the taboo from prehistoric times to the present."
Gerhard Lenski, author of Power and Privilege and The Religious Factor

"This is the most comprehensive, best, and most important work on incest avoidance and the incest taboo ever undertaken by a sociologist (or team of sociologists).The book should stand as an exemplar of sociology and sociological theorizing - or, more accurately, interdisciplinary social science - at its very best."
Stephen K. Sanderson, author of The Evolution of Human Sociality