Marcel Mauss

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Mauss, Marcel


Born May 10, 1872, in Epinal; died Feb. 10, 1950, in Paris. French social anthropologist and sociologist.

Mauss held the chair in the history of the religion of noncivilized peoples at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes from 1900, and he was appointed professor of sociology at the Collège de France in 1931. Mauss was the nephew of E. Durkheim, worked closely with him, and was the leading exponent of his views. In the political sphere, Mauss supported the ideas of J. Jaurès and helped found the newspaper L’Humanité, for a time serving as its editorial secretary.

Although he adhered to Durkheim’s theory as a whole, Mauss modified some of its tenets. He did not accept Durkheim’s extreme antipsychologism and sought to reconcile sociology and psychology. In contrast to Durkheim, who viewed man as a dualistic being, embodying both an individual reality and a social reality that dominated the individual aspect, Mauss formulated the concept of the “total” man as the sum of his biological, psychological, and social traits. Mauss also placed greater emphasis on a systemic structural approach to the study of social phenomena than did Durkheim.

Mauss’ works are chiefly devoted to various aspects of life in archaic societies. His most important study is “The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies” (1925). In this work he shows, on the basis of extensive ethnographic and historical material, that until the development of commodity relations, the universal means of exchange was reciprocal gift-giving, in which the gifts, in theory voluntary, were in fact obligatory.

Mauss also advanced the idea of “total social facts,” stressing the comprehensive study of social facts and the identification of the most important social facts in particular social systems. These facts are at once economic, legal, religious, and aesthetic. Despite the vagueness and ambiguity of this idea, it had an influence on G. D. Gurvich and C. Lévi-Strauss. Mauss trained many specialists in ethnology, folkloristics, Indology, and historical psychology.


Oeuvres, vols. 1–3, Paris, 1968–69.
Manuel d’ethnographie. Paris, 1947.
Sociologie et anthropologie, 4th ed. Paris, 1968.


Cazeneuve, J. M. Mauss. Paris, 1968.
Cazeneuve, J. Sociologie de Marcel Mauss. Paris, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
beaucoup moins que]L'Homme d'Aran[beaucoup plus grand que] de Flaherty est un documentaire inegale, ca rappelle la theorie du [beaucoup moins que]fait social total[beaucoup plus grand que] de Marcel Mauss, on est ebahi par cette virtuosite du recit documentaire.
Walter's contribution is an analysis of "gift" from the perspectives of the cultural anthropology of Marcel Mauss, the philosophical phenomenology of Jacques Derrida, and the biblical tradition.
The most prominent figure is Durkheim's nephew, Marcel Mauss, who was frequently involved with socialist projects, including the ill-fated cooperative La Boulangerie.
En faisant front commun avec l'lnstitut ethnologique de la Sorbonne, cree en 1925, que preside Lucien Levy-Bruhl et ou il enseigne aux cotes de Marcel Mauss ou du prehistorien Henri Breuil, Rivet donne une assise perenne aux nouvelles sciences humaines.
The gift is at the heart of Lee's practice--he cites anthropologist Marcel Mauss and particularly essayist Lewis Hyde--and this gift giving is an essentially reciprocal process: According to Lee, each participant, donor, and recipient is changed by it.
He argues Durkheim is often a collaborative enterprise (some work under his name cannot be separated from Marcel Mauss, etc.
Marcel Mauss, Talal Asad, and others) as "a matrix of internal dispositions .
Pour soulever le voile de mysteres, l'auteur propose de relire l'enseignement que Barbeau a recu a Oxford et les liens qu'il a entretenus avec Marcel Mauss grace notamment aux memoires de son directeur de these, Robert Ranulph Marett, et celles de son collegue Wilson Dallam Wallis.
This ambiguity is entirely appropriate to the topic of the gift as it was theorized by Marcel Mauss, whose work incorporated the Maori idea that "even when it has been abandoned by the giver," the gift "still possesses something of him" (The Gift, trans.
Perhaps the final word is best left to French sociologist Marcel Mauss (1872-1950), arguably the greatest theorist of the gift: 'It is by opposing reason to feeling, by pitting the will to peace against sudden outbursts of insanity .
It is in these middle chapters that Katz deals most extensively with theory, and it is here, especially in chapter two, where Katz relies on the "gift" theory of Marcel Mauss and applies to the mawlid economic terminology such as the "exchange of merit" and the "economy of salvation.
Drawing on the anthropological work of Emile Durkheim, Marcel Mauss, and Mary Douglas among others, Woodward notes that "goods are resources for thinking, demarcating, and classifying" and that "all material possessions carry social meaning" and make the categories of a culture visible (p.