Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from K-O

Mead, Margaret

senior anthropologist cultural social

(1901–78) US social anthropologist.

The eldest daughter in an academic family, Margaret Mead was educated mainly at home until she entered Barnard College, where was senior to her and became a close friend. In 1923 she married the first of her three anthropologist husbands, with all of whom she collaborated, as the senior partner, in ethnographic studies of Pacific island cultures. She wrote in all over 40 books, some of which, like Coming of Age in Samoa (1928), became best-sellers and helped her become the world’s best-known anthropologist. Her work examined adolescence, child rearing, gender roles and the rift between generations, and illuminated these and related cultural patterns through comparisons between primitive and developed societies. As a result, social anthropology became accessible to non-specialists and aided them in understanding their own society.

In the Second World War she studied food habits and also worked to reduce British–US cultural conflicts and misunderstanding, and afterwards she returned to senior posts in the American Museum of Natural History and in Columbia University, New York. Her general beliefs were optimistic; in thinking that cultural factors were more important than biological ones in shaping human behaviour, she also believed that this behaviour was essentially alterable in favourable circumstances.

Mechnikov, Ilya Ilich [next] [back] McNealy, Scott - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Scott McNealy, Social and Economic Impact

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or