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Marcel Mauss

Mauss, Marcel (märsĕlˈmōs) [key], 1872–1950, French sociologist and anthropologist. Nephew of eminant sociologist Émile Durkheim, Mauss graduated from the Univ. of Bordeaux and the École Pratique des Hautes Études, where he later served on the faculty. He also taught at the Collège de France and cofounded the Institut d'Ethnologie of the Univ. of Paris. Advocating a close relationship between anthropology and psychology, he sought to practice Durkheim's rules of sociological method by relating the collective representations of a group to its social organization. He studied the phenomena of primitive exchange as a total institution that structures social bonds and found that although giving, receiving, and repaying appear to be voluntary and disinterested, they are in fact obligatory and interested. Mauss's writings include The Gift (1925), a well-known work on the process of exchange, and a collection of essays entitled Sociology and Anthropology (1950).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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