Latest Issue

Mary Douglas remembered

The anthropologist Mary Douglas, who has died aged 86, produced a framework for understanding society that should be part of the mental furniture of every educated adult

By Geoff Mulgan   June 2007

Few thinkers have changed how we see the world; even fewer have changed how we think about how we see the world. Mary Douglas, who has died aged 86, is one of the rare exceptions. Her field was culture, but she was as unlike the stereotypical cultural studies academic as one could imagine. A devout Catholic, she spent the last few decades in an extraordinary flowering of inquiry that is now providing insights in fields as diverse as the study of the Old Testament and the politics of climate change.

Douglas’s theoretical apparatus allowed her to think in original ways…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect