Frazer Sir James

Frazer Sir James

(1854-1941) UK classicist and anthropologist whose major work is The Golden Bough (1890). The orientalist W. Robertson-Smith had suggested that TOTEMISM might be the original religion, on the basis that it was an example of a clan worshipping something other than itself Frazer expanded this insight into a monumental volume that combined biblical references, classical myth, ETHNOGRAPHY and folklore to illustrate a theory of the development of mystical thought. Like COMTE, he postulated that the most primitive form of thought was MAGIC, followed by RELIGION, with SCIENCE at the apex. The implication that Christianity was descended from totemism had considerable impact on thought at the time. Although his influence on literature and theology has been notable (T. S. Eliot being the best-known example), amongst anthropologists he has come to be regarded with some suspicion for ‘armchair theorizing’ and for his evolutionary schema. free market capitalism see COMPETITIVE CAPITALISM.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000