A Guide to Mary Douglas's Three Versions of Grid/Group Theory
Sociology and Anthropology
In several publications over the last 18 years, Mary Douglas has advanced a theory for correlating cosmological beliefs with concrete social life. Though she acknowledges that her thinking has changed with time, nowhere does she systematically address the underlying differences between her recent and previous formulations.
This article identifies three main versions of Douglas's theory, which are highly unlike. Each version differently typifies her comparative dimensions “grid” and “group.” Sometimes the variables are understood socially, sometimes cosmologically. Each version has a different intent: the first speaks of the structural resemblances between cosmologies and individuals' social experiences; the latest concentrates on the ways cosmologies are used to keep individuals in line.
Sociology of Religion
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