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 ?
LOGEsoft and LOGEengine are meant to bridge the gap between fundamentals in chemistry and applied engineering, said Fabian Mauss, CEO at LOGE.
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 close collaboration between Mauss and Durkheim, as well as other members of L'Annee sociologique, represents a dominant theme that runs throughout the work.
They say things like, "Happiness is extremely important to me," or "My life is worthwhile to the extent I'm happy," explains Iris Mauss, PhD, a University of California, Berkeley, associate professor of psychology.
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.
Two episodes were directed by artists (Nick Mauss and Ken Okiishi, Loretta Fahrenholz) and three by feature-film directors (Rick Alverson, Alex Ross Perry, Dustin Guy Defa).
As a collection, these are remarkably revealing articles, continuing the new open and transparent philosophy of historical writing,'' said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.
Nick Mauss creates a 'living stage' on which a new ballet will be performed each day, while across the Board Walk, Cerith Wyn Evans locates a new, performance-based work in London Zoo.
1) A pesar de los abundantes ensayos en los que Riechmann formaliza su proyecto intelectual y estetico, en este articulo partire sobre todo de su corpus poetico mas reciente para analizar sus versos a la luz de las filosofias del don elaboradas por Mauss, Bataille y Derrida, que son empleadas como estrategias de resistencia a los efectos simbolicos del capital, y para reflexionar asimismo sobre las consecuencias pragmaticas de unos discursos que asumen la heteroglosia y la necesidad de interpelacion como elementos constitutivos.
The contributors cover art and The Elemental Forms, the arts and the moral sword, festivals as elements of effervescence and institutions, the power of imagination and the economy of desire, Dostoevsky in the mirror of Durkheim, l'annee sociollogique and art, Mauss and the division of isolation and totality, Halbwach's Kansas City jazz and the language of music, Levi-Strauss and art and classification, Leiris and the search for myths, Bataillle and the aesthetics and ethics of the negative, and Bataille contra Wagner.
Of course, if gift exchange is involved so is a certain animism, the person of the giver in the gift, as classically posited by Marcel Mauss (1954) and cogently developed for Melanesian gift economies by Chris Gregory (1982).