Symbols (Routledge Revivals): Public and Private, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Symbols (Routledge Revivals)

Public and Private, 1st Edition

By Raymond Firth


468 pages

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This book first published in 1971 offers a broad survey of the study of symbolic ideas and behaviour.

The study of symbolism is popular nowadays and anthropologists have made substantial contributions to it. Raymond Firth has long been internationally known for his field research in the Solomons and Malaysia, and for his theoretical work on kinship, economics and religion. Here from a new angle, he has produced a broad survey of the study of symbolic ideas and behaviour.

Professor Firth examines definitions of symbol. He traces the history of scientific inquiry into the symbolism of religious cults, mythology and dreams back into the eighteenth century. He compares some modern approaches to symbolism in art, literature and philosophy with those in social anthropology. He then cites examples in anthropological treatment of symbolic material from cultures of varying sophistication. Finally he offers dispassionate analyses of symbols used in contemporary Western situations - from hair-styles to the use and abuse of national flags; from cults of Black Jesus to the Eucharistic rite. In all this Professor Firth combines social and political topicality with a scholarly and provocative theoretical inquiry.

Table of Contents

I 1. An Anthropologist's Reflections on Symbolic Usage 2. A Question of Terms: Scope and Meaning of 'Symbol' 3. Development of Anthropological Interest in Symbols 4. Crystallization of Problems of Symbol Theory 5. Modern Anthropoligical Views of Symbolic Processes 6. Private Symbols and Public Reactions II 7 . Food Symbolism in a Pre-Industrial Society 8. Hair as Private Asset and Public Symbol 9. Bodily Symbols of Greeting and Parting 10. Symbolism of Flags 11. Symbolism in Giving and Getting 12. Symbol and Substance

About the Series

Routledge Revivals

Are there elusive titles that you need and have been trying to source for years but thought that you would never be able to find?

Well this may be the end of your quest – here is a fantastic opportunity for you to discover past brilliance and purchase previously out of print and unavailable titles by some of the world’s most eminent academic scholars.

Drawing from over 100 years of innovative, cutting-edge publishing, Routledge Revivals is an exciting programme whereby key titles from the distinguished and extensive backlist of the many acclaimed imprints associated with Routledge will be re-issued.

The programme draws upon the illustrious backlists of Kegan Paul, Trench & Trubner, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Methuen, Allen & Unwin and Routledge itself.

Routledge Revivals spans the whole of the Humanities and Social Sciences, and includes works by some of the world’s greatest thinkers including Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Simone Weil, Martin Buber, Karl Jaspers and Max Beloff.

If you are interested in Revivals in the Behavioral Sciences, please visit

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Popular Culture