In Purity and Danger Mary Douglas identifies the concern for purity as a key theme at the heart of every society. In lively and lucid prose she explains its relevance for every reader by revealing its wide-ranging impact on our attitudes to society, values, cosmology and knowledge. The book has been hugely influential in many areas of debate - from religion to social theory. But perhaps its most important role is to offer each reader a new explanation of why people behave in the way they do. With a specially commissioned introduction by the author which assesses the continuing significance of the work thirty-five years on, this Routledge Classics edition will ensure that Purity and Danger continues to challenge and question well into the new millennium.
"Purity and Danger … shattered my assumptions on just about everything." - Silvia Rodgers, The Sunday Times
"Professor Douglas writes gracefully, lucidly and polemically. She continually makes points which illuminate matters in the philosophy of religion and the philosophy of science and help to show the rest of us just why and how anthropology has become a fundamentally intellectual discipline." - New Society
"Professor Douglas' book sparkles with intellectual life and is characterised by a concern to understand … A rare and exciting spectacle of a mind at work." - Times Literary Supplement
"The reason why one voice speaks to another remains a mystery but my sense of the world was undoubtedly deeply effected by Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger… Long before the insights of feminist analysis, Douglas noted how symbolic systems were centred upon notions of masculinity and femininity and layered upon the human body. Without doubt, 25 years of feminist work has enlarged understanding of gender issues beyond the insights of even such an original thinker as Mary Douglas. Nevertheless, many of the ideas which have sprouted since can be found in this slim, controversial and still highly relevant volume." - Leonore Davidoff, Times Higher Education